Polity & Governance
- SC moots steps to clean up politics
- SC strikes out Nota option in RS election
- NCRB to track complaints on sexual violence
Government Schemes & Policies
- Government unveils draft UDAN scheme for International routes
Issues related to Health & Education
- WHO Award on Tobacco Control Initiative
- India needs to improve its wage policies for inclusive growth: ILO
Defence & Security Issues
- Successful test of anti-airfield weapon SAAW
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Polity & Governance
SC moots steps to clean up politics
The Supreme Court has proposed to make political parties accountable for criminalising politics by welcoming in “crooks” who may later win elections on party ticket and grab power.
- The apex court is hearing a batch of petitions to ban persons charged with heinous criminal charges from contesting elections.
- The Court may direct the Election Commission to insist that parties get new members to declare in an affidavit their criminal antecedents and publish them so that the “entire country knows how many criminals there are in a party.”
- The court said the EC could de-register a party or withdraw its symbol if it refused to comply.
- The suggestion was made by the court in a bid to prevent criminals from entering politics or later contesting elections to become parliamentarians, legislators and Ministers.
The court based its proposal on the following:
- Article 324 and Section 29A of RPA: The power of the Election Commission to conduct an election and register/de-register political parties under Article 324 of the Constitution and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act of 1951, respectively.
- The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order of 1968. Section 29A requires a party to swear to uphold the principles of socialism, secularism, democracy, sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.
Why centre has opposed this move?
The centre has opposed this move by suggesting the following reasons:
- A political party has a right to field its candidate.
- Mere charges of having committed a crime cannot be used to prevent a person from contesting elections.
- The suggestion made by the court amounts to prematurely disqualifying a candidate.
- Besides, the court is taking on itself a matter of the legislature.
SC strikes out Nota option in RS election
Supreme Court scrapped use of NOTA (none of the above) option for Rajya Sabha elections.
- As per the court, NOTA defeats fairness in indirect elections, destroys democratic values and serves as Satan of defection and corruption.
- NOTA option is meant only for universal adult suffrage and direct elections and not polls held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in the Rajya Sabha.
- NOTA in indirect elections, such as in the Rajya Sabha, would lead to horse-trading, corruption and use of extra constitutional methods to defeat a party candidate.
- NOTA also makes the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote nugatory and otiose.
What is NOTA?
- None Of The Above (NOTA) is a ballot option designed to allow the voter to indicate disapproval of all of the candidates in a voting system.
- It was introduced in India following the 2013 Supreme Court directive in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India judgment.
- Thus, India became the 14th country to institute negative voting.
- However, NOTA in India does not provide for a ‘right to reject’.
- The candidate with the maximum votes wins the election irrespective of the number of NOTA votes polled.
How is a NOTA vote cast?
- The EVMs have the NOTA option at the end of the candidates’ list. Earlier, in order to cast a negative ballot, a voter had to inform the presiding officer at the polling booth. A NOTA vote doesn’t require the involvement of the presiding officer.
Significance of NOTA option:
- NOTA option will force the political parties to select the honest candidates, i.e with no criminal records.
- NOTA ensures people’s ‘right to freedom of speech and expression’.
- NOTA will increase the polling percentage.
NCRB to track complaints on sexual violence
A high-level meeting was recently convened to discuss recommendations on ways to curb “sexual violence” videos involving women and children.
- It was decided in the meeting that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) would be the designated nodal agency for monitoring the complaints received on a government portal that records child pornography and sexual violence videos.
- NCRB is only a crime record agency. Therefore, a government notification has been issued under the Information Technology Act, 2000 to enable it to take action against such videos.
- NCRB can act on such online child pornography, sexual violence and rape videos content either on the basis of complaints or by taking suo motu cognizance.
- The NCRB would coordinate with service providers such as Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp and ask them to block malicious videos and contents.
- It also has been mandated to launch online portal for receiving complaints and acting on them.
About the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB):
- National Crime Records Bureau is an attached office of Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
- It was established in 1986 with a mandate to empower Indian Police with information technology solutions and criminal intelligence to enable them to enforce the law effectively.
- It was set up based on the recommendations of the National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Task force (1985).
- It was set up by merging the Directorate of Coordination and Police Computer (DCPC), Inter State Criminals Data Branch of CBI, Central Finger Print Bureau of CBI, and Statistical Branch of BPR&D.
- It is responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- It facilitates Investigating Officers with updated IT tools and information in Investigation of Crimes.
- The MHA has entrusted NCRB with a renewed mandate for the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS) Project.
- NCRB has won Digital India Award 2016 for digitizing and uploading ‘Crime in India’ on Opensource Govt. Portal since 1967.
- NCRB has been training Indian and Foreign Police Officers from more than 20 countries since 1990 and till date more than 40,000 Police Officers have been trained.
- NCRB publishes 4 annual publications on Crime, Accidental Deaths & Suicides, Prison Statistics and Finger Prints. These publications serve as principal reference points on crime statistics not only police officers but also for criminologists, researchers, media and policy makers not only in India but abroad well.
- Various applications developed by NCRB include Crime & Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), Finger Prints Science, ‘Vahan Samanvay’, ‘TALASH’, Mobile Apps Citizen Complaint, View FIR, Locater, Automated License Plate Reader and NCRB Publications of ‘Crime in India’, ‘Accidental Deaths & Suicides in India’ and ‘Prison Statistics India’.
Government Schemes & Policies
Government unveils draft UDAN scheme for International routes
The Union Government has unveiled the draft International Air Connectivity (IAC) scheme.
- The draft scheme is aimed for extending affordable air travel programme UDAN to international circuits, with state governments identifying the routes for operation.
Highlights of the IAC scheme:
- The scheme envisages to increase the international ticketing to 20 crore by 2027.
- The scheme is to be made operational only for states, which demonstrate their commitment to implement and provide the requisite support for promoting operations under the scheme.
- The Airport Authority of India will be the implementing agency of the scheme.
- According to the draft, state governments will identify the routes to be connected, and airline operators will assess demand on the identified routes and submit proposals for providing connectivity.
- Operations under the scheme will be permitted through fixed-wing aircraft only with more than 70 seats.
- The scheme has proposed to set up an International Air Connectivity Fund (IACF) — a dedicated fund for providing subsidy support under the scheme. It will be created through the contributions of state governments.
- The subsidy support shall be provided to selected airlines only for the passenger seats, which remain unsold at the time of IAC flight operation, from the total number of passenger seats for which subsidy has been requested by the selected airline as part of its proposal. The subsidy support will be extended only up to three years.
Issues related to Health & Education
WHO Award on Tobacco Control Initiative
Delhi government’s additional director of health S K Arora has been awarded the prestigious WHO World No Tobacco Day 2018 Award for his extraordinary contribution towards tobacco control.
- Tobacco prevalence in Delhi has come down by 6.5 per cent in the past six years which is more than the rest of India average figures.
- The National Health Policy 2017 of the Government of India has set targets of relative reduction in tobacco prevalence by 15 per cent by 2020 and 30 per cent by 2025. Delhi has already achieved these targets before 2017.
About the award:
- WHO World No Tobacco Day Award is awarded every year by WHO to individuals or organisations alike in each of six WHO regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control.
- This award includes WHO Director-General Special Recognition Awards, World No Tobacco Day Awards.
World No Tobacco Day:
- World No Tobacco Day is observed around the world every year on 31 May. It is intended to encourage 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco consumption around the globe.
India needs to improve its wage policies for inclusive growth: ILO
In its India Wage Report, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said that India needs to improve its wage policies to promote “inclusive growth” even as low pay, gender wage gap and informality remain pervasive.
Highlights of the report:
- Real average daily wages in India almost doubled in the first two decades after economic reforms, but low pay and wage inequality remains a serious challenge to inclusive growth.
- Overall, in 2009-10, a third of all of wage workers were paid less than the national minimum wage, which is merely indicative and not legally binding. That includes 41% of all casual workers and 15% of salaried workers.
- In 2011-12, the average wage in India was about ₹247 rupees a day, almost double the 1993-94 figure of ₹128. However, average labour productivity (as measured by GDP per worker) increased more rapidly than real average wages. Thus, India’s labour share — or the proportion of national income which goes into labour compensation, as opposed to capital or landowners — has declined.
- The rise in average wages was more rapid in rural areas, and for casual workers. However, these groups started at such a low base that a yawning wage gap still remains. Thus, the average wage of casual workers — who make 62% of the earning population — was only ₹143 a day.
- Daily wages in urban areas (₹384) also remain more than twice as high as those in rural areas (₹175). Regional disparities in average wages have actually increased over time, with wages rising more rapidly in high-wage States than in low-wage ones.
- The gender wage gap decreased from 48% in 1993-94 to 34% in 2011-12, but still remains high by international standards. And of all worker groups, the average wages of casual rural female workers was the lowest, at just ₹104 a day.
- As per the study the minimum wage system in India is quite complex. The minimum wages are set by state governments for employees in ‘selected, scheduled’ employment and this has led to 1709 different rates across the country. As the coverage is not complete these rates are applicable for an estimated of 66 % of wage workers.
- A national minimum wage floor was introduced in the 1990s which has progressively increased to Rs 176 per day in 2017 but this wage floor is not legally binding, in spite of a recurrent discussion since the 1970s.
About International Labour Organisation (ILO):
- The ILO is a United Nations agency dealing with labour issues, particularly international labour standards, social protection, and work opportunities for all.
- It was established in 1919 as an agency of the League of Nations and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
- India is a founder member of the ILO. At present, it has 187 members.
- The principal means of action in the ILO is the setting up of International standards in the form of Conventions, Recommendations and Protocol.
- So far India has ratified 45 Conventions, out of which 42 are in force. Out of these 4 are Core or Fundamental or Conventions.
Defence & Security Issues
Successful test of anti-airfield weapon SAAW
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully tested indigenously developed light weight glide bomb Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW) dropped from an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft.
- Total of three tests with different release conditions and ranges were conducted at Chandan range near Pokhran in Rajasthan.
About SAAW bomb:
- The SAAW project was sanctioned in September 2013.
- The SAAW is a long-range precision-guided anti-airfield weapon, designed to be capable of engaging ground targets with high precision out to a range of 100 km.
- The bomb has been developed by the DRDO’s Research Centre Imarat (RCI) in collaboration with DRDO’s other laboratories and IAF.
Significance of SAAW:
- SAAW can be used to destroy bunkers, runways, aircraft hangers and other reinforced structures.
- SAAW’s deep penetration capabilities and high explosive warhead carrying capacity will allow Indian Air Force (IAF) to easily hit targets across border without putting pilot and aircraft at risk.
- It can be integrated into the varied types of fighter jets with the IAF.