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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 20 June 2019


Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 20 June 2019


.Relevant articles from PIB:

Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

 

President’s address to both Houses of Parliament

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: President’s address- what, when and how? Significance and other key features.

 

Context: President Ramnath Kovind recently addressed joint sitting of Parliament outlining the govt’s goals for next five years.

 

What does the Constitution say about this?

Article 87(1) says: “At the commencement of the first session after each general election to the House of the People and at the commencement of the first session of each year the President shall address both Houses of Parliament assembled together and inform Parliament of the causes of its summons.”

First Constitutional Amendment: Originally, the Constitution required the President to address both Houses of Parliament at the commencement of “every session”. This requirement was changed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

 

President’s address:

The President’s speech essentially highlights the government’s policy priorities and plans for the upcoming year. It is drafted by the Cabinet, and provides a broad framework of the government’s agenda and direction.


Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

  1. Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Composition, role, objectives and significance of FSDC.

 

Context: FSDC meeting held recently was chaired by the Union Finance Minister.

 

About FSDC:

The Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was constituted in December, 2010. The FSDC was set up to strengthen and institutionalise the mechanism for maintaining financial stability, enhancing inter-regulatory coordination and promoting financial sector development.

An apex-level FSDC is not a statutory body.

 

Composition:

The Council is chaired by the Union Finance Minister and its members are Governor, Reserve Bank of India; Finance Secretary and/or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs; Secretary, Department of Financial Services; Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance; Chairman, Securities and Exchange Board of India; Chairman, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority and Chairman, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority. It also includes the chairman of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board (IBBI).

Recently, the government through a gazette notification, had included ministry of electronics and information technology (MeitY) secretary in the FSDC in view of the increased focus of the government on digital economy.

 

What it does?

The Council deals, inter-alia, with issues relating to financial stability, financial sector development, inter–regulatory coordination, financial literacy, financial inclusion and macro prudential supervision of the economy including the functioning of large financial conglomerates. No funds are separately allocated to the Council for undertaking its activities.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Dispute Resolution Mechanism for solar/wind sector 

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: DRM- need, significance, composition and functions.

 

Context: In a major decision to facilitate the solar and wind energy projects, the government has approved a proposal to set up a Dispute Resolution Committee to consider the unforeseen disputes between solar/wind power developers and SECI/NTPC, beyond contractual agreement. 

Significance: The move will give further fillip to the smooth implementation of solar/wind energy projects in India. It fulfils a long pending demand of the industry to resolve expeditiously, unforeseen disputes that may arise beyond the scope of Contractual Agreements. 

 

Need:

  • The Solar and Wind Industry have been demanding setting up of Dispute Resolution Mechanism by MNRE for quite some time, to resolve expeditiously, unforeseen disputes that may arise beyond the scope of Contractual Agreements between solar power developers / wind power developers and SECI/ NTPC.
  • The issue was considered and it was felt that there is need to erect a transparent, unbiased Dispute Resolution Mechanism, consisting of an independent, transparent and unbiased Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC), for resolving the unforeseen disputes that may arise in implementation of contractual agreements and also for dealing with issues which are beyond the scope of Contractual Agreements between solar power developers/ wind power developers and SECI / NTPC.

 

Composition and eligibility:

  • A three member Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) will be set up with the approval of Hon’ble Minister (NRE), consisting of eminent persons of impeccable integrity.
  • The upper age for the DRC members shall be 70 years.
  • The Committee members of DRC shall be chosen from the eminent persons located in NCR of Delhi so as to avoid expenditure on Air Travel & accommodation.

Scope:

The mechanism of Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) will be applicable for all solar/ wind Schemes/ Programmes/ Projects being implemented through/ by SECI/ NTPC.

 

The DRC will consider following kinds of cases:

  • All cases of appeal against decisions given by SECI on Extension of Time requests based on terms of contract:
  • All requests of Extension of Time not covered under the terms of contract.
  • All such cases referred to it, including the cases where the developer is not satisfied with the decision of SECI/NTPC and it decides to appeal after paying the required fee.

 

Final decision:

The recommendations of the ‘Dispute Resolution Committee’ (DRC) along with MNRE’s observations, will be placed before Hon’ble Minister (NRE) for final decision. The Ministry shall examine and put up such recommendations to Minister (NRE) with the comments of IFD within twenty one (21) days of receipt of recommendation from the DRC.

To arrive at any decision, Committee will be free to interact with the relevant parties of the case and shall record their views. For presenting the case before the DRC, no lawyers shall be permitted.

 


Relevant articles from various news sources:

Paper 1:

Topics covered:

  1. Issues related to education.

 

World Best Universities Ranking

 

What to study?

For Prelims: QS World University Rankings and India’s top performers.

For Mains: Reforms in higher education.

 

Context: QS World University Rankings for 2020 has been released.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is at the top of the global list for the eighth consecutive year.

 

Background:

QS World University Rankings is an annual publication of university rankings by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

QS evaluates universities and institutions on parameters such as academic and employer reputation, faculty-student ratio, citations per faculty and international students and faculty on campuses.

 

Top institutions from India:

  • IIT-Bombay has been ranked India’s best university for the second year in a row.
  • Two other Indian universities — IIT Delhi (182) and the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru (184) — have also cracked the top 200.
  • There are a total of 23 Indian institutions in the top 1,000. While most are government-funded universities, five are privately funded.
  • The Manipal Academy of Higher Education, which falls within the 701-750 ranking band, is the top private university in the country. The O.P. Jindal Global University, founded in 2009, is the only new entrant in the list this year, ranking in the 751-800 band.
  • Indian science and technology institutions funded by the government scored high in terms of citations per faculty, with the IISc, Bengaluru, achieving a perfect 100 in that indicator.
  • For private institutions on the list, on the other hand, it was other indicators such as teacher-student ratio, and international faculty and student populations that propelled them to the top.

 

Sources: Indian Express.


Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

African Union (AU)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: AU- objectives, composition, functions and significance.

 

Context: India has for the first time extended $15 Million financial support to Niger as a support for organising African Union (AU) summit scheduled to be held in Niger. This will be the 1st time that Niger will be hosting an AU summit.

 

About AU:

  • The African Union (AU) is a continental union consisting of 55 countries of the continent of Africa, with exception of various territories of European possessions located in Africa.
  • The bloc was founded on 26 May 2001 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and launched on 9 July 2002 in South Africa.
  • The intention of the AU is to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), established on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa by 32 signatory governments.
  • The most important decisions of the AU are made by the Assembly of the African Union, a semi-annual meeting of the heads of state and government of its member states.
  • The AU’s secretariat, the African Union Commission, is based in Addis Ababa.

 

Key objectives: To achieve greater unity and solidarity between the African countries and Africans. To defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States. To accelerate the political and social-economic integration of the continent.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

 

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

 

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: ccNSO, ICANN and its key features.

 

Context: Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Services Companies) have announced collaboration for working in developing standards and identifier technology that will feed into the global consultation for managing Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices and infrastructure using internet.

 

What is the ICANN?

The Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is a non profit organization that was set up in 1998 to oversee the administration of domain names. ICANN coordinates and ensures the smooth and secure functioning of the cybernetic framework.

 

What it does?

The global nature of the Web today means that there are constantly increasing numbers of Domain Names, Host Names, IP addresses and web sites that are emerging on a daily basis. ICANN oversees this interconnected network and ensures that computers across the internet can find one another through defined unique pathways and identifiers.

 

ICANN performs four major functions namely:

  • Approval of companies that can become accredited registrars for domain names.
  • Decision making regarding the addition of new Top Level Domains (TLDs) to the Root system.
  • Coordinating technical parameters to maintain universal connectivity.
  • Creating a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) for competing domain names.

 

Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Climate change can trip small island states enroute SDGs: UN

 

What to study?

For prelims: about SIDS and its members.

For mains: Impact of climate change on SIDS, concerns and measures needed.

 

Context: Many small island developing states (SIDS) may fail to achieve several Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 because of increasing population and climate change risks, according to the United Nation’s report on World Population Prospects 2019.

 

Key findings:

  • While population growth is keeping all least developing nations from meeting the goals, the problem is compounded by climate change in SIDS.
  • Several SIDS, including Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome and Principe, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, are experiencing a sharper population growth than they can handle.
  • The challenge is bigger for these small countries because of their vulnerability to climate change, climate variability and sea-level rise.
  • They have higher population growth rate than the global average
  • The total population of these countries is only 71 million, but growing fast: said to increase to 78 million by 2030 and 87 million by 2050. 

 

About SIDS:

SIDS are a group of small island countries that tend to share similar sustainable development challenges, including small but growing populations, limited resources, remoteness, susceptibility to natural disasters, vulnerability to external shocks, excessive dependence on international trade, and fragile environments.

 

Vulnerability:

  • Climate change affects the development of all nations, regardless of location or size of economy. Yet, no other group of nations is as vulnerable to its devastating effects as the SIDS, according to the United Nations Development Programme.
  • One-third of the entire population of SIDS lives on lands that are less than five metres below the sea level. This makes them highly vulnerable to sea-level rise, storm surge and coastal destruction.
  • These countries contribute to only 1 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and yet are among the first to experience the worst impacts of climate change.
  • Agricultural production, fisheries, and related sectors are declining as the climate changes, threatening livelihoods and economic growth. In addition, extreme weather spawned by climate change is destroying SIDS land, real estate and infrastructure, with economically catastrophic effects.
  • Tourism forms the foundation of many SIDS economies, and the impact that climate change is having and will have on the tourism industry is undeniable. Tourists are also discouraged from travelling to SIDS in the fear of violent and life-threatening storms.

 

Sources: down to earth.


 

Facts for prelims:

 

Compulsory retirement:

Context: Fifteen senior Finance Ministry officials of Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) have been sent into compulsory retirement, as a part of the action aimed at cleaning up the government service. Orders issued by the Finance Ministry have quoted clause J of rule 56 of the Fundamental Rules.

Provisions in this regard:

Clause (J) of Rule 56 of the Fundamental Rules says: “The Appropriate Authority shall, if it is of the opinion that it is in the public interest to do so, have the absolute right to retire any government servant by giving him notice of not less than three months in writing or three months’ pay and allowances in lieu of such notice.”

Based on the above said rule, the President has retired these officials in public interest with immediate effect on completing 50 years of age.

 

Hidden hunger:

What is it? In many countries, in both the global North and South, malnutrition and obesity frequently co-exist in the same people. This is a condition known as “hidden hunger”.

Hidden hunger is a result of various factors. These include poverty, inequality, urbanisation and industrialisation of the food system. The interplay of these factors leaves low income households with very limited access to fresh, healthy foods. Instead, many South Africans — and other people living in similar conditions — subsist on diets high in sugar and processed starch. These diets contribute to increasing levels of obesity.

 

What is reciprocal trade agreements?

Countries use bilateral/regional trade agreements to increase market access and expand trade in foreign markets. These agreements are called reciprocal trade agreements (RTAs) because members grant special advantages to each other.

RTAs include many types of agreements, such as preferential arrangements, free trade agreements, customs unions, and common markets, in which members agree to open their markets to each other’s exports by lowering trade barriers.

Need: They have become an increasingly prominent feature of the multilateral trading system in recent years, in part, because of stalled global negotiations taking place under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Many observers believe that RTAs deepen market integration and complement efforts by the WTO to liberalize international markets. While acknowledging that RTAs can open up markets, other observers contend that these agreements also distort trade and discriminate against nonmember countries.


 

Summaries of important Editorials:

 

A law to protect doctors:

Context: Recent attack on a junior doctor in West Bengal had sparked the agitation, which spread to other parts of the country when it appeared that the State government was reluctant to negotiate with the striking doctors.

 

Challenges faced by the doctors:

  • Reprisal attacks on doctors by agitated relatives of patients.
  • Such violence is invariably the result of systemic problems that adversely affect optimal attention to patients, such as infrastructural and manpower constraints.

 

Protection to doctors:

Doctors work in stressful environments, sometimes under political pressure with regard to admissions. Several States have enacted laws to protect doctors and other health-care personnel from violence.

 

Need of the hour:

Need for stringent action against anyone who assaults doctors.

Focus should be on addressing the deficiencies afflicting the health-care system as a whole. 

 

Way ahead:

It is clear that having a law alone does not prevent such incidents from recurring. The real solution may lie in improving health infrastructure, counselling patients about possible adverse treatment outcomes, and providing basic security in medical institutions.