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November 20, 2021
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19th November Current Affairs

ASEAN objects as China wants Myanmar junta to join the summit

(GS-II: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate)

In News:

A Chinese envoy has lobbied Southeast Asian nations to let Myanmar’s military ruler attend a regional summit being hosted by China’s President next week but has met stiff opposition from other leaders.

What’s the issue?

Myanmar’s standing as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been thrown into the spotlight by a Februay 1 coup, when its military ousted the elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, sparking bloody turmoil.

Following this, ASEAN leaders blocked Myanmar’s military chief, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, from an ASEAN summit after he failed to honour pledges to allow an ASEAN envoy to meet lawmakers overthrown in the coup.

Later, ASEAN leaders said a non-political figure from Myanmar should be asked to attend. In the end, Myanmar was not represented.

What is ASEAN?

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a regional organization which was established to promote political and social stability amid rising tensions among the Asia-Pacific’s post-colonial states.

The motto of ASEAN is “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.

ASEAN Secretariat – Indonesia, Jakarta.

Genesis:

Established in 1967 with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by its founding fathers.

Founding Fathers of ASEAN are: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Ten Members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Significance of ASEAN for India:

Against the backdrop of aggressive moves by China, including the Ladakh standoff, India placed the ASEAN at the centre of India’s Act East policy and held that a cohesive and responsive ASEAN is essential for security and growth for all in the region.

ASEAN is necessary for the success of the Security And Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR) Vision.

The region is significant for diversification and resilience of supply chains for post-Covid-19 economic recovery.

It is India’s 4th largest trading partner with about USD 86.9 billion in trade.

RBI panel moots law to regulate digital lending

(GS-III: Cyber security related issues)

In News:

A Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Working Group (WG) on digital lending, including lending through online platforms and mobile apps has submitted its recommendations.

Key recommendations:

A separate legislation should be enacted to oversee such lending.

Setup a nodal agency to vet the Digital Lending Apps.

A Self-Regulatory Organisation should be set up for participants in the digital lending ecosystem.

Develop certain baseline technology standards and compliance with those standards as a pre-condition for offering digital lending solutions.

Disbursement of loans should be made directly into the bank accounts of borrowers and servicing of loans should be done only through the bank accounts of the digital lenders.

All data collection must require the prior consent of borrowers and come ‘with verifiable audit trails’ and the data itself ought to be stored locally.

Benefits of digital lending:

Digital lending has the potential to make access to financial products and services more fair, efficient and inclusive.

From a peripheral supporting role a few years ago, FinTech-led innovation is now at the core of the design, pricing and delivery of financial products and services.

Need of the hour:

A balanced approach needs to be followed so that the regulatory framework supports innovation while ensuring data security, privacy, confidentiality and consumer protection.

What are the issues wrt digital lending apps?

They attract borrowers with promise of loans in a quick and hassle-free manner.

But, Excessive rates of interest and additional hidden charges are demanded from borrowers.

Such platforms adopt unacceptable and high-handed recovery methods.

They misuse agreements to access data on the mobile phones of the borrowers.

Battle of Rezang La

(GS-I: India and its neighbourhood- relations)

In News:

November 18 marks the 59th anniversary of the Battle of Rezang La. A memorial was inaugurated on the occasion.

Where is Rezang La?

Rezang La is a mountain pass on the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.

It is located between village of Chushul and the Spanggur Lake that stretches across both Indian and Chinese territories.

It had also been the site of a heroic battle on 18 November 1962.

About the battle:

Troops from the 13 Kumaon Regiment defeated several waves of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in 1962.

Despite being heavily outnumbered, soldiers of the regiment fought to the last man standing, under freezing temperatures, and with limited ammunition.

Significance of the region:

Rezang La is vital for the defence of the crucially important Chushul. Any invader reaching there would have had a free run to Leh.

No consensus on limiting the Speaker’s powers

(GS-II: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure)

In News:

The All-India Presiding Officers’ Conference (AIPOC) ended recently with the delegates failing to reach a consensus on whether the Speaker’s powers under the Anti-Defection Law should be limited.

However, the participants reiterated an earlier resolution that there should be no disruptions during Question Hour and the President’s and Governor’s address to the House.

Recommendations:

C.P. Joshi committee was formed in 2019 to examine the role of the Speaker in cases of disqualification on grounds of defection under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.

The committee has advocated that the power to disqualify MPs and MLAs under the anti-defection law should also be given to political parties rather than limiting the power only for Lok Sabha and assembly speakers.

Need for a review:

The political situation when the anti defection law was formed was different and the law needs to be reviewed factoring in the changes in the political situation.

Anti-defection law:

In 1985 the Tenth Schedule, popularly known as the anti-defection law, was added to the Constitution by the 52nd Amendment Act.

The purpose of the Amendment was to bring stability to governments by deterring MPs and MLAs from changing their political parties on whose ticket they were elected.

The penalty for shifting political loyalties is the loss of parliamentary membership and a bar on becoming a minister.

When can a member be disqualified?

If a member of a house belonging to a political party:

Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or

Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party. However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.

If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.

If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.

However, Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances. Exceptions:

The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger.

On being elected as the presiding officer of the House, if a member, voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or rejoins it after he ceases to hold that office, he won’t be disqualified.

Decision of the Presiding Officer is subject to judicial review:

The law initially stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not subject to judicial review. This condition was struck down by the Supreme Court later, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court.

However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.

Is there a time limit within which the Presiding Officer should decide?

There is no time limit as per the law within which the Presiding Officers should decide on a plea for disqualification.