POLITY, GOVERNANCE AND IR
INDIAN UNSC NON-PERMANENT MEMBERSHIP:
- India has been elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for a two-year term and this is the 8th time.
- India is the only candidate from Asia- Pacific States, won 184 votes out of the 192 ballots. Along with India, Ireland, Mexico and Norway also won non- permanent membership.
- India will be guided by the five priorities under the overarching theme of NORMS: New Orientation for a Reformed Multilateral System and will pursue these priorities through a Five-S approach.
- Five-S approach: Samman (Respect), Samvad (Dialogue), Sahyog (Cooperation), Shanti (Peace) and Samriddhi (Prosperity).
INDIA BHUTAN HYDROPOWER PROJECT:
- 600 MW Kholongchhu project is part of four projects agreed in 2008, other three being Bunakha, Wangchhu and Chamkharchhu.
- Kholongchhu is a 50:50 Joint Venture between Sutlej Jal Vidyut Nigam, Himachal Pradesh PSU and Bhutanese Druk Green Power Corporation.
- Other Key projects include, Tala hydropower project (1,020 MW) and Dorjilung hydropower project (1,125 MW) (trilateral cooperation between Bhutan, India and Bangladesh).
ONLINE DISPUTE RESOLUTION (ODR) – A VOLUNTARY ADR:It is a form of Alternative dispute redressal mechanism (ADR) which is voluntary.
- Once opted, its mandatory to enter into mediation for at least one session, later parties can opt out if not interested.
- India Australia virtual summit held recently which is first of its kind.
- Other recent summits which held virtually, Extraordinary virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit, SAARC virtual summit, Non-Aligned Movement Summit.
NEW CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT:
- Old Consumer Protection Act, 1986 replaced with new Consumer Protection Act, 2019.·New Act added six “consumer rights”:
- The right to be protected against the marketing of goods, products or services which are hazardous to life and property.
- The right to be informed about the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods, products, or services to protect the consumer against unfair trade practices.
- The right to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of goods, products, or services at competitive prices.
- The right to be heard and to be assured that consumer’s interests will receive due consideration at appropriate fora.
- The right to seek redressal against unfair trade practice or restrictive trade practices or unscrupulous exploitation of consumers. and The right to consumer awareness.
JUDICIAL REVIEW CAN’T BE AVAILABLE PRIOR TO SPEAKER’S DECISION:
- Constitutional courts cannot judicially review disqualification proceedings under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution until the Speaker or Chairman makes a final decision on merits.
VOLUNTARY NATIONAL REVIEW:
- Recently, NITI Aayog presented India VNR 2020 report titled Decade of Action: Taking SDGs from Global to Local at UN’s High-level Political Forum (HLPF) meeting. This is India’s Second Voluntary National Review (VNR).
- VNR is a process through which countries assess and present progress made in achieving the global goals and the pledge to leave no one behind.
15TH INDIA- EUROPEAN UNION (EU) SUMMIT:
- Recently, 15th India- European Union (EU) Summit was held through a virtual medium. ‘India-EU Strategic Partnership: A Roadmap to 2025’ was adopted to guide cooperation between India and the EU over the next five years.
- An Agreement was signed between India-EURATOM (European Atomic Energy Community) on research and development cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
CHABAHAR - ZAHEDAN RAILWAY LINE:
- Without consulting India, Iran decided to proceed with the construction of rail line from Chabahar port to Zahedan, along the border with Afghanistan. Where, A Trilateral Agreement on Establishment of International Transport and Transit Corridor was signed among India, Iran and Afghanistan in 2016.
- UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA (UNCLOS):·UNCLOS divides marine areas into five main zones:
- Low-water line called Baseline along the coast as officially recognized by the coastal state.
- Internal Waters: These are waters on the landward side of the baseline.
- Territorial Sea: It extends seaward up to 12 nautical miles (nm) from its baselines.
- Contiguous Zone: It extends seaward up to 24 nm from its baselines.
- Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): Each coastal State may claim an EEZ beyond and adjacent to its territorial sea that extends seaward up to 200 nm from its baselines.
- High Seas: The ocean surface and the water column beyond the EEZ are referred to as the high seas.
ARUNACHAL PRADESH DEMAND FOR SIXTH SCHEDULE STATUS:
- Arunachal Pradesh assembly unanimously passed a resolution for the entire state to be included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Their demanded to put State under the Sixth Schedule to protect and safeguard the customary rights of tribal people regarding ownership and transfer of land and forest products of the state.
- Sixth schedule in constitution provides power to tribal communities to administer the tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram under the provision of article 244(2) and 275(1) of the constitution.
- Article 244 of provides special system of administration for certain area designated as ‘scheduled areas’ and ‘tribal areas.
- Article 275 makes provisions for statutory grants to be charged on Consolidated Fund of India. Such grants also include specific grants for promoting the welfare of the scheduled tribes or for raising the level of administration of the scheduled areas in a state.
CONTEMPT OF COURT:
- Contempt refers to the offence of showing disrespect to the dignity or authority of a court. It is created to protect courts from attacks that lower its authority, defame its public image, and make the public lose faith in its impartiality.
- Article 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India empowers the Supreme Court and High Court respectively to punish people for their respective contempt.
- Constitution also includes contempt of court as a reasonable restriction to the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19, along with elements like public order and defamation.·It is of two types:
- Civil, which is willful disobedience of a court order or judgment.
- Criminal, which is written or spoken words or any act that scandalises the court or lowers its authority or prejudices or interferes with the due course of a judicial proceeding or interferes/obstructs the administration of justice.
AIR BUBBLE AGREEMENT:
- Recently, India and Maldives signed an “air bubble agreement” for travel, a direct ferry service and a submarine cable for telecom connectivity.
- US $500 million assistance to provide assistance for the Greater Male Connectivity project (GMCP) to connect Male to three neighbouring islands - Villingili, Thilafushi and Gulhifahu islands. GMCP would be the largest civilian infrastructure project in Maldives.
- US $400 million Line of Credit (LoC) comes in addition to a previous LoC of $800 million that was announced in 2018.
- Recently, the Cabinet approved "Mission Karmayogi"- National Programme for Civil Services Capacity Building (NPCSCB). The Programme will be delivered by setting up an Integrated Government Online Training-iGOT Karmayogi Platform.
- The real need for this is to Transition from 'Rules based' to 'Roles based’ Human Resource (HR) Management by Emphasizing on 'on-site learning' to complement the ‘off-site’ learning.
- Under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister, It will serve as the apex body for providing strategic direction to the task of Civil Services Reform and capacity building.
- SUPPLY CHAIN RESILIENCE INITIATIVE [SCRI]:
- Recently, India, Australia, and Japan decided to launch an initiative on supply chain resilience which was first proposed by Japan.
- It is an approach that helps a country to ensure that it has diversified its supply risk across a clutch of supplying nations instead of being dependent on just one or a few.
- Main Objective of this initiative is to attract foreign direct investment to turn the Indo-Pacific into an economic powerhouse and build a mutually complementary relationship among partner countries.
KESAVANANDA BHARATI CASE:
- Recently, Kesavananda Bharati of landmark Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru and Others v State of Kerala case passed away
- The case dealt with a petition against the Kerala Government challenging the compulsory acquisition of his land by the Government under the Kerala Land Reforms Act 1963, as a violation of Fundamental Rights (FRs), as enshrined in - Articles 25, 26 and 31 of the Constitution of India.
DATA GOVERNANCE QUALITY INDEX [DGQI]:
- DGQI survey assesses different Ministries /Departments' performance on the implementation of Central Sector Schemes (CS) and Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS). It is conducted by Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office (DMEO) under NITI Aayog.
- Major themes of DGQI include Data Generation; Data Quality; Use of Technology; Data Analysis, Use and Dissemination; Data Security and HR Capacity & Case Studies.
- Department of Fertilizers under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has been ranked 2nd amongst the 16 Economic Ministries / Departments and 3rd out of the 65 Ministries / Departments on Data Governance Quality Index (DGQI).
- Due to COVID-19 pandemic, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha suspended question hour and private members' business during the last monsoon session of Parliament.
- Question Hour is first hour of a sitting. MPs ask questions to ministers and hold them accountable for functioning of their ministries.
“CRIME IN INDIA” 2019 REPORT:
- Recently, National Crime Record Bureau’s “Crime in India” 2019 report was released.
- Crimes against women Increased 7.3 per cent from 2018 to 2019. Highest in Assam, followed by Rajasthan and Haryana.
- Crimes against Scheduled Castes (SC) went up 7.3% from 2018 to 2019 and Cybercrimes Registered a 63.5% jump over 2018 to 2019.
FOREIGN CONTRIBUTION (REGULATION) AMENDMENT BILL, 2020:
- Earlier, Central Bureau of Investigation in its report submitted before the Supreme Court has said less than 10% of the 29-lakh registered NGOs across the country file their annual income and expenditure.
- The amendments were introduced to FCRA in context of a report by Intelligence Bureau (IB) foreign-aided NGOs are actively stalling development projects and impacting GDP growth by 2-3% per annum.
- It regulates the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution like donation or transfer of any currency, security or article by individuals, associations and companies.The amendments were introduced:
- To regulate religious conversions, which are supported by foreign funds.
- To regulate NGOs and make them more accountable and transparent,
- To ensure foreign money is not used against national interests or for anti- national activities.
- Recently, BIMSTEC Secretariat has finalized its charter after 23 years of its inception which is due to be signed in fifth summit at Srilanka soon.
- Without a dedicated charter, BIMSTEC is running with the spirit of Bangkok Declaration of 1997.
- Charter main agenda is to define a long-term vision and priorities for cooperation and define decision-making processes.
- BIMSTEC was established in 1997 as BIST-EC with four countries: Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Its Secretariat is located in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It was named BIMSTEC in 2004 after Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan joined it.
ASPIRATIONAL DISTRICTS PROGRAMME:
- Recently, an assessment report of Aspirational Districts Programme was released jointly by Institute for Competitiveness (IFC) and Social Progress Imperative.
- ADP was launched by the GOI in January 2018 to accelerate improvement in the socio-economic indicators of the most underdeveloped districts of the country.
DATA FREE FLOW WITH TRUST [DFFT]:
- Recently, India refused to become a signatory to the Osaka declaration on digital economy which proposes the concept of Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT).
- It aims to eliminate restrictions on cross-border transfer of information by electronic means, including personal information, and storing data in foreign servers, for productivity, innovation and sustainable development.
NATIONAL RECRUITMENT AGENCY [NRA]:
- Recently, Union Cabinet approved setting up of National Recruitment Agency, an independent body to conduct examination for government jobs.
- CET is the only Exam which scores will be valid for 3 years. It will be held twice a year with individual CETs for graduate level, 12th Pass level and 10th pass level for the recruitment of various vacancies in 12 Languages. Initially CET will be conducting exams for only RRB, IBPS and SSC.
- NRA will conduct the Common Eligibility Test (CET) for recruitment to non- gazetted posts in government and public sector banks. It will be registered under the Societies Registration Act, headed by a Chairman of the rank of the Secretary to the Government of India. Its members include representatives of Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Finance, Staff Selection Commission (SSC), Railway Recruitment Board (RRB) & Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS).
- The Quad was formed with four countries, Australia, Japan, India and US in 2007.
- India holds regular 2+2 ministerial dialogues with all Quad members.
- India has recently signed all foundational agreements like Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA)) with the USA for defense cooperation.
- Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA): BECA will allow India and US militaries to share geospatial and satellite data with each other.
- Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA): LEMOA gives access, to both countries, to designated military facilities on either side for the purpose of refueling and replenishment.
- Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA): It is an India-specific version of Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA). It allows both sides to operate on the same communication systems, enabling an “interoperable” environment for militaries.
- General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA): It facilitates opportunities for greater intelligence sharing between India and US. Recently, Industrial Security Annex (ISA) to GSOMIA was concluded between both countries.
- It is a vigilance tool that envisages an agreement between the prospective vendors/bidders and the buyer, committing both the parties not to exercise any corrupt influence on any aspect of the contract. Integrity Pact envisages a panel of Independent External Monitors (IEMs) approved for the organization.
- Recently, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has amended the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on adoption of “Integrity Pact” in government organisations for procurement activities and restricted the maximum tenure of Integrity External Monitors (IEMs) to three years in an organisation.
NATIONAL PROGRAM AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT POLICY FRAMEWORK [NPMPF]:
- It is a vigilance tool that envisages an agreement between the prospective vendors/bidders and the buyer, committing both the parties not to exercise any corrupt influence on any aspect of the contract. Integrity Pact envisages a panel of Independent External Monitors (IEMs) approved for the organization
- Recently, NITI Aayog and Quality Council of India (QCI) launched National Program and Project Management Policy Framework (NPMPF).
BROADCAST AUDIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL [BARC]:
- BARC calculate Television rating points (TRP) using “BAR-O-meters". TRP is the criterion that indicates the popularity of a channel or programme. BAR-O-meters have been installed in over 45,000 empanelled houses by BARC.
- BARC is an industry-led body represented by the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) and the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI).
- Recently, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has constituted a committee to review guidelines on Television Rating agencies in India.
NOBEL PEACE PRIZE 2020:
- The Nobel Peace Prize 2020 was awarded to World Food Programme (WFP) for its efforts to combat hunger in conflict-affected areas and preventing the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.
- WFP, established in 1961, is an intergovernmental organisation and UN’s primary agency which is the world’s largest humanitarian agency combating hunger. It is headquartered in Rome, Italy.
RIGHT TO RECALL:
- Right to Recall is a process whereby the electorate has the power to remove the elected officials before the expiry of their term.
- To recall, 50% members of a ward or gram sabha have to give in writing that they want to initiate proceedings which will be followed by a secret ballot, in which their recall will require two-third members voting against them.
- This allows the recall of village sarpanches and members of the block-level and district-level panchayats if they fail to perform. It is an example of instrument of direct democracy.
G20 SUMMIT 2020:
- Prime Minister, Narendra Modi participated virtually in the 15th G20 Summit convened by Saudi Arabia.·G20 has two working tracks:
- Finance Track: The primary focus is on global economic and financial issues such as monetary, fiscal and exchange rate policies, infrastructure investment, financial regulation, financial inclusion and international taxation.
- Sherpa Track: The focus is on broader issues such as political engagement, anti-corruption, development, trade, gender equality, energy and climate change.
BRICS SUMMIT 2020:
- BRICS started in 2001 as BRIC, an acronym coined by Goldman Sachs for Brazil, Russia, India, and China. South Africa was added in 2010.
- BRICS Summit 2020 was held virtually under the chairmanship of Russia, which adopted the motto for the year as ‘BRICS Partnership for Global Stability, Shared Security and Innovative Growth’.
- In 2020 Summit, Moscow Declaration was adopted which reflects the five countries’ consolidated approach to the further development of the associationoand Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership 2020-2025 was signed.
OTT PLATFORMS UNDER I&B MINISTRY:
- OTT Platforms like Amazon, Netflix which provide video content only through online have been brought under the jurisdiction of I&B ministry through a notification that amends the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 using the clause (3) of Article 77 of the Constitution.
- Article 77 (3) allows the President to make rules for the more convenient transaction of the business of the Government of India, and for the allocation among Ministers of the said business. The notification also brought news and current affairs content on online platforms under the purview.
17TH ASEAN-INDIA SUMMIT:
- ASEAN: It is an intergovernmental organization of ten Southeast Asian countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
- Recently, 17th ASEAN-India Summit was held virtually in which India announced a contribution of US$ 1 million to the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund. India reiterated its offer of US$ 1 billion Line of Credit to support ASEAN connectivity for greater physical and digital connectivity between ASEAN and India
- Both India and ASEAN welcomed the adoption of the new ASEAN-India Plan of Action for 2021-2025.
LEGALIZING BETTING IN INDIA:
- Recently, Minister of State for Finance has raised voice for the need of legalizing betting in India. Public Gambling Act, 1867 is the general law governing gambling in India where Gambling and betting are State subjects. However, Gambling' is not defined under the Gambling Legislations of states·The gambling under the Gambling Legislations does not include:
- Betting on a horse race (subject to the legal regulations);
- Games of skill (excluded under the Gambling Act and by the court's judgments);
- Lotteries (regulated by lottery laws of India).
- Thus, Fantasy sports betting is legal because it is a game of skill. And, in fantasy sports, your opponents are other human players
REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP [RCEP]:
- Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that has been signed between 15 Asia-Pacific nations including the 10 ASEAN members, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, have signed the RCEP, while India chose to opt out of the trade agreement.
- The RCEP was first proposed at the 19th ASEAN meet in 2011 with an aim to create a consolidated market for the ASEAN countries and their trade partners. Now, it is the world’s largest trade bloc.
SHANGHAI COOPERATION ORGANIZATION [SCO]:
- SCO is a permanent intergovernmental political, economic and military organization founded in Shanghai in 2001. Russian and Mandarin are official and working languages in SCO.
- Recently, Russian President virtually chaired the 20th Summit of SCO Council of Heads of State which was first summit virtually.
- India extended full support to observing the 20th anniversary of SCO in 2021 as the "SCO Year of Culture.” and announced that in 2021, the National Museum of India will hold an exhibition on the Buddhist heritage of the SCO countries.
ORGANIZATION OF THE PETROLEUM EXPORTING COUNTRIES [OPEC]:
- OPEC is a permanent intergovernmental organization of 13 oil-exporting nations, originally found by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela at the Baghdad Conference on September 1960. Its objective is to co-ordinate and unify petroleum policies among member countries.·The OPEC Secretariat is the executive organ of OPEC located in Vienna. It is headquartered at Vienna, Austria.
- Recently, OPEC Secretariat hosted the 4th High-Level Meeting of the OPEC - India Dialogue virtually. OPEC reiterated that India’s support for the producer-consumer dialogue has greatly contributed to the Organization’s success in pursuing the sustainability of the oil market. India is not OPEC member.
- Asian Premium: Asian Premium is the extra charge being collected by OPEC countries from Asian countries when selling oil, and India has been voicing its dissent against this practice.
- There are 3 important benchmarks in global market, representing the cost of oil produced in respective geographies.
- Brent: Light sweet oil representative of European market
- West Texas Intermediate (WTI): US market
- Dubai/Oman: Middle East and Asian Market.
- It is located in the Gulf of Oman at the Sistan-Baluchistan province of energy rich Iran on the Makran Coast. It is jointly being developed by India, Iran and Afghanistan for multi-modal transport of goods and passengers
- Recently, the first Trilateral Working Group (TWG) Meeting between India, Iran and Uzbekistan on joint use of Chabahar Port was held virtually.
CENTRAL/STATE (C/S) INFORMATION COMMISSIONS:
- Central/State (C/S) Information Commissions are statutory bodies constituted under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. They are the final appellate authority for RTI Act. They are vested with wide power like power to impose penalty on Public Information Officers (PIOs), initiate an inquiry against them.
- Recently, the Parliamentary Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice has decided to review working of the Central Information Commission (CIC) and the State Information Commissions (SICs). CIC is required to submit annual reports to the Parliament and the SICs to state
- legislatures through its administrative wings, the Ministry of Personnel and Training in Centre and Services Department in the states.
- Now for the first time the functioning of this body would directly be scrutinized by a parliamentary committee, to effectively implement its functioning.
VIRTUAL EXHIBITION ON BUDDHIST HERITAGE OF THE SCO:
- A virtual exhibition on the shared Buddhist heritage of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries was launched by India’s Vice- President during the virtual meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of Government.
- This is an online international exhibition curated by the National Museum, Delhi which provides an opportunity for visitors to access, appreciate and compare Buddhist art antiquities from SCO countries on a single platform and from the comfort of their home.
INDIAN OCEAN REGION [IOR]:
- ·The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's oceanic divisions
- (after Pacific and Atlantic), covering 19.8% of the water on Earth's surface.
- IOR is home to 1/3rd of the world’s population where the average age of a person is less than 30 years compared to 38 in the US and 46 in Japan.
- This densely populated IOR is also highly vulnerable to natural disasters.
- Recently, India’s Chief of Defence Staff (CoDS) remarked “the world is witnessing a race for strategic bases in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and it is only going to gain momentum in the times to come”.
RIVER SYSTEM IN THE TIBETAN PLATEAU:
- The Tibetan plateau is often called the “Third Pole”, owing to its glacial expanses and vast reserves of freshwater. Following can be cited as key features of this system-
- It is a source of seven of the South Asia’s largest rivers- the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, Irrawaddy, Salween, Yangtze and Mekong.
- These rivers flow into Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, and form the largest river run-off from any single location.
- Recently, there have been reports that China plans to build run-of-the-river dams on Yarlung Zangbo , the tributary of Brahmaputra which is called Siang in China. This has reinvigorated the debate on India-China water relations.
TIBETAN POLICY AND SUPPORT ACT [TPSA]:
- Built on the landmark Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, the TPSA addresses Tibetan human rights, environmental rights, religious freedoms and the democratic Tibetan government in exile.
- It formally recognises the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) as the legitimate representative of the Tibetan people.
- Recently, The US Senate passed the Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA) of 2020 outlining United States’ policy on Tibet.