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29th March Current Affairs

Chandigarh employees to be under central civil services rules

(GS-II: Issues related to Civil Services)

In News:

The Central Government has announced that the central civil services will now apply to the employees of the Chandigarh administration.

The Union Territory of Chandigarh is the common capital of Punjab and Haryana.

Implications:

Enhancement of retirement age from current 58 years to 60 years.

Women employees will now have two years of child care leave from the existing one year.

It will have other benefits like an increase in child education allowance.

Those with the education department, their retirement age will enhance to 65.

Opposition to this decision:

The decision has invited sharp criticism from Punjab leaders who, cutting across party lines, termed it “an encroachment on Punjab’s rights”.

This is in violation of the spirit of Punjab Reorg Act and must be reconsidered.

Chandigarh status:

So far, the UT employees were covered under Punjab Civil services rules.

In 1966, when Punjab was split into Punjab and Haryana, with some territory to Himachal Pradesh, both states claimed Chandigarh as their capital. Pending a resolution, the Centre declared Chandigarh a Union Territory.

As per the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, Chandigarh was to be governed by the Centre but laws in force in undivided Punjab were to be applicable to the UT.

In 1984, the Punjab governor was made administrator of the city at a time when the region was battling terrorism.

Administration of UTs:

Articles 239 to 241 in Part VIII of the Constitution deal with the union territories and there is no uniformity in their administrative system.

Every union territory is administered by the President through an administrator appointed by him.

Power of parliament to make laws:

The Parliament can make laws on any subject of the three lists (including the State List) for the union territories.

The President can make regulations for the peace, progress and good government of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Daman and Diu.

A regulation made by the President has the same force and effect as an act of Parliament.

Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna

(GS-II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)

In News:

The new scheme was announced by the Punjab Government recently.

Highlights of the new Scheme:

It provides for home delivery of foodgrains to beneficiaries.

The government gives 5 kg wheat to every individual beneficiary per month at Rs 2 per kg.

The Centre will fund the scheme under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) 2013 for 1.43 lakh beneficiaries (comprising 36 lakh families).

Beneficiaries:

The beneficiaries of the Atta-Dal Scheme of the state government, which is a tweaked version of the Centre’s Food Security Act, will get ration at their doorsteps.

The scheme will be optional and all those who do not want to queue up outside the fair price shops or the ration depots can opt for it.

There are 1.54 crore individual beneficiaries (in 43 lakh families) of the Atta-Dal scheme in Punjab.

National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013:

The objective is to provide for food and nutritional security in the human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.

Key features:

Coverage and entitlement under Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS): The TDPS covers 50% of the urban population and 75% of the rural population, with uniform entitlement of 5 kg per person per month. However, the poorest of the poor households will continue to receive 35 kg of food grains per household per month under Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).

Subsidised prices under TPDS and their revision: For a period of three years from the date of commencement of the Act, Food grains under TPDS will be made available at subsidised prices of Rs. 3/2/1 per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains.

Identification of Households: The identification of eligible households is to be done by States/UTs under TDPS determined for each State.

Nutritional Support to women and children: Children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years and pregnant women and lactating mothers will be entitled to meals as per prescribed nutritional norms under Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and Mid-Day Meal (MDM) schemes. Malnourished children up to the age of 6 have been prescribed for higher nutritional norms.

Maternity Benefit: Pregnant women and lactating mothers will also be receiving maternity benefit of Rs. 6,000.

Women Empowerment: For the purpose of issuing of ration cards, eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above is to be the head of the household.

Grievance Redressal Mechanism: Grievance redressal mechanism available at the District and State levels.

Cost of transportation & handling of food grains and Fair Price Shop (FPS) Dealers’ margin: the expenditure incurred by the state on transportation of food grains within the State, its handling and FPS dealers’ margin as per norms to be devised for this purpose and assistance to states will be provided by the Central Government to meet the above expenditure.

Transparency and Accountability: In order to ensure transparency and accountability, provisions have been made for disclosure of records relating to PDS, social audits and setting up of Vigilance Committees.

Food Security Allowance: In case of non-supply of entitled food grains or meals, there is a provision for food security allowance to entitled beneficiaries.

Penalty: If the public servant or authority fails to comply with the relief recommended by the District Grievance Redressal Officer, penalty will be imposed by the State Food Commission according to the provision.

What causes coral bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef?

(GS-III: Conservation related issues)

In News:

Scientists have warned that the Great Barrier Reef will face a critical period of heat stress over the coming weeks, following the most widespread coral bleaching the natural world has ever endured.

About Great Barrier Reef:

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which spreads across a length of over 2,300 km and is roughly the size of Italy, is home to about 3,000 coral reefs, 600 continental islands, 1,625 type of fish, 133 varieties of shark and rays and 600 types of soft and hard corals.

It is a world heritage site.

What are Coral reefs?

Coral reefs are important hotspots of biodiversity in the ocean. Corals are animals in the same class (Cnidaria) as jellyfish and anemones. They consist of individual polyps that get together and build reefs.

Significance:

Coral reefs support a wide range of species and maintain the quality of the coastal biosphere.

Corals control the level of carbon dioxide in the water by converting it into a limestone shell. If this process does not take place, the amount of carbon dioxide in the ocean water would increase significantly and affect ecological niches.

Threats:

Coral reefs are threatened by climate change.

When the sea surface temperature increases beyond a tolerable limit, they undergo a process of bleaching.

What is bleaching?

Basically bleaching is when the corals expel a certain algae known as zooxanthellae, which lives in the tissues of the coral in a symbiotic relationship. About 90% of the energy of the coral is provided by the zooxanthellae which are endowed with chlorophyll and other pigments. They are responsible for the yellow or reddish brown colours of the host coral. In addition the zooxanthellae can live as endosymbionts with jellyfish also.

When a coral bleaches, it does not die but comes pretty close to it. Some of the corals may survive the experience and recover once the sea surface temperature returns to normal levels.

Malabar rebellion of 1921

(GS-I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues)

In News:

The Indian Council for Historical Research (ICHR) has deferred its decision on a recommendation to remove the 1921 Malabar Rebellion martyrs, including Variamkunnaathu Kunhahamad Haji and Ali Musliyar, from the list of India’s freedom fighters.

What’s the issue?

The panel was of the view that the rebellion that took place at Malabar was a one-sided attack on Hindus. Just two Britishers were killed during the unrest and hence the rebellion could not be considered as part of the freedom struggle.

The subcommittee had recommended the removal of the Malabar Rebellion leaders, mostly Muslims, from the list. This is viewed by some as an attempt to distort history.

What was the Mapilla rebellion?

The Mapilla rebellion or Moplah Rebellion (Moplah Riots) of 1921 was the culmination of a series of riots by Moplahs (Muslims of Malabar) in the 19th and early 20th centuries against the British and the Hindu landlords in Malabar (Northern Kerala).

The year 2021 will mark the 100th year anniversary of the uprising.

Causes and outcomes of the revolt:

The resistance which started against the British colonial rule and the feudal system later ended in communal violence between Hindus and Muslims.

Gandhiji along with Shaukat Ali, the leader of the Khilafat movement in India, visited Calicut in August 1920 to spread the combined message of non-cooperation and Khilafat among the residents of Malabar.

In response to Gandhiji’s call, a Khilafat committee was formed in Malabar and the Mappilas, under their religious head Mahadum Tangal of Ponnani who pledged support to the non-cooperation movement.

Most of tenants’ grievances were related to the security of tenure, high rents, renewal fees and other unfair exactions of the landlords.

The British government responded with much aggression, bringing in Gurkha regiments to suppress it and imposing martial law.

Wagon Tragedy:

A noteworthy event of the British suppression was the wagon tragedy when approximately 60 Mappila prisoners on their way to prison, were suffocated to death in a closed railway goods wagon.