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Insights Daily Current Events, 04 September 2015

Insights Daily Current Events, 04 September 2015

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Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability.

Assembly passes Special Courts Bill

The Andhra Pradesh state assembly recently passed the Andhra Pradesh Special Courts Bill, 2015. The bill contains provisions for the constitution of special courts to facilitate time bound disposal of corruption cases and attachment of assets. This is being seen as a significant step towards recovery of ill-gotten assets of public servants.

Details:

  • The bill enables the State to recover wealth amassed by the corrupt public servants- people’s representative or government officers through exploitation of public property or in a benami manner.
  • The Bill ensures time-bound trial of the economic offences and paves way for the State to recover the properties earned illegally and utilise them for the development of the State and for public good and purpose. Under the present Prevention of Corruption Act, State has no power to attach properties.
  • According to the provisions in the Bill, the special courts shall endeavour to dispose off the cases within one year.
  • The special courts have jurisdiciton to try any person alleged to have committed the offence.

Sources: The Hindu.

Paper 1 Topic: Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

Child marriages still shaming Kerala

Despite its hugely applauded human development indices and other laurels, child marriages in Kerala are still prevalent. This is evident from the recently released Census 2011 data.

What else the data say?

  • There were 23,183 married girls below the age of 15 years in the State. That is, 0.604% of all girls in the State aged between 12 and 15 had entered wedlock prematurely and illegally. As many as 10,175 children were born to these child brides in the State.
  • Malappuram, the most populous district in the State, logged the highest number (3,615) of married girls below age 15. But in percentage terms, this is below the overall State average (0.604).
  • The districts exceeding the State average are Pathanamthitta (0.808 pc), Alappuzha (0.735 pc), Thiruvananthapuram (0.730 pc), Kollam (0.667 pc) and Kannur (0.665 pc). While Malappuram had a 0.594% incidence, Thrissur had the lowest figure of 0.493%.

These figures show that detecting and stopping child marriages are still a huge challenge to the dozens of Child Marriage Prohibition Officers (CMPOs) who have been appointed in the wake of enactment of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act in 2006.

Challenges faced by Child Marriage Prohibition Officers (CMPOs):

  • tacit approval to illegal marriages from local political and religious leaders
  • very secretive nature of many such weddings
  • Lack of prosecutable evidence and lack of cooperation by the families, neighbours and community leaders compound the situation
  • many people are unaware that even consensual sex after a child marriage could entail 10 years in jail under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012

Sources: The Hindu.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

G-20 discussions set to focus on impact of yuan devaluation

India is all set to raise the recent currency devaluations issue by the Chinese central bank and its ramifications to the global economy in the upcoming in G-20 meet in Turkey. Competitive devaluation of currency is a major threat to the stability of the global economy.

Why is it a cause for concern?

  • The recent devaluation of major currencies followed by currency depreciations in a large number of Asian emerging markets raise the risk of competitive devaluations. Competitive currency devaluations, at a time when global demand is sluggish, is a major threat to stability in the global economy.
  • The recent devaluation of Chinese currency yuan has triggered a global financial turmoil hurting stock and currency markets worldwide.

The main purpose of the upcoming G20 meeting is to review ongoing global economic developments, growth prospects, investment and infrastructure, international financial architecture and international tax issues among others.

G20:

The Group of Twenty is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies. The members include 19 individual countries and the European Union (EU). The EU is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank.

  • Collectively, the G-20 economies account for around 85% of the gross world product (GWP), 80% of world trade, and two-thirds of the world population.
  • The G20 started in 1999 as a meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis.
  • G20 leaders meet annually. In addition, Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meet regularly during the year to discuss ways to strengthen the global economy, reform international financial institutions, improve financial regulation and implement the key economic reforms that are needed in each member economy. Underpinning these meetings is a year-long program of meetings among senior officials and of working groups coordinating policy on specific issues.
  • The G20 is supported by international organisations, including the Financial Stability Board, the International Labour Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.

The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Development processes and the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups and associations, donors, charities, institutional and other stakeholders.

Greenpeace India’s registration cancelled

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cancelled the registration of Greenpeace India. Five months back the ministry had suspended its licence to receive foreign donations.

Why the registration was cancelled?

The decision came in the wake of “prejudicially affecting the public interest and economic interest of the state,” which violates the conditions of grant of registration. The government has also alleged that Greenpeace India has violated the law by funding political activities.

Implications:

The measure under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), means that the NGO, part of an international network by the same name, would not be able to receive any kind of foreign donations from now on.

Background:

  • In April, Greenpeace’s registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act or FCRA was put under temporary suspension. The government had asked the organization to show why the penalty should not be made permanent. And also seven of its bank accounts were frozen, with the government alleging that the organisation deliberately under-reported foreign contributions and used them in part to fund legal cases.
  • The organisation received relief from the Delhi High court, which ordered that it be allowed to receive funds to meet its establishment cost– salaries, rent and other expenses.
  • Last year, an internal report of the Home Ministry said the activities of Greenpeace bordered on being anti-national, slowing down India’s energy policy implementation by “physically preventing new nuclear and coal-based plants”. It said Greenpeace had been creating protests where none existed and even claimed it, along with its allies, had created front organisations so that protest and disruptions cannot be traced back to the group.

About the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA): Quick look

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs is mandated to administer the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, for regulating the receipt and utilization of foreign contribution by the associations/NGOs.
  • Expeditious action is taken as and when adverse inputs of violations of provisions of the Act are received against any association. The NGOs/Civil Societies registered/given Prior Permission under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 are required to follow the provisions of Act, Rules and instructions issued in this regard from time to time.
  • The Government receives inputs from various security agencies, including Intelligence Bureau, from time to time, about the violations of FCRA, however, action is initiated against the alleged violators only after due scrutiny and following due process as prescribed in the said Act.
  • If any NGOs/Civil Societies violate any of the provisions of the Act and Rules, then only, action is initiated as per provisions of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. Penal Actions have been taken against defaulting NGOs/Civil Societies for proven violations of the Act and Rules. Actions include compounding of offence, putting in prior reference category, suspensions of registration, freezing of accounts, cancellation of registration, prosecution etc.

The following persons are prohibited from accepting foreign contribution :

  • Candidate for election;
  • Correspondent, columnist, cartoonist, editor, owner, printer or publisher of a registered newspaper;
  • Judge, government servant or employee of any entity controlled or owned by the government;
  • Member of any Legislature;
  • Political party or its office bearers;
  • Organisations of a political nature as may be specified;
  • Associations or company engaged in the production or broadcast of audio news or audiovisual news or current affairs programmes through any electronic mode or form or any other mode of mass communication;

However, foreign contribution can be accepted by the above-mentioned persons in the following specific situation :

  • By way of remuneration for himself or for any group of persons working under him;
  • By way of payment in the ordinary course of business transacted in or outside India or in the course of international trade or commerce;
  • As agent of a foreign source in relation to any transaction made by such foreign source with the Central or State Government;
  • By way of gift or presentation as a member of any Indian delegation. However, the gift or present should be accepted in accordance with the rules made by the Central Government;
  • From his relative;
  • By way of any scholarship, stipend or any payment of like nature.

Sources: The Hindu, mha.

 

Paper 2 Topic: Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections and Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

NHRC notice to Bengal govt. over police action

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to West Bengal government seeking its response on alleged police excess on women protesters.

Background:

Acting on a complaint that women protesters were attacked by police during a march to State Secretariat on August 27, the NHRC has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and Director-General of Police and Commissioner of Police, Kolkata. The NHRC has given the government two-week time to respond to the notices. The complainants have alleged that women protesters were subjected to baton charge, tear gas and water cannons by policemen.

On August 27, a protest was called by the Left-backed farmers organisation on the agrarian distress in the State and other issues.

Observations made by the NHRC:

  • NHRC has observed that complaint, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the women protesters.
  • Further, if the women protesters were attacked by the police force while protesting peacefully, it amounts to violation of their Fundamental Right to assemble peaceably and without arms as guaranteed under Article 19(1)(b) of the Constitution of India.

NHRC:

  • It is a statutory body established in 1993.
  • It consists of a Chairman and 4 members. Chairman should be a retired Chief Justice of India. Members should be either sitting or retired judges of the supreme court or a serving or retired Chief Justice of a High Court and 2 persons having practical knowledge in this field.
  • Ex officio members are the chairmen of National Commission for Scheduled Caste, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, National Commission for Minorities and National Commission for Women.
  • The chairman and members are appointed on the recommendation of a 6 member committee consisting of Prime Minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, leaders of opposition in both the houses of parliament and Union Home Minister.
  • Term of the chairman and members is 5 years or 70 years whichever is earlier.
  • After retirement they are not eligible for further reappointment.
  • Removal: President has to refer the matter to Supreme Court and if after enquiry Supreme Court holds it right then they can be removed by the President.
  • The commission is not empowered to enquire into matters which were committed one year before.
  • Its recommendations are just advisory and not binding in nature.
  • It submits Annual report to the Central government and to the concerned state governments.

Sources: The Hindu, nhrc.

 

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