20 April Current Affairs
April 20, 2019
23 April Current Affairs
April 23, 2019
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22 April Current Affairs

Citizenship Bill

In News:

The citizenship Bill does not require any changes if Clause 6 of the Assam Accord is implemented properly, says Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. If Clause 6 is implemented in letter and spirit, then the indigenous people of Assam are well guarded and protected.

Details:

Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which was signed in 1985 after the Assam Agitation of 1979-85, envisages that appropriate constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards should be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the people of Assam.

What is Assam Accord?

The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.

The accord brought an end to the Assam Agitation and paved the way for the leaders of the agitation to form a political party and form a government in the state of Assam soon after. As per the Accord, those Bangladeshis who came between 1966 and 1971 will be barred from voting for ten years.

The Accord also mentions that the international borders will be sealed and all persons who crossed over from Bangladesh after 1971 are to be deported. Though the accord brought an end to the agitation, some of the key clauses are yet to be implemented, which has kept some of the issues festering.

What Is The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016?

The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 seeks to allow illegal migrants from certain minority communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship. In other words, it amends the Citizenship Act of 1955.

The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.

What Does It Want?

The Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to allow illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religious communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan to not be imprisoned or deported.

It also appeals for the minimum years of residency in India to apply for citizenship to be lessened from at least 11 to six years for such migrants.

The Bill, however, does not extend to illegal Muslim migrants. It also does not talk about other minority communities in the three neighbouring countries, such as Jews, Bahais etc.

Source: The Hindu

Ban on Tiktok app

In News:

The Indian government has ordered Google and Apple to take down the Chinese-owned Tiktok video app after a court expressed concerns over the spread of pornographic material.

Background:

Tiktok has already been banned in neighbouring Bangladesh and hit with a large fine in the United States for illegally collecting information from children. The app, which claims to have 500 million users worldwide including more than 120 million in India, has been fighting the effort to shut it down after a high court in Chennai called for the ban on 3 April.

What necessitated this and can the ban be justified?

The case was launched by an activist group which said the app encouraged paedophiles and pornography.

The ban assumes that only a few platforms are a source of the problem and ignores the fundamental nature of the internet. The internet is not just Facebook or TikTok or WhatsApp. There are several other websites where people can go and find some of the most horrible content and then share it to the other platforms. To single out one app as a source of the problem as has happened with TikTok is worrying.

The TikTok ban also raises questions about the future of tech policy in India. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeITY) is already working on new rules for intermediaries, which would put a lot more onus on companies to monitor content beforehand, and assumes that automated monitoring and AI will solve the problem.

What needs to be done?

The best way to protect users, especially children, is to empower them with information.

Time is indeed nigh for legislation specifically protecting the interests of young users, it is also important for policymakers and internet companies to create education materials targeted at children and their parents.

To begin with, the government must make the safe use of the internet a part of the school and college course curricula.

Way ahead:

TikTok is not the only internet company to be lethargic in acting on complaints, Twitter and Facebook have been slow to act as well, aside from doing little to help law enforcement in cracking down on crime. If such companies value their users and wish to retain them, they should start being proactive in dealing with harmful behaviour on their sites.

Source: The Hindu

MCC and the role of EC

In News:

Recently, Election Commission of India (EC) admitted to the Supreme Court that it was “toothless”, and did not have enough powers to deal with inflammatory or divisive speeches in the election campaign.

Details:

Article 324 says the superintendence, direction and control of all elections to Parliament, the State legislatures, and the offices of the President and Vice-President shall be vested in the EC. The Article has been interpreted by courts and by orders of the EC from time to time to mean that the power vested in it is plenary in nature.

In other words, the EC can take any action it deems fit to ensure that elections and the election process are free and fair.

Has the EC always been a multi-member body?

No, the Election Commission was a single Chief Election Commissioner for decades since the body was set up in 1950 based on the provisions of the Constitution.

It was on October 16, 1989, that two more Election Commissioners were appointed to expand the panel’s composition. Their tenure ended in 1990.

Thereafter, two Election Commissioners were appointed in 1993. Since then, the EC has been a three-member panel, with a Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.

How decisions are made and how are EC’s different from CEC?

Decision-making within the panel is by majority.

While the CEC can only be removed in the manner set out for a Supreme Court judge, the other two Commissioners may be removed on the recommendation of the CEC.

In 1995, the Supreme Court held that the Election Commissioners are on a par with the CEC and the latter is not superior in standing with the other Commissioners.

The EC has been demanding that the protection and safeguards given to the CEC under the Constitution should also be extended to the other Election Commissioners.

What kind of control does the EC have over civil servants during an election?

As the superintendence and control over all aspects of the election process is vested in the EC, it exercises direction and control over civil servants deployed for election-related work. This means that bureaucrats engaged in the administrative aspects of elections, including police officers with law and order duties, are also amenable to the EC’s jurisdiction.

This power enables the EC to monitor both the manner in which civil servants perform their election-related duties, and prevent activities which may be seen as partisan.

The EC often cites its vast powers under Article 324 to transfer or suspend officials during election time, even though they normally come under the disciplinary purview of the government of India or the State governments. There have been instances of the EC transferring not only Returning Officers, but also Commissioners of Police and Superintendents of Police.

What are the possible actions it can take against candidates and parties?

The EC monitors the adherence of political parties and candidates to the ‘Model Code of Conduct’.

If the violations are also offences under election law and the criminal law of the land, the EC has the power to recommend registration of cases against the offenders.

However, for some violations — such as canvassing for votes during a period when electioneering is barred, making official announcements while the MCC is in force, and making appeal to voters on sectarian grounds — the EC has the power to advise or censure candidates, in addition to directing registration of cases.

In some cases, as recent incidents would show, the EC may bar candidates or leaders from campaigning for specified periods.

Asking individuals to leave a constituency or barring entry into certain areas are other powers that the EC may exercise. These powers are not necessarily traceable to any provision in law, but are generally considered inherent because of the sweeping and plenary nature of the EC’s responsibility under the Constitution to ensure free and fair elections.

Its powers extend to postponing elections to any constituency, cancelling an election already notified, and even to abrogate or annul an election already held.

What are the limitations of the EC’s powers?

The EC does not have the power to disqualify candidates who commit electoral malpractices. At best, it may direct the registration of a case.

The EC also does not have the power to deregister any political party. However, the Constitution empowers the EC to decide whether a candidate has incurred disqualification by holding an office of profit under the appropriate government, or has been declared an insolvent, or acquired the citizenship of a foreign state.

When a question arises whether a candidate has incurred any of these disqualifications, the President of India or Governor has to refer it to the EC. The poll panel’s decision on this is binding.

Source: The Hindu

FAME-II Scheme

In News:

The Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee of the National Mission for Transformative Mobility has decided to incorporate localisation conditions to avail benefits under the FAME-II Scheme.

Outcomes of the recent meeting:

The steering committee has mandated that only companies that meet the 50% localisation threshold will be eligible for the incentives that will be available under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME-II) scheme to boost electric mobility as well as the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The decision has been taken to ensure that the tax payer’s money is not used to subsidise imports and encourage local manufacturing.

What are the salient features of FAME 2 scheme?

Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles, or FAME 2 scheme aims to boost electric mobility and increase the number of electric vehicles in commercial fleets.

Target: The outlay of ₹10,000 crore has been made for three years till 2022 for FAME 2 scheme.

The government will offer the incentives for electric buses, three-wheelers and four-wheelers to be used for commercial purposes.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles and those with a sizeable lithium-ion battery and electric motor will also be included in the scheme and fiscal support offered depending on the size of the battery.

How will FAME 2 scheme help improve charging infrastructure?

The centre will invest in setting up charging stations, with the active participation of public sector units and private players.

It has also been proposed to provide one slow-charging unit for every electric bus and one fast-charging station for 10 electric buses.

Projects for charging infrastructure will include those needed to extend electrification for running vehicles such as pantograph charging and flash charging.

FAME 2 will also encourage interlinking of renewable energy sources with charging infrastructure.

Background:

FAME India is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan. Main thrust of FAME is to encourage electric vehicles by providing subsidies. FAME focuses on 4 areas i.e. Technology development, Demand Creation, Pilot Projects and Charging Infrastructure.

Way ahead:

India needs auto industry’s active participation to ease electric mobility transition. The auto and battery industries could collaborate to enhance customer awareness, promote domestic manufacturing, promote new business models, conduct R&D for EVs and components, consider new business models to promote EVs.

Government should focus on a phased manufacturing plan to promote EVs, provide fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for phased manufacturing of EVs and batteries. Different government departments can consider a bouquet of potential policies, such as congestion pricing, ZEV credits, low emission/exclusion zones, parking policies, etc. to drive adoption of EVs.

Source: The Hindu

Face of Disasters 2019

In News:

The Face of Disasters 2019 report was recently published by Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS). The report released by SEEDS as part of its 25th anniversary, analyses past trends, looking at disasters from a broader perspective to capture their varied facets.

Details:

Eight key areas have emerged that will be critical to consider as we look ahead, as per the report:

  1. Water and the changing nature of disaster risk: A ‘new normal’ of rainfall variability is bringing challenges of too much and too little water, often in parallel.
  2. No disaster is ‘natural’: Risks lurking under the radar slip through the cracks because they don’t meet the idea of a ‘natural disaster’.
  3. The silent events: The disasters that go unseen leave those affected at even greater risk.
  4. Land becomes water (and water becomes land): Changes to the coastline are already affecting livelihood sources and will be hotspots for vulnerability in the future.
  5. The complexity of disaster impact: Beyond official ‘damages’, the long-term and uncaptured disaster impacts have life-changing consequences for affected communities.
  6. The urban imperative: Risk is rapidly urbanising and will affect everyone.
  7. Transformations in the third pole: Himalayan glaciers are melting, with serious implications for the whole region.
  8. Planning for what you can’t see: Earthquake risk is looming large under the radar, but are we prepared?

Concerns:

2019 will see unusual flooding, as well as heatwaves and drought that are already ongoing. A single mega-disaster can wipe out hard-won development gains and recurrent small-scale stresses keep vulnerable families in a cycle of poverty. While this multiple event pattern is repeated every year, only a few really capture the public attention. Other risks continue to intensify under the radar.

Need of the hour:

The complexity of disasters today requires a proactive and multi-pronged approach. Current trends are reinforcing that disasters have multiple facets and complexities. There is a clear need for comprehensive understanding of risks, and hyper-localised plans and allocation of resources to reduce them.

About SEEDS:

SEEDS, a non profit voluntary organization, is a collective endeavor of young professionals drawn from development related fields. It originated as an informal group of likeminded persons, getting together for the purpose of creative research projects of academic interest.

Functions: It is involved in research activities in Community Development, Disaster Management, Environmental Planning, Transport Planning, and Urban and Regional Planning. Activities are carried out on behalf of government, semi – government and international development agencies.

Source: The Hindu

Olive Ridley Turtle

In News:

The idyllic Kalam Island off the Odisha coast has become lively with lakhs of baby Olive Ridley turtles crawling towards the Bay of Bengal after emerging from eggshells. The Odisha Forest and Environment Department said baby turtles had emerged from approximately 1.25 lakh nests.

Key facts:

Vulnerable — IUCN Red list.

Habitat — warm and tropical waters of primarily in the Pacific, Indian Ocean and Atlantic ocean.

Gets name from its olive colored carapace, which is heart-shaped and rounded

Arribadas — synchronized nesting in mass numbers,

Operation Olivia — Olive Ridely Turtle protection program undertaken by Indian Coast Guard

mating and breeding season — winter

mostly carnivorous, feeding on such creatures as jellyfish, snails, crabs, and shrimp. They will occasionally eat algae and seaweed.

Nesting sites in India:

Hope Island of Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary (Andra Pradesh)

Gahirmatha beach (Odisha)

Astaranga coast (Odisha)

Beach of Rushikulya River

Devi River mouth

Indian bullfrogs

In News:

A study has found that the Indian bullfrogs introduced in the Andaman islands are invasive, and eat native wildlife including fish and lizards.

About Indian Bullfrog:

The Indian bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus) is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is a large species of frog found in mainland Myanmar, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nepal.

Other names: Indus Valley bullfrog, Asia bullfrog.

The bullfrogs are prolific breeders: they have short breeding seasons, and each egg clutch can contain up to 5,750 eggs.

Its tadpoles are carnivorous and eat other tadpoles, including their own species.

They prefer freshwater wetlands and aquatic habitats. Generally they avoid coastal and forest areas.

Active volcanoes of Indonesia

The active volcano of Indonesia Mount Agung has erupted again. Two other volcanoes Mount Bromo in East Java and Mount Merapi in Yogyakarta also continues to erupt.

Mount Agung: Mount Agung is an active volcano in Bali of Indonesia.

Mount Bromo: Mount Bromo is an active volcano and part of the Tengger massif, in East Java, Indonesia.

Mount Merapi: Mount Merapi is an active volcano located on the border between Central Java and Yogyakarta provinces, Indonesia.

Indian Navy launches Guided missile destroyer ‘Imphal’

In News:

The Indian Navy has launched guided missile destroyer ‘Imphal’ at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders in Mumbai.

Key facts:

Imphal is the third ship to be launched under Project 15B. The warships built under the project are propelled by four gas turbines to achieve speed in excess of 30 knots. They have a length of 163 metres and 17.4 metres at the beam and a displacement of 7.300 tonnes.

The first ship of Project 15B, a guided missile destroyer christened ‘Visakhapatnam’, was launched on April 20, 2015.

 

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