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7th December Current Affairs

Attorney General

In News:

Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal has given his consent to a law student to initiate contempt of court proceedings against artist Rachita Taneja for her tweets and cartoons.

Details:

Venugopal said the tweets and the cartoons that accompanied them were intended “to denigrate the Supreme Court and lower its authority in the eyes of the public”.

What is the case for prior approval in Contempt Cases?

The prior consent in writing of the Attorney General is required for the Supreme Court to initiate criminal contempt action in a case a/c to the Contempt of Court Act, 1971.

AGI consent is a form of check on the much-debated suo-motu power of criminal contempt.

Attorney General- Facts:

The Attorney General for India is the central government’s chief legal advisor, and its primary lawyer in the Supreme Court of India.

He is a part of the Union Executive.

Appointment and eligibility:

He is appointed by the President of India under Article 76(1) of the Constitution and holds office during the pleasure of the President.

He must be a person qualified to be appointed as a Judge of the Supreme Court.

He should be an Indian Citizen.

He must have either completed 5 years in High Court of any Indian state as a judge or 10 years in High Court as an advocate.

He may be an eminent jurist too, in the eye of the President.

Powers and Functions:

The Attorney General is necessary for giving advice to the Government of India in legal matters referred to him. He also performs other legal duties assigned to him by the President.

The Attorney General has the right of audience in all Courts in India as well as the right to participate in the proceedings of the Parliament, though not to vote.

The Attorney General appears on behalf of Government of India in all cases (including suits, appeals and other proceedings) in the Supreme Court in which Government of India is concerned.

He also represents the Government of India in any reference made by the President to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.

The Attorney General can accept briefs but cannot appear against the Government.

He cannot defend an accused in the criminal proceedings and accept the directorship of a company without the permission of the Government.

The Attorney General is assisted by two Solicitor General and four Additional Solicitor Generals.

How the 1.5-times formula for crops MSP is calculated?

In News:

The major demand of the protesting farmers has been that the government guarantee in writing the MSP system, which assures them of a fixed price for their crops, 1.5 times of the cost of production.

What is MSP?

The MSP (minimum support price) assures the farmers of a fixed price for their crops.

How was the MSP fixed earlier?

The Commission for Agricultural Costs & Prices (CACP) in the Ministry of Agriculture would recommend MSPs for 23 crops.

The CACP considered various factors while recommending the MSP for a commodity, including cost of cultivation.

It also took into account the supply and demand situation for the commodity; market price trends (domestic and global) and parity vis-à-vis other crops; and implications for consumers (inflation), environment (soil and water use) and terms of trade between agriculture and non-agriculture sectors.

What changed with the Union Budget for 2018-19?

The Budget for 2018-19 announced that MSPs would henceforth be fixed at 1½ times of the production costs for crops as a “pre-determined principle”.

Simply put, the CACP’s job now was only to estimate production costs for a season and recommend the MSPs by applying the 1.5-times formula.

Which production costs were taken in fixing the MSPs?

The CACP’s ‘Price Policy for Kharif Crops: The Marketing Season 2018-19’ report stated that its MSP recommendation was based on 1.5 times the A2+FL costs.

‘A2’ covers all paid-out costs directly incurred by the farmer in cash and kind on seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, hired labour, leased-in land, fuel, irrigation, etc.

‘A2+FL’ includes A2 plus an imputed value of unpaid family labour. ‘

It does not take into account C2 costs.‘C2’ is a more comprehensive cost that factors in rentals and interest forgone on owned land and fixed capital assets, on top of A2+FL.

In tree rings, warning of Brahmaputra floods

In News:

Existing projections of flooding of the Brahmaputra are based on observations of past rainfall patterns, but they rely on discharge- gauge records that date back only to the 1950s.

So, now the scientists have come up with an innovative idea in which they have tried to analyse floods by relating them to tree rings.

What does the new study suggest?

The new study is based on examinations of tree rings, which provided a picture of rainfall patterns going back seven centuries.

The rings showed that the post 1950s period was actually one of the driest since the 1300s- there have been much wetter periods in the past.

The tree-rings suggest that the recent decades (particularly from the 1950s to 1980s) were unusually dry. Therefore, in general, past conditions were wetter.

It also suggests that the future will likely be wetter due to our emissions of carbon-dioxide.

How tree rings helped?

As trees grow they incorporate information about the environmental conditions they are living in in their annual growth rings.

Tree rings grow wider in years when soil moisture is high. Trees in the region grow more and put on wide rings in wet monsoon years.

Conversely, in dry monsoon years (or droughts) they grow less and put on narrow rings.

Since some of these trees can live for a long time, by taking a small, pencil-thin tree-core from these trees and measuring their rings under a microscope scientists could learn more about climate conditions for the past several centuries.

Significance:

The findings are obviously relevant to Assam and Northeast India too. With this, flood risks could be compounded by planned projects in the region.

Fight ‘fake news’: BRICS Media Forum

In News:

The Fifth BRICS Media Forum was held virtually recently.

Details:

At the end of the summit, representatives called for the five nations to work together to jointly combat the “virus of disinformation” in the pandemic era.

Concerns associated:

A common thread among members is a growing problem of disinformation or ‘fake news’.

The news media around the world, especially daily newspapers, and also other forms of the media, have taken a big hit during the pandemic.

Disinformation is being “transmitted globally at warp speed on the so-called technology platforms, notably Facebook, Twitter, Google, WhatsApp, and Instagram”.

It was “a major threat not just to the mainstream media but, more importantly, to the lives and well-being of tens of millions of people and the safety and integrity of society as a whole.”

Need of the hour:

The BRICS Media Forum can make a real difference in the fight against motivated and harmful disinformation by:

Promoting and strengthening relevant media exchanges, workshops, training of journalists, and interactions with technology companies that are willing to work with us to contain and end the menace.

Rigorous fact-checking and investigation by well-trained teams of journalists and the new type of specialised fact-checking organisations can be supplemented by technological solutions, with the deployment of technologies like AI, in the fight against disinformation, especially large-scale online harms.

About BRICS Media Forum:

China’s Xinhua news agency came up with the idea of a BRICS Media Forum in 2015 to promote media cooperation.

The forum aims to:

Establish an efficient coordination mechanism among BRICS media.

Advance innovation-driven media development.

Gather stronger momentum for the development of BRICS countries through exchange and pragmatic cooperation under the mechanism.