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4th December Current Affairs

Bill to amend Preamble

(GS-II: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure)

In News:

Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh has reserved his decision to allow the introduction of a private member’s Bill to amend the Preamble to the Constitution.

About the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2021:

Introduced by BJP Member from Kerala K J Alphons.

The Bill seeks to change the words in the Preamble “EQUALITY of status and of opportunity” to “EQUALITY of status and of opportunity to be born, to be fed, to be educated, to get a job and to be treated with dignity”.

It also seeks to replace the word “socialist” with “equitable”.

The Bill also proposes adding “access to information technology” and “happiness” as objectives.

Four important aspects can be ascertained from the above text of the preamble:

Source of authority of the constitution: It derives its authority from the people of India.

Nature of Indian state: It declares India to be a sovereign, socialistic, secular democratic and republican polity.

Objectives of the constitution: It specifies justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as the objectives.

Date of adoption: Nov 26th, 1949.

Preamble as part of the constitution:

In the Berubari Union Case (1960), the Supreme Court opined that the Preamble was not part of the constitution.

The above opinion was reversed in Keshavananda Bharati case in 1973; the SC held that Preamble is part of the constitution. This opinion was further clarified by the SC in LIC of India case (1995).

Though preamble is part of the constitution:

It is a neither a source of power to legislature nor a prohibition upon the powers of legislature.

It is a non-justiciable, that is , its provisions are not enforceable in any courts of law.

Preamble and its amendability:

In Keshavananda Bharati case, the court held that the basic elements or the fundamental features of the constitution as contained in the preamble cannot be altered by an amendment under article 368.

The preamble has been amended only once. That is- 42nd constitutional amendment act, 1976 when three new terms were added- Socialist, secular and integrity.

CSR funds for monuments

(GS-II: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders)

In News:

A private member’s Bill has been introduced in Parliament mandating that 25% of all corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds be used for restoration, management and maintenance of ancient monuments and archaeological sites.

While some members supported the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2019, few others disagreed with the mandatory provision.

Need for more resources:

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the National Monuments Authority (NMA) and other agencies tasked with looking after monuments lacked the resources needed for the upkeep of the sites.

Opposition to the Bill:

The aim of CSR is to benefit local communities. Therefore, the funds should not be diverted.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?

It is the integration of socially beneficial programs and practices into a corporation’s business model and culture.

How is it regulated in India?

India is one of the first countries in the world to make CSR mandatory for companies following an amendment to the Companies Act, 2013 (Companies Act) in 2014.

Under the Companies Act, businesses can invest their profits in areas such as promoting rural development in terms of healthcare, sanitation, education including skill development, environmental sustainability, etc.

Section 135(1) of the Act prescribes thresholds to identify companies which are required to constitute a CSR Committee – those, in the immediately preceding financial year of which:

  • net worth is Rs 500 Crore or more; or.
  • turnover is Rs 1000 Crore or more; or.
  • net profit amounts to Rs 5 Crore or more.

As per the Companies (Amendment) Act, 2019, CSR is applicable to companies before completion of 3 financial years.

Amount to be spent:

Companies are required to spend, in every financial year, at least 2% of their average net profits generated during the 3 immediately preceding financial years.

For companies that have not completed 3 financial years, average net profits generated in the preceding financial years shall be factored in.

Treatment of unspent amounts:

Amounts to be utilised towards a CSR activity, but unspent must be parked in a special account as prescribed under the provision within 30 days of the end of the relevant financial year.

The unspent amount must be utilised by the company for the particular CSR activity within a period of 3 financial years from the date of such transfer, failing which, it must be transferred to any fund provided for in schedule VII of the Companies Act namely inter alia the Clean Ganga Fund, Swachh Baharat Kosh, Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

Any unspent amount which does not relate to an ongoing CSR activity must be transferred to a fund provided for in Schedule VII within a span of 6 months of the end of the relevant financial year.

Social responsibility has a strategic importance for two reasons:

A healthy business can only succeed in a healthy society. Thus, it is in the best interest of a company to produce only goods and services which strengthen the health of society.

If the company wants to succeed in the long term it needs to have the acceptance—or licence to operate—from social actors affected by the company’s’ operations.

Cyclone Jawad

(GS-I: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclone etc.)

In News:

A deep depression in the Bay of Bengal has intensified into cyclonic storm Jawad and is likely to make landfall near Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

The name was given by?

Saudi Arabia has given the cyclone its name ‘Jawad’. The meaning ‘Jawad’ is liberal or merciful. The carries significance as this cyclonic storm will not be as severe as the previous ones.

How are cyclones formed?

Cyclones are formed over the oceanic water in the tropical region.

In this region, the sunlight is highest which results in warming of land and water surface. Due to warming of the surface, the warm moist air over the ocean rises upwards following which cool air rushes in to fill the void, they too get warm and rise — the cycle continues.

But what creates the spin?

Wind always blows from high pressure to low pressure areas. High pressure areas are created in the cold region while low is created in the warm regions. Polar regions are high pressure areas as the amount of sunlight here is less than the tropical region. So, wind blows from polar regions to tropical regions.

Then comes the Earth’s movement, which is west to east. The Earth’s rotation on its axis causes deflection of the wind (in the tropical region as the speed of spinning of Earth is higher compared to polar sides due to its spherical shape — blowing from both the polar regions. Wind coming from the Arctic is deflected to the right while Antarctic wind deflects to the left side.

So, wind is already blowing in a direction. But when it reaches the warmer place, cool air starts getting attracted to the centre to fill the gap. So while moving to the centre, cool air keeps getting deflected resulting in circulation of wind movement — this process continues until the cyclone hits the land.

What happens when a cyclone hits the land?

Cyclone dissipates when it hits the land as the warm water that rises and creates space for cool water is no longer available on land. Also, the moist air that rises up forms clouds leading to rains that accompany gusting winds during cyclones.

Private members’ Bills

(GS-II: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein)

In News:

As many as 153 private members’ Bills were introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday, including one that seeks protection from lynching and another wants compulsory teaching of the Bhagavad Gita in educational institutions.

Who is a Private Member?

Any MP who is not a Minister is referred to as a private member.

The purpose of private member’s bill is to draw the government’s attention to what individual MPs see as issues and gaps in the existing legal framework, which require legislative intervention.

Admissibility of a private member’s Bill:

The admissibility is decided by the Chairman for Rajya Sabha and Speaker in the case of Lok Sabha.

Its rejection by the House has no implication on the parliamentary confidence in the government or its resignation.

The procedure is roughly the same for both Houses:

The Member must give at least a month’s notice before the Bill can be listed for introduction.

The House secretariat examines it for compliance with constitutional provisions and rules on legislation before listing.

Is there any exception?

While government Bills can be introduced and discussed on any day, private member’s Bills can be introduced and discussed only on Fridays.

Has a private member’s bill ever become a law?

As per PRS Legislative, no private member’s Bill has been passed by Parliament since 1970. To date, Parliament has passed 14 such Bills, six of them in 1956. In the 14th Lok Sabha, of the over 300 private member’s Bills introduced, roughly four per cent were discussed, the remaining 96 per cent lapsed without a single dialogue.