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3rd January Current Affairs

Supreme Court upholds demonetisation: What was the challenge about?

(GS-II: Government Policies and Interventions for Development in various sectors and Issues arising out of their Design and Implementation)

In News:

The Supreme Court upheld the government’s decision to demonetise currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 by a 4:1 majority.

Background:

On November 8, 2016, the PM of India announced that the two notes would no more be legal tender, with immediate effect.

Introduced new notes of Rs 2,000 and Rs 500 for public circulation.

Two primary reasons: to curb fake currency notes and reduce black money stored as cash.

Though supported by many, 58 petitions have been filed in the SC challenging various aspects.

The petitioners accused that Section 26(2) of RBI Act, 1934, was not followed: On the recommendation of the [RBI] Central Board, the Central Government may, by notification in the Gazette of India, declare that any series of bank notes of any denomination shall cease to be legal tender.

The court was to consider whether the recommendation for the policy came from the government or the RBI.

The SC’s (4:1) verdict on demonetisation:

The Centre’s notification was valid and satisfied the test of proportionality – a reasonable nexus between the objectives and the means to achieve the objectives.

From the record, it appears that there was a consultative process between the central government and RBI for over 6 months before the decision was taken.

The Decision-making process cannot be faulted merely because the proposal emanated from the centre (as the government and RBI are not in ‘isolated boxes’) and the court cannot replace the wisdom of the executive with its wisdom.

The action taken by the Central Government has been validated by the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of liabilities) Act, 2017, which prohibited and penalised the holding or transferring or receiving of demonetised currency.

The dissenting judgement:

While the measure was “well-intentioned”, it was to be declared unlawful purely on legal grounds as the record demonstrates that there was no independent application of mind by RBI.

Violation of Section 26(2), as the proposal for demonetisation, is to emanate from the central board of the RBI and the demonetisation has to be done through legislation rather than through executive notification.

Conclusion: Most policy decisions carry the risk of unintended consequences, which must be carefully balanced against the potential benefits of such decisions.

Crypto awareness campaign

(GS-III: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights)

In News:

The Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF) will launch an outreach programme soon to create awareness of cryptocurrencies and online gaming.

About Investor Education and Protection Fund (IEPF):

It is managed by the IEPF Authority, which was set up in 2016 under the provisions of Section 125 of the Companies Act, of 2013.

It comes under the aegis of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs.

The Authority is entrusted with the responsibility of administration of the IEPF, which, besides promoting awareness among investors, makes refunds of shares, unclaimed dividends, matured deposits and debentures and so on to rightful claimants.

About Cryptocurrency:

A digital currency is one in which transactions are verified and records maintained by a decentralized system using cryptography, rather than by a centralized authority.

Online gaming:

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has been appointed the nodal industry for online gaming in India; for e-sports, the nodal agency is the Department of Sports, under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

A glance at the rulings of the Supreme Court and several High Courts clearly establishes ‘Games of Skill’ as legitimate business activities protected under Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution. These rulings have also emphasized a clear distinction between ‘Games of Skill’ and ‘Games of Chance’.

Issues with Online Gaming:

There is confusion about the definitions of a ‘game of chance’ like fantasy games, and a ‘game of skill’, a term, which has been used in the Public Gaming Act (1867) but has not been spelt out.

There are risks from cybercrimes as well.

Despite court rulings, online skill games have faced restrictions in a few States due to addiction, financial losses and the thin line between skill and chance.

How Cryptocurrency creates regulatory hurdles:

  • Cybersecurity threats
  • Misuse of cryptocurrency is hard to detect
  • Controlling monetary policy like inflation, growth would become an issue
  • The anonymity of transactions may lead to tax evasion
  • Geopolitical issues: Countries may manipulate their cryptocurrency e.g. Experts say China’s eCNY will threaten dollar dominance and can be a tool for a currency war
  • The high volatility of cryptocurrency and the highly fragmented market

Measures taken to tackle this at the national level:

India recently decided to tax cryptocurrencies, a 30% on the transfer of such assets as well as a 1%TDS on every transaction.

RBI exploring DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) based Central Bank Digital Currency.

In July 2022, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) recommended a ban on cryptocurrencies citing ‘destabilizing effects on the country’s monetary and fiscal health’.

“VIRAASAT”- Celebrating 75 handwoven Saris of India

In News:

The Ministry of Textiles is organizing the festival second phase of the Sari Festival “VIRAASAT”

Details:

A social media campaign has been launched under the common hashtag #MySariMyPride to support our handloom weavers. ­­­­­Coinciding with the 75 years of Independence, “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” there will be an exhibition-cum-sale of Handloom Saris by 75 handloom weavers.  A series of activities are planned for the visiting public such as:

  • Viraasat-Celebrating the heritage: Curated display of handloom saris.
  • Viraasat-Ek Dharohar: Direct retail of saris by weavers
  • Viraasat Ke Dhage: Live loom demonstration
  • Viraasat–kal se kal tak : Workshops and talks on sari and sustainability
  • Viraasat–Nritya Sanskriti: Famous Folk dances of Indian culture

Lumpi-ProVacind Vaccine

In News:

Agrinnovate India Limited (AgIn), the commercial arm of DARE, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare granted “Non-Exclusive Rights” for Commercial production of “Lumpi-ProVac”, to Institute of Veterinary Biological Products (IVBP), Pune

Details:

ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) has developed this vaccine for Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD)

About Lumpi-ProVac:

  • Lumpi-ProVac is safe in animals and induces LSDV-specific antibodies and cell-mediated immune response.
  • The vaccine is used for the prophylactic immunization of animals against Lumpy Skin Disease, which illicit protection for about one year
  • The vaccine is a homologous, live attenuated vaccine (see infographic below) to protect against Capripoxvirus (which causes LSD).
  • The virus is genetically similar to Goatpox and sheeppox.
  • It is transmitted by flies and mosquitoes or ticks (blood-feeding insects).
  • LSD doesn’t affect humans

The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous body responsible for co-ordinating agricultural education and research in India. The Union Minister of Agriculture serves as its president. It is the largest network of agricultural research and education institutes in the world.