Insights Daily Current Affairs, 23 April 2018
Topic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
National Commission for Minorities (NCM)
Context: The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has decided to approach the government for granting it Constitutional status to protect the rights of minority communities more effectively.
Need for Constitutional status:
In its present form, the NCM has powers to summon officials, including chief secretaries and director generals of police, but has to rely on departments concerned to take action against them. If granted constitutional status, the NCM will be able to act against errant officials who do not attend hearings, follow its order or are found guilty of dereliction of duty. Also, the NCM can penalise or suspend an officer for two days or send him/her to jail.
The Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment (2017-18), in its 53rd report had also noted that the NCM is “almost ineffective” in its current state to deal with cases of atrocities against minorities.
The Union Government set up the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) under the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992.
Six religious communities, viz; Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified in Gazette of India as minority communities by the Union Government all over India. Original notification of 1993 was for Five religious communities Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians and Muslims.
Composition: The Commission shall consist of a Chairperson, a Vice Chairperson and five Members to be nominated by the Central Government from amongst persons of eminence, ability and integrity; provided that five Members including the Chairperson shall be from amongst the minority communities.
Grievance redressal: Aggrieved persons belonging to the minority communities may approach the concerned State Minorities Commissions for redressal of their grievances. They may also send their representations, to the National Commission for Minorities, after exhausting all remedies available to them.
- For Prelims: Particulars of NCM.
- For Mains: NCM- need for constitutional status, challenges and issues.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
Meeting of the Development Committee (DC) and IMFC of the World Bank Group and the IMF
Context: Meeting of the Development Committee (DC) of the World Bank Group and the IMF and the Restricted Session of the International Monetary and Finance Committee (IMFC) were recently held in Washington D.C.
About Ministerial Committees:
The IMF Board of Governors is advised by two ministerial committees, the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) and the Development Committee.
- Composition: The IMFC has 24 members, drawn from the pool of 187 governors. Its structure mirrors that of the Executive Board and its 24 constituencies. As such, the IMFC represents all the member countries of the Fund.
- Functions: The IMFC meets twice a year, during the Spring and Annual Meetings. The Committee discusses matters of common concern affecting the global economy and also advises the IMF on the direction its work.
- At the end of the Meetings, the Committee issues a joint communiqué summarizing its views. These communiqués provide guidance for the IMF’s work program during the six months leading up to the next Spring or Annual Meetings. There is no formal voting at the IMFC, which operates by consensus.
- The Development Committee is a joint committee, tasked with advising the Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank on issues related to economic development in emerging and developing countries.
- The committee has 24 members (usually ministers of finance or development). It represents the full membership of the IMF and the World Bank and mainly serves as a forum for building intergovernmental consensus on critical development issues.
- For Prelims: IMFC and Development committee.
- For Mains: IMF and World Bank Group reforms.
Topic: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF)
Context: Pune hosted the 12th edition of the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) meeting. The Forum was attended by meteorologists from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. This was the sixth SASCOF meeting hosted by India.
South Asian nations, supported by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), have been conducting the South Asian Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) since 2010.
- SASCOF was established as a platform where meteorologists from South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member countries along with Myanmar, could discuss some of the common weather and climate-related matters.
- All these South Asian countries — except for Afghanistan, which is located in extreme northwest — experience common weather and climatological characteristics, like Southwest monsoon.
SASCOFs prepare consensus seasonal climate information on a regional scale that provide a consistent basis for preparing national level outlooks. Such forums also serve to interface with user sectors to understand and enhance the use of climate information as orchestrated and supported by the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).
For Prelims and Mains: SASCOF and its significance.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Money laundering.
Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance 2018
Context: The Union Cabinet has approved the Finance Ministry’s proposal of promulgating the Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018 which will empower authorities to attach and confiscate properties and assets of economic offenders like loan defaulters who flee the country.
A Fugitive Economic Offender is a person against whom an arrest warrant has been issued in respect of a scheduled offence and who has left India so as to avoid criminal prosecution, or being abroad, refuses to return to India to face criminal prosecution.
A scheduled offence refers to a list of economic offences contained in the Schedule to this Ordinance.
Important provisions under the ordinance:
Special court: The ordinance makes provisions for a special court under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 to declare a person as a Fugitive Economic Offender. Scheduled offences worth Rs. 100 crore or more will come under the purview of the ordinance.
Power To Attach Properties: With the assent of the President of India, Fugitive Economic Offenders Ordinance, 2018 is promulgated. The new Law lays down the measures to empower Indian authorities to attach and confiscate the proceeds of crime associated with economic offenders and properties of economic offenders.
Trial In The PMLA Courts: Since the proposed law would utilise the existing infrastructure of the Special Courts constituted under under the Prevention of Money-laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) and the threshold of scheduled offence is high at Rs. 100 crores or more, no additional expenditure is expected on the enactment of the Bill.
No Immunity To Offenders: The ordinance would also enable the courts and tribunals to disallow the fugitive economic offender from putting forward or defending any civil claim.
Aim Of Deportation: Major impact will be that the offenders will return to India to submit to the jurisdiction of Courts in India to face the law in respect of the scheduled offences. Other Major Impact will be that it will help the banks and other financial institutions to achieve higher recovery from financial defaults committed by such fugitive economic offenders, improving the financial health of such institutions.
Need for a law in this regard:
The ordinance was mooted in response to the growing practice of debt-laden Indian citizens flying abroad in a purported attempt to evade the law-enforcement agencies of India.
Significance of this move:
The Ordinance is expected to re-establish the rule of law with respect to the fugitive economic offenders as they would be forced to return to India to face trial for scheduled offences. This would also help the banks and other financial institutions to achieve higher recovery from financial defaults committed by such fugitive economic offenders, improving the financial health of such institutions.
The government had in Budget 2017-18 announced that it was considering a law that would enable it to seize the property such absconders, following which the Union Cabinet had on March 1, 2018 approved the Fugitive Economic Offenders Bill 2018 to be introduced in Parliament. The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on March 12, but was not passed due to disruptions and adjournments in both Houses of Parliament.
- For Prelims: Key provisions in the Bill.
- For Mains: Need for law in this regard.
Ramsar tag likely for Sunderbans
Context: The West Bengal government has given its approval to the State Forest Department to apply for recognition of Sunderban Reserve Forest under the Ramsar Convention.
Significance of the move:
Being conferred the status of a wetland of international importance will not only be a matter of pride for the Sunderbans but also bring a lot of international scientific attention and intervention to the area. Once conferred a Ramsar site status, it will be the largest protected wetland in the country. It will also help promote the Sunderbans as an eco-tourism hotspot.
The Indian Sunderbans, with 2,114 sq. km. of mangrove forests, comprise almost 43% of the mangrove cover in the country according to a 2017 Forest Survey of India report. Other than the forests, home to about 100 Royal Bengal tigers, the creeks and river systems of the Sunderbans are also part of the reserve forest.
- Apart from being the world’s largest tiger habitat, the mangrove forest in the Sunderbans is remarkable for the protection it provides to nearly 4.5 million people on the Indian side and another 3.5 million on the Bangladesh portion from tidal surge generated by cyclonic depression in the Bay of Bengal.
- About one-third of the total area is used as protected area for the conservation of biological diversity. In addition, the abundant fish and biomass resources – timber, fuelwood, pulpwood, leaves, shells, crabs, honey and fish – are harvested by local communities.
- The Sunderbans is also a major pathway for nutrient recycling and pollution abatement. The biodiversity of the Sunderbans is also diverse. The delta has the distinction of encompassing the world’s largest mangrove forest belt with 84 identified flora species, of which 34 are true mangroves.
Sunderbans is a contiguous ecosystem spread across India and Bangladesh. Other than threats such as climate change, sea level rise, widespread construction and clearing of mangrove forests for fisheries is posing a danger to the Sunderbans.
- The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an inter-governmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
- Adopted in 1971 in Ramsar, an Iranian city, the Convention came into force in 1975. Since then, almost 90% of UN member states have acceded to become “Contracting Parties”.
- There are currently 26 sites in India recognised as Ramsar wetland sites of international importance, including the East Kolkata Wetlands also in West Bengal.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Earth Day 2018:
Context: Earth Day was celebrated on April 22nd across the globe. It is considered to be the largest secular world event.
Theme of Earth Day 2018: End Plastic Pollution.
Background: This day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970 and has ever since been an annual event. The person credited for organising the event 48 years ago is US Senator Gaylord Nelson.
First Indian IT Company To Touch 100 Billion Dollar Market Value:
Context: Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has become the first Indian IT Company to Touch 100 Billion Dollar Market Value.
Madras HC to introduce e-court fee payment:
Context: The Madras High Court has become the first court in south India and eighth in the country to introduce e-court fee payment facility.
Facts: So far only the Supreme Court and the High Courts in Delhi, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh had introduced the e-court fee payment facility.
G7 foreign ministers’ summit:
Context: G7 foreign ministers’ summit is being held in Toronto. Participants discussed tensions with Moscow, Iran and North Korea.
- The Group of 7 (G7) is a group consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Union is also represented within the G7.
- These countries are the seven major advanced economies as reported by the International Monetary Fund: the G7 countries represent more than 64% of the net global wealth ($263 trillion).
- A very high net national wealth and a very high Human Development Index are the main requirements to be a member of this group.