Daily Current Affairs : 16th September 2020

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. Article 239AA
  2. Afghan Peace Talks
  3. The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020
  4. Inter-State Migrant Workmen (ISMW) Act, 1979
  5. Interest Rate Derivatives (IRDs)
  6. Facts for Prelims

1 . Article 239AA


Context: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will introduce the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the ongoing Parliament session to amend National Capital Territory of Delhi Amendment Act 1991 pertaining to the powers and functions of the Delhi government and the Lieutenant-Governor.

About National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2020

  • The National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2020 aims to “bring ease in implementation of certain provisions of the 1991 Act.
  • The Bill proposes to clearly spell out the functions of the Council of Ministers and the Lieutenant-Governor by giving more discretionary powers to the L-G.
  • According to changes proposed the L-G could act in his discretion on any matter that is beyond the purview of the powers of the Assembly of Delhi in matters related to the All India (Civil) Services and the Anti Corruption Branch (ACB).
  • It will also give more teeth to the L-G, and the validity of any decision taken as per such discretion shall not be questioned.

Article 239AA

  • The Union Territory of Delhi with a Legislative Assembly came into being in 1991 under Article 239AA inserted by the ‘Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991’.
  • It stated that the UT of Delhi shall be called the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and the administrator thereof appointed under Article 239 shall be designated as the Lieutenant-Governor.
  • According to the existing Act, the Legislative Assembly of Delhi has the power to make laws in all matters except public order, police, and land.

 2 . Afghan Peace Talks


Context: On a trip to India, US interlocutor for Afghan-Taliban talks Zalmay Khalilzad has shared details of the Afghan peace process with India and has urged Delhi to continue with its constructive role in the landlocked country.

Background

  • After the Afghan government released the last batch of six Taliban prisoners, both Kabul and the Taliban announced that the long awaited “intra-Afghan” talks would begin on September 12 in Doha, Qatar.
  • It is coincidentally a day after the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 bombings that ended the five-year Taliban rule in Afghanistan in 2001.
  • The talks follow the February 29, 2020 US-Taliban agreement on the withdrawal of US troops.

Discussions at the meet with India

  • The two sides also discussed future steps and possible cooperation between India and the US in furthering the Afghan peace process.
  • They also deliberated upon how to promote regional and international cooperation with regard to Afghanistan.

India’s role

  • New Delhi has not been involved in the process since it began two years ago. India has been working towards safeguarding its interests in Afghanistan from cross-border terror attacks and the necessity to clamp down against terror sanctuaries
  • India has reiterated that any peace process must be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.
  • India’s traditional position has been that the peace process should respect the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and preserve the progress made in the establishment of a democratic Islamic Republic in Afghanistan.

Importance for India

  • The Afghan Peace process is important for India as India has a huge stake in Afghanistan in terms of infrastructure projects, health care, education, trade and food security. Stability in Afghanistan is important for India as it is a gateway to Central Asia.
  • India was never involved in talks mainly because Pakistan playing its cards to install Taliban as its proxy in Kabul, as the Taliban have links with terrorist groups that target India and Indian interests in Afghanistan. While India sees itself on shared ground with Iran on these concerns, Tehran had opened contacts with the Taliban.
  • India’s other big worry is that the vacuum created by the exit of the US may be filled by China. Wary of the Taliban’s links with Uighur radicals in the Afghan-bordering Xinjiang Autonomous Region, India is concerned that Beijing may use its proximity to Pakistan to insulate this vulnerable territory from these links. It has also begun building ties with the Taliban.
  • The other concern is the interest in Pakistan to extend the China Pakistan Economic Corridor to Afghanistan. In a commentary titled “China’s Strategic Assessment of Afghanistan”, Yun Sun, Director of the China Programme at the Stimson Centre, wrote that Pakistan’s stepped up role in Afghanistan “will not only indirectly contribute to China’s influence but also potentially improve the negotiation positions of both Islamabad and Beijing vis-à-vis Washington… China sees its role in Afghanistan beyond the peace deal as cautious and flexible. It sees its role in Afghan security in three ways: as marginal in the sense that it is not a primary party to the conflict; as indispensable in the sense that China is a great power and a neighboring country that cannot be ignored; and as central in the sense that Chinese investment will be critical for the country’s future post-conflict reconstruction and economic development.”

3 . The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020


Context: The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 17,2020 was passed by Parliament recently after a heated discussion in Rajya Sabha over privatisation of airports. The Upper House passed the Bill by a voice vote.

About the Bill

  • The Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to amend the Aircraft Act, 1934.  
  • The Act regulates the manufacture, possession, use, operation, sale, import and export of civil aircrafts, and licensing of aerodromes. 

Key provisions of the Bill include

Authorities

  • The Bill converts three existing bodies under the Ministry of Civil Aviation into statutory bodies under the Act. Each of these bodies will be headed by a Director General who will be appointed by the centre. 
  • The three authorities and their functions:
    • Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)– The DGCA will carry out safety oversight and regulatory functions with respect to matters under the Bill. 
    • Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)– The BCAS will carry out regulatory oversight functions related to civil aviation security. 
    • Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB)– The AAIB will carry out investigations related to aircraft accidents and incidents.    
  • The central government may issue directions to these authorities on matters related to their functions, if considered necessary in public interest.

Power of centre to make rules

  • Under the Act, the central government may make rules on several matters which include:
    • (i) registration of aircraft
    • (ii) regulating air transport services
    • (iii) prohibition of flight over any specified area.  
  • The Bill has added the regulation of air navigation services to this list. 
  • It will also allow the centre to empower the Director General of BCAS or any authorised officer to issue directions and make rules on certain matters including:
    • (i) conditions under which an aircraft may be flown
    • (ii) inspection of aircrafts
    • (iii) measures to safeguard civil aviation against acts of unlawful interference.

Adjudicating officers 

  • The Bill has provided for the appointment of designated officers, not below the rank of Deputy Secretary to adjudicate penalties under the Bill. 
  • Persons aggrieved by an order of a designated officer may appeal to an appellate officer
  • Appeals must be filed by the aggrieved person within 30 days from the day the order is received. 

Offences and Penalties

  • The offences for which the maximum limit on fines has been raised from Rs 10 lakh to one crore rupees include: (i) carrying arms, explosives, or other dangerous goods aboard aircraft, (ii) contravening any rules notified under the Act, and (iii) constructing building or structures within the specified radius around an aerodrome reference point. 
  • Under the Bill, the central government may cancel the licences, certificates, or approvals granted to a person under the Act if the person contravenes any provision of the Act. 
  • Such licences include those given for: (i) the establishment of an air transport service, (ii) the establishment of aerodromes, and (iii) the operation, repair, and maintenance of aircraft.
  • The Bill has allowed for the compounding of certain offences under the Act or rules under the Act.  These include: (i) flying to cause danger to any person or property and (ii) the contravention of any directions issued by the Director General of any of the three bodies. 
  • Offences may be compounded by the Director Generals as prescribed by the centre. 
  • Compounding of offences is not allowed in case of repeat offences.
  • Courts will not take cognizance of any offence under this Act, unless a complaint is made by, or there is previous sanction from the Director General of Civil Aviation, BCAS, or AAIB. 
  • Only courts equivalent or superior to a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Magistrate of the first class may try offences under the Act. 

Exemption for Armed Forces

  • Aircraft belonging to the naval, military, or air forces of the Union are exempted from the provisions of the Act. 
  • The Bill has expanded this exemption to include aircraft belonging to any other armed forces of the Union.  However, aircrafts belonging to an armed force other than the naval, military, and air forces which are currently regulated under the Act will continue to do so until specified otherwise by the central government.

Significance of the Bill

  • The Bill has given statutory powers to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau which will make them more effective and would lead to enhancement in the level of safety and security of aircraft operations in the country.
  • It has addressed the several regulatory shortcomings that were highlighted by aviation watchdogs of the United Nations and the U.S. — the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the Federal Aviation Authority — during their audits on safety and security in the Indian aviation ecosystem.
  • It will fulfill the requirements of ICAO which in its audit conducted in 2012 and 2015, had indicated a need to amend the Act to give proper recognition to the regulators under the Act.
  • It will also bring regulations of all areas of air navigation services under the Act.
  • The new provisions will help in controlling the spike in number of air safety violations or breaches in the recent past.

4 . Inter-State Migrant Workmen (ISMW) Act, 1979


Context: In the last five years, there have been no inter-State migrant workers registered in the Delhi, Dehradun or Patna regions. Nationwide, there were less than 34,000 workers registered in 2019-20 under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (ISMW) Act, 1979, according to a response to a recent Right to Information (RTI) Act request.

Details provided by CLC and Railways

Central Labour Commission

  • The Central Labour Commissioner (CLC) has provided data showing that only 33,776 migrant workers were registered under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (ISMW) Act, 1979 in 2019-20, according to monthly reports from regional offices.
  • The highest number of registrations came from the Kochi regional office in Kerala, with over 7,800 workers which was followed by Dhanbad in Jharkhand (almost 7,496) and Chennai in Tamil Nadu (6,623).
  • Delhi, Dehradun and Patna regions registered zero migrant workers last year, and for the last five years.
  • There have been less than 200 inspections carried out under the Act from March to December 2019.
  • The Labour Ministry also stated that it had no data on the migrant workers who lost their jobs or lives during the lockdown. However, it claimed that over one crore migrant workers returned to their home States during the lockdown.

Railways

  • The Indian Railways has stated that it only keeps data on casualties arising from consequential train accidents and so has no information regarding deaths on the Shramik Special trains that transported migrants during the lockdown.

About  Inter-State Migrant Workmen (ISMW) Act, 1979

  • The Act seeks to regulate the employment of inter-State migrants and their conditions of service.
  • It is applicable to every establishment that employs five or more migrant workmen from other States; or if it had employed five or more such workmen on any day in the preceding 12 months.
  • It is also applicable to contractors who employed a similar number of inter-State workmen. The Act would apply regardless of whether the five or more workmen were in addition to others employed in the establishment or by the contractors.
  • It envisages a system of registration of such establishments. The principal employer is prohibited from employing inter-State workmen without a certificate of registration from the relevant authority.
  • The law also lays down that every contractor who recruits workmen from one State for deployment in another State should obtain a licence to do so
  • The provision for registration of establishments employing inter-State workers creates a system of accountability and acts as the first layer of formalising the utilisation of their labour. It helps the government keep track of the number of workers employed and provides a legal basis for regulating their conditions of service.
  • As part of the licensing process, contractors are bound by certain conditions. These include committing them to providing terms and conditions of the agreement or any other arrangement on the basis of which they recruit workers. These terms include “the remuneration payable, hours of work, fixation of wages and other essential amenities in respect of the inter-State migrant workmen”.
  • The wage rates, holidays, hours of work and other conditions of service of an inter-State migrant workman shall be the same as those extended to other workmen in the same establishment, if the nature of their work is similar. In other cases, it would be as prescribed by the appropriate government. In no case, shall the wages be lower than what is prescribed under the Minimum Wages Act.

5 . Interest Rate Derivatives (IRDs)


Context: The Reserve Bank has proposed to allow foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) to undertake exchange-traded rupee interest rate derivatives transactions subject to an overall ceiling of ₹5,000 crore.

Need

  • The aim of the proposal is to encourage higher non-resident participation, enhance the role of domestic market makers in the offshore market, improve transparency, and achieve better regulatory oversight.

What are  Interest Rate Derivatives (IRDs)?

  • Interest rate derivative is a financial derivative contract whose value is derived from one or more interest rates, prices of interest rate instruments, or interest rate indices.
  • Interest rate derivatives (IRDs) contracts can trade on either (i) Recognised Stock Exchanges (referred hereafter as exchanges), or (ii) Over-the-Counter (OTC). OTC transactions shall refer to all transactions done outside of recognized stock exchanges and shall include transactions on Electronic Trading Platforms (ETP).

6 . Facts for Prelims


Asian Development Outlook

  • Asian Development Outlook 2020 is released by Asian Development Bank

India Pride Project

  • India Pride Project is a group of art enthusiasts who uses social media to identify stolen religious artefacts from Indian temples and secure their return. 

‘FDI of $1 bn flowed from China to over 1,600 firms’ (For Mains)

  • In a reply on chinese investments in Indian companies it was found that more than 1,600 Indian companies have received foreign direct investments (FDI) worth $1 billion from China during the April 2016 to March 2020 period
  • These companies were in 46 sectors. Out of them, the automobile industry, printing of books, electronics, services and electrical equipment received more than $100 million in FDI each during the period.
  • The automobile industry has received the maximum FDI from China at $172 million. The services sector attracted $139.65 million.

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