Polity & Governance
- MPs’ demand for more time sends RS officials scurrying to the rule book
Government Schemes & Policies
- What are the laws in place to tackle illegal non-citizens?
- Home Minister assured shielded of ILP from citizenship bill
Issues related to Health & Education
- Antibiotic prescription rate high in private sector
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Operation ‘Clean Art’ to crackdown on illegal trade in mongoose hair
Bilateral & International Relations
- 6 European nations join Iran barter system
- UK promised to introduce points-based visa policy
Science & Technology
- ISRO’s Second Spaceport, for New SSLV Rocket, to Come up in Tamil Nadu
Key Facts for Prelims
- Malayalam poet Akkitham wins 55th Jnanpith award
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Polity & Governance
MPs’ demand for more time sends RS officials scurrying to the rule book
The Rajya Sabha secretariat is pulling out the rule books and going through the precedents to tackle the demand from members that they be allocated more time in debates.
What is the issue?
- During the 250th session of Rajya Sabah, some members called for uniform representation for all States for reflecting true federalism.
- They also demanded that each member be given a minimum of five minutes to meaningfully convey their views. Currently, members are given time according to the strength of their party in the House.
- They also demanded that nominated members should be allowed more time so that the House can benefit from their special expertise.
Government Schemes & Policies
What are the laws in place to tackle illegal non-citizens?
The Home Minister recently announced that a National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be implemented across India, and repeated again in Assam, has ignited interest in the existing legal framework in India for illegal migrants.
- The Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, empowered the government to make rules requiring persons entering India to be in possession of passports.
- This rule also granted the government the power to remove from India any person who entered without a passport.
Foreigners Act, 1940
- During the Second World War, Britishers enacted the Foreigners Act, 1940, under which the concept of “burden of proof” was introduced.
- As per act, whenever a question arose with regard to the nationality of a person, the onus of proving that he was not a foreigner lay upon the person. This provision is still applicable in India was also upheld by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.
Foreigners Act, 1946
- The Foreigners Act, 1946 was enacted by repealing the 1940 Act, conferring wide powers to deal with all foreigners.
- Apart from defining a ‘foreigner’ as a person who is not a citizen of India, it empowered the government to make provisions for prohibiting, regulating or restricting the entry of foreigners into India.
- It also restricted the rights enjoyed by foreigners in terms of their stay in the country if any such orders are passed by the authority. It empowered government to use of force for securing compliance with such directions.
Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1946
- The Foreigners (Tribunals) Order,1964 gave power to tribunal to decide whether a person is a foreigner within the ambit of the Foreigners Act, 1946.
- The Foreigners (Tribunals) Amendment Order, 2019 empowered district magistrates to set up tribunals to decide whether a person staying illegally in India is a foreigner or not.
Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983
- The Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983, was introduced for the detection and deportation of illegal migrants who had entered India on or after March 25, 1971.
- One factor for its failure was that it did not contain any provision on ‘burden of proof’ similar to the Foreigners Act, 1946. This put a very heavy burden upon the authorities to establish whether a person is an illegal migrant.
- The result of the IMDT Act was that a number of non-Indians who may have entered Assam after March 25, 1971 without possession of valid documents, continue to reside in Assam. This culminated in the Supreme Court landmark verdict in Sarbananda Sonowal case, 2005 challenging the IMDT Act. As a result, supreme court not only repealed the IMDT Act but also closed all tribunals in Assam functioning under the Act.
- Any person excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) can approach The Foreigners Tribunals, established only in Assam, within 120 days of receiving a certified copy of rejection. In other States, a person suspected to be a foreigner is produced before a local court under the Passport Act, 1920, or the Foreigners Act, 1946.
Home Minister assured shielded of ILP from citizenship bill
Union Home assured that Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) would provide protection to such regions and states where the Inner Line Permit (ILP) is applicable. The tribal population in Assam and Tripura is protected by the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, which may be exempted from CAB.
What is the Inner Line Permit (ILP)?
- The Inner Line Permit (ILP) is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to grant inward travelof an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period.
- Currently, the Inner Line Permit is operational in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.
- It is obligatory for Indians residing outside those states to obtain permission prior to entering the protected areas.
- ILP is based on the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873, which protected the British Crown’s interest in tea, oil and elephant trade. It prohibited “British subjects” or Indians from entering into these protected areas.
- It can be issued for travel purposes solely. Visitors are not allowed to purchase property in these regions. However, there might be a different set of rules for long term visitors, though they are not valid for central government employees and security forces.
- The document has been issued under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873and the conditions and restrictions vary from state to state.
Relation between ILP and Citizenship Amendment Bill
- The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) seeks to amend the existing Citizenship Act, 1955 to enable non-Muslim refugees, specifically Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to obtain Indian citizenship.
- The bill was passed by the Lower House in January 2019. However, due to massive protests against the bill, it couldn’t be introduced in the Rajya Sabha.
- Now, if the bill is implemented, with the ILP system also in place, it would mean that beneficiaries under CAB will become Indian citizens but will not be permitted to settle in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.
- However, nothing related to the Citizenship Amendment Bill is clearly stated under Meghalaya’s new law, so it is unclear if the ILP restrictions will be applicable to that state.
- Demands for an ILP system have been made in various Northeastern states.
- Recently, the Meghalaya Cabinet passed amendments to the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016, which made registration under ILP system compulsory for visitors who intend to spend more than 24 hours in Meghalaya. This modification created the impression that such amendments will lead to rules similar to those in an ILP regime.
- The Manipur people has continuously demanded the implementation of ILP in the state. The Manipur People’s Protection Bill, 2018 seeks to regulate the inflow of outsiders from other Indian states and defines “Manipuris” and “non-Manipuris”.
[Ref: Indian Express]
Issues related to Health & Education
Antibiotic prescription rate high in private sector
Children between 0 to 4 years have been found to be the most targeted segment among patients for antibiotics prescribed by private doctors, a study done by Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).
Highlights of the study
- Per capita antibiotic consumption in the retail sector has increased by 22% from 2012 to 2016.
- The antibiotic prescription rates were found to be highest for children aged 0–4 years (636 prescriptions per 1,000 persons) and lowest in the age group 10–19 years (280 prescriptions per 1,000 persons).
- Percentage of prescriptions for wide-spectrum antibiotics like cephalosporins and quinolones (38.2% and 16.3%) was significantly higher than the U.S. and Greece.
- Beta-lactam, cephalosporins had the highest prescription rates (38.3% of all antibiotic prescriptions) followed by Penicillins and Quinolones.
- One-fifth antibiotic prescriptions were dispensed for acute upper respiratory infections, which rarely require an antibiotic therapy.
Anti-biotic use for different diseases
- Majority of antibiotic were dispensed for the diseases of the respiratory system (55%), followed by genitourinary system (10%).
About the Study
- The study of antibiotic prescription rates from May 2013 to April 2014 were carried out by Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).
- Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) or superbugs happens when microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites change when they are exposed to antimicrobial drugs. These microorganisms are also termed as “superbugs”.
- As a result, the medicines or drugs become ineffective and infections persist in the body further increasing the risk of spread to others.
Dangers of AMR
- AMR causes a reduction in the effectiveness of medicines, making infections and diseases difficult or impossible to treat.
- AMR is associated with increased mortality, prolonged illnesses in people and animals, production losses in agriculture, livestock and aquaculture. This threatens global health, livelihoods and food security.
- AMR also increases the cost of treatments and care.
Why are bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics?
- Overuse and misuse of antibiotics allows the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- Every time a person takes antibiotics, some bacteria are killed, but resistant bacteria are left to grow and multiply. Hence, taking antibiotic repeatedly multiply its growth some resistant bacteria are always left when on take antibiotic.
- Widespread use of antibiotics for common cold, flu etc. is an example of how overuse of antibiotics can promote the spread of antibiotic resistance.
How do bacteria become resistant to antibiotics?
- Neutralize an antibiotic by changing it in a way that makes it harmless.
- Push an antibiotic back outside of the bacteria before it can do any harm.
- Change their outer structure so the antibiotic has no way to attach to the bacteria it is designed to kill.
- Bacteria can also become resistant through mutation of their genetic material.
India’s vulnerabilities to AMR
- Bacteria spread easily in India because half of Indians defecate outdoors, and much of the sewage generated by those who do use toilets is untreated. As a result, Indians have among the highest rates of bacterial infections in the world and collectively take more antibiotics, which are sold over the counter here, than any other nationality.
- A study found that Indian children living in places where people are less likely to use a toilet tend to get diarrhoea and be given antibiotics more often than those in places with more toilet use.
- All those drugs that create resistance to antibiotics find their way into hospital sewage, which is mostly dumped untreated into rivers, canals and pits in the surrounding community where pregnant women can become infected.
- Equally worrisome has been the rapid growth of India’s industrialised animal husbandry, where antibiotics are widespread. Most large chicken farms here use feed laced with antibiotics banned for use in animals.
- Though antibiotics are still readily available, people still self-medicate. The Indian government has notably failed to institute and implement real regulations to stop chemists from handing out antibiotics like cheap candy.
National Action Plan to combat Antimicrobial Resistance
- In 2017, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare announced the India’s National Action Plan.
The National Programme for Containment of AMR is under implementation in 12th Five Year Plan with the following objectives:
- To establish a laboratory-based surveillance system by strengthening laboratories.
- To generate quality data on AMR for pathogens of public health importance.
- To generate awareness among healthcare providers and in the community regarding the rational use of antibiotics.
- To strengthen infection control guidelines
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Operation ‘Clean Art’ to crackdown on illegal trade in mongoose hair
Recently, a planned raid at Sherkot in Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district was carried out to check on organised factories that were making paint brushes with mongoose hair.
- Mongoose hair are used in paint brushed because they are superior and hold colour better.
About operation Clean Art
- Operation Clean Art was the first pan India operation to crackdown on the smuggling of mongoose hair.
- It was conceived by Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB).
- Mongoose are small animals native to southern Eurasia and mainland Africa.
- Mongooses are noted for their audacious attacks on highly venomous snakes such as king cobras.
Law on Mongoose poaching in India
- In India, the mongoose is listed in Schedule II Part 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act and any smuggling or possession of its body part is a non-bailable offence.
- Tuberculosis, a human disease, was found in Mongoose.
- Mummified mongoose have been discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs.
- Mongoose was introduced in Hawaii to kill rats.
Bilateral & International Relations
6 European nations join Iran barter system
Six new European countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden joined INSTEX barter mechanism, which is designed to circumvent U.S. sanctions against trade with Iran by avoiding use of the dollar.
What is INSTEX?
- The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) is a European special-purpose vehicle (SPV) established in January 2019 by France, UK and Germany.
- Its mission is to facilitate non-USD transactions and non-SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications) to avoid breaking U.S. sanctions.
- It is headquartered in Paris, France.
- It is registered at Paris with an initial 3,000 Euros in the capital and a supervisory board with members from France and Germany and chaired by the UK.
- It will allow trade between the EU and Iran without relying on direct financial transactions.
- It will initially be used for non-sanctionable trade, including humanitarian goods such as medicine, food and medical devices.
What led to formation of INSTEX?
- In 2018, U.S. withdrew from Iran Nuclear deal citing the reason that Iran is not following terms of Iran Nuclear deal. As a result, US prohibited doing business with Iran by any U.S. national and said that non-US firms and financial entities that do not comply with the sanctions will face fines and be cut off from the global financial system.
- To avoid such U.S. Penalties, INSTEX receives payments from companies that want to trade with Iran, either by receiving waivers for oil imports or permissible trade in goods like food and medicine.
- As a result, there is no direct transfer of funds between Iran and European companies. This would prevent firms from U.S. penalties.
UK promised to introduce points-based visa policy
UK Prime Minister promised to introduce an Australian style points-based visa policy from January 1, 2021. Essentially, such policy will cut immigration figures by blocking entry to unskilled people.
What’s a points-based policy?
- A points system is a way of selecting labour migrants based on their characteristics, such as their educational qualifications, language proficiency, work experience and occupation.
- In this method, Applicants are given points for different characteristics, and their score on a ‘points test’ is used to decide whether they can migrate or not.
- Points systems are used to select migrants for economic purposes.
- The best known examples of points systems are from Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
- Most countries do not use points-based systems to select work migrants but instead rely on ‘employer-driven’ work visa systems.
Current immigration system in UK
- UK has an ‘employer-driven’ system if a non-EU citizen wants to take a new job. This system, known as Tier 2 (general), requires skilled workers to find an employer who is willing to sponsor them to fill a specific vacancy. This system does assign points to different criteria. However, there is no flexibility on how to meet the criteria. i.e., Candidates for Tier 2 (general) visas must meet all of the criteria for immigration.
- Earlier, UK had a points system which admitted non-EU migrants without job offers. This system was initially known as the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme and later became Tier 1 (general) of the Points-based System. UK closed it in 2010-2011, citing the concern that some of the migrants it selected were unemployed or only found work in low-skilled occupations.
How does the Australian points-based system work?
- The best-known points-tested visa in Australia is known as the ‘Skilled Independent’ route, which provides visas for permanent residency. In this route, a candidate must earn a minimum point (above table) to apply for migration.
Key differences between UK’s visa and Australia’s points-tested visa routes
Pros and cons of point-based system
- Migrants are less dependent on their employers and do not need permission to switch between jobs as they do in the UK; as a result, they are expected to have more bargaining power and to operate in a more competitive labour market.
- As per a study, points-tested independent migrants had higher employment rates of over 90% 18 and higher median earnings that other skilled migrants.
- If workers do not have employment lined up, it is difficult to know whether they are actually employable. Because point system only relies on point based criteria’s (which are government’s perception of what skills are valuable), rather than on the views of the employers who are to recruit them.
- Eligibility criteria are unpredictable if candidate are ranked against each other. This is because the bar for admission will be higher in periods when more other people are applying.
Science & Technology
ISRO’s Second Spaceport, for New SSLV Rocket, to Come up in Tamil Nadu
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has commenced land acquisition for its second launchpad in Kulasekarapattinam, a town in the Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) district of Tamil Nadu. The first lauchpad is located at Sriharikota, Andhra Prades.
Why Thoothukudi was chosen?
Proximity to seashore
- Thoothukudi’s proximity to the seashore makes it ideal for straight southward launches. From Sriharikota, such southward launches are not possible as the rockets have to fly around Sri Lanka. The fact that rockets will be able to have a straight trajectory from Thoothukudi will also allow them to carry heavier payloads.
- Thoothukudi is ideal for putting satellites in the polar orbit, but not for satellites with geostationary orbits.
Proximity to equator
- A rocket launch site should be on the east coast and near the equator. Thoothukudi district satisfies that condition.
- Instead of transporting PSLV rocket engine stages to Sriharikota, it would be easier to shift them to the Thoothukudi if it is built in Kulasekarapattinam, which is around 100 km away from Thoothukudi.
Key Facts for Prelims
Malayalam poet Akkitham wins 55th Jnanpith award
The Jnanpith Selection Board announced that eminent Malayalam poet Akkitham, a Padma Shri awardee, has been chosen for the 55th Jnanpith Award.
- He has also won several literary awards including the Sahitya Akademi Award, Mathrubhumi Award, Vayalar Award, and Kabir Samman.
About Jnanpith Award
- The Jnanpith Award is an Indian literary award for individual contributions to literature.
- It was instituted in 1961 by the cultural organization Bharatiya Jnanpith to honour the best creative literary writing in any of the 22 “scheduled languages’.
- In 1965, famous Malayalam writer G Sankara Kurup became the first winner of Jnanpith Award.
Sahitya Akademi Award: It is conferred annually on writers of outstanding works in one of the twenty-four major Indian languages (22 Scheduled Languages+ English and Rajasthani).
Mathrubhumi Literary Award: It is conferred as a recognition of a writer’s overall contribution to the Malayalam literature.
Vayalar Award: It is given for the best literary work in Malayalam.
Kabir Samman: It is a national Level award conferred by Madhya Pradesh for distinguished work in literature (poetry).[Ref: Economic Times]