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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 31 January 2020

INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 31 January 2020

Table of Contents:

 

GS Paper 2:

1. President’s address to both Houses of Parliament.

2. Who is a star campaigner?

3. Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO (INCCU).

4. India’s no-fly list.

5. What makes WHO declare a disease outbreak a public health emergency?

 

GS Paper 3:

1. UN’s new rules for ships in the Arctic region.

2. World Sustainable Development Summit.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. SAMPRITI-IX.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: 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: On first day of the Budget Session of Parliament, President Ram Nath Kovind will address a joint sitting of the two Houses.

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.

What is in 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.

What procedures follow the address?

After the President or Governor delivers the address, a debate takes place not only on the contents of the address but also the broad issues of governance in the country. This then paves the way for discussion on the Budget.

If the President disagrees with the text of the speech, are they still bound to read it?

The President or a Governor cannot refuse to perform the constitutional duty of delivering an address to the legislature. But there can be situations when they deviate from the text of the speech prepared by the government.

So far, there have been no instances of President doing so. But there has been an occasion when a Governor skipped a portion of the address to the Assembly.

  • In 1969, the Governor of West Bengal, Dharma Vira, skipped two paragraphs of the address prepared by the United Front government. The skipped portion described as unconstitutional the dismissal of the first United Front government by the Congress-ruled central government.

Are there parallels in other countries?

Similar provisions exist in other democracies.

  1. In the United States, it is referred to as the “State of the Union”. The phrase comes from an article in the US Constitution which specifies that the President, “from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
  2. In the United Kingdom, it is referred to as the Queen’s Speech and is part of the ceremony to mark the formal start of the parliamentary year.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.

Who is a star campaigner?

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Who is a star campaigner? Significance, removal, implications.

Context: The Election Commission (EC) has removed BJP leaders Anurag Thakur and Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma from the party’s list of star campaigners.

Background:

The move comes after Thakur encouraged the crowd at a rally this week to chant “desh ke gaddaron ko goli maaro (gun down traitors)” and Singh, in an interview, claimed that Shaheen Bagh protestors could “enter homes and rape sisters and daughters”.

Who is a star campaigner? How are they chosen?

A recognised political party can have 40 star campaigners and an unrecognised (but registered) political party can have 20.

The list of star campaigners has to be communicated to the Chief Electoral Officer and Election Commission within a week from the date of notification of an election.

Advantages:

The expenditure incurred on campaigning by such campaigners is exempt from being added to the election expenditure of a candidate. However, this only applies when a star campaigner limits herself to a general campaign for the political party she represents.

Candidates cannot afford to breach their expenditure limit (Rs 28 lakh in case of Delhi elections).

What if a star campaigner campaigns specifically for one candidate?

  1. If a candidate or her election agent shares the stage with a star campaigner at a rally, then the entire expenditure on that rally, other than the travel expenses of the star campaigner, is added to the candidate’s expenses.
  2. Even if the candidate is not present at the star campaigner’s rally, but there are posters with her photographs or her name on display, the entire expenditure will be added to the candidate’s account.
  3. This applies even if the star campaigner mentions the candidate’s name during the event. When more than one candidate shares the stage, or there are posters with their photographs, then the expenses of such rally/meeting are equally divided between all such candidates.

Does removal from the star campaigner’s list bar them from campaigning?

No, that decision will only be taken by the EC once the barred leaders reply to the showcause notices served to them. However, the removal from the star campaigner’s list does make campaigning difficult for them.

This is because whichever constituency they hold their election meeting or rally at, irrespective of whether they limit themselves to general party propaganda or not, the entire expenditure of the event will be added to the account of the candidate contesting from that seat.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO (INCCU)

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About INCCU- composition, objectives and functions.

What is it?

Initially Setup in 1949, it is a governmental body functioning under the Department of Secondary and Higher Education in the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

A permanent Commission was established in 1951.

The objective of the Commission is to advise the Government in matters relating to the UNESCO.

The Constitution of the UNESCO mandates each member to form a national commission to function as agencies of liaison between the national government and UNESCO.

 Composition:

  • The Minister for Human Resource Development is the President of the Commission.
  • The Secretary to the Government of India in the Department of Higher Education is the Secretary-General of the Commission.

 Important functions:

  1. To promote understanding of the objects and purposes of UNESCO among the people of the Republic of India.
  2. To serve as a liaison agency between the Government of India and the institutions concerned with the working for the advancement of education, science and culture.
  3. To cooperate with the Government departments and with services, organizations and institutions concerned with questions within UNESCO’s competence.
  4. To collaborate with the National Commissions of Asia and the Pacific and with UNESCO’s Regional Offices and centres in fostering regional, sub-regional and bilateral cooperation in education, the sciences, culture and information, particularly through the joint formulation and execution of programmes.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

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

India’s no-fly list

What to study?

For Prelims: What is it, how it works and features?

For Mains: Need for and redress?

Context: Four airlines in India — IndiGo, SpiceJet, Air India and GoAir — have banned stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra from taking their flights after he allegedly heckled television news anchor Arnab Goswami on an IndiGo flight.

What are the rules for putting a flier on the no-fly list? 

Rules in this regard have been issued by the government in 2017.

They aim at preventing disruptive behaviour by air travellers and lay down guidelines for a no-fly list.

As per the rules, a complaint of unruly behaviour needs to be filed by the pilot-in-command, and this is to be probed by an internal committee to be set up by the airline.

During the period of pendency of the inquiry, the rules empower the concerned airline to impose a ban on the passenger.

The committee is to decide the matter within 30 days, and also specify the ban duration.

What is an unruly behaviour?

The rules define three categories of unruly behaviour:

  1. Level 1 refers to behaviour that is verbally unruly, and calls for debarment up to three months.
  2. Level 2 indicates physical unruliness and can lead to the passenger being debarred from flying for up to six months.
  3. Level 3 indicates life-threatening behaviour for which the debarment would be for a minimum of two years.

Need for a no-fly list:

Even one unruly passenger can jeopardise safety on board. Therefore, Unruly behaviour on board aircraft has been declared an offence and is a punishable act.

How does someone end up on the list?

The DGCA has given an indicative list of actions that may be construed as unruly. These include: consuming alcohol or drugs resulting in unruly behaviour; smoking in an aircraft; using threatening or abusive language towards a member of the crew or other passengers; intentionally interfering with the performance of the duties of a crew member etc.

What is the structure of the internal committee?

The internal committee is to consist of a retired district and sessions judge as Chairman, along with a representative from a different scheduled airline and a representative from a passengers association or consumer association as members.

The decision of the committee shall be binding on the airline concerned. In case the committee fails to take a decision in 30 days, the passenger will be free to fly.

Is there redress for someone declared guilty by the internal committee? 

Any aggrieved person, upon receipt of communication of a ban from the airline, may appeal within 60 days from the date of issue of the order, to an Appellate Committee.

This committee is constituted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

It consists of a retired judge of a High Court as Chairman; a representative from a passengers’ association or a consumer association; and an airlines representative not below the rank of vice-president or equivalent.

The decision of the appellate committee shall be final and that any further appeal shall lie in a High Court.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

What makes WHO declare a disease outbreak a public health emergency?

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Coronavirus- spread, symptoms and prevention, WHO public health emergency.

Context: World Health Organization declares coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern.

What necessitated this?

Rising numbers and evidence of person-to-person transmission in a handful of cases outside of China.

Greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, and which are ill-prepared to deal with it.

What is a public health emergency of international concern?

As per WHO, it is “an extraordinary event” that constitutes a “public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease” and “to potentially require a coordinated international response.” Previous emergencies have included Ebola, Zika and H1N1.

The responsibility of declaring an event as an emergency lies with the Director-General of the WHO and requires the convening of a committee of members.

Implications:

Declaring the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern would allow WHO to better coordinate the international response and hold nations to account if they overstep the organization’s standards — which may pertain to travel, trade, quarantine or screening.

Background:

The novel coronavirus (a new strain of coronavirus which has not been previously identified in human beings) is one among a large family of coronaviruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to the more serious Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

  • The source of the novel coronavirus is not yet known and there is no treatment for it so far.
  • The infection has killed more than 100 people in China, and according to the WHO’s latest situation report, there are 5,997 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country and 68 in the rest of the world.
  • Other countries where confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported include Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, Thailand, Nepal, Germany, France, the US and Canada.

Sources: the Hindu.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

UN’s new rules for ships in the Arctic region

What to study?

For Prelims: Overview of the new rules, about MARPOL.

For Mains: Sulphur emissions- concerns, challenges and ways to address them.

Context: On January 1, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has issued new rules aiming to reduce sulphur emissions, due to which ships are opting for newer blends of fuels.

But, recently environmental activists called for a ban on the use of new low sulphur marine fuel in the Arctic region, citing a research which shows that blends of very low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO) contribute to highly polluting black carbon emissions in the environment.

What do the new IMO rules say?

The IMO has banned ships from using fuels with a sulphur content above 0.5 per cent, compared with 3.5 per cent previously.

The new limits are monitored and enforced by national authorities of countries that are members of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI.

Under the new policy, only ships fitted with sulphur-cleaning devices, known as scrubbers, are allowed to continue burning high-sulphur fuel.

Alternatively, they can opt for cleaner fuels, such as marine gasoil (MGO) and very low-sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO).

There are complaints against VLSFO as well, as testing companies have claimed that high sediment formation due to the fuel’s use could damage vessel engines.

 Implications:

The new regulations, called IMO 2020, have been regarded as the biggest shake up for the oil and shipping industries in decades. It affects more than 50,000 merchant ships worldwide.

Concerns associated with Sulphur usage:

Sulphur oxides (SOx), which are formed after combustion in engines, are known to cause respiratory symptoms and lung disease, while also leading to acid rain.

About International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL):

The Convention was adopted on 2 November 1973 at IMO.

It includes regulations aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships – both accidental pollution and that from routine operations.

All ships flagged under countries that are signatories to MARPOL are subject to its requirements, regardless of where they sail and member nations are responsible for vessels registered on their national ship registry.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics covered: Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.

World Sustainable Development Summit

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: WSDS- key facts and significance of the summit, about TERI.

Context: The theme of the 2020 edition of the Summit is ‘Towards 2030 Goals: Making the Decade Count’.

World Sustainable Development Summit:

It is the annual flagship event of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

It is the sole Summit on global issues taking place in the developing world.

It provides a platform for global leaders and practitioners to discuss and deliberate over climatic issues of universal importance.

It strives to provide long-term solutions for the benefit of the global community by assembling the world’s most enlightened leaders and thinkers on a single platform.

It is continuing the legacy of Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) which was initiated in 2001 with the aim of making ‘sustainable development’ a globally shared goal.

The Energy and Resources Institute – TERI:

It is a leading think tank dedicated to conducting research for sustainable development of India and the Global South.

  • TERI was established in 1974 as an information centre on energy issues. However, over the following decades, it made a mark as a research institute, whose policy and technology solutions transformed people’s lives and the environment.

Sources: pib.

 


Facts for Prelims


 

SAMPRITI-IX:

It is a bilateral defence cooperation endeavour between India and Bangladesh.

  • The latest edition will be the ninth edition and will be conducted in Umroi, Meghalaya.