Polity & Governance
- Congress moves privilege motion against Smriti Irani for remark on Rahul Gandhi
Government Schemes & Policies
- Destruction of public property: What the law says, what SC directed
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Another wild elephant electrocuted in Mandya
- Why India needs a Project Dolphin
Science & Technology
- Android vulnerable to cyberattack: Union Home Ministry
- Now avail NEFT fund transfer 24×7
Key Facts for Prelims
- Vijay Diwas
- Amitabha Bagchi wins 2019 DSC Prize
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Polity & Governance
Congress moves privilege motion against Smriti Irani for remark on Rahul Gandhi
Days after women MPs of BJP petitioned the Election Commission to take action against Rahul Gandhi for his “rape in India” remark at an election rally in Jharkhand, Congress has moved a privilege motion against Smriti Irani.
About Privilege motion
Parliamentary privileges are certain rights and immunities enjoyed by the members of Parliament, individually and collectively, so that they can effectively discharge their functions.
- When any of these rights and immunities are disregarded, the offence is called a breach of privilege and is punishable under law of Parliament.
- A notice is moved in the form of a motion by any member of either House against those being held guilty of breach of privilege.
- Each House also claims the right to punish as contempt actions which, while not breach of any specific privilege, are offences against its authority and dignity.
What are the rules governing privilege?
- Rule No 222 in Chapter 20 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book and correspondingly Rule 187 in Chapter 16 of the Rajya Sabha rulebook governs privilege.
- With the consent of the Speaker or the Chairperson, a MP can raise a question involving a breach of privilege. However, any notice should be relating to an incident of recent occurrence and should need the intervention of the House. Notices have to be given before 10 am to the Speaker or the Chairperson.
- While a large number of privilege motions are prone to being rejected, the very few which were accepted remain etched in the history of Indian Parliament as significant decisions.
What is the role of the Speaker/Rajya Sabha Chair?
- The Speaker/RS chairperson is the first level of scrutiny of a privilege motion. The Speaker/Chair can decide on the privilege motion himself or herself or refer it to the privileges committee of Parliament.
- If the Speaker/Chair gives consent under Rule 222 of the Lok Sabha Rule Book, the member concerned is given an opportunity to make a short statement.
What is the privileges committee?
- In the Lok Sabha, the Speaker nominates a committee of privileges consisting of 15 members as per respective party strengths. In the Rajya Sabha, the deputy chairperson heads the committee of privileges, that consists of 10 members.
- A report is then presented to the House for its consideration. The Speaker may permit a half-hour debate while considering the report. The Speaker may then pass final orders or direct that the report be tabled before the House.
- A resolution may then be moved relating to the breach of privilege that has to be unanimously passed.
[Ref: The Hindu, Times of India]
Government Schemes & Policies
Destruction of public property: What the law says, what SC directed
While agreeing to hear petitions on alleged police excesses on students in Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University, a Supreme Court Bench expressed displeasure over rioting and destruction of public property.
About The Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984
- The Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984 punishes anyone “who commits mischief by doing any act in respect of any public property” with a jail term of up to 5 years and a fine or both.
What is a public property?
- Public property under this Act includes “any building, installation or other property used in connection with the production, distribution or supply of water, light, power or energy; any oil installation; any sewage works; any mine or factory; any means of public transportation or of telecommunications, or any building, installation or other property used in connection therewith”.
K T Thomas and Fali Nariman committee
- In 2007, the court took suo motu cognizance of various instances where there was large scale destruction of public and private properties in the name of agitations, bandhs and the like, and set up two Committees under K T Thomas and Fali Nariman to suggest changes to the law.
- Supreme court said that the law must be amended to give the court the power to draw a presumption that the accused is guilty of destroying public property, and it would then be open to the accused to rebut such presumption.
K T Thomas Committee
- The K T Thomas Committee recommended reversing the burden of proof against protesters. Accepting the suggestion, the court said that the prosecution should be required to prove that public property had been damaged in direct action called by an organisation, and that the accused also participated in such direct action.
Fali Nariman Committee
- The Nariman Committee’s recommendations dealt with extracting damages for destruction. Accepting the recommendations, the court said the rioters would be made strictly liable for the damage, and compensation would be collected to “make good” the damage.
- Moreover, Supreme court also issued guidelines including directing High Courts to order suo motu action, and to set up a machinery to investigate the damage caused and award compensation wherever mass destruction to property takes place due to protests. However, these guidelines had a limited impact because the identification of protesters remains difficult, especially in cases where there is no leader who gave the call to protest.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Another wild elephant electrocuted in Mandya
An elephant was found dead at an agricultural field near Malavalli, Karnataka said the forest and police officials.
Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary
- Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the districts of Mysore, Bangalore and Mandya. River Cauvery forms the northern and eastern boundary of the sanctuary. To the east and northeast, the sanctuary is covered by Tamil Nadu.
- Deciduous and riverine forests cover much of the area, especially the eastern parts. Anjan Tree and Albizzia amara are the dominant forest types.
- Important places along the river stretch flowing through the sanctuary covering its forested central and eastern parts are the Hogenakal Falls, Mekedatu and Sangam (where two tributaries of the Cauvery join the main river). A Muthathi Anjaneya temple, inside sanctuary, is a place mentioned in the Ramayana and thus is an important pilgrim place.
- The river cauvery passing through the sanctuary has otters, crocodiles and many varieties of fish. The famous “Mahseer fish” is found here.
About Golden Mahseer fish
- It is also called Tiger of the water (Tor remadevii) as it is known to be the toughest among the fresh water sport fish.
- It is only found in the Cauvery river basinincluding Kerala’s Pambar, Kabini and Bhavani rivers.
- There are 16 species of mahseer in India.
- Shoal, an international organisation working to conserve freshwater species, initiated ‘Project Mahseer’ in February 2019 to enable conservation action for the hump-backed mahseer.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Why India needs a Project Dolphin
The National Ganga Council (NGC) met for the first time at Kanpur with the proposal to save and enhance the population of the Gangetic Dolphin among others.
About Gangetic dolphins
- The Gangetic river dolphins were officially discovered in 1801 and are one of the oldest creatures in the world.
- They once lived in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna and Karnaphuli-Sangu river systems of Nepal, India, and Bangladesh, but are now mostly extinct from many of its early distribution ranges.
- These dolphins prefer deep waters and are distributed across seven states in India: Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
- In 2009, the Gangetic dolphins were declared India’s National Aquatic animal during the first meeting of the erstwhile National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA). They are also the state aquatic animal of Assam.
- The Gangetic river dolphins can only live in freshwater, are blind and catch their prey using ultrasonic sound waves.
- Females are larger than males and give birth once every two to three years to only one calf.
- It is placed under the “endangered” category by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- According to the Ministry of Environment, the rivers of Assam and Uttar Pradesh had 962 and 1,275 Gangetic dolphins, respectively. In Assam, the assessment was carried out in three rivers, with the Brahmaputra having highest (877 of the 962 dolphins in Assam). As per World Wide World Wide Fund for Nature, they number somewhere between 1200-1800.
What are some of the efforts made in India to protect the dolphins?
- Setting up of the Conservation Action Plan for the Gangetic Dolphin (2010-2020), which has identified threats to Gangetic dolphins and impact of river traffic, irrigation canals and depletion of prey-base on dolphin populations.
- Gangetic dolphins have been included in Schedule -I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which means they have the highest degree of protection against hunting.
- They are also one among the 21 species identified under the centrally sponsored scheme, “Development of Wildlife Habitat”.
Dolphins have been included in Schedule I of the Indian Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972, in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), in Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and categorised as ‘Endangered’ on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.[Ref: Indian Express]
Science & Technology
Android vulnerable to cyberattack: Union Home Ministry
The Union Home Ministry has sent an alert to all States warning them about the vulnerability of the Android operating system to a bug called ‘StrandHogg’ that allows real-time malware applications to pose as genuine applications and access user data of all kind.
- StrandHogg is a malware that can then listen to the conversations of user, read/send messages, make calls and get login credentials to various accounts.
- StrandHogg is a word in Old Norse language for the Viking (Scandinavian people) tactic of raiding coastal areas to plunder and hold people for ransom.
Now avail NEFT fund transfer 24×7
Giving a big boost to digital funds movement, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) operationalised round-the-clock (24 X 7 basis) availability of the National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT).
- In order to give further impetus to digital retail payments, banks have been asked to levy any charges from their savings bank account holders for funds transfers done through NEFT system, which are initiated online from January 1, 2020.
What was the current NEFT system?
- Till now, unlike real-time gross settlement (RTGS), fund transfers through the NEFT system do not occur in real-time basis. NEFT settles fund transfers in (half-hourly) batches. Hence, money can be transferred from Monday to Saturdays (Except the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month) from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
What is National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT)?
- National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) is a nation-wide payment system facilitating one-to-one funds transfer.
- Under this Scheme, individuals can electronically transfer funds from any NEFT-enabled banks to any individual having an account with any other NEFT-enabled bank in India.
- There is no limit, either minimum or maximum, on the amount of funds that could be transferred using NEFT.
- The RBI joins an elite club of countries having payment systems which enable round the clock funds transfer and settlement of any value.
- So far, Australia, Hong Kong, Mexico, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, South Korea, Singapore, South Africa, and China have such payment system.
What is Real time gross settlement systems (RTGS)?
- Real time gross settlement systems are specialist funds transfer systems where transfer of money or securities takes place from one bank to another on a “real time” and on “gross” basis.
- Settlement in real time means payment transaction is not subjected to any waiting period. The transactions are settled as soon as they are processed.
- Gross settlement means the transaction is settled on one to one basis without bundling or netting with any other transaction. Once processed, payments are final and irrevocable.
- RTGS systems are usually operated by a country’s Central bank as it is seen as a critical infrastructure for a country’s economy.
Key Facts for Prelims
The Prime Minister of India has remembered brave soldiers who fought in 1971, on the occasion of Vijay Diwas.
What is Kargil war?
- The Kargil War took place between India and Pakistan 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir.
- It began with the infiltration of both Pakistani troops and terrorists into Indian territory. The infiltrators positioned themselves in key locations that gave them a strategic advantage during the start of the conflict.
- As a retaliation, Indian Army launched ‘Operation Vijay’ against Pakistan infiltration. Safed Sagar, the Indian Air Force’s operation, was also a major part of the Kargil war. It used air power at the height of 32,000 feet for the first time.
- Indian Army declared the military operation successful on July 26, 1999. Since then the day has been celebrated annually as Kargil Vijay Diwas.
Amitabha Bagchi wins 2019 DSC Prize
The Amitabha Bagchi won DSC Prize for South Asian Literature 2019 for his Novel ‘Half The Night Is Gone’.
About DSC Prize
- The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature is an international literary prize awarded annually to writers of any ethnicity or nationality writing about South Asian themes such as culture, politics, history, or people.
- The DSC Prize was instituted in 2010 by Surina Narula and Manhad Narula to showcase the best writing about the South Asian region and bring it to a global audience.
- The South Asian Literature Prize & Events Trust administers the DSC Prize.