DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS FOR UPSC CSE
- Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
- International Solar Alliance
- Review Petition
- N K Singh Committee – FRBM Review Committee
- UDAY Bonds
- Rohingya crisis
- Article 35 A
- Swine Flu
1 . Pravasi Bharatiya Divas
Context : At the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas in Varanasi on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted India’s potential to lead the world in sustainable development.
About Pravasi Bharathiya Divas
- Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) is celebrated once in every two years to strengthen the engagement of the overseas Indian community with the Government of India and reconnect them with their roots.
- During the Convention, selected overseas Indians are also honored with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award to recognize their contributions to various fields both in India and abroad.
- The 15th PBD Convention is being held on 21-23 January 2019 in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
- The theme of PBD Convention 2019 is “Role of Indian Diaspora in building New India”.
Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA)
- The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award (PBSA) is the highest honour conferred on overseas Indians.
- PBSA is conferred by the President of India as a part of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) Conventions organized since 2003 on a Non-Resident Indian, Person of Indian Origin or an organization or institution established and run by the Non-Resident Indians or Persons of Indian Origin, who has made significant contribution.
2 . International Solar Alliance
Context : India can lead the world on solar grid: PM
About International Solar Alliance
- International Solar Alliance (ISA),is an alliance of 121 solar resource rich countries lying fully or partially between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.
- ISA was jointly launched by the Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, and the then President of France, Mr. François Hollande, in Paris, France on the side-lines of the 21st Conference of Parties (CoP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- The ISA Framework Agreement was opened for signature on 15 November 2016 in Marrakech, Morocco, on the side-lines of CoP-22.
- In conformity with the ISA Framework Agreement, 30 days after ratification by the 15th country, on December 6, 2017, ISA became the first full-fledged treaty based international intergovernmental organization headquartered in India.
Through this initiative, the countries, inter alia, share the collective ambition:
- To address obstacles that stand in the way of rapid and massive scale-up of solar energy;
- To undertake innovative and concerted efforts for reducing the cost of finance and cost of technology for immediate deployment of competitive solar generation; and
- To mobilise more than 1000 Billion US Dollars of investments by 2030.
- The Government of India has committed Rs.175 crore for setting up of ISA and till date released a sum of Rs 145 crore for creating a corpus fund, building infrastructure and meeting day to day recurring expenditure.
3 . Review Petition
Context : Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday told petitioners seeking a review of the court’s September 28 judgment revoking the bar on women of menstrual age from entering the Sabarimala temple that a date for hearing their petitions would be fixed after consulting Justice Indu Malhotra, a member of the Bench who is currently on medical leave.
What is Review Petition
4 . N K Singh Committee – FRBM Review Committee
Context : Centre’s total debt as percentage of GDP fell to 46.5% in 2017-18, States’ debt rose to 24%. While the Centre is moving in the right direction in terms of meeting the N.K. Singh Committee recommendations on public debt, the States are moving in the opposite direction, data released by the government show.
About NK Singh Committee
- The FRBM Review Committee (Chairperson: Mr. N.K. Singh) submitted its report in January 2017.
- The Committee proposed a draft Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Bill, 2017 to replace the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 (FRBM Act).
Key recommendations of the Committee and features of the draft Bill
- Debt to GDP ratio : The Committee suggested using debt as the primary target for fiscal policy. A debt to GDP ratio of 60% should be targeted with a 40% limit for the centre and 20% limit for the states. It noted that majority of the countries that have adopted fiscal rules have targeted a debt to GDP ratio of 60%. The targeted debt to GDP ratio should be achieved by 2023. This ratio is expected to be around 70% in 2017.
- To achieve the targeted debt to GDP ratio, it proposed yearly targets to progressively reduce the fiscal and revenue deficits till 2023
- Fiscal Council : The Committee proposed to create an autonomous Fiscal Council with a Chairperson and two members appointed by the centre. To maintain its independence, it proposed a non-renewable four-year term for the Chairperson and members. Further, these people should not be employees in the central or state governments at the time of appointment.
- Role of the Council: The role of the Council would include: (i) preparing multi-year fiscal forecasts, (ii) recommending changes to the fiscal strategy, (iii) improving quality of fiscal data, (iv) advising the government if conditions exist to deviate from the fiscal target, and (v) advising the government to take corrective action for non-compliance with the Bill.
- Deviations : The Committee noted that under the FRBM Act, the government can deviate from the targets in case of a national calamity, national security or other exceptional circumstances notified by it. Allowing the government to notify these grounds diluted the 2003 Act. The Committee suggested that grounds in which the government can deviate from the targets should be clearly specified, and the government should not be allowed to notify other circumstances.
- Further, the government may be allowed to deviate from the specified targets upon the advice of the Fiscal Council in the following circumstances: (i) considerations of national security, war, national calamities and collapse of agriculture affecting output and incomes, (ii) structural reforms in the economy resulting in fiscal implications, or (iii) decline in real output growth of at least 3% below the average of the previous four quarters. These deviations cannot be more than 0.5% of GDP in a year
5 . UDAY Bonds
Context : Outstanding liabilities of States have increased sharply during 2015-16 and 2016-17, following the issuance of UDAY bonds in these two years, which was reflected in an increase in liability-GDP ratio from 21.7% at end-March 2015 to 23.4% at end-March 2016 and further to 23.8% at end-March 2017
About UDAY Bonds
- Ujjwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY) is the financial turnaround and revival package for electricity distribution companies of India (DISCOMs) initiated by the Government of India with the intent to find a permanent solution to the financial mess that the power distribution is in.
- It allows state governments, which own the DISCOMs, to take over 75 percent of their debt as of September 30, 2015, and pay back lenders by selling bonds.
- DISCOMs are expected to issue bonds for the remaining 25 percent of their debt.
6 . Rohingya Crisis
Context : After four days in the cold on no-man’s land, with both Bangladesh and India refusing to accept them, 31 Rohingya were on Tuesday arrested by the BSF and handed over to Tripura Police. Produced before a local court and charged under the Passport Act, the refugees said they had been staying in Jammu for the past six years but were on the run again due to “threats” there.
- About 1,68,000 Rohingyas had fled Myanmar since 2012, when clashes with Buddhists erupted in the trouble-torn Arakan region.
- Over 40,000 of those Rohingyas, who fled Myanmar, have entered India illegally , according to government’s estimate.
What Government wants to do with Rohingyas
- Minister of State for Home Affairs has stated y that the government is looking for ways to deport over 40,000 Rohingyas living in the country illegally. The government is worried about the suspected infiltration of terror outfits among the displaced people living in various camps.
How India deals with Refugees
- The Constitution of India only defines who is a citizen of India. The subsequent laws also do not deal with refugees. In legal terms, a person living in India can be either a citizen or a foreigner defined under the Foreigners Act, 1946.
- India has also not been a signatory of the 1951 UN Convention or the 1967 Protocol – both relating to the Status of Refugees and included in the UNHCR statute. According to the UNHCR, a refugee is a person living in another country following persecution in his own on the grounds of “race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”
- Before the present Rohingya crisis broke out, there were “2,07,861 persons of concern in India, of whom 2,01,281 were refugees and 6,480 asylum seekers” by the end of 2015, according to UNHCR.
- There are about 16,000 UNHCR-certified Rohingya refugees in India. The government estimate puts the figure of Rohingya refugees living in India beyond 40,000 with maximum concentration in and around Jammu.
Issues with Rohingyas living in India
- Before the Rohingya crisis acquired international proportion, their population in Myanmar was estimated at around 10 lakh. Under the 1982 citizenship law, Myanmar government recognised only about 40,000 Rohingyas as its citizens. The rest were dubbed as “illegal Bengalis” – immigrants from Bangladesh.
- As the Myanmar government does not recognise the Rohingyas as its citizens, in general, it will be difficult for India to deport them.
- The Centre has told the Supreme Court that many Rohingyas have acquired documents meant for Indian citizens only like Aadhaar, PAN and Voter-ID. This raises the concern of naturalisation of illegal migrants by fraudulent means. G
- In the absence of a law to deal with refugees, their identification and surveillance will become difficult especially when the intelligence agencies have warned the jihadi terror outfits are looking to exploit the vulnerability of Rohingyas.
7 . Article 35 A
Context : The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it will be taking an “in-chamber” decision on the listing of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, which provides special rights and privileges to permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir.
What is Article 35 A
- Article 35A is a provision incorporated in the Constitution giving the Jammu and Kashmir Legislature to decide who all are ‘permanent residents’ of the State and confer on them special rights and privileges in public sector jobs, acquisition of property in the State, scholarships and other public aid and welfare.
- The provision mandates that no act of the legislature coming under it can be challenged for violating the Constitution or any other law of the land.
How it was incorporated in the Constitution
- Article 35A was incorporated into the Constitution in 1954 by an order of the then President Rajendra Prasad on the advice of the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet.
- The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order of 1954 followed the 1952 Delhi Agreement entered into between Nehru and the then Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Abdullah, which extended Indian citizenship to the ‘State subjects’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The Presidential Order was issued under Article 370 (1) (d) of the Constitution. This provision allows the President to make certain “exceptions and modifications” to the Constitution for the benefit of ‘State subjects’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
- So Article 35A was added to the Constitution as a testimony of the special consideration the Indian government accorded to the ‘permanent residents’ of Jammu and Kashmir.
Can constitution be amended by President ?
- The parliamentary route of lawmaking was bypassed when the President incorporated Article 35A into the Constitution. Article 368 (i) of the Constitution empowers only Parliament to amend the Constitution.
- So did the President act outside his jurisdiction? Is Article 35A void because the Nehru government did not place it before Parliament for discussion?
- A five-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in its March 1961 judgment in Puranlal Lakhanpal vs. The President of India discusses the President’s powers under Article 370 to ‘modify’ the Constitution.
- Though the court observes that the President may modify an existing provision in the Constitution under Article 370, the judgment is silent as to whether the President can, without the Parliament’s knowledge, introduce a new Article. This question remains open.
8 . Swine Flu
Context : With 49 swine flu deaths and 1,694 cases reported in just one fortnight from January 1-13 as per data released by the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), several States are on alert.
What is H1N1 and why is it called swine flu?
- H1N1 is called swine flu because the virus was similar to influenza viruses that cause illness in pigs.
How does it spread?
- Swine flu is contagious. Influenza viruses infect the cells lining your nose, throat and lungs. It spreads in the same way as the seasonal flu. The virus spreads when you touch an infected surface or breathe cough and sneeze droplets in the air. People who have swine flu can be contagious one day before they have any symptoms, and as many as 7 days after they get sick. Kids can be contagious for as long as 10 days.
- You can’t catch swine flu from eating pork.