Polity & Governance
- Rajasthan Criminal Laws Amendment Bill withdrawn
- President approves Bill allowing Kambala in Karnataka
- Firms from four nations keen on Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC)
- Consider privatising public sector banks: FICCI to govt.
- Govt extends transmission charge waiver to solar, wind power till March 2022
Bilateral & International Relations
- World Information Technology Congress 2018
Art & Culture
- More than 40 Indian languages will soon be extinct
Key Facts for Prelims
- Saudi women don’t need male permission to start businesses
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Polity & Governance
Rajasthan Criminal Laws Amendment Bill withdrawn
The Rajasthan government has withdrawn the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill 2017.
What is the Bill specifically doing?
- The Bill is amending the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in its application to the state of Rajasthan. CrPC is a central law which specifies the process to be followed by authorities in criminal cases.
- Under this law, the police are allowed to investigate cases where it is alleged that a crime has been committed by a judge, magistrate or a public servant, in the course of their official duties.
- The Rajasthan Bill requires prior permission to be obtained from an authority before an investigation can begin in the case of such public officials.
- Such permission is to be given or denied within six months — if no decision is taken in this time, it will be assumed that permission to investigate has been given.
- During the period of waiting for permission, publication of any information that may identify the public official is prohibited.
- The Bill penalises the violation of this provision with a jail term of up to two years and a fine.
Why is the Rajasthan government bringing this Bill?
- The government says it will protect honest officials from frivolous allegations levelled by vested interests, and thus prevent a situation of policy paralysis.
- The government feels that the bar on reporting will deter false cases brought with the intention of maligning public officials.
And what is the concept of prior sanction?
- The basic idea is that public officials need to be protected from legal harassment for their official actions. But at what stage is prior sanction required — before beginning investigation, or before prosecution in court?
- At present, prior sanction is required before public officials can be prosecuted in courts. The CrPC provides that no court can take cognizance of an offence by a public official unless sanction has been given by the central or state government.
- The Prevention of Corruption Act also requires prior sanction for prosecution of public servants for offences such as taking a bribe or criminal misconduct.
Is the concept of prior sanction a new idea?
The Rajasthan Bill introduces the requirement of prior sanction at the stage of investigation in addition to the stage of prosecution. This is not a new idea.
- A Bill that is pending in Parliament since 2013, seeks to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act to bring in prior sanction for investigation of public officials at the central and state levels.
- The Supreme Court held in the same year that police investigations against public servants cannot be ordered without prior sanction from the government.
- Interestingly, the Supreme Court in another judgment in 2014, observed that prior sanction for investigation could impede an unbiased and efficient investigation.
Questions raised on the provision of prior sanction in the Bill:
Three questions have been raised in the public debate on the provision of prior sanction in the Bill.
- First, whether this protection is necessary at both the investigation and prosecution stages.
- Second, since evidence of an alleged offence is collected through an investigation, how will an authority sanction investigation in the absence of evidence?
- Three, the requirement of prior sanction at both the investigation and prosecution stages could result in delays.
Has any other state passed a similar law?
In 2016, a similar law came into force in Maharashtra. But this law differs from the Rajasthan Bill in two key respects.
- First, there is no prohibition from publishing information about public servants while sanction is being obtained for initiating investigation.
- Second, the maximum time in which sanction has to be given is three months as compared to the six months in the Rajasthan Bill. News reports suggest the Maharashtra law has been challenged in Bombay High Court.
President approves Bill allowing Kambala in Karnataka
President Ram Nath Kovind has approved the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Bill making Kambala a legal rural sport in Karnataka.
- With this, all apprehensions and obstacles that were preventing kambala have been cleared.
- The Karnataka state government passed an ordinance amending the Prevention of Cruelty Act to allow Kambala and received the green signal from the President for its Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance 2017″ on July 3 this year.
- The Karnataka HC had stayed these traditional sports in view of Supreme Court’s ban on jallikattu, a traditional bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu.
What is Kambala?
- Kambala is an annual Buffalo Race held traditionally under the auspices of local land lords and households or Patel of village, in coastal Karnataka, India.
- The Kambala season generally starts in November and lasts until March.
- The contest generally takes place between two pairs of buffaloes, each pair raced in wet rice fields, controlled by a whip-lashing farmer.
- The ‘track’ used for Kambala is a paddy field filled with slush and mud.
- The “Kambala Committee” is formed and it usually arranges Kambala in several categories.
- People place massive bets on the buffaloes to win and one can witness more than 20,000 spectators in a well-organised Kambala, egging on and cheering the buffaloes to complete the race.
- In traditional form of Kambala, racing is non-competitive, and buffalo pairs run one by one in paddy fields.
- A ritualistic approach is also there, as some agriculturists race their buffaloes for thanks giving (to god) for protecting their animals from diseases.
- The buffaloes developed for the race are carefully fed and some owners of the buffaloes have even built separate swimming pool for competing buffaloes.
What is the controversy over kambala?
- This age-old tradition of buffalo race is a cause of concern for animal lovers and animal activists.
- Animal rights activists are objecting to the traditional sport, claiming it tortures the buffaloes, whose anatomy is not made for racing.
Firms from four nations keen on Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC)
The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), a mega infrastructure project with an estimated investment of $100 billion, has attracted interest from companies based out of Canada, the U.S., Singapore and Taiwan.
About Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC):
- Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is a mega infra-structure project of USD 90 billion with the financial & technical aids from Japan, covering an overall length of 1483 KMs between the political capital and the business capital of India, i.e. Delhi and Mumbai.
- The project aims to develop an environmentally sustainable, long lasting and technological advanced infrastructure utilizing cutting age Japanese technologies and to create world class manufacturing and investment destinations in this region.
- The corridor would pass through the six States – U.P, NCR of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
- It’s end terminals would be at Dadri in the National Capital Region of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru Port near Mumbai.
- Distribution of length of the corridor indicates that Rajasthan (39) and Gujarat (38%) together constitute 77% of the total length of the alignment of freight corridor.
Consider privatising public sector banks: FICCI to govt.
Industry body FICCI has called for privatisation of public sector banks (PSBs), saying that the recapitalisation efforts by the government have had little effect on improving their health.
Why we should opt for privatisation?
There is a continuous pressure on the government finances on account of the weak performance of the banks.
- Privatisation would reduce the drain on the exchequer and the money saved could be used for developmental schemes and programmes of the government.
- Private banks will bring innovations in products, technology and customer servicing and a market-based discipline to lending.
- Private banks, knowing that they cannot count on government’s protection, are unlikely to engage in the sort of risky lending that characterised public bank lending.
- Also, they will not be subject to the same pressure from politicians and others in government that has destroyed the public sector banks.
- The public-sector banks, which constitute almost 70% of the Indian banking system, are saddled with burgeoning stressed assets.
- The government has already injected over ₹2.6 lakh crore in the public-sector banks through recapitalisation in the last eleven years, which has had limited impact in improving the health of public sector banks thus far.
- Recapitalisation of PSBs alone is not a permanent solution and will not be effective unless the inherent issues related to governance, productivity, risk management, talent, customer service, etc. are resolved.
- The government should shrink unproductive public sector banks and move forward with increasing private sector participation in the banking sector.
Govt extends transmission charge waiver to solar, wind power till March 2022
With a view to giving a boost to clean energy sources, the government has extended the waiver of inter-state power transmission charges and losses for the solar and wind power projects commissioned till 31 March 2022.
- Earlier, the waiver was available to solar and wind power projects commissioned till 31 December 2019, and 31 March 2019, respectively.
- The waiver will be available to solar and wind projects for 25 years from date of commissioning provided developers sign power purchase agreements with entities, including power distribution companies (discoms), for sale of power for compliance of their renewable purchase obligation.
- The order also provides that the waiver would be available to only those projects which are awarded through competitive bidding process as per the guidelines issued by the central government.
Significance of the move:
- The order assumes significance in view of India’s ambitious target of having 175GW of renewable energy capacities including 100GW of solar and 60GW of wind energy. At present, India’s installed renewable generation capacity is 62.84GW excluding large hydro projects above 25MW.
- The central government has also planned to auction 40GW of solar energy capacities and 20GW of wind projects in 2018-19 and 2019-20 to meet the tall order.
Bilateral & International Relations
World Information Technology Congress 2018
The World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) 2018 is being held in Hyderabad, India.
- The event was hosted by Telangana Government, in association with country’s top IT body, National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) and global IT organization World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA).
- The theme of this edition of conference was ‘Future Enterprises.’
- This is for first time India is hosting WITC. It will second time that the event will be taking place in Asia after it was hosted in Kualalumpur, Malaysia in 2008.
About World Information Technology Congress (WITC):
WITC is a biennial event and considered as the biggest and the most reputable international event among worldwide IT leaders.
- It aims provide single platform to IT experts, policy and decision makers and Government officials from all over the world together to discuss various challenges and possible solutions to them.
- It is unique in its global perspective on ICT issues and its ability to draw users, providers, media and academia from around the world.
- It was first held in 1978 since then held after every two years.
- The 2014 WITC was held in Mexico and had focused on the theme of ‘Digital World’ and 2016 edition was held in Brasilia, Brazil.
About World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA):
The World Information Technology and Services Alliance (WITSA) is a consortium of associations from the information and communications technology (ICT) industry around the world.
- WITSA was founded in 1978 as the World Computing Services Industry Association
- WITSA’s motto is “Fulfilling the Promise of the Digital Age”.
- It voices the concerns of the international IT industry in organisations such as the World Trade Organization, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the G8.
- It participates in advocacy in international public policy that affects the “global information infrastructure”.
Art & Culture
More than 40 Indian languages will soon be extinct
According to a new report of the Census Directorate, 42 Indian languages are said to be endangered. Due to the small number who speak the languages are expected to soon be extinct.
- These 42 languages are considered endangered because they are spoken by less than 10,000 people.
- The languages include dialects as well.
What is the difference between a Dialect and a Language?
- Distinction between the two can be made based on the concept of Mutual intelligibility.
- Two languages where speakers can understand each other are considered dialects of the same language, whereas two languages where the speakers cannot understand each other are separate languages.
- Historically two dialects with close enough continuous contact will remain mutually intelligible. With enough separation in time and space dialects will eventually turn into separate languages.
42 Endangered languages:
Efforts to protect these languages:
- The Central Institute of Indian Languages (CIIL), Mysore is working for protection and preservation of these languages under central scheme Protection and Preservation of Endangered Languages of India.
- Under the programme, grammatical descriptions, monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, language primers, anthologies of folklore, encyclopedias of all languages or dialects that are endangered are being prepared.
- According to UNESCO, promoting idea of language is an inalienable cultural right. It has already built it into charter of sustainable development goals (SGDs). India is a formal signatory to charter. It is the state’s obligation to secure and protect the community’s right to its language.
- According to report of Census Directorate, there are 22 scheduled languages and 100 non-scheduled languages in country, which are spoken by large number of people — one lakh or more.
- Apart from the 22 scheduled languages, there are 31 other languages which were given the status of official language by state governments and Union territories.
- From 1971 onwards, the Census is disclosing names only of those languages which have more than 10,000 speakers. It has resulted decline in list of languages to 108 languages in 1971 Census, as against the 1,652 a decade ago.
- The 2001 language data from Census have mixed list of 22 scheduled languages and hundred other languages. The 2011 Census data have been not disclosed yet.
Key Facts for Prelims
Saudi women don’t need male permission to start businesses
- Saudi Arabia has allowed women to open their own businesses and benefit from government e-services without having to prove consent from husband or male guardian.
- This move marks major step away from country’s strict guardianship system that has ruled it for decades.
- Under the guardianship system, women needed a guardian’s approval to start businesses and had to visit a notary to document the founding of a company.