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25 July Current Affairs

Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2019

In News:

The Unlawful Activities Prevention (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Lok Sabha.

Details:

Background:

  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (the Act) was enacted to provide for more effective prevention of certain unlawful activities of individuals and associations, and for dealing with terrorist activities, and for matters connected therewith.
  • The said Act has been amended in the years 2004, 2008 and 2013 to add certain provisions relating to various facets of terrorism.
  • Its main objective is to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2011 was introduced to make it more effective in preventing unlawful activities, and meet commitments made at the Financial Action Task Force (an intergovernmental organization to combat money laundering and terrorism financing).
  • It expands the definition of ‘terrorist act’ to Acts that threaten the economic security of India and damage its monetary stability by production, smuggling or circulation of ‘high quality’ counterfeit currency. The security features that define ‘high quality’ are laid down in the Third Schedule.

Main features of the bill:

  • Amendment to Schedule 4 of the Bill will allow the NIA to designate an individual suspected to have terror links as a terrorist. As of now, only groups are designated as “terrorist organisations”.
  • Empowering the Director General, National Investigation Agency to grant approval of seizure or attachment of property when the case is investigated by the said agency.
  • Amending section 35 of the Act to empower the Central Government to add to or remove from the proposed Fourth Schedule, the name of an individual terrorist and other consequential amendments relating thereto.
  • Inserting a new clause (ba) in section 43 of the Act to empower an officer of the rank of Inspector of National Investigation Agency to investigate the offences.
  • The government believed in “zero tolerance” towards terrorism and a provision is needed to designate “individual terrorist” in law.

Diphtheria

What is Diphtheria?

  • Diphtheria is a highly infectious disease, which usually shows up as a sore throat and difficulty in breathing.
  • It spreads through contact or cough and sneeze droplets, and is caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae.
  • In severe cases, the toxin secreted by this bacterium kills cells in the throat.
  • If the patient isn’t treated the toxin can spread through the bloodstream hurting the heart and kidneys.

About:

Cause: Diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by Corynebacterium diphtheria, a bacterium.

Health impact: One type of diphtheria affects the throat and sometimes the tonsils. Another type causes ulcers on the skin; these are more common in the tropics (places where all 12 months have mean temperatures of at least 18 °C).

Vulnerable groups: Diphtheria particularly affects children aged 1 to 5 years. In temperate climates diphtheria tends to occur during the colder months.

Vaccine: The diphtheria vaccine is among the oldest vaccines in India’s Universal Immunisation Programme.

Indian scenario: Cases in the country have been going up over the last few years after showing a remarkable reduction in 2015. In 2015, as per WHO data, India reported 2,365 cases. However, in 2016, 2017 and 2018, the numbers rose successively to 3,380, 5,293 and 8,788.

 ‘CIC orders won’t be taken seriously’

In News:

With the RTI (Amendment) Bill having been passed by the Lok Sabha and now pending introduction in the Rajya Sabha, several Central Information Commission (CIC) members — past and present — have warned that the changes would have a chilling impact on the implementation of the RTI Act as originally envisioned.

Details:

There is definitely a concern that our directives will not be taken as seriously by the governnment’s officials [if the amendments are approved as law]. “Today, we issue orders even to Secretaries of the Government of India. There is some kind of implicit fear. But if the status of the Commission is brought down, why would they bother?”.

About Central Information Commission:

  • The Right To Information (RTI) Act, 2005  provides  for  establishment  of  Central  and  State  information commissioner as a designated statutory authority to receive and inquire into a complaint from any person.
  • The general superintendence,  direction  and  management  of the affairs  of  the  Commission  are  vested  in  the  Chief Information Commissioner, who is assisted by the Information Commissioners.
  • Under the CIC,  the  Chief  Information  Commissioner  enjoys complete financial and administrative powers of a Department of the  Government  of  India  except  in  matters relating to the creation of posts,  re-appropriation  and  writing-off  losses  for  which it needs the specific concurrence of the Ministry of Finance.
  • Appointment: The Chief Information  Commissioner  and  Information  Commissioners are appointed  by  the  President  on  the  recommendation  of  a selection committee comprising of Prime Minister as Chairperson, the leader of single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha and a Union Cabinet Minister to be nominated by the Prime Minister.
  • Tenure: Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioner hold office for a term of 5 years or till he attains the age of 65 years. The Chief Information Commissioner is not eligible for reappointment.

Cabinet approves banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill

In News:

The Union cabinet approved the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Bill, 2019, which seeks to prevent unregulated entities from collecting deposits and duping the poor and the gullible of their hard earned savings.

Details:

The bill aims at plugging gaps in existing laws and giving powers to the government to prohibit companies from taking such funds from the public. People running such illicit deposit-taking schemes can face jail terms as well as stiff penalty if the bill becomes a law.

“The bill will help tackle the menace of illicit deposit-taking activities in the country, which at the present is exploiting regulatory gaps and the lack of strict administrative measures to dupe poor and gullible people of their hard-earned savings,” the government said in a release.

It will replace the Banning of Unregulated Deposit Schemes Ordinance, 2019, and will be introduced in the ongoing Parliament session.

There are three different types of offences

  1. running of unregulated deposit schemes,
  2. fraudulent default in regulated deposit schemes, and wrongful inducement
  3. in case of unregulated deposit schemes, according to the bill.

The proposed law provides for appointment senior government officials or a ‘competent authority’ that can attach assets or properties and subsequently realize the assets towards repaying depositors, the government said earlier this year. There will also be a provision for creating an online central database to collect and share information on deposit-taking activities in the country.

The proposed law has provisions of punishment as well as repayment of deposits if such schemes raise deposits illegally, the release said. For instance, accepting unregulated deposits will be punishable and can also lead to imprisonment, along with fines ranging between ₹3 lakh and ₹5 lakh. Repeat offenders could face imprisonment between 5 and 10 years, along with a fine amounting to ₹5-10 crore.

Bal Gangadhar Tilak

In News:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak, on his birth anniversary.

About:

Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856 – 1920) was an Indian nationalist, teacher, and an independence activist.

Names: He was born as Keshav Gangadhar Tilak. He was also conferred with the title of “Lokmanya”, which means “accepted by the people (as their leader)”.

Lal-Bal-Pal: He had popular leaders such as Bipin Chandra Pal and Lala Lajpat Rai as his political companions and the three were popularly known as ‘Lal-Bal-Pal triumvirate.’

View on Swaraj: Tilak was one of the first and strongest advocates of Swaraj (“self-rule”) and became popular as the ‘Father of Swaraj’. He is known for his quote in Marathi: “Swarajya is my birthright and I shall have it!”.

Educationist:

To ensure that youngsters in India attain quality education, he founded the Deccan Education Society in 1884.

The Society established the Fergusson College in 1885 for post-secondary studies. Tilak taught mathematics at Fergusson College.

Extremist:

Tilak was considered a radical Nationalist. He was called “the father of Indian unrest” by British author Sir Valentine Chirol.

During his lifetime he had been tried for Sedition Charges in three times by British India Government—in 1897, 1909, and 1916.

Related organizations:

He joined the Indian National Congress Party in the year 1890.

He also helped found the All India Home Rule League in 1916–18, with G. S. Khaparde and Annie Besant. Tilak started his Home Rule League in Maharashtra, Central Provinces, and Karnataka and Berar region. Besant’s League was active in the rest part of India.

As an author:

Weeklies: He started weeklies such as Kesari (The Lion) and Mahratta. Kesari was Marathi language weekly while Mahratta was English weekly. Through these newspapers Tilak became widely known for his criticisms of British rule.

Books: When Bal Gangadhar Tilak was imprisoned during the freedom struggle, he wrote a book titled ‘Gita-Rahasya’.

The events like the Ganapati festival and Shiv Jayanti were used by Tilak to build a national spirit beyond the circle of the educated elite in opposition to colonial rule.

In 1916 he concluded the Lucknow Pact with Mohammed Ali Jinnah, which provided for Hindu-Muslim unity in the nationalist struggle.

Chandra Shekhar Azad

In News:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to Indian revolutionary Chandra Shekhar Azad, on his birth anniversary.

About: 

Chandra Shekhar Azad (1906 – 1931) was an Indian revolutionary.

He reorganised the Hindustan Republican Association under its new name of Hindustan Socialist Republican Army (HSRA) in 1928 after the death of its founder, Ram Prasad Bismil.

He was involved in the Kakori Train Robbery of 1925, in the attempt to blow up the Viceroy of India’s train in 1926, and at last the shooting of J. P. Saunders at Lahore in 1928 to avenge the killing of Lala Lajpat Rai.

He died at Alfred Park in Allahabad (now Prayagraj) on 27 February 1931.

Names:

He was popularly known as by his self-taken name Azad (“The Free”).

He often used the pseudonym “Balraj” when signing pamphlets issued as the commander in chief of the Hindustan Socialist Republic Army (HSRA).

Ukeiri Mobility Programme: Study In India

In News:

A new India-UK bilateral scheme named “UKEIRI Mobility Programme: Study in India” has been launched on a pilot basis.

About: 

Name of the scheme: UKEIRI Mobility Programme: Study in India.

Scheme Objective: It’s objective is to fund students from UK to visit India. It will support Britain’s universities to collaborate with Indian partners to send UK students to India during their studies.

Implementation Mechanism: The programme will be funded by the UK and Indian governments as part of Phase 3 of the UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKEIRI) and delivered by the British Council India, Universities UK International (UUKI) and EdCIL in India.

Target: The programme will increase the levels of outward student mobility from the UK to 13 per cent by 2020, as set out in UUKi’s “Go International: Stand Out” campaign.

FRANCO-GERMAN MIGRATION RESETTLEMENT PLAN

In News:

Eight member countries of the European Union have agreed to a new “solidarity mechanism” proposed by Germany and France to share the resettlement of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean.

About:

The eight countries are Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Portugal. Another six nations backed the plan in principle at talks in Paris.

Italy, which has been at the forefront of the migrant influx in Europe, did not take part in the meeting.

No details of the deal, announced by French President Emmanuel Macron, were provided.

Background:

Thousands of migrants attempt to cross the Mediterranean to Europe every year, and Libya is a key departure point. Those who make the journey often travel in poorly maintained and overcrowded vessels, and many have died.

But since mid-2017, the number of migrant journeys has declined dramatically largely due to efforts by Italy and other EU countries to encourage Libya to stop migrants from crossing the Mediterranean – a policy condemned by human rights organisations.

International refugee protection regime? 

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): 

It is a UN agency formed in 1950.

Headquartered in Geneva

Task: To protect and support refugees at the request of a government or the UN itself, assists in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country.

UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees:

It is also known as the1951 Refugee Convention.

The convention was approved in a UN conference in 1951 and came into force in 1954.

This convention Defines who is arefugee and which people do not qualify as refugees; Sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and sets out responsibilities of nations that grant asylum.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948: Article 14 of the 1948Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries.

RASHTRIYA AAJEEVIKA MISSION

In News:

Union Minister for Rural Development informed Lok Sabha about the Rashtriya Aajeevika Mission.

About: 

Official name: Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM).

Implemented by: Ministry of Rural Development.

Coverage: It is being implemented across the country in a mission mode.

Mission objective: Organizing the rural poor women into Self Help Groups (SHGs), and continuously nurturing and supporting them to take economic activities so that they come out of abject poverty.

Sub-schemes under DAY-NRLM:

Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs), enables a trainee to take bank credit and start his/her own Micro-enterprise.

Start-up Village Entrepreneurship Programme (SVEP) for facilitating the rural poor for setting up of micro Enterprises.

Aajeevika Grameen Express Yojana (AGEY) to facilitate transport facilities in the rural areas which also provides self employment opportunities to the rural poor.

Wilful Defaults

In News:

The Minister of Finance informed Rajya Sabha about the mechanisms in place to deter wilful defaulters, curb incidence of wilful defaults, and effect recovery from wilful defaulters.

Meaning: 

Default means not meeting loan repayment obligations.

Criteria: According to a Reserve Bank of India, a default is wilful when it fulfils one of the following four conditions:

A borrower (or an entity) does not pay up even when it has the capacity to pay,

a borrower has not used the loan for the purpose borrowed and diverted it elsewhere,

a borrower has siphoned off the funds and the money is not available with it in the form of other assets, and,

a borrower sells assets given as security against the loan without informing lenders.

Following can be termed as Wilful defaulters:

  • Individuals,
  • Juristic persons (groups of individuals, such as corporations) and
  • All forms of business enterprises.

Terror Financing

In News:

Minister of Home Affairs informed Lok Sabha today about the steps being taken to combat Terror Financing and circulation of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) in the country.

Steps to combat terror financing in the country: 

Strengthening the provisions in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 by criminalizing the production or smuggling or circulation of high quality counterfeit Indian currency.

A Terror Funding and Fake Currency (TFFC) Cell has been constituted in National Investigation Agency (NIA) to conduct focused investigation of terror funding and fake currency cases.

FICN Coordination Group (FCORD) has been formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs to share intelligence/information among the security agencies of the states/centre to counter the problem of circulation of fake currency notes.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between India and Bangladesh to prevent and counter smuggling and circulation of fake currency notes.

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