G7, Biarritz Summit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a visit to Biarritz, France at the invitation of President Macron for the 2019 G-7 Summit as ‘Biarritz Partner’ from 25-26 August 2019.
The 45th G7 summit was held on 24–26 August 2019, in Biarritz, France with the theme “Fighting Inequality”. Key highlights of the summit:
The G7 commits to reaching an agreement in 2020 to simplify regulatory barriers and modernize international taxation within the framework of the OECD.
The G7 shares the common objective to ensure that Iran never acquires nuclear weapons.
In an opaque reference to the Russian military intervention in Ukraine (2014–present), France and Germany announced that they will organize a Normandy format summit in the coming weeks to achieve tangible results.
In light of the 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests, the G7 reaffirmed the importance of the 1984 Sino-British agreement on Hong Kong and calls for avoiding violence.
On the sidelines of summit, PM Modi met US President Donald Trump and discussed various issues including Kashmir. After the meeting, Trump said Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and both the countries will sort it out themselves.
Trump and Emmanuel Macron agreed that Russia should be invited to the next G7 Summit in 2020 (In 2014, the G7 declared that a meaningful discussion was currently not possible with Russia in the context of the G8. Since then, meetings have continued within the G7 process).
The Group of Seven (G7) is an international intergovernmental economic organization consisting of seven advanced economies in the world: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Biarritz is a city on the Bay of Biscay, on the Atlantic coast in southwestern France. It is located 35 kilometres from the border with Spain.
International Coalition For Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)
The Union Cabinet has approved the Establishment of an International Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) along with its supporting Secretariat Office in New Delhi.
Launch date: The CDRI is proposed to be launched at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York, USA on 23rd September 2019.
The approval is for the following initiatives:
Establishment of the CDRI along with its supporting Secretariat office in New Delhi.
Establishment of the Secretariat of the CDRI as a Society under The Societies Registration Act,1860.
In-principle approval for Government of India support of Rs. 480 crore over a period of 5 years from 2019-20 to 2023-24.
Major Impact: The CDRI will serve as a platform where knowledge is generated and exchanged on different aspects of disaster and climate resilience of infrastructure. It will bring together technical expertise from a multitude of stakeholders.
Biometric Seafarer Identity Document (BSID)
India has become the first country in the world to issue Biometric Seafarer Identity Document (BSID), capturing the facial bio-metric data of seafarers.
The project was launched by Union Minister of Shipping in New Delhi. He also handed over the new BSID cards to five Indian seafarers. All the existing seafarers will be given BSID within the next 2 years.
The new card is in confirmation of the Convention No. 185 of the International Labour Organisation on BSID. India ratified the Convention in October 2015.
In India the BSID project has been taken up by Ministry of Shipping in collaboration with Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Mumbai.
The Government notified the Merchant Shipping (Seafarers Bio-metric Identification Document) Rules in
Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Shri Ramesh launched an Integrated Online junction for School Education ‘Shagun’.
School Education Shagun (URL: htpp://shagun.govt.in/) is an over-arching initiative to improve school education system.
This will be achieved by creating a junction for all portals/websites relating to various activities of the Department of School Education and Literacy in the Government of India and States/UTs.
Websites of 1200 Kendriya Vidyalayas, 600 Navodaya Vidyalayas, 18000 other CBSE affiliated schools, 30 SCERTs, 19000 organisations affiliated with NTCE among others are integrated with Shagun.
Report cards of 15 lakh schools all over the country will be available on the newly created junction. The website also provides vital information relating to availability of nearby schools. Common people can directly give their feedback about schools.
The portal seeks to connect approximately 92 lakh teachers and 26 crore students.
Integrated National School Education Treasury (INSET)
Union HRD Minister announced the setting up of the Integrated National School Education Treasury (INSET).
INSET is envisaged as a fully integrated, instantly accessible and seamless information network for all parameters relating to the students, teachers, and schools in the country.
The aim is to create an easily accessible multi-layered eco-system of information – school wise, block-wise, district-wise, constituency-wise, state-wise and region-wise.
Using this, parents will soon be able to inform the education authorities directly in real time if a school administration provides incorrect details about its infrastructure, teachers or if the teachers are indulging in absenteeism.
Review Of FDI Policy
The Union Cabinet has approved the proposal for Review of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy on various sectors.
Amendments to the FDI Policy:
Digital Media: It has been decided to permit 26% FDI under government route for uploading/ streaming of News & Current Affairs through Digital Media, on the lines of print media.
Contract Manufacturing: It has been decided to allow 100% FDI under automatic route in contract manufacturing in India as well.
Coal Mining: It has been decided to permit 100% FDI under automatic route for sale of coal, for coal mining activities including associated processing infrastructure.
Single Brand Retail Trading (SBRT):
All procurements made from India by the SBRT entity for the single brand shall be counted towards local sourcing, irrespective of whether the goods procured are sold in India or exported.
Further, the current cap of considering exports for 5 years only is proposed to be removed, to give an impetus to exports.
As per UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2019, global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows slid by 13% in 2018, to US $1.3 trillion from US $1.5 trillion the previous year – the third consecutive annual decline.
However, India remains a preferred and attractive destination for global FDI flows. In fact, total FDI in 2018-19 i.e. US $ 64.37 billion (provisional figure) is the highest ever FDI received for any financial year.
The above amendments to the FDI Policy are meant to liberalize and simplify the FDI policy to attract far more foreign investment.
Plant To Convert Plastic Waste Into Diesel
Union Minister for Science and Technology inaugurated a waste plastics to diesel plant in Dehradun.
Location: The plant has been set up in CSIR- Indian Institute of Petroleum (IIP) whose scientists will process waste plastics into fuel.
Capacity: It has the capacity to produce 800-litre diesel from one tonne of plastic. The fuel will be of automotive grade. It meets the specifications for use in vehicles. This will be made available to government, police and army vehicles for regular use.
Technology: Using the technology, polyolefinic waste can be converted into diesel. This type of waste accounts for about 70 % of total plastic waste in the country and is the least bio-degradable.
Bodies involved: The technology has been developed by the scientists of the CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun under the GAIL’s sponsorship. GAIL (India) has sponsored the technology development and provided technical support for the endeavour.
Way ahead: IIP and GAIL have planned to roll out the technology nation-wide after six months of operation of the pilot plant.
India Child Well-Being Index
The India child well-being index was released by the NGO World Vision India and research institute IFMR LEAD.
The India child well-being index is a tool designed to measure and track children’s well-being comprehensively.
The three dimensions of the index include (1) healthy individual development, (2) positive relationships and (3) protective contexts.
Focusing on the three key dimensions, 24 indicators were selected to develop the index.
Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Puducherry topped the child well-being index.
Meghalaya, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh featured at the bottom of the list.
Code of Conduct for MPs and MLAs
Lok Sabha Speaker has said that a common code of conduct will be framed for legislative bodies to check interruptions and for this a committee of presiding officers will be formed, which, after due consultations with Speakers of Legislative Assemblies and the Chairmen of Legislative Councils, will present its report later this year.
Code of conduct for high constitutional functionaries and representatives of the people have been discussed for long. A code for Union ministers was adopted in 1964, and state governments were advised to adopt it as well.
A conference of Chief Justices in 1999 resolved to adopt a code of conduct for judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts — this 15-point ‘Re-instatement of Values in Judicial Life’ recommended that serving judges should maintain an air of “aloofness” in their official and personal lives.
In the case of MPs, the first step was the constitution of Parliamentary Standing Committees on Ethics in both Houses. The Committee in Rajya Sabha was inaugurated by Chairman K R Narayanan on May 30, 1997 “to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of the Members and to examine the cases referred to it with reference to ethical and other misconduct of Members”.
Why do We Need a Code of Conduct For Politicians?
Elections in India are often remembered for personal attacks, snide remarks and hate speeches made at the expense of taking political discourse to its nadir.
In a bid to assert their superiority over the rest, some political leaders go overboard and blur the line between public and private lives. Some even threaten voters with dire consequences if they are not voted to power.
Parliament and State Legislatures, the representative institutions, are accountable to the people and matters concerning different regions need to be constructively discussed and debated in the House.
Therefore, to ensure civility in political speeches and expressions, establishing code of conduct for politicians is mandatory.
Prohibit MPs from misusing the power and immunities they get.
An MP should avoid conflict between a private and a public interest.
No parliamentarian should be allowed to vote on those questions in the House, in which he/she has a vested interest.
Amend the Constitution to ensure a minimum of 110 days of sitting in a legislature having more than 100 members, and 90-50 days of sitting in Houses with less than 100 members depending on the size of the State involved.
The filing by legislators of a statement of income, assets and liabilities, and an indication of changes in these figures over time.
Punishment of members by admonition, reprimand, censure or withdrawal from the House in case of violations or breach of the code of conduct.
Automatic suspension from the House of any member involved in offences of grave misconduct.
Need of the hour:
There’s a lot more that the Election Commission ought to do to make it difficult for the errant politicians. Its responsibility doesn’t ends with the filing of an FIR against a candidate who is violating code of conduct. It should direct political parties to withdraw such candidates.
Stronger actions such as derecognizing political parties and other powers need to be exercised for the larger interest of the democracy.
A code of conduct for legislators is absolutely essential at this point of time, when coalition Governments mean increasing and more intense activity within the walls of the legislatures.
In the UK, a code of conduct for MPs was “prepared pursuant to the Resolution of the House of 19 July 1995”.
The Canadian House of Commons has a Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner with powers to examine violations of the Conflict of Interest Code at the request of another Member or by Resolution of the House or on his own initiative.
Germany has had a Code of Conduct for members of the Bundestag since 1972.
The US has had a Code since 1968.
Pakistan has a Code of Conduct for members of the Senate.
China’s One Country Two Systems policy
Protests in Hong Kong, now in its 13th consecutive week, have brought a decades-old policy of the People’s Republic of China back into focus — One Country Two Systems.
The protesters say Beijing is trying to violate this policy by infringing on Hong Kong’s autonomy.
What’s this One Country Two Systems approach?
As per the policy, the Hong Kong and Macau Special Administrative Regions, both former colonies, can have different economic and political systems from that of mainland China, while being part of the People’s Republic of China.
It was proposed by Deng Xiaoping with an aim to unify China and Taiwan.
On December 19, 1984, China and the U.K. signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration in Beijing, which set the terms for the autonomy and the legal, economic and governmental systems for Hong Kong post 1997.
Similarly, on March 26, 1987, China and Portugal signed the Joint Declaration on the Question of Macau in which China made similar promises for the region of Macau after it was handed over to Beijing.
The present status:
Hong Kong returned to Chinese control on July 1, 1997, and Macau’s sovereignty was transferred on December 20, 1999.
Both regions became Special Administrative Regions of China. The regions would have their own currencies, economic and legal systems, but defence and diplomacy would be decided by Beijing.
Their mini-Constitutions would remain valid for 50 years — till 2047 for Hong Kong and 2049 for Macau. It is unclear what will happen after this term.
What triggered the current crisis?
In recent years, there has been a growing outcry from Hong Kong’s pro-democracy civil society against China’s alleged attempts to erode the city’s autonomy. This has created tensions between the city’s youth and the local government, which is effectively chosen by Beijing.