Insights Daily Current Events, 04 June 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
Good country index
In the ‘Good Country’ 2015 index, Sweden has been voted as the best country in the world when it comes to serving the interests of its people and contributing to the common good of humanity.
- The index ranks a total of 163 countries taking 35 different UN and World Bank indices into account, including global contributions to science, culture, peace and security, climate change and health and equality.
- The top ten best countries included Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, Finland, Canada, France, Austria and New Zealand.
- Libya was ranked as the least “good” country in the world.
- India figured at 70th position overall, three places below China, with the best ranking (27th) in International peace and security and the worst (124th) in prosperity and equality category.
- India stood at 37th position in health and wellbeing and 62nd in science and technology, it was ranked 119th in culture, 106th in climate and 100th in world order.
About the index:
The biannual index was founded by Simon Anholt, a British government adviser whose aim is “to find ways of encouraging countries to collaborate and co-operate a lot more, and compete a bit less”.
- The Good Country Index is pretty simple: to measure what each country on earth contributes to the common good of humanity, and what it takes away, relative to its size.
- The index seeks to measure how countries contribute to the global good.
- In 2014, Ireland had topped the first Good Country Index, outranking 130 other countries.
Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Ordinance on enemy property promulgated for third time
The Centre has for the third time promulgated an ordinance related to enemy properties. The ordinance amends a nearly 50-year-old law to guard against claims of succession or transfer of properties left by people who migrated to Pakistan and China after the wars.
The first ordinance was issued on January 1, and another one was issued on April 2. The promulgation of the ordinance for the third time was necessitated as ‘The Enemy Property (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2016′, to replace the ordinance, is pending in the Rajya Sabha and to give continuity to the second executive order issued in April.
The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on March 9. However, it could not get Rajya Sabha nod from where it was referred to a Select Committee. The Committee has recently submitted its report. An ordinance lapses after 42 days from the day a session begins unless a bill to replace it is approved by Parliament.
Enemy Properties Bill:
Enemy Properties Bill includes amendments to plug the loopholes of the Enemy Property Act, 1968. The amendments ensure that the enemy properties that have been vested in the Custodian remain so and do not revert to the enemy subject or enemy firm.
The amendments include:
- Once an enemy property is vested in the Custodian, it shall continue to be vested in him as enemy property irrespective of whether the enemy, enemy subject or enemy firm has ceased to be an enemy due to reasons such as death and others.
- The law of succession does not apply to enemy property. There cannot be transfer of any property vested in the Custodian by an enemy or enemy subject or enemy firm and that the Custodian shall preserve the enemy property till it is disposed of in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
- A new section has been inserted in the Bill to say that “the Custodian, may, after making such inquiry as he deems necessary, by order, declare that the property of the enemy or the enemy subject or the enemy firm described in the order, vests in him under this Act and issue a certificate to this effect and such certificate shall be the evidence of the facts stated therein”.
Enemy properties act:
The Enemy Property Act was enacted in the year 1968. It provided for the continuous vesting of enemy property in the custodian. The Union Government through the Custodian of Enemy Property for India is in possession of enemy properties spread across many states in the country.
- To ensure that the enemy property continues to vest in the Custodian, appropriate amendments were brought in by way of an Ordinance in the Enemy Property Act, 1968 by the then Government in 2010.
- However, the ordinance lapsed on 6 September 2010. Later on 22 July 2010, it was introduced in Lok Sabha in form of a Bill but was withdrawn and another bill with modified provisions was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 15 November, 2010. This bill was thereafter referred to the Standing Committee. However, the said bill could not be passed during the 15th term of the Lok Sabha and it lapsed.
In the wake of the Indo-Pak war of 1965 and 1971, there was migration of people from India to Pakistan. Under the Defence of India Rules framed under the Defence of India Act, the Government of India took over the properties and companies of such persons who had taken Pakistani nationality. These enemy properties were vested by the Union Government in the Custodian of Enemy Property for India.
After the 1965 war, India and Pakistan signed the Tashkent Declaration on 10 January 1966. The Tashkent Declaration inter alia included a clause, which said that the two countries would discuss the return of the property and assets taken over by either side in connection with the conflict. However, the Government of Pakistan disposed of all such properties in their country in the year 1971 itself.
Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
WTO welcomes TFA proposal: Sitharaman
World Trade Organisation (WTO) Director General Roberto Azevedo has welcomed India’s proposal for a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Services.
The proposed TFA in Services envisages, among other things, easier temporary movement of skilled workers, to boost global services trade. India had reiterated the proposal for a TFA in Services during the informal meeting of trade ministers from 25 WTO member countries on the sidelines of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ministerial council meeting in Paris.
The Trade Facilitation Agreement forms part of the Bali Package agreed by members at the Ninth Ministerial Conference in Bali.
- The agreement contains provisions for faster and more efficient customs procedures through effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It also contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.
- It is being believed, especially by the proponents of the agreement that deal could add $1 trillion to global GDP and also can generate 21 million jobs by slashing red tape and streamlining customs.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: pollution.
NASA finds 39 unreported sources of pollution
Using a new satellite-based method, NASA scientists have located 39 unreported and major human-made sources of toxic sulphur dioxide emissions.
- The unreported emission sources, found in the analysis of satellite data from 2005 to 2014, are clusters of coal-burning power plants, smelters, oil and gas operations – found notably in West Asia, but also in Mexico and parts of Russia.
- In addition, reported emissions from known sources in these regions were, in some cases, two to three times lower than satellite-based estimates.
- Altogether, unreported and under-reported sources account for about 12% of all human-made emissions of sulphur dioxide.
Sulphur dioxide is a known health hazard and cause of acid rain. Currently, sulphur dioxide-monitoring activities include the use of emission inventories that are derived from ground-based measurements and factors, such as fuel usage.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: conservation.
Citizens have right to safe water, say draft legislation
The proposed draft National Water Framework Bill promises to give every person the right to a minimum amount of “safe water”, while making the state “obliged” to “protect” and conserve water.
- The law is prepared by the Water Resources Ministry. The draft law is being proposed as a model legislation that can be adopted by states, since water is in the jurisdiction of the state governments.
- The draft National Water Framework Bill says every person would be entitled to “water for life” that shall not be denied to anyone on the ground of inability to pay.
- The Bill defines this “water for life” as that basic requirement that is necessary for the “fundamental right of life of each human being, including drinking, cooking, bathing, sanitation, personal hygiene and related personal and domestic uses”. This would also include the additional requirement for women “for their special needs” and the water required by domestic livestock.
- This minimum water requirement would be determined by the “appropriate” governments from time to time.
There is a need for a broad national consensus on issues related to water. Divergences of policies on water are inevitable and acceptable at the level of states, but these need to be within reasonable limits set by this national consensus.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- Work on a China-backed nuclear power plant in Karachi will shortly begin. This move is expected ease power shortages in Pakistan’s port city. The reactor is supplied by the state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC). Known as K1, this is one of the 30 nuclear plants that China plans to establish by 2030 along its planned Silk Road. This will be the second nuclear power project in Pakistan to use China’s ‘Hualong One’ technology. CNNC is also promoting this technology in other countries such as Algeria and Sudan.
- Astronomers have produced the most detailed radio map yet of the atmosphere of Jupiter, unveiling massive movement of ammonia gas under the colourful bands, spots and whirling clouds visible to the naked eye. The planet’s thermal radio emissions are partially absorbed by ammonia gas. Based on the amount of absorption, the researchers could determine how much ammonia is present and at what depth. By studying these regions of the planet’s atmosphere, astronomers hope to learn how global circulation and cloud formation are driven by Jupiter’s powerful internal heat source. These studies also will shed light on similar processes occurring on other giant planets in our solar system and on newly discovered giant exoplanets around distant stars.
- A team of scientists from Harvard University has created a unique “bionic leaf” that uses solar energy to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, and hydrogen-eating bacteria to produce liquid fuels from CO2. Dubbed “bionic leaf 2.0,” the new system can convert solar energy to biomass with 10 percent efficiency – a number far higher than the one per cent seen in the fastest growing plants. While the study shows the system can be used to generate usable fuels, its potential doesn’t end there. In many ways, the new system fulfills the promise of his “artificial leaf” which used solar power to split water and make hydrogen fuel. Scientists used a new cobalt-phosphorous alloy catalyst for this experiment.
- Desert Eagle II, which was the second in the series of bilateral exercises between Indian Air Force (IAF) and United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAE AF) was recently concluded. This was a ten-day air combat exercise in which the IAF and the UAE Air Force undertook air exercises from Al-Dhafra Air Base, Abu Dhabi.
- The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of India have signed an agreement for $200 million new loan to upgrade 176 Kilometers of State roads in State of Jharkhand.
- Asia’s first ‘Gyps Vulture Reintroduction Programme‘ was recently launched by Union Environment Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar. As part of this programme, the minister jointly released two Himalayan Griffons into the wild from the Jatayu Conservation Breeding Centre, Pinjore. The Himalayan Griffon is closely related to the critically endangered resident Gyps species of vultures but is not endangered. The Himalayan vulture or Himalayan griffon vulture is an Old World vulture in the family Accipitridae. It is one of the two largest Old World vultures and true raptors. Himalayan griffons do not breed in the first three years, and hence juvenile birds of the species do not remain in breeding grounds to avoid competition. The species has been listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN. It is also found in Kazakhstan, China, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Thailand, Burma, Singapore and Cambodia.