Daily Current Affairs : 10th and 11th

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Citizenship Amendment Bill
  2. Inner Line Permit & CAB
  3. Human Development Index
  4. Rohingya Crisis and ICJ trial
  5. Seeds Bill 2019
  6. Climate Change Performance Index
  7. Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority (PPV&FRA)
  9. Facts for Prelims : Map based question Green Noble Prize, 126th Amendment Bill, National Human Rights Day, Section 79 of IT Act

1 . Citizenship Amendment Bill

Context : The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Amit Shah, on December 9, 2019. The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955. 

About Citizenship Act of 1955

  • The Citizenship Act, 1955 provides various ways in which citizenship may be acquired. It provides for citizenship by birth, descent, registration, naturalisation and by incorporation of territory into Indian
  • It also regulates the registration of Overseas Citizen of India Cardholders (OCIs), and their rights. An OCI is entitled to some benefits such as a multiple-entry, multi-purpose lifelong visa to visit India etc.

Details of the recent Amendment with regards to various provisions

Definition of Illegal Migrants

  • Original Act : The Act prohibits illegal migrants from acquiring Indian citizenship. It defines an illegal migrant as a foreigner: 
    • Who enters India without a valid passport or travel documents, or  
    • Stays beyond the permitted time. 
  • Amendment : The Bill amends the Act to provide that that the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, will not be treated as illegal migrants. 
    • In order to get this benefit, they must have also been exempted from the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 by the central government.  The 1920 Act mandates foreigners to carry passport, while the 1946 Act regulates the entry and departure of foreigners in India.  

Citizenship by Registration or Naturalisation

  • Original Act : The Act allows a person to apply for citizenship by registration or naturalisation, if the person meets certain qualifications.  For instance, if a person resides in India for a year and if one of his parents is a former Indian citizen, he may apply for citizenship by registration. 
    • To obtain citizenship by naturalisation, one of the qualifications is that the person must have resided in India or have been in service of the central government for at least 11 years before applying for citizenship.  
  • Amendment -The Bill creates an exception for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, with regard to this qualification.  For these groups of persons, the 11 years’ requirement will be reduced to 5 years. 
    • On acquiring citizenship: (i) such persons will be deemed to be citizens of India from the date of their entry into India, and (ii) all legal proceedings against them in respect of their illegal migration or citizenship will be closed.   

Cancellation of registration of OCIs

  • Original Act The Act provides that the central government may cancel registration of OCIs on certain grounds. These include: (i) if the OCI has registered through fraud, or (ii) if within five years of registration, the OCI has been sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more, or (iii) if it becomes necessary in the interest of sovereignty and security of India.  
  • Amendment – The Bill adds one more ground for cancelling registration, that is, if the OCI has violated the provisions of the Act or of any other law as notified by the central government.  The orders for cancellation of OCI should not be passed till the OCI cardholder is given an opportunity to be heard.

Exceptions to the Amendment

  • Provisions on citizenship for illegal migrants will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura, included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution. 
  • These tribal areas include Karbi Anglong (in Assam), Garo Hills (in Meghalaya), Chakma District (in Mizoram), and Tripura Tribal Areas District. 
  • Further, it will not apply to the “Inner Line” areas notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.  In these areas, visits by Indians are regulated through the Inner Line Permit.  Currently, this permit system is applicable to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland.

2 . Inner Line Permit

Context :- Union Home Minister Amit Shah told the Lok Sabha that Manipur would be brought under the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system, thereby exempting it from the provisions of the Citizen­ship (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

What is Inner Line Permit system?

  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) is an official travel document required by Indian citizens residing outside certain “protected” states while entering them.
  • The ILP is issued by the Government of India and is obligatory for all those who reside outside the protected states. With the ILP, the government aims to regulate movement to certain areas located near the international border of India.
  • The system is in force today in three Northeastern states — Arunachal PradeshNagaland and Mizoram— and no Indian citizen can visit any of these states unless he or she belongs to that state, nor can he or she overstay beyond the period specified in the ILP.

Origin of Inner Line Permit

  • During the British rule they framed Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873, for restricting the entry and regulating the stay of outsiders in designated areas. This was to protect the Crown’s own commercial interests by preventing “British subjects” (Indians) from trading within these regions. 
  • -In 1950, the Indian government replaced “British subjects” with “Citizen of India”. This was to address concerns about protecting the interests of the indigenous people from outsiders belonging to other Indian states.

How is ILP issued?

  • An ILP is issued by the state government concerned. It can be obtained after applying either online or physically. It states the dates of travel and also specifies the particular areas in the state which the ILP holder can travel to.

What does this exemption mean for beneficiaries under CAB?

  • In ILP states, there are already a large number of migrants from other Indian states. They live and work there equipped with long-term ILPs, and renew these. The question now being asked, therefore, is whether a person who becomes an Indian citizen through CAB can, or cannot, apply for an ILP and work in such states, just like any other Indian citizen.
  • Also, multiple restrictions and regulations exist on entry and stay of “outsiders” (Indian citizens from outside that state/area) in areas under the Inner Line system or the Sixth Schedule.
  • These existing rules are expected to put the same restrictions on someone who has acquired citizenship through CAB.
  • The exemptions appears to imply, however, that no immigrant non-citizen living in these areas can be regularised as an Indian citizen through CAB.

What is the Sixth Schedule, and which areas are exempted from CAB?

  • The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, described in Articles 244(2) and 275(1), relates to special provisions in administration of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram and provides special powers for Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) in these states.
  • ADCs have powers to enact laws in areas under their jurisdiction on a variety of subjects, with the objective of ensuring development of tribal areas and boosting self-governance by tribal communities.
  • Mizoram is covered under the ILP regime in any case. Among the other three states that have areas protected under the Sixth Schedule, tribal-majority Meghalaya has three ADCs that cover practically the entire state, except for a small part of Shillong city. Assam has three ADCs and Tripura one, all with Sixth Schedule powers.
  • The amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1955, if approved, will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizo­ram and Nagaland that are protected by the ILP system. 

So, why has Manipur been an exception to both these kinds of regimes?

  • Manipur, like Tripura, was a princely state. When they joined the Indian Union (both in 1949; they became full-fledged states in 1972), they were out of the scheme of the Sixth Schedule
  • “Only from 1985, the Sixth Schedule was implemented in Tripura’s tribal areas. When Tripura was given, the Centre had said that even in Manipur it would be extended shortly —but it never turned out to be a reality. However, in Manipur the state government had recommended three times for the Sixth Schedule

What about Manipur’s tribal areas?

  • Manipur has two geographically distinct areas. The valley, which includes Imphal, constitutes roughly 10% of the geographical area but holds around 60% of the state’s population. These belong mostly to the dominant Meitei community. The remaining 90% is hill areas, home to the other 40% that include a wide range of tribes, including Nagas and Kukis.

What is Article 371C?

  • It mentions special provisions for Manipur: “… The President may, by order made with respect to the State of Manipur, provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of the Legislative Assembly of the State consisting of members of that Assembly elected from the Hill Areas of that State, for the modifications to be made in the rules of business of the Government and in the rules of procedure of the Legislative Assembly of the State and for any special responsibility of the Governor in order to secure the proper functioning of such committee.”
  • It adds, “The Governor shall annually, or whenever so required by the President, make a report to the President regarding the administration of the Hill Areas in the State of Manipur and the executive power of the Union shall extend to the giving of directions to the State as to the administration of the said areas.”
  • Powers granted through this provision protect the tribals of Manipur in the Assembly, primarily through the Hill Areas Committee of the Manipur State Legislative Assembly — which comprises MLAs from the hill areas of the state.

Are there any other provisions for Manipur?

  • The Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act, 1971, passed by Parliament, paved the way for establishment of six Autonomous District Councils in Manipur in 1972. Without the Sixth Schedule in place, these Councils have much lower powers in comparison to ADCs under the Sixth Schedule.
  • Last year, the Manipur People Bill, 2018 was passed by the Assembly. Said to be awaiting presidential assent, it proposes to several regulations on “outsiders” or “non-Manipuri people” in the state. The Bill had undergone series of negotiations on defining the “Manipuri” people, after which a consensus was reached on 1951 as the cut-off year.

What about other states in the Northeast?

  • In November this year, the Meghalaya Cabinet approved amendments to the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act 2016, which will lead to laws that require non-resident visitors to register themselves.
  • The move came in the backdrop of demands for an ILP-like regime and concerns expressed by civil society and political leaders, including Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, that people excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam might try to enter Meghalaya.
  • In Assam too, there have been demands by certain sections for the introduction of an ILP regime. Groups such as the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad, a youth organisation, have been organising demonstrations seeking ILP throughout the state.

3 . Human Development Report

Context India ranks 129 out of 189 countries on the 2019 Human Development Index (HDI) — up one slot from the 130th position last year — according to the Human Development Report (HDR) released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

About Human Development Report

  • Report was first launched in 1990 by the Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq and Indian Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.
  • Its goal was to place people at the center of the development process in terms of economic debate, policy and advocacy. Development was characterized by the provision of choices and freedoms resulting in widespread outcomes.
  • The Human Development Report is an independent report, commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and is the product of a selected team of leading scholars, development practitioners and members of the Human Development Report Office of UNDP. It is a report independent of the Administrator of the UNDP, as suggested by ul Haq.
  • Several new indices have been introduced over the years in different reports, including the Human Development Index, the Gender-related Development Index, the Gender Empowerment Measure, the Human Poverty Index. The Gender-related Development Index, the Gender Empowerment Measure and the Human Poverty Index were removed in 2010.
  • The 2010 Human Development Report introduced three new indices the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index, the Gender Inequality Index, and the Multidimensional Poverty Index. 

Indices in 2019 Report

  • Human Development Index and its components, ranks countries by 2018 HDI value and details the values of the three HDI components: longevity, education (with two indicators), and income per capita.
  • Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index : It contains two related measures of inequality—the IHDI and the loss in HDI due to inequality.
    • The IHDI looks beyond the average achievements of a country in longevity, education, and income to show how these achievements are distributed among its residents. The IHDI value can be interpreted as the level of human development when inequality is accounted for.
    • The relative difference between IHDI and HDI values is the loss due to inequality in distribution of the HDI within the country.
  • Gender Development Index : It  measures disparities on the HDI by gender.
  • Gender Inequality Index : It presents a composite measure of gender inequality using three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment, and the labour market. The reproductive health indicators are the maternal mortality ratio and the adolescent birth rate. The empowerment indicators are the share of parliamentary seats held by women and the share of population with at least some secondary education by gender. The labour market indicator is participation in the labour force by gender. A low GII value indicates low inequality between women and men, and vice-versa.
  • Multidimensional Poverty Index : It captures the multiple deprivations that people in developing countries face in their health, education, and standard of living. The MPI shows both the incidence of nonincome multidimensional poverty (a headcount of those in multidimensional poverty) and its intensity (the average deprivation score experienced by poor people). Based on deprivation score thresholds, people are classified as vulnerable to multidimensional poverty, multidimensionally poor, or in severe multidimensional poverty.

What does HDI measure?

The HDI measures aver­age achievement in three basic dimensions of human development — life expec­tancy, education and per capita income.

Which data sources are used for HDI computation?

  • Life expectancy at birth is provided by the UN Population Division in the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA); mean years of schooling (MYS) is based on UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) educational attainment data, for countries for which UIS data are not available, Barro and Lee (2018) estimates were used; expected years of schooling (EYS) is provided by UIS; and GNI per capita (in 2011 $PPP) by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
  • For several countries, mean years of schooling and expected years of schooling are estimated from nationally representative household surveys, and for some countries GNI was obtained from the UN Statistical Division’s database – National Accounts Main Aggregates Database.

About the Ranking

  • India ranks 129 out of 189 countries on the 2019 Hu­man Development Index (HDI) — up one slot from the 130th position last year
  • India’s neigh­bours, Sri Lanka (71) and Chi­na (85) are higher up the rank scale while Bhutan (134), Bangladesh (135), Myanmar (145), Nepal (147), Pakistan (152) and Afghanis­tan (170) were ranked lower on the list.
  • -Norway, Switzerland and Ireland occupied the top three positions in that order. Germany is placed fourth along with Hong Kong, and Australia secured the fifth rank on the global ranking.

Details about India’s Ranking

  • In inequality­ adjusted HDI (IHDI)India’s position drops by one posi­tion to 130, losing nearly half the progress (.647 to .477) made in the past 30 years.  The IHDI indicates percen­tage loss in HDI due to inequalities.
  • The report notes that group­ based inequalities persist, especially affecting women and girls and no place in the world has gen­der equality. 
  • In the Gender Inequality Index (GII), India is at 122 out of 162 countries. Neighbours China (39), Sri Lanka (86), Bhutan (99), Myanmar (106) were placed above India.

Overall analysis of this years report

  • The report presents a new index indicating how prejud­ices and social beliefs ob­struct gender equality, which shows that only 14% of women and 10% of men worldwide have no gender bias.
  • The report notes that this indicates a backlash to wo­men’s empowerment as these biases have shown a growth especially in areas where more power is in­volved, including in India.
  • The report also highlights that new forms of inequali­ties will manifest in future through climate change and technological transforma­tion which have the potential to deepen existing social and economic fault lines.

Importance of the Report

  • The Human Development Report 2019 is significant because it focuses on inequalities in development. It shows inequalities beyond income which exist in society.
  • It also measures loss in the human development progress due to inequalities. The report also highlights the gender gaps in development.

4 . Rohingya Issue and Myanmar Trial

Context : The case, ‘Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v. Myanmar)’, seeking the “indication of provisional measures”, will be heard by 16 United Nations judges at the ICJ

Who has taken Myanmar to the ICJ?

  • It is the Republic of the Gambia, a tiny country the size of Tripura, which stretches out as a thin strip of territory on either side of the river Gambia before it empties itself into the North Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Africa.
  • The Gambia, which is predominantly Muslim, went to the ICJ in November 2019, accusing Myanmar of genocide, which is the most serious of all international crimes. The Gambia is backed by the 57-member Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

What is the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar?

  • An estimated 7.3 lakh Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since 2017 when the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown on Rohingya villages in the country’s Rakhine state. In August, the UN said the army action was carried out with “genocidal intent”.
  • Myanmar has stoutly denied all allegations of genocide. It has also denied nearly all allegations made by the Rohingya of mass rape, killings and arson against its army. Myanmar says the soldiers carried out legitimate counterterrorism operations.

What will happen after the hearings are over?

  • The ICJ will decide the plea on provisional measures fairly soon — possibly within weeks. The hearings dealing with the main, and more serious allegations of genocide will follow — and could begin next year.
  • That said, cases at the ICJ often drag on for years on end, and no quick closure can be reasonably expected. Also, as commentators quoted by international media reports have argued, the legal bar for handing out a conviction for genocide is rather high.
  • So far, only three cases of genocide worldwide have been recognised since World War II: Cambodia (the late 1970s), Rwanda (1994), and Srebrenica, Bosnia (1995).
  • “Proving genocide has been difficult because of the high bar set by its ‘intent requirement’ — that is showing the genocidal acts, say killings, were carried out with the specific intent to eliminate a people on the basis of their ethnicity,” a Reuters report quoted Richard Dicker, head of the international justice programme at New York-based Human Rights Watch, as saying.
  • The ICJ, also known as the World Court, was established in 1945 and has mostly dealt with border disputes. Allegations of war crimes against individuals go before a different court, the International Criminal Court, which too, is based in The Hague.

5 . Seeds Bill 2019

Context : Govt plans to change existing law to ensure availability of quality seeds to farmers. through the proposed Bill seeds bill 2019 to replace the Seeds Act, 1966

What does the new Bill seek to change from the existing law of 1966

  • The current Act only covers “notified kinds or varieties of seeds”. Thus, regulation of quality, too, is limited to the seeds of varieties that have been officially notified.
  • Such varieties would be mostly those that are bred by public sector institutions — the likes of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the state agricultural universities (SAUs) — and officially “released” for cultivation after multi-location trials, over three years or more, to evaluate their yield performance, disease and pest resistance, quality, and other desired traits.
  • Release is a precondition for notification. And the provisions of The Seeds Act, 1966, apply only to certified seeds produced of notified varieties.
  • The new Seeds Bill, 2019 provides for compulsory registration of “any kind or variety of seeds” that are sought to be sold. In other words, even hybrids/varieties of private companies will need to be registered, and their seeds would have to meet the minimum prescribed standards relating to germination, physical and genetic purity, etc. Breeders would be required to disclose the “expected performance” of their registered varieties “under given conditions”.
  • If the seed of such registered kind or variety “fails to provide the expected performance under such given conditions”, the farmer “may claim compensation from the producer, dealer, distributor or vendor under The Consumer Protection Act, 1986”.

Need for a new bill

  • The 1966 legislation was enacted at the time of the Green Revolution, when the country hardly had any private seed industry. The high-yielding wheat and paddy varieties, which made India self-reliant in cereals by the 1980s, were developed by the various ICAR institutes and SAUs.
  • These public sector institutions have retained their dominance in breeding of wheat, paddy (including basmati), sugarcane, pulses, soyabean, groundnut, mustard, potato, onion and other crops, where farmers largely grow open-pollinated varieties (OPV) whose grain can be saved as seed for re-planting.
  • Over the last three decades or more, however, private companies and multinationals have made significant inroads, particularly into crops that are amenable to hybridisation (their seeds are first-generation hybrids produced by crossing two genetically diverse plants, and whose yields tend to be higher than that of either of the parents; the grains from these, even if saved as re-used as seed, will not give the same “F1” vigour).
  • Hybrid seed adoption rates are reported to be 7-8% in paddy, 60-70% in corn, 90% in jowar and bajra, 95% in cotton, and 80%-plus in major vegetables such as okra, tomato, chilli, capsicum, cauliflower, gourds, cucumber, cabbage, melons, brinjal, carrot and radish. Even in banana, the real production increase after the 1990s has come from tissue-culture micro-propagation planting technology commercialised by private players like Jain Irrigation.

So, are privately-bred hybrids not covered under any regulation?

  • The current Seeds Act, as already noted, applies only to notified varieties. Also, unless a variety or hybrid is notified, its seeds cannot be certified. Most of the private hybrids marketed in India, by virtue of not being officially “released”, are neither “notified” nor “certified”.
  • Instead, they are “truthful labeled”. The companies selling them simply state that the seeds inside the packets have a minimum germination (if 100 are sown, at least 75-80, say, will produce plants), genetic purity (percentage of “true-to-type” plants and non-contamination by genetic material of other varieties/species), and physical purity (proportion of non-contamination by other crop/weed seeds or inert matter).

How does the proposed Seeds Bill, 2019 address the above lacuna?

  • It does away with the concept of “notified” variety. By providing for compulsory registration of “any kind or variety of seeds”, private hybrids — whether officially “released” or “truthful labeled” — will automatically be brought under regulatory purview.
  • It must be mentioned here that the Seeds (Control) Amendment Order of 2006 under the Essential Commodities Act mandates dealers to ensure minimum standards of germination, purity, and other quality parameters even in respect of “other than notified kind or variety of seeds”. Enforcing mandatory registration under a new Seed Act, encompassing all varieties and hybrids, is expected to bring greater accountability from the industry, even while rendering the Seeds Control Order redundant.

How has been the private seed industry responded to the proposed Bill?

  • Seed companies have welcomed the provision of compulsory registration of all varieties/hybrids, based on the results of multi-location trials for a prescribed period to establish their performance vis-à-vis the claims of the breeders concerned. This should help minimise the risk of farmers being sold seeds of low-quality genetics, especially by fly-by-night operators taking undue advantage of the “truthful labeling” and “self-certification” processes.
  • The industry, however, wants the process of registration to be time-bound. Given the lack of manpower and infrastructure within the government system, the registration may be granted or refused on the basis of multi-location trials carried out by the breeder/applicant itself.
  • But the industry’s main reservation is the provision for regulation of sale price “in emergent situations like scarcity of seeds, abnormal rise in prices, monopolistic pricing or profiteering”. The fact that this power of fixing sale price of seed has been given both to the Centre and state governments has added to their nervousness. Their contention is that seed accounts for not even a tenth of the total operational costs in most crops, despite the genetic information contained in it being the main determinant of grain yield and quality.

6 . The Climate Change Per­formance Index (CCPI)

Context : The Climate Change Performance Index was presented at COP 25.

About the Index

  • Published annually since 2005, the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) tracks countries’ efforts to combat climate change. As an independent monitoring tool it aims to enhance transparency in international climate politics and enables comparison of climate protection efforts and progress made by individual countries.
  • The implementation phase of the Paris Agreement enters a crucial phase in 2020, where countries are due to submit their updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). In light of this, the CCPI aims to inform the process of raising climate ambition. As a long-standing and reliable tool for identifying leaders and laggards in climate protection, the CCPI can be a powerful instrument to hold governments accountable for their responsibility to act on the climate crisis and of stimulating a race to the top in climate action.
  • Germanwatch, the New Climate Institute and the Climate Action Network publish the Index annually.
  • The ranking results are defined by a country’s aggregated performance in 14 indicators within the four categories “GHG Emissions”, “Renewable Energy” and “Energy Use”, as well as on “Climate Policy”, in a globally unique policy section of the index.

CCPI 2020

  • The CCPI 2020 results illustrate the main regional differences in climate protection and performance within the 57 evaluated countries and the EU. Still no country performs well enough in all index categories to achieve an overall very high rating in the index. Therefore, once again the first three ranks remain empty. 
  • In this year’s index, Sweden leads the ranking on rank 4, followed by Denmark (5) and Morocco (6). The bottom five in this year’s CCPI are Islamic Republic of Iran (57), Republic of Korea (58), Chinese Taipei (59), Saudi Arabia (60) and the United States (61), rated low or very low across almost all categories. 
  • China, the world’s largest single emitter, was found to have taken “medium action” due to its high investment in renewables.
  • The U.S. ranks last, followed by Saudi Ara­bia and Australia.
  • Although several countries did report falls in emissions last year, largely due to an industry­ wide fade out of coal.

India’s Performance

  • India ranked 9th in the ranking provided.India, for the first time, ranks among the top 10 in this year’s Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI).
  • The current levels of per capita emissions and energy use in India, ranked 9th in the “high category”, are still comparatively low and, along with ambitious 2030 targets, result in high ratings for the greenhouse gas emis­sions and energy use catego­ries.
  • However, despite an overall high rating for its Climate Policy performance, experts point out that the Indian government has yet to develop a roadmap for the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies that would consequently reduce the country’s high dependence on coal.

7 . Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority (PPV&FRA)

Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001

  • In order to provide for the establishment of an effective system for the protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders and to encourage the development of new varieties of plants it has been considered necessary to recognize and to protect the rights of the farmers in respect of their contributions made at any time in conserving, improving and making available plant genetic resources for the development of new plant varieties.
  • The Govt. of India enacted “The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights (PPV&FR) Act, 2001” adopting sui generis system.
  • Indian legislation is not only in conformity with International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), 1978, but also have sufficient provisions to protect the interests of public sector breeding institutions and the farmers.
  • The legislation recognizes the contributions of both commercial plant breeders and farmers in plant breeding activity and also provides to implement TRIPs in a way that supports the specific socio-economic interests of all the stakeholders including private, public sectors and research institutions, as well as resource-constrained farmers.

Objectives of the PPV & FR Act, 2001

  • To establish an effective system for the protection of plant varieties, the rights of farmers and plant breeders and to encourage the development of new varieties of plants.
  • To recognize and protect the rights of farmers in respect of their contributions made at any time in conserving, improving and making available plant genetic resources for the development of new plant varieties.
  • To accelerate agricultural development in the country, protect plant breeders’ rights; stimulate investment for research and development both in public & private sector for the development new of plant varieties.
  • Facilitate the growth of seed industry in the country which will ensure the availability of high quality seeds and planting material to the farmers.

Rights under the Act

  • Breeders’ Rights : Breeders will have exclusive rights to produce, sell, market, distribute, import or export the protected variety. Breeder can appoint agent/ licensee and may exercise for civil remedy in case of infringement of rights.
  • Researchers’ Rights : Researcher can use any of the registered variety under the Act for conducting experiment or research. This includes the use of a variety as an initial source of variety for the purpose of developing another variety but repeated use needs prior permission of the registered breeder.
  • Farmers’ Rights
    • A farmer who has evolved or developed a new variety is entitled for registration and protection in like manner as a breeder of a variety;
    • Farmers variety can also be registered as an extant variety;
    • A farmer can save, use, sow, re-sow, exchange, share or sell his farm produce including seed of a variety protected under the PPV&FR Act, 2001 in the same manner as he was entitled before the coming into force of this Act provided farmer shall not be entitled to sell branded seed of a variety protected under the PPV&FR Act, 2001;
    • Farmers are eligible for recognition and rewards for the conservation of Plant Genetic Resources of land races and wild relatives of economic plants;
    • There is also a provision for compensation to the farmers for non-performance of variety under Section 39 (2) of the Act, 2001 and
    • Farmer shall not be liable to pay any fee in any proceeding before the Authority or Registrar or the Tribunal or the High Court under the Act.

About the Authority

  • To implement the provisions of the Act the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare established the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority on 11″ November, 2005.
  • The Chairperson is the Chief Executive of the Authority. Besides the Chairperson, the Authority has 15 members, as notified by the Government of India (GOI). Eight of them are ex-officio members representing various Departments/ Ministries, three from SAUs and the State Governments, one representative each for farmers, tribal organization, seed industry and women organization associated with agricultural activities are nominated by the Central Government.
  • The Registrar General is the ex-officio Member Secretary of the Authority.

General Functions of the Authority

  • Registration of new plant varieties, essentially derived varieties (EDV), extant varieties;
  • Developing DUS (Distinctiveness, Uniformity and Stability) test guidelines for new plant species;
  • Developing characterization and documentation of varieties registered;
  • Compulsory cataloging facilities for all variety of plants;
  • Documentation, indexing and cataloguing of farmers’ varieties;
  • Recognizing and rewarding farmers, community of farmers, particularly tribal and rural community engaged in conservation and improvement;
  • Preservation of plant genetic resources of economic plants and their wild relatives;
  • Maintenance of the National Register of Plant Varieties and
  • Maintenance of National Gene Bank.


Context : United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said it was “deeply troubled” by the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Lok Sabha, “given the religion criterion in the Bill”, and recommended that “if the CAB passes in both Houses of Parliament, the US government should consider sanctions against the Home Minister and other principal leadership”.

Who are the USCIRF?

  • The USCIRF is an advisory or a consultative body, which advises the US Congress and the administration on issues pertaining to international religious freedom.
  • On its website, the USCIRF describes itself as an independent, bipartisan US federal government commission that was created by The International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). “The broad-based coalition that advocated strongly for IRFA’s enactment sought to elevate the fundamental human right of religious freedom as a central component of US foreign policy,” the website says.
  • In practice, the USCIRF has little teeth in implementation, but acts as a conscience-keeper for the two branches in the US government — the legislature and the executive. It often takes maximalist or extreme positions, and has been used by civil society groups to put pressure on US Congress members and administration officials.

And what is the IRFA?

  • The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton. It is a statement of the US’s concern over violations of religious freedoms overseas.
  • The full title of the Act reads: “An act to express United States foreign policy with respect to, and to strengthen United States advocacy on behalf of, individuals persecuted in foreign countries on account of religion; to authorize United States actions in response to violations of religious freedom in foreign countries; to establish an Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom within the Department of State, a Commission on International Religious Freedom, and a Special Adviser on International Religious Freedom within the National Security Council; and for other purposes.”

What does the USCIRF do?

  • The USCIRF is mandated by US statute to “monitor the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad — not in the United States — using international standards to do so and makes policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress”.
  • “USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and Congressional leaders of both political parties.
  • While USCIRF is separate from the State Department, the Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom is a non-voting ex officio Commissioner. A professional, non-partisan staff supports USCIRF’s work,” according to the commission’s website.

The USCIRF’s main responsibilities are:

  • To issue an annual report by May 1 of each year, assessing the US government’s implementation of IRFA. It recommends countries that the Secretary of State should designate as “Countries of Particular Concern” for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom”; documents conditions in about 30 countries; reports on significant trends; and makes recommendations for US policy.
  • To engage Congress by working with Congressional offices, advising on legislation, testifying at hearings, and holding briefings on religious freedom issues.
  • To meet regularly with Executive Branch officials, including the Departments of State and Homeland Security, to share information, highlight situations of concern, and discuss USCIRF’s recommendations for US policy.

How does USCIRF define “freedom of religion or belief abroad”?

  • On its website, the Commission says: “Religious freedom is an important human right recognized in international law and treaties… The freedom of religion or belief is an expansive right that includes the freedoms of thought and conscience, and is intertwined with the freedoms of expression, association, and assembly. The promotion of this freedom is a necessary component of US foreign policy.”
  • In its statement issued to “raise serious concerns and eye sanctions recommendations” in the aftermath of the passage of the CAB in Lok Sabha, the USCIRF said the Bill “enshrines a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that specifically excludes Muslims, setting a legal criterion for citizenship based on religion”.
  • The CAB, it said, “is a dangerous turn in the wrong direction; it runs counter to India’s rich history of secular pluralism and the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law regardless of faith. In conjunction with the ongoing National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam and nationwide NRC that the Home Minister seeks to propose, USCIRF fears that the Indian government is creating a religious test for Indian citizenship that would strip citizenship from millions of Muslims”.

Has USCIRF raised issues relating to India in the past?

  • USCIRF had issued a statement against the NRC in Assam and said that it creates a “negative and potentially dangerous climate for the Muslim community” in northeastern India. It had said that the updated NRC could be used to disenfranchise Muslims in the region and is part of the government’s ongoing efforts to introduce a “religious test” specifically aimed at clearing out Muslims.
  • In June this year, in response to mob lynching of Tabrez Ansari in Jharkhand in India, USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins had condemned the incident. “We condemn in the strongest terms this brutal murder, in which the perpetrators reportedly forced Ansari to say Hindu chants as they beat him for hours. Ansari later died from the injuries he suffered due to this horrific attack. We call on the Indian government to take concrete actions that will prevent this kind of violence and intimidation by a thorough investigation of Ansari’s murder as well as the local police’s handling of the case. Lack of accountability will only encourage those who believe they can target religious minorities with impunity,” the USCIRF chair had said.
  • In 2008, it had urged the US State Department to deny a tourist visa to then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who had been invited to attend a conference in New Jersey. It had said that “Modi was previously denied entrance to the United States due to his role in riots that overtook the Indian state of Gujarat from February to May 2002 in which reportedly as many as 2,000 Muslims were killed, thousands raped, and over 200,000 displaced. Numerous reports, including reports of official bodies of the Government of India, have documented the role of Modi’s state government in the planning and execution of the violence, and the failure to hold perpetrators accountable”.

9 . Facts for Prelims

Amended Sec­tion 79 of the IT Act

  • It was only on October 27, 2009 that Parliament amended the Information Technology Act of 2000 to protect online intermediar­ies from liability for crimi­nally defamatory content published in them by third parties. 
  • The amended Sec­tion 79 of the 2000 Act pro­vided that “an intermediary shall not be liable for any third party information, da­ta, or communication link made available or hosted by it.
  • This observation has strong implications in cases of fake news emerging from intermediaries like what’s app,Facebook ,Twitter,etc.
  • Online plat­forms like Google, the Su­preme Court held that internet intermedi­aries cannot be protected from criminal defamation cases registered against them prior to October 27, 2009.

Green Nobel Prize

  • It is an annual award established in 1989 by U.S. philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman. It is also known as Goldman Environmental Prize and awards Cash prize of $200,000.
  • It is awarded by Goldman Environmental Foundation, headquartered in San Francisco, California.
  • It honors grassroots environmentalists, who risk their lives to protect environment and empower those people who are most vulnerable to lose from industrial projects.
  • It honors grassroots environmental heroes from world’s six inhabited continental regions of Europe, Asia, North America, Africa, Islands & Island Nations and South & Central America. Final winners are selected from nominations made by environmental organisations and others.

126th Amendment Bill

  • Constitution (126th amendment bill), 2019 was introduced seeking to extend by 10 years(January 25, 2030) reservation to the Scheduled Castes and Sche­duled Tribes in the Lok Sab­ha and the Assemblies and remove the provision of nominating two members of the Anglo­Indian communi­ty.

Map Based Questions

  • Locate Russia, Ukraine, Finland and nearby water bodies

National Human Rights Day

  • 10th DECEMBER is celebrated as National Human Rights Day
  • Theme:- ‘Youth Standing up for Human Rights’
  • The 2019 edition of day will celebrate the ‘youth’ as agents of change and will encourage them to amplify their voices against hate speech, discrimination, racism, bullying, and fight for climate justice, among other issues, as well as to engage a broad range of global audiences in promotion and protection of rights.
  • Why December 10 : It was on this date in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), was adopted and proclaimed by United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) as the shared standard yardstick to protect human rights across the globe. UDHR was the first global enunciation of human rights as it recognized that inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of mankind are the foundation of justice, freedom and peace globally.

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