Polity & Governance
- 20-year window for Telcos to clear dues
- Telangana passes resolution against CAA, NPR, and NRC
Government Schemes & Policies
- UP property damage ordinance
Issues related to Health & Education
- Eklavya Model schools
- Changes in Sustainable Development Goals indicators
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Road through Pakke Tiger Reserve stalled
- Mass nesting of Olive Ridley begins
Art & Culture
- Indian Culture Portal
Science & Technology
- ExoMars to take off for Mars in 2022
Persons in News
- Birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Key Facts for Prelims
- FDI in Defence sector
- Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2020
- All India Survey on Higher Education
- Drinking Water specification
- Iconic Tourist Sites
- Article 80(1)(a)
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Polity & Governance
20-year window for Telcos to clear dues
The Central government has urged the Supreme Court to give the telecom companies a 20-year window to pay the remaining amount of Adjusted Gross Revenue.
What is the issue?
- In a long standing case related to the definition of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) between Government and the Telecom companies, the 16 major telecom service providers were asked by the SC to pay a total due amounting 1,69,048.65 crores to the government.
- The payment received till March 6, 2020, from these companies was ₹25,901.56 crores and dues to the tune of ₹1,43,271.74 crore remain outstanding.
- All the licensees are allowed to pay the unpaid or remaining amount of past dues in annual instalments over 20 years (or less if they so opt), duly protecting the net present value of the said dues using a discount rate of 8% (based on one-year marginal cost of lending rate of SBI which is currently 7.75%).
- The “formula” has been devised to soften the blow of the October 24, 2019 judgment directing the companies pay the AGR in three months.
- The move takes into consideration the larger interest, economic consequences on the nation and with a view to ensure that the Supreme Court order is complied with in letter and spirit.
- The vital issues related to the financial health and viability of the telecom sector and need for maintaining competition and level playing field in the interest of consumers were considered.
- The closure of one or more Telecom Service providers would adversely impact the digital connectivity of the country driving e-governance projects in commerce, banking and health.
- It would also dent the spread of digitization in rural India.
To know about the AGR issue in detail, please visit the link below: https://www.iastoppers.com/15th-february-2020-current-affairs-analysis-iastoppers/[Ref: The Hindu]
Telangana passes resolution against CAA, NPR, and NRC
The Telangana Legislative Assembly has opposed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR), and National Register of Citizens (NRC), alleging they were attempts to tinker with the inclusive and non-religious nature of citizenship.
List of states passing resolution:
- With this, Telangana Assembly has become the seventh State Legislature to pass resolution against the CAA, NPR, and NRC after West Bengal, Kerala, Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi and Bihar.
- Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh government too opposed the Centre’s moves and the State Cabinet had passed a resolution opposing the process.
To know about CAA, NPR and NRC in detail, please visit the link given below:[Ref: The Hindu]
Government Schemes & Policies
UP property damage ordinance
Under the new Uttar Pradesh Recovery of Damage to Public and Private Property Ordinance has been promulgated by Governor Anandi Ben Patel recently.
What is the ordinance?
- the Ordinance gives sweeping powers to a new claims tribunal, including on collecting compensation ex-parte if required, that is, without hearing the individual who is accused of vandalism.
- Further, the ordinance states that the award of compensation made by the tribunal will be final and cannot be appealed against before any civil court.
- The ordinance makes provisions for the setting up of claims tribunals, one or more, to “investigate the damage caused during protests and to award compensation” and to cover “cost of action” taken by police and administration for prevention of damage to public properties.
Burden of proving innocence:
- The ordinance also places the burden of proving that one has no “nexus” to a protest, hartal, strike, bandh, riot or public commotion — during which any destruction of public or private property was caused – on the individual, failing which the individual’s properties will be seized.
- The ordinance states that the principle of absolute liability under law shall apply once “the nexus with the event that precipitated the damage is established”.
- Under Section 21(2), the new law says that while liability will be borne by the “actual perpetrators of the crime”, one who “instigates” or “incites” the crime would share the liability as per the decision of the claims tribunal.
- According to the ordinance, the tribunal will be headed by a retired district judge appointed by the state government and may include a member who is an officer of the rank of Additional Commissioner.
- The law allows the constitution of multiple tribunals for a single event to ensure that the proceedings are concluded “preferably within three months” and allows the tribunal to appoint one assessor “who is technically qualified to assess such damage from a panel appointed by the state government”.
- The tribunal may follow “summary procedure as it thinks fit” and has the powers of a civil court for evaluating evidence and enforcing the attendance of witnesses.
First information report:
- The claims petition, as per Section 3 of the ordinance, can be initiated by a circle officer of police based on a first information report (FIR) of the incident and the ordinance allows all persons named in an FIR to be added as “respondents” for claiming compensation.
- The new law clarifies that on receipt of the circle officer’s report, the district magistrate or commissioner of police will take immediate step to file a “claims petition”.
- This will have to be done, preferably within the period of three months.
- While district collector or commissioner will review the claims cases every quarter and send their report to the government, private property owners, whose property has been damaged during the protests, can also file complaints for compensation.
- Under Section 13 of the ordinance, if the respondent “fails to appear”, then the tribunal “shall proceed ex-parte and the tribunal shall attach property and direct the authorities to publish the name, address along with a photograph with a warning to public at large, not to purchase the property of the respondent.
- The ordinance also gives the authorities the power to publish such information.
Issues related to Health & Education
Eklavya Model schools
The scheme of Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) is a Government of India scheme for model residential school for Indian tribals (ST, Scheduled Tribes) across India and was introduced in the year 1997-98.
- To provide quality middle and high-level education to Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in remote areas in order to enable them to avail of reservation in high and professional educational courses and get jobs in government and public and private sectors.
- Comprehensive physical, mental and socially relevant development of all students enrolled in each and every EMRS.
- Focus differentially on the educational support to be made available to those in Standards XI and XII, and those in standards VI to X, so that their distinctive needs can be met.
- Support the construction of infrastructure that provides education, physical, environmental and cultural needs of student life.
- The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Tribal affairs.
- EMRSs are set up in States/UTs with grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution of India.
- As per budget announcement 2018-19, every block having 50% or more ST population and at least 20,000 ST persons is to have an EMRS by the year 2022.
- The government gives one time ₹30 lakh grant for establishing the school, thereafter up to ₹30 lakhs per school annually. Additional cost is borne by state governments.
- A total number of 438 EMRSs have so far been sanctioned by the Ministry, out of which 285 are functional.
- As per existing guidelines, the total number of EMRSs being set up upto the year 2022 is 740.
- Admission to these schools will be through selection/competition with suitable provision for preference to children belonging to Primitive Tribal Groups, first generation students, etc.
- Sufficient land would be given by the State Government for the school, play grounds, hostels, residential quarters, etc., free of cost.
- The number of seats for boys and girls will be equal.
- In these schools, education will be entirely free.
- Every class can have maximum 60 students preferably in 2 sections of 30 students each and the total sanctioned strength of the school will be 480 students.
- At the Higher Secondary level (class XI & XII), there will be three sections per class for the three streams in Science, Commerce & Humanities.
Changes in Sustainable Development Goals indicators
Thirty-six major changes to the global indicator framework for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were approved and adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC), at its 51st session recently concluded on March 6, 2020, in New York, US.
2020 comprehensive review:
- These changes are based on the ‘2020 comprehensive review’ conducted by the UN Inter-Agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) and presented to the UNSC on the first day of the three-day session.
- The revised global framework will have 231 indicators, approximately the same number as in the original framework.
- The global indicator framework was adopted by the UN General Assembly on July 6, 2017.
- Eight additional indicators were added across six SDG goals — 2, 3, 4, 10, 13 and 16. These include:
- Indicator 13.2.2: on the total greenhouse gas emissions per year for the SDG target 13.2 to integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.
- Prevalence of anaemia in women aged 15-49 years, by pregnancy status (percentage) under the target 2.2 to end forms of malnutrition by 2030.
- A new indicator on reducing the percentage of bloodstream infections due to selected antimicrobial-resistant organisms has been added under the Global health goal (SDG 3).
- Indicator 10.7.3: on the number of migrants killed while attempting to cross maritime, land and air borders.
- Indicator 10.7.4: on the proportion of the population who are refugees, by country of origin.
- Six indicators across six SDG goals — 1, 4, 8, 11, 13 and 17 — have been deleted. These include:
- Indicator 1.a.1: on the proportion of domestically-generated resources allocated by the government directly to poverty reduction programmes.
- Indicator 4.2.1: on the proportion of children under five years of age who are developmentally on track in health, learning and psychosocial well-being, by sex.
- The portion of the indicator that measures progress for children between 0 and 23 months of age, which is currently in tier III was proposed for deletion by the IAEG.
- Under the SDG goal on combating climate change, the indicator 13.3.2, quantifying the number of countries that have communicated the strengthening of capacity-building for implementing adaptation, mitigation and technology transfer, and development actions has been deleted.
- Indicator 8.9.2: on the proportion of jobs in sustainable tourism industries out of total tourism jobs has been deleted by the UNSC from the global SDG framework.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Road through Pakke Tiger Reserve stalled
The Arunachal Pradesh government has suspended the survey work for a road through the Pakke Tiger Reserve (PTR). The project had attracted criticism from wildlife activists, film personalities and political leaders.
What was the controversy?
- A 40km stretch of the ‘East-West Industrial Corridor’ road proposed to connect Seijosa in Pakke Kessang district and Bhalukpong in West Kameng district of the State passes through PTR, a biodiversity hotspot of the eastern Himalayas.
- Various environmental activists had through a Right to Information (RTI) petition raised the alarm over the proposed road through PTR.
Pakke Tiger Reserve:
- Pakke Tiger Reserve aka Pakhui Tiger Reserve, is a Project Tiger reserve in the Pakke Kessang district of Arunachal Pradesh in north-eastern India.
- The reserve is protected by the Department of Environment and Forest of Arunachal Pradesh.
- It is bounded by Bhareli or Kameng River in the west and north, and by Pakke River in the east.
- It is surrounded by contiguous forests on most sides.
- Towards the south and south-east, the sanctuary adjoins reserve forests and Assam’s Nameri National Park.
- The main perennial streams in the area are the Nameri, Khari and Upper Dikorai.
- It has a subtropical climate with lowland semi-evergreen, evergreen forest and Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests.
- PTR is a home to over 2,000 species of plants, 300 species of birds, 40 species of mammals, 30 species of amphibians and 36 species of reptiles, is one of the most protected sanctuaries in the country and the pride and treasure of Arunachal Pradesh.
Mass nesting of Olive Ridley begins
The mass nesting of Olive Ridley sea turtles started at Odisha’s Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary in Kendrapara district on March 14, 2020. The sanctuary is considered to be the world’s largest rookery of sea turtles.
- Arribada is a Spanish term for mass nesting.
- Nearly 15,000 sea turtles came ashore at Nasi-1 and Nasi-2 islands famous for mass nesting.
- Nasi — 1 and Nasi — 2 are two tiny islands that are part of the sanctuary and are six kilometres long.
- They offer an excellent nesting site for the turtles as there are no predators and human habitation on or near them.
Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary:
- It is a marine wildlife sanctuary located in Odisha and is a very popular tourist attraction of Odisha in India.
- It is the world’s largest nesting beach for Olive Ridley Turtles.
- The rookery at Gahirmatha was declared a marine sanctuary covering 1,435 square kilometres from the mouth of river Dhamara to Hukitola island in 1997.
Olive Ridley Turtles:
- The Olive Ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world.
- They inhabit only in the warmer waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
- They are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
- Though found in abundance, their numbers have been declining over the past few years.
- The Olive Ridley turtles live in the Indian Ocean, but come all the way to the Bay of Bengal by travelling thousands of kilometres to mate and to lay eggs.
- The turtle eggs normally take 45 days to hatch. After this, tiny hatchlings come out and make their way to the sea.
- IUCN: Vulnerable.
- Protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
Art & Culture
Indian Culture Portal
An online portal, namely Indian Culture Portal was launched in December, 2019 to showcase information about the rich cultural heritage of India across the globe.
About the portal:
- It is an initiative of Ministry of Culture.
- The Indian Culture Portal is available in two languages i.e. Hindi and English.
- The portal will create awareness about both the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of India through the content available on the portal.
- It comprises mainly of rare books, e-books, manuscripts, artefacts from museums, virtual galleries, archives, photo archives, gazetteers, Indian National Bibliography, videos, detailed accounts of Indian UNESCO World Heritage site, Musical Instruments of India, write-ups and pictures on cuisines, festivals, paintings, folk art and classical art from different States of India etc.
Science & Technology
ExoMars to take off for Mars in 2022
The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Roscosmos Space Corporation have decided to postpone the launch of the second ExoMars mission to study the Red Planet to 2022.
- The primary goal of the mission is to determine if there has ever been life on Mars, and to better understand the history of water on the planet.
- The ExoMars rover, named Rosalind Franklin, includes a drill to access the sub-surface of Mars as well as a miniature life-search laboratory kept within an ultra-clean zone.
- The joint ESA-Roscosmos project team evaluated all the activities needed for an authorization to launch, in order to analyse the risks and schedule.
- ExoMars experts have concluded that tests necessary to make all components of the spacecraft fit for the Mars adventure need more time to complete.
Decision to postpone:
- The decision to postpone the launch to 2022 has been driven primarily by the need to maximize the robustness of all ExoMars systems as well as force majeure circumstances related to exacerbation of the epidemiological situation in Europe which has led to lockdown and travel ban.
Persons in News
Birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi paid tributes to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on his 100th Birth Anniversary on 17 March 2020.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman:
- March 17 is the birth anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (1920-1975), the founding leader of Bangladesh and the country’s first Prime Minister.
- He is referred to as ‘Bangabandhu’ meaning ‘friend of Bengal’.
- Before joining politics, Rahman studied law and political science in Kolkata and Dhaka, and agitated for Indian independence.
- In 1949, he joined the Awami League, a political party which advocated greater autonomy for East Pakistan.
- A popular leader in East Pakistan, Rahman played an important role in the six-point movement and the Anti-Ayub movement.
- In 1970, his party secured an absolute majority in the Pakistani general elections, the country’s first, winning more seats than all parties in West Pakistan, including Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party.
- The election results were not honored, leading to a bloody civil war, and Sheikh Mujib declared Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan on March 26, 1971.
- India under then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi provided full support to Rahman and Bangladesh’s independence movement, resulting in the creation of a sovereign government at Dhaka in January 1971.
- On 15 August 1975, Rahman was killed in a military coup along with his wife and three sons, including 10-year-old Sheikh Russel.
- His daughters, the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her younger sister Sheikh Rehana, survived as they were abroad at the time.
[Ref: Indian Express]
Key Facts for Prelims
FDI in Defence sector
- In 2001, the Defence Industry sector was opened upto 100% for Indian private sector participation, with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) upto 26% both subject to licensing.
- Further, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade has allowed FDI under automatic route upto 49% and above 49% through government route wherever it is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other reasons to be recorded.
- Further, FDI in defence industry sector is subject to industrial license under Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951 and manufacturing of small arms and ammunition under the Arms Act, 1959.
Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2020
- The Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2020 has been passed by the Parliament.
- This bill will convert (i) Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, New Delhi, (ii) Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, New Delhi, and (iii) Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Tirupati into Central Sanskrit Universities.
All India Survey on Higher Education
As per All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2018-19:
- There are 39931 colleges in India, out of which 60.53% are located in rural areas. 11 % colleges are exclusively for females.
- Females constitute 48.6% of the total enrolment in higher education and the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) for females in higher education at 26.4% is higher than the national GER of boys at 26.3%.
- Gender Parity Index (GPI) has increased during the last 5 years, from 0.92 in 2014-15 to 1 in 2018-19.
Drinking Water specification
- The Indian Standard IS 10500: 2012 for Drinking Water specification has specified the maximum acceptable limits for radioactive residues as alpha and beta emitters values in excess of which render the water not suitable. These requirements take into account all radioactive elements including uranium. No individual radioactive elements have been specifically identified.
- Further, Bureau of Indian Standard (BIS) are working to incorporate maximum permissible limit of Uranium as 0.03 mg/l (as per WHO provisional guidelines) in all drinking water standards.
Iconic Tourist Sites
- Ministry of Tourism has identified 17 sites in 12 clusters in the country for development as Iconic Tourist Sites namely Taj Mahal & Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh), Ajanta & Ellora (Maharashtra), Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort & Qutub Minar (Delhi), Colva (Goa), Amer Fort (Rajasthan), Somnath & Dholavira (Gujarat), Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh), Hampi (Karnataka), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Kaziranga (Assam), Kumarakom (Kerala) and Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar).
In exercise of the power conferred by sub clause (a) of clause (1) of Article 80 of the Constitution of India, President of India nominated Ranjan Gogoi, former Chief Justice of India to the Rajya Sabha.
- As per Article 80(1)(a), The Council of States shall consist of twelve members to be nominated by the President in accordance with the provisions of clause (3);
- Provisions of clause (3): The 12 members to be nominated by the shall consist of persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as the following, namely: Literature, science, art and social service.
- Article 212 of the Constitution bars courts from inquiring into proceedings of the Legislature.