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January 21, 2019
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19 January Current Affairs

Goa’s ‘Opinion Poll Day’

In News:

Goa celebrated its 52nd ‘Asmitai Dis’ (Identity Day) or Opinion Poll Day on January 16.

Significance of the day:

It was on this date in 1967 that Goans voted against merging with Maharashtra and chose to remain a Union Territory. Though referred to as an ‘opinion poll’, the vote was in fact a plebiscite.

Background:

Soon after Goa’s liberation from colonial Portuguese rule in 1961, murmurs began of a merger with Maharashtra on grounds of cultural similarity and the argument that Konkani was a dialect of Marathi and not an independent language. With several Indian states having been demarcated on a linguistic basis, the demand split the people of Goa into those who backed Konkani and wanted to remain independent of Maharashtra, and those who were in favour of Marathi and wanted to merge.

In December 1966, Parliament passed the Goa, Daman and Diu (Opinion Poll Act), 1966, “to provide for the taking of an opinion poll to ascertain the wishes of the electors of Goa, Daman and Diu with regard to the future status thereof and for matters connected therewith”.

Majority of votes went against the merger.

Soon afterward began demands for statehood for Goa; however, it was only on May 30, 1987, that Goa became India’s 25th state. Daman and Diu continue to be Union Territories. Konkani was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution on August 20, 1992 (71st Amendment).

Source: Indian Express

Constitutional provisions for Nagaland to reject the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016

In News:

The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), a coalition partner of the BJP in Nagaland, has said the State had the constitutional provision to reject the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

Details:

Nagaland, along with other north-eastern States, has witnessed several protests following the passage of the Bill in the Lok Sabha.

Why the provisions of the Citizenship Bill may not be applicable to Nagaland?

Article 371(A) of the Constitution begins with the words “notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, no Act of Parliament in respect of…”. This means that despite what is in the Constitution, no Act of Parliament shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides.

Nagaland is also protected by the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873, whereby an Inner Line Permit is issued to outsiders for safeguarding the citizenship, rights and privileges of the Nagas.

Why Assam and other NE states are opposing this bill?

The bill seeks to facilitate granting of Indian citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In Assam, illegal migrants are not identified along religious lines and people want such migrants to be deported.

Mizoram fears Buddhist Chakmas from Bangladesh may take advantage of the Act. Meghalaya and Nagaland are apprehensive of migrants of Bengali stock.

Groups in Arunachal Pradesh fear the new rules may benefit Chakmas and Tibetans. Manipur wants the Inner-line Permit System to stop outsiders from entering the state.

Source: The Hindu

Lokpal debate

In News:

Given the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act was passed in 2013, and no Lokpal has been appointed since, the Supreme Court has pressed the search committee to recommend potentials to the selection committee led by prime minister Narendra Modi by February 28.

Concerns raised:

The fact that the government has delayed the appointment this long is surely problematic. Besides, a Supreme Court order to nudge the government to make any progress towards establishing the anti-graft institution is a poor commentary on its functioning.

Background:

It has taken five years since the Lokpal Act, 2013, received the President’s assent on January 1, 2014, for a Search Committee to even begin its work. It was formed only on September 27, 2018, after Common Cause, an NGO, filed a contempt petition against the government over the delay in constituting the authority despite a Supreme Court verdict in April 2017.

Way ahead:

It is true that setting up the Search Committee requires some groundwork, as its composition should be drawn from diverse fields such as anti-corruption policy, public administration, law, banking and insurance; also, half its membership should consist of women, backward class, minority and SC/ST candidates. However, it is the government’s duty to expedite this process and not cite it as a reason for delay.

Related facts:

As per Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, the appointments to Lokpal is made by high-level selection committee comprising of Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Lok Sabha Speaker, the leader of the largest opposition party and an eminent jurist chosen by them.

Source: The Hindu

Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY)

In News:

The Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana (PMRPY), the flagship scheme of the Union Government for employment generation, crossed the milestone of one crore beneficiaries on January 14, 2019.

About Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana:

The scheme “Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana”(PMRPY) was announced in the Budget for 2016-17.

The objective of the scheme is to promote employment generation.

The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Under the scheme employers would be provided an incentive for enhancing employment by reimbursement of the 8.33% EPS contribution made by the employer in respect of new employment.

The PMRPY scheme is targeted for workers earning wages upto Rs. 15,000/- per month.

Significance of the scheme:

PMRPY has a dual benefit –

The employer is incentivised for increasing the employee base in the establishment through payment of EPF contribution of 12% of wage, which otherwise would have been borne by the employer.

A large number of workers find jobs in such establishments.

A direct benefit of the scheme is that these workers have access to social security benefit through Provident Fund, Pension and Death Linked Insurance.

Source: The Hindu

Gilgit-Baltistan

In News:

India has lodged a strong protest on recent order by Supreme Court of Pakistan on the so-called “Gilgit-Baltistan” which is an interference in India’s internal affairs.

Details:

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has extended its powers to Gilgit-Baltistan regarding the area’s constitutional status. The order states that changes to the constitutional status of Gilgit-Baltistan will be determined through a referendum which will be held within 14 days. It further read that until then, people living in the area and in Kashmir will be given fundamental human rights.

What has India said?

Entire state of Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes the so-called ‘Gilgit-Baltistan’ has been, is and shall remain an integral part of India. Pakistan government or judiciary have no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it. Any action to alter the status of these occupied territories by Pakistan has no legal basis whatsoever.

Where is Gilgit Baltistan located?

Located in the northern Pakistan. It borders China in the North, Afghanistan in the west, Tajikistan in the north west and Kashmir in the south east.

It shares a geographical boundary with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and India considers it as part of the undivided Jammu and Kashmir, while Pakistan sees it as a separate from PoK.  It has a regional Assembly and an elected Chief Minister.

The USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also passes through this region.

Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the “eight-thousanders” and to more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). Three of the world’s longest glaciers outside the polar regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Recent developments:

Pakistan, in 2017, proposed to declare the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region as its fifth Province, a move that may raise concerns in India as it borders the disputed Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Why it wants to declare as fifth province?

With a $50 billion investment in the CPEC, China would hardly want the territory through which the route passes to have a dubious status.

Pakistan wants to give the impression of freezing its territorial ambitions in J&K in order to concentrate on the CPEC and remove any misgivings that the Chinese may have on the status of GB.

Declaration will also help Pakistan to tap the fresh water resources in the region and to make use of it for agriculture, hydroelectricity generation etc.

Such move can also help China to get increased access in region and counter India jointly with Pakistan.

Impediments ahead:

Gilgit- Baltistan is part of J&K and any such move would seriously damage Pakistan’s Kashmir case. Two UN resolutions of August 13, 1948 and January 5, 1949 clearly established a link between GB and the Kashmir issue.

Making the region its fifth province would thus violate the Karachi Agreement — perhaps the only instrument that provides doubtful legal authority to Pakistan’s administration of GB — as well as the UN resolutions that would damage its position on the Kashmir issue.

Any such move would also be violative of the 1963 Pak-China Boundary Agreement that calls for the sovereign authority to reopen negotiations with China “after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India” and of the 1972 Simla Agreement that mentions that “neither side shall unilaterally alter the situation”

Pakistan would also have to overcome the adverse reaction of Kashmiris on both sides of the LoC. While it can manage the reaction of people in “AJK”, its constituency in J&K would be seriously damaged. Hurriyat leaders have already made this known.

Source: The Hindu

Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G)

In News:

As per the latest study conducted by the Rural Development Ministry, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G) is in doldrums with over 12 lakh pending houses and land being provided to only 12 per cent of the beneficiaries even as the March 1 deadline for 1 crore houses fast approaches.

Performance analysis of the scheme:

Of the total 4.72 lakh beneficiaries identified across the country, only 56,694 have been allotted land.

Among the best performing states in terms of land allotment are Sikkim, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

States like Goa, Kerala and West Bengal have drawn a blank in terms of allotment of land to beneficiaries.

PMAY- G:

The erstwhile rural housing scheme Indira Awaas yojana (IAY) has been restructured into Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana –Gramin (PMAY-G) from 01.04.2016.

PMAY-G aims at providing a pucca house, with basic amenities, to all houseless householder and those households living in kutcha and dilapidated house, by 2022.

Cost sharing: The cost of unit assistance in this scheme is shared between Central and State Governments in the ratio 60:40 in plain areas and 90: 10 for North Eastern and Himalayan States.

The scheme envisages training of Rural Masons with the objective of improving workmanship and quality of construction of houses while at the same time, increasing availability of skilled masons and enhancing employability of such masons.

Selection of beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) is based on housing deprivation parameters of Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC), 2011, subject to 13 point exclusion criteria, followed by Gram Sabha verification.

Source: The Hindu

Sustainable Catchment Forest Management launched in Tripura

In News:

Tripura has launched the Sustainable Catchment Forest Management (SCATFORM) project which is undertaken with the assistance of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency).

Sustainable Catchment Forest Management (SCATFORM) project:

The SCATFORM project aims to address issues such as forest cover loss and forest degradation have been mainly caused by shifting cultivation, which increases soil erosion risks on hill slopes especially in upper catchment areas.

Implementation: It would be implemented mainly in upper catchments where forest degradation and soil erosion are severe and livelihood improvement needs are high. The project aims to the improve quality of forest in the catchment area by sustainable forest management, soil and moisture conservation and livelihood development.

The activities undertaken under the project involves promotion of bamboo plantation, agroforestry based livelihood, eco-tourism development, development of value addition for bamboo and other Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP) in order to create alternate livelihood opportunities for local communities.

Cost sharing: The 80 per cent of the cost is contributed by JICA and the rest would be funded by the state and central governments.

Source: The Indian Express

Data Localization

In News:

Reliance Industries Ltd Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani has come out strongly in favour of storing data locally and not putting it “especially” in the hands of foreigners.

Details:

Data localization is a sensitive issue the world over and more so in India, given that this is a country of 1.3 billion people with over 1 billion mobile users. With technology developing rapidly, more and more devices becoming smarter and the Internet of Things taking over, a genuine concern around leakage of private data has gained ground.

What does Data Localization mean?

Data localization is the act of storing data on any device that is physically present within the borders of a specific country where the data was generated.

Why data localization is necessary for India?

For securing citizen’s data, data privacy, data sovereignty, national security, and economic development of the country.

Recommendations by the RBI, the committee of experts led by Justice BN Srikrishna, the draft ecommerce policy and the draft report of the cloud policy panel show signs of data localisation.

The extensive data collection by technology companies, has allowed them to process and monetize Indian users’ data outside the country. Therefore, to curtail the perils of unregulated and arbitrary use of personal data, data localization is necessary.

Digital technologies like machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) can generate tremendous value out of various data. It can turn disastrous if not contained within certain boundaries.

With the advent of cloud computing, Indian users’ data is outside the country’s boundaries, leading to a conflict of jurisdiction in case of any dispute.

Data localization is an opportunity for Indian technology companies to evolve an outlook from services to products. International companies will also be looking at the Indian market, and this will benefit the growth of the local ecosystem.

More data centres in India could mean new, power-hungry customers for India’s renewable energy market. That means Data localisation could boost India’s renewable energy.

Policies that imply data localization:

The Srikrishna Committee wants to localise data for law enforcement to have easy access to data, to prevent foreign surveillance, to build an artificial intelligence ecosystem in India, and because undersea cables through which data transfers take place are vulnerable to attacks.

In April, the Reserve Bank of India imposed a hard data localisation mandate on payment systems providers to store payment systems data only in India.

Barring limited exceptions, telecom service providers are not allowed to transfer user information and accounting information outside India.

Goals set in the Draft National Digital Communications Policy 2018, and the Guidelines for Government Departments for Contractual Terms related to Cloud Storage 2017, draft e-commerce policy and the draft report of the cloud policy panel show signs of data localization.

Concerns / Challenges:

Several of the recommendations in including the draft e-commerce policy, falter on a key ground like they gloss over the negative economic impact of data localization. This approach exhibits lack of evidence-based policy making.

Having data in India does not mean that domestic companies will be able to access this data. Localization might aid the growth of the data centre and the cloud computing industry in India, but as matter of wider public policy, such an approach is extremely myopic.

Mandating localization is less of a solution for data protection and might be less relevant to promote e-commerce.

Given the comparative trade advantages enjoyed by one section of Indian industry in this context, mandating a strict data localization regime could be perceived as a restrictive trade barrier and spur retaliatory measures.

There is a possible rise in prices of foreign cloud computing services in case of a data localisation, and its impact on MSMEs as well as start-ups relying on these services.

The possibility of triggering a vicious cycle of data localisation requirements by other countries as a response to India’s possible data localisation will be detrimental for the global data economy.

Growth will be restricted if data cannot be aggregated internationally. Infrastructure in India for efficient data collection and management is lacking.

Need of the hour:

There is an urgent need to have an integrated, long-term strategy for policy creation for data localisation.

Data localisation needs to integrate a wide range of social, political and economic perspectives.

Creating an opportunity for local data centres all over the country.

Devising an optimal regulatory and legislative framework for data processors and data centres operating in the country.

Adequate infrastructure in terms of energy, real estate, and internet connectivity also needs to be made available for India to become a global hub for data centres.

Adequate attention needs to be given to the interests of India’s Information Technology Enabled Services (ITeS) and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industries, which are thriving on cross border data flow.

Source: The Hindu

B.Tech course in AI by IIT Hyderabad

IIT Hyderabad has announced the launch of a full-fledged bachelor’s programme in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. IIT Hyderabad has become the first institute in the country to launch full-fledged Bachelor’s programme in AI technology. IIT Hyderabad will be the third institute to globally to offer the B.Tech course in AI.

Mount Shindake

A volcano- Mt Shindake has erupted on Kuchinoerabu Island of Japan. Kuchinoerabu Island belongs to Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. The entire island lies within the borders of the Kirishima-Yaku National Park.

Palestine assumes chairmanship of G77

Palestine has taken over the chairmanship of G77 from Egypt.

The chairmanship of the G77 is based on the system of geographical rotation. 2019 was Asia’s turn and the Asian group had unanimously endorsed Palestine. Egypt was representing the African Group of countries.

G77:

The Group of 77 (G77) at the United Nations is a coalition of 134 developing nations, designed to promote its members’ collective economic interests and create an enhanced joint negotiating capacity in the United Nations.

G77 was formed on 15 June 1964 by the “Joint Declaration of the Seventy-Seven Countries” issued at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Since China participates in the G77 but does not consider itself to be a member, all official statements are issued in the name of The Group of 77 and China.

National Museum of Indian Cinema in Mumbai

National Museum of Indian Cinema (NMIC) has been inaugurated in Mumbai. The museum depicts the journey of over a century of Indian cinema in a story telling mode with the help of visuals, graphics, artifacts, interactive exhibits and multimedia expositions.

Chowmahalla Palace

The restoration of the Chowmahalla Palace to its age-old grandeur has been completed.

Key facts:

Chowmahalla Palace is a palace of the Nizams of Hyderabad state.

It was the seat of the Asaf Jahi dynasty and was the official residence of the Nizams of Hyderabad while they ruled their state.

The palace was built by Nizam Salabat Jung.

Great Indian Bustard

Wildlife activists have called for enforcement of recovery plan for the country’s most critically endangered bird- Great Indian Bustard. Once the contender for becoming India’s national bird, the Great Indian Bustard is now facing extinction.

Key facts:

Great Indian Bustard is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection)Act, 1972, in the CMS Convention and in Appendix I of CITES, as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

It has also been identified as one of the species for the recovery programme under the Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.

Project Great Indian Bustard — state of Rajasthan — identifying and fencing off bustard breeding grounds in existing protected areas as well as provide secure breeding enclosures in areas outside protected areas

Protected areas:

  • Desert National Park Sanctuary — Rajasthan.
  • Rollapadu Wildlife Sanctuary – Andhra Pradesh.
  • Karera Wildlife Sanctuary– Madhya Pradesh.

Shehri Samridhi Utsav

It is an event which aims to expand the outreach of National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) to the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable, showcase its initiatives and facilitate access of SHG members to the other government schemes.

This is organized by Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.

Diffo Bridge

Bridge over Diffo river on Roing-Koron-Paya road has been inaugurated in Arunachal Pradesh. The construction of the Bridge was undertaken by the Project Udayak of the Border Roads Organisation.

Key facts: It would provide uninterrupted access between Dibang valley and Lohit valley region of Eastern Arunachal Pradesh. It would provide an all-weather Road to the troops deployed on the China Border.

Project Udayank of the Border Roads Organisation was raised on June 1990 at Doomdooma Assam. The name of the project Udayank is synonymous to the land of rising sun which fits appropriately to the area it operates. It consists of two border road taskforces undertaking construction activities in the north-eastern region.