Polity & Governance
- Bill seeks national official language stature for those in Eighth Schedule
- Govt dusts off Emergency-era provision on basic duties
- Maharashtra floor test plea, Supreme Court wants Governor’s order
- When Supreme Court reviews a decision
- Arunachal seeks new officer cadre
- Government plans to merge 2 Union Territories — Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Government Schemes & Policies
- Chhattisgarh cabinet nod for one disabled person in each panchayat
Issues related to Health & Education
- A protein that has potential to tackle diabetes
- Centre looks to conclude peace talks with 23 Kuki, Zomi groups
- First fixed income ETF of bluechip PSUs may be launched next month
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Centre nudging Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh on Ken-Betwa river interlinking project
Key Facts for Prelims
- Haryana’s johads set for revamp, 18 model ponds planned
- Sumatran rhino is now extinct in Malaysia
- Why Bangladesh sees golden rice as a threat
- Certifying Agency for Organic Foodgrains
- Bougainvillean referendum
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Polity & Governance
Bill seeks national official language stature for those in Eighth Schedule
A Tamil leader introduced a private member’s Bill, seeking to give all 22 languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution the stature of national official languages.
What is the demand of a proposed bill?
- The Constitution Amendment Bill, 2019, seeks to amend Article 343, which states that the “official language of the Union shall be Hindi in Devanagari script”.
- The Bill proposed by Tamil leader wants that the all 22 languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution should be national official languages.
The Constitutional provisions relating to the Eighth Schedule occur in article 344(1) and 351 of the Constitution.
Article 344(1): provides for the constitution of a Commission by the President on expiration of 5 years from the commencement of the Constitution and thereafter at the expiration of 10 years from such commencement, which shall consist of a Chairman and other members representing the different languages specified in the Eighth Schedule to make recommendations to the President for the progressive use of Hindi for official purposes of the Union.
Article 351: It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing for its vocabulary, primarily, on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.
List of languages in the Eighth Schedule
22 languages: –
(1) Assamese, (2) Bengali, (3) Gujarati, (4) Hindi, (5) Kannada, (6) Kashmiri, (7) Konkani, (8) Malayalam, (9) Manipuri, (10) Marathi, (11) Nepali, (12) Oriya, (13) Punjabi, (14) Sanskrit, (15) Sindhi, (16) Tamil, (17) Telugu, (18) Urdu (19) Bodo, (20) Santhali, (21) Maithili and (22) Dogri.
Committee on Official Languages:
As the evolution of dialects and languages is dynamic, influenced by socio-political developments, it is difficult to fix any criterion for languages, whether to distinguish them from dialects, or for their inclusion in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
- Consequently, two committees viz. the Pahwa (1996) and Sitakant Mohapatra (2003) Committees were formed by the government.
- A Committee was set up in September 2003 under the Chairmanship of Shri Sitakant Mohapatra to evolve a set of objective criteria for inclusion of more languages in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
- The Committee submitted its report in 2004, which is still under the government’s consideration in consultation with the concerned Minorities/Departments.
- September 14 is observed as the Hindi Day. It was on this date in 1949 that the Constituent Assembly adopted Hindi in Devanagari script as the official language of the Indian union.
[Ref: Indian Express, PIB]
Govt dusts off Emergency-era provision on basic duties
The government is dusting off an Emergency-era provision introduced in the Constitution by Indira Gandhi via her controversial 42nd Amendment, it’s invoking “Fundamental Duties” and asking Ministries to spread awareness about them.
About 42nd Amendment Act
- The 42nd Amendment Act (1976) is sometimes also known as ‘Mini-Constitution’ due to the
important and large number of changes made by it in various parts of the Constitution.
- This amendment was introduced in the parliament based on the recommendations of Swaran Singh Committee.
Changes made by 42nd amendment in Indian Constitution
- Added three new words (i.e., socialist, secular and integrity) in the Preamble
- Added Fundamental Duties by the citizens (new Part IV A).
- Made the president bound by the advice of the cabinet
- Provided for administrative tribunals and tribunals for other matters
- Froze the seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies on the basis of 1971 census till 2001.
- Made the constitutional amendments beyond judicial scrutiny.
- Curtailed the power of judicial review and writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and high courts
- Raised the tenure of Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies from 5 to 6 years.
- Provided that the laws made for the implementation of Directive Principles cannot be declared invalid by the courts on the ground of violation of some Fundamental Rights.
- Empowered the Parliament to make laws to deal with anti-national activities
- Added three new Directive Principles viz., equal justice and free-legal aid, participation of workers in the management of industries and protection of environment, forests and wild life.
- Facilitated the proclamation of national emergency in a part of territory of India.
- Extended the one-time duration of the President’s rule in a state from 6 months to one year.
- Empowered the Centre to deploy its armed forces in any state to deal with a grave situation of law and order
- Shifted five subjects from the state list to the concurrent list: education, forests, protection of wild animals and birds, weights and measures and administration of justice, constitution of all courts except the Supreme Court and the high courts.
- Did away with the requirement of quorum in the Parliament and the state legislatures.
- Empowered the Parliament to decide from time to time the rights and privileges of its members and committees.
- Provided for the creation of the All-India Judicial Service.
- Shortened the procedure for disciplinary action by taking away the right of a civil servant to make representation at the second stage after the inquiry (i.e., on the penalty proposed).
- The idea of Fundamental Duties in Indian Constitution is inspired from the Constitution of Russia.
Maharashtra floor test plea, Supreme Court wants Governor’s order
The Supreme Court put on hold a plea for ordering a floor test in the Maharashtra Assembly till it examined records that might shed light on what led Governor to invite Chief Minister of Maharashtra to form the government and later swear him in as the Chief Minister.
- In recently held Maharashtra Legislative Assembly election, no political party was able to prove the majority in the assembly. As a result, the President’s rule was imposed in Maharashtra following recommendation by the Governor.
- Ultimately, the largest legislative party and a faction of other political party agreed to form a grand coalition with the previous Chief Minister of Maharashtra becoming Chief Minister again.
What is the ‘Rule 12’?
- Rule 12 of the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961, allows the Prime Minister to depart from laid down norms at his discretion.
Under what circumstances is Rule 12 used?
- Rule 12 is usually not used to arrive at major decisions by the government. However, it has been used in matters such as withdrawal of an office memorandum or signing of MoUs in the past.
- The last big decision taken through the Rule 12 was re-organisation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
How does Rule 12 is related with the Maharashtra election issue?
- Rule 12 allows the Prime Minister to take a decision on behalf of the Cabinet without immediately convening a meeting.
- In this case, as the coalition of political party ultimately proved their majority, the president’s rule was no longer needed.
- However, Cabinet’s approval was needed to withdraw President’s rule imposed on Maharashtra. Using Rule 12, Indian Prime Minister took decision on behalf of cabinet to remove president’s rule in Maharashtra.
- Under Article 356 of the Constitution of India, in the event that a state government is unable to function according to constitutional provisions, the Central government can take direct control of the state machinery.
- Once the President’s Rule has been imposed on a state, the elected state government is temporarily dissolved, and the Governor, who is appointed by the government at the Centre, will replace the Chief Minister as the chief executive of the State.
- The imposition of the President’s rule requires the sanction of both the houses of Parliament. If approved, it can go on for a period of six months. However, the imposition cannot be extended for more than three years, and needs to be brought before the two houses every six months for approval.
When can President’s Rule be imposed on a state?
- State Legislature is unable to elect a leader as Chief Minister
- Collapse of a Coalition due to disagreements, parting ways within the members
- Serious breakdown law and order
- Elections postponed due to ineludible reasons
- Loss of majority in the state assembly
- Shoot up of insurgency or rebellion
Critic on Article 356
- Article 356 has been widely criticised for giving provisions for the party/coalition in the Centre to misuse democratic powers for political gains. Dr BR Ambedkar called it ‘the death letter of Indian Constitution’.
- The rival parties running governments in various states were dissolved by those at the Centre by making use of the Article.
- The dismissal of the Communist government in Kerala by Jawaharlal Nehru in July 1959, and the 21 instances during the period 1975-1979 are often considered as examples of the misuse of the President’s Rule.
When Supreme Court reviews a decision
Petitioners plan to seek review of the recently delivered Babri Masjid and telecom revenue verdicts, while the Supreme Court agreed to review its Sabarimala verdict but refused to do so in the Rafale case.
What is a review petition?
- Under Article 137, the Supreme Court has the power to review any of its judgments or orders. However, the court has the power to review its rulings to correct a “patent error” and not “minor mistakes of inconsequential import”.
- When a review takes place, the law is that it is allowed not to take fresh stock of the case but to correct grave errors that have resulted in the miscarriage of justice.
- In a 1975 ruling, Justice Krishna Iyer said a review can be accepted “only where a glaring omission or patent mistake or like grave error has crept in earlier by judicial fallibility”.
As per Supreme Court Rules, 1966,
- Any person aggrieved by a Supreme court’s ruling can seek a review petition within 30 days from the date of judgment.
- As far as practicable, review petition should be circulated, without oral arguments, to the same Bench of Judges who delivered the judgment or a replacement is made based on seniority of judges.
On what grounds can a petitioner seek a review of an SC verdict?
In a 2013, Supreme Court laid down three grounds for seeking a review of a verdict:
- The discovery of new and important matter or evidence which, after the exercise of due diligence, was not within the knowledge of the petitioner or could not be produced by him;
- Mistake or error apparent on the face of the record;
- Any other sufficient reason (a reason that is analogous to the above two grounds).
In another 2013 ruling (Union of India v. Sandur Manganese & Iron Ores Ltd), the court laid down nine principles on when a review is maintainable.
Who can file a review petition?
As per the Civil Procedure Code and the Supreme Court Rules, any person aggrieved by a ruling can seek a review. However, the court exercises its discretion to allow a review petition only when it shows the grounds for seeking the review.
Time- period within which a review petition should be filed?
As per 1996 rules framed by the Supreme Court:
- A review petition must be filed within 30 days of the date of judgment or order. While a judgment is the final decision in a case, an order is an interim ruling that is subject to its final verdict.
- In certain circumstances, the court can condone a delay in filing the review petition if the petitioner can establish strong reasons that justify the delay.
The procedure to be followed:
- The rules state that review petitions would ordinarily be entertained without oral arguments by lawyers. It is heard “through circulation” by the judges in their chambers.
- Review petitions are also heard, as far as practicable, by the same combination of judges who delivered the order or judgment that is sought to be reviewed.
- If a judge has retired or is unavailable, a replacement is made keeping in mind the seniority of judges.
- In exceptional cases, the court allows an oral hearing. In a 2014 case, the Supreme Court held that review petitions in all death penalty cases will be heard in open court by a Bench of three judges.
What if a review petition fails?
- A person can get relief against the final judgement of the Supreme Court, after dismissal of a review petition using curative petition.
About Curative petition
- A curative petition is the last judicial corrective measure which can be pleaded for in any judgment passed by the Supreme Court.
- The objective behind allowing such a petition is only to minimize any abuse of the processes of law and to cure gross miscarriage and lapses in the system of justice.
- The concept of Curative petition was evolved by the Supreme Court of India in Roopa Hurra v Ashok Hurra (2002), where the question was whether an aggrieved person is entitled to any relief against the final judgement/order of the Supreme Court, after dismissal of a review petition.
Why are curative petitions not heard in Court?
- As with review petitions, curative petitions are not heard in open court unless judges first decide that there’s some merit in the case and therefore, they should be heard in open court.
- Moreover, almost every curative petition is rejected by the Supreme Court after reading through the petition, without even hearing the lawyers. This is quite a reasonable process since the required grounds in curative petitions are extremely narrow.
Arunachal seeks new officer cadre
Arunachal Pradesh, wants a separate cadre of bureaucrats because of its cultural and topographical diversity. Officials and police officers posted in the State belong to the Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre, and are deputed for a minimum of two years and above.
Reason for Demanding separate cadre of bureaucrats
- Since Arunachal Pradesh became a State in 1987, dynamics of state had changed.
- Officers are transferred frequently. This affects governance, and benefits do not reach people.
Cadre allocation policy of All India Services
- The central government announced a new cadre allocation policy for the All India Services in 2017, to ensure national integration of the bureaucracy.
- Under the new policy, a candidate first selects their zones of preference, in descending order, then indicates a cadre preference from each preferred zone. The candidate indicates his second cadre preference for every preferred zone subsequently.
The cadres were divided into five zones by the Department of Personnel and Training.
AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh-Goa-Mizoram and Union Territories), Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana
Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha
Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh
West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam-Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Nagaland
Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala
[Ref: The Hindu]
Government plans to merge 2 Union Territories — Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Two Union Territories — Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli — will be merged into one for better administration and check duplications of various work and a bill in this effect will be tabled in Parliament soon.
- The merged UT is likely to be named as Dadra, Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu and its headquarters could be Daman and Diu.
- India currently has nine UTs after the creation of the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. However, with the merger of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the number of UTs will come down to eight.
Government Schemes & Policies
Chhattisgarh cabinet nod for one disabled person in each panchayat
The Chhattisgarh cabinet approved an amendment to the State Panchayati Raj Act, 1993, which makes mandatory the presence of a person with disabilities in all panchayats across the state.
- The cabinet has also moved to remove educational qualification of Class V (for panch) and Class VII (above panch). The only stipulation would be that the candidate be literate.
- Every panchayat will now have differently abled members, either elected or nominated.
- If differently abled members are not elected through the electoral process, then one member, either male or female, would be nominated as a panch.
- And as for janpads and zilla panchayats, the State government would nominate two such members, one male and one female, to them.
General legal provisions relating to the disabled persons in India
Under the Constitution the disabled have been guaranteed the following fundamental rights:
- The Constitution secures to the citizens including the disabled, a right of justice, liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, equality of status and of opportunity and for the promotion of fraternity.
- Article 15(1) enjoins on the Government not to discriminate against any citizen of India (including disabled) on the ground of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
- Article 15 (2) states that no citizen (including the disabled) shall be subjected to any disability, liability, restriction or condition on any of the above grounds in the matter of their access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment or in the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of government funds or dedicated to the use of the general public.
- There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens (including the disabled) in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.
- No person including the disabled irrespective of his belonging can be treated as an untouchable. It would be an offence punishable in accordance with law as provided by Article 17 of the Constitution.
- Every person including the disabled has his life and liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- There can be no traffic in human beings (including the disabled), and beggar and other forms of forced labour is prohibited and the same is made punishable in accordance with law (Article 23).
- Article 24 prohibits employment of children (including the disabled) below the age of 14 years to work in any factory or mine or to be engaged in any other hazardous employment. Even a private contractor acting for the Government cannot engage children below 14 years of age in such employment.
- Article 25 guarantees to every citizen (including the disabled) the right to freedom of religion. Every disabled person (like the non-disabled) has the freedom of conscience to practice and propagate his religion subject to proper order, morality and health.
- No disabled person can be compelled to pay any taxes for the promotion and maintenance of any particular religion or religious group.
- No Disabled person will be deprived of the right to the language, script or culture which he has or to which he belongs.
- Every disabled person can move the Supreme Court of India to enforce his fundamental rights and the rights to move the Supreme Court is itself guaranteed by Article 32.
- No disabled person owning property (like the non-disabled) can be deprived of his property except by authority of law though right to property is not a fundamental right. Any unauthorized deprivation of property can be challenged by suit and for relief by way of damages.
- Every disabled person (like the non-disabled) on attainment of 18 years of age becomes eligible for inclusion of his name in the general electoral roll for the territorial constituency to which he belongs.
[Ref: Indian Express, Vikaspedia]
Issues related to Health & Education
A protein that has potential to tackle diabetes
The scientists at CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) have discovered a protein that helps manage insulin levels thereby showing the potential to tackle diabetes and neuro-degenerative disorders like dementia and Alzheimers.
About the new discovery
- The new research demonstrated the role of a protein called Secretagogin (SCGN) in increasing the insulin action in obesity-induced diabetes. The SCGN binds to insulin and protects it from various stresses while increasing its stability.
- The scientists also found that the SCGN-treated animals have lower levels of harmful LDL-cholesterol and lower lipid accumulation in liver cells.
- Since diabetes and neuro-degenerative disorders (dementia and Alzheimer) are often linked with each other, the protein is also found to be in lower quantities in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
Another study also showed the SCGN’s role in preventing the formation of ‘alpha-synuclein protein fibrils’ – a precursor for many neuro-degenerative diseases.
What is Diabetes?
- Diabetes is a chronic, progressive non-communicable disease (NCD) characterized by elevated levels of blood sugar (blood glucose).
- People with diabetes have excessively high blood glucose, or blood sugar, which comes from food.
How does it occur?
It occurs when
- The pancreas does not produce enough of the insulin hormone, which regulates blood sugar. Various kinds of cellular stresses can result in loss of structure and function of insulin, ultimately leading to diabetes.
- The body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.
Types of Diabetes
Currently, the disease is divided into two sub-types:
- With type-1 — generally diagnosed in childhood and accounting for about 10% of cases — the body simply doesn’t make insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels.
- For type-2, the body makes some insulin but not enough, which means glucose stays in the blood. This form of the disease correlates highly with obesity and can, over time, lead to blindness, kidney damage, and heart disease or stroke.
[Ref: The Hindu]
Centre looks to conclude peace talks with 23 Kuki, Zomi groups
Even as the Naga peace talks continue, the Government of India is looking at concluding peace talks with the 23 Kuki and Zomi groups which have had Suspension of Operation agreements with the Indian government for the past decade.
What is the issue?
- In 1992, the Naga-Kuki clashes began in Chandel district for control of the border town of Moreh, and spread across the state over a few years.
- The Kuki groups have also demanded a Kukiland Territorial Council, having financial and administrative powers independent of the Manipur Assembly and government.
About Kuki Tribe
- Kuki are Southeast Asian people living in the Mizo Hills on the border between India and Myanmar.
About Zomi Tribe
- The Zo/Zomi are a Tibeto-Mongoloid group of people, a sub-family of the Chin-Kuki-Mizo race.
- They form a group of Tibeto-Burman peoples inhabiting the Chin Hills in Mynamar and They are also recorded as Yo and Jou by many colonial civil servants and modern writers.
Tribes of Manipur
Aimol: A scheduled tribe settled at Aimol Khullen at Chandel District and at Kha-Aimol near Loktak lake. The word aimol means ‘mountain of crabs’/ Thus, their legend believes that they came out of mountain like the mountain crabs.
Anals: A scheduled tribe known as Pakan among themselves. They are considered to be one of the oldest Chin-Kuki tribes of Manipur. Kamdon dance is performed during the Akam festival of Anal both by man and woman.
Chiru: Their customs appear to identify with Kuki origin but their habits are Naga way of life. The word Chiru means the seed of a plant. Women play an important role in agricultural work.
Chothe: Also called Purums as they settled at a place called Purum in Chandel District. The main festival of the Chothe is Harvesting festival (sasuhang).
Gangte: Their origin is traced in a cave called khul in the extreme north. Apeasement of the village deity was an annual feature before they converted to Christianity.
Hmar: They speak Hmar language and are one of the highly educated Christian communities of Manipur tribes.
Koirao: Also known as Thangal. It is said that Maharaja Pamheiba of Manipur (Garib niwaz) was a Thangal boy or was brought up within this tribe.
Koireng: They believe that they originated from a cave. The status of women is relatively high due to their taking part in economic activities.
Kom: The Koms are easily identified by their way of dressing as they wear a black shawl embroidered in the border. Koms believe in Pathen, the supreme god and goddess, Lengjai.
Langang: They address themselves as Kasen. Hiroi Lamgang was a Meitei name used to address them as they made boat for the Meitei kings.
Mao: The Mao as such is the village or place and the people are Maomei or Imemei. Also known as Shipfumei, the literacy rate among tribes in the Mao area are high. They actively participate in politics at Imphal. Mao is also a commercial center and station for Tourists, buses, and commercial trucks.
Maram: The Barak river runs through their territory. They have close similarity with the Maos, Angami and Koireng.
Maring: Meitei kings depended on them during wars with neighbors. There are three mains groups of Marings who identify themselves with different colors in their clothings: Black, Red, and Red and Black on the border.
Meiteis: Any Meitei is not allowed to own land in the hills. The Meiteis make up about 60% of the total population of Manipur. The Vaishnavite culture of Meiteis , Ras Lila Dance, Lai Haraoba and Khamba Thoibi Dances are known widely in India. The modern game of Polo is originated in Manipur and locally known as Sagol Kangjei (horse hockey). Meitei Martial arts – Thang Ta – has recently been recognised as one of the forms of International Maritial arts. Since Meiteis are the dominant community, Meiteilon (Meitei language) has become to be known as Manipuri after the name Manipur was introduced.
Monsang: The name Monsang is derived from the name of the village called Mosang by the Meiteis and others whereas they themselves called sirti or southerners. They Speak a similar language with the Anals.
Moyon: Also Known as Bujuur. Their sowing festival is known as Sachii ichii and harvest festival is Buren Iimpeh. They also believe that they originated from a cave, known as Khur or Khul. The Moyons attach considerable importance to education and every village has at one primary school.
Paite: They affiliate to Zomi denomination. Jhum cultivation is their main occupation.
Tangkhul: They live in the Ukhrul district in the east. They use Roman script for writing. They are the most educated tribe of Manipur. They are also leaders in Baptist Church Activities of Manipur.
Tarao: Also known as Kuki in earlier ethnographic studies but now they identify with the Nagas. Their land is considered to be the driest place in Manipur.
Thadou: A schedule tribe of Manipur. They are classifed as an Old Kuki Group by anthropologists. They can be identified by the traditional design of the shawls, which are marked in black with a few stripes of red.
Vaiphei: They use Roman characters. The major economic source is the jhum cultivation from paddy and depend on forest products.
Zeliangrong: The Zeliangrong is a composite group of three related tribes: Rongmei (Kabuis), Liangmei and Zemei (also called Kacha Nagas). They are considered to be one of the most skill crafts men of Manipur.
Zou: They share many oral traditions with Paites. They also claim to have originated from a cave or khul somewhere in the extreme north. Mostly depend on agriculture.[Ref: Indian Express]
First fixed income ETF of bluechip PSUs may be launched next month
The government is expected to launch India’s first fixed income Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) comprising debt securities of about a dozen state-owned companies by mid-December 2019.
About the proposed debt ETF
- It will be India’s first large fund that provides retail investors the convenience to invest in a fixed income product comprising a basket of securities, without the need to study individual bond issues.
- The debt ETF is expected to have a size of Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 20,000 crore.
- The debt ETF provides a new option to own securities of government-owned companies along with the facility of overnight liquidity as ETF units will be listed on exchanges.
- The debt ETF can comprise corporate debt securities in the form of bonds, credit-linked note, debentures, promissory notes as underlying instruments.
What is Exchange Traded Fund (ETF)?
- An ETF is a fund that comprises a group of stocks that are listed on an exchange and can be simply traded like any other listed security.
- The ETFs trading value is based on the net asset value of the underlying stocks that it represents. Their price changes daily as they are traded throughout the day.
- They are similar to mutual funds in certain manner but are more liquid as they can be sold quickly on stock exchanges like shares.
- Usually, ETFs are passive funds where the fund manager doesn’t select stocks on your behalf. Instead, the ETF simply copies an index and endeavours to accurately reflect its performance.
- In an ETF, one can buy and sell units at prevailing market price on a real time basis during market hours.
- Typically, an ETF mirrors a particular index, which means the group of stocks in the ETF would be similar to those in the index that it is benchmarked to. For instance, an ETF mirroring the Sensex would have the same 30 stocks that the Sensex has.
- In other words, if one buys an ETF mirroring the Nifty, he’s indirectly buying all the stocks that are there in the Nifty without going through the trouble of buying each stock individually.
- For instance, the Reliance ETF Shariah BeES tracks the Nifty 50 Shariah index, an index of companies compliant with the Islamic law.
Benefits of investing through ETFs:
- It is a safer mode of disinvestment as it shields investors against stock market volatility.
- ETFs offer anytime liquidity through the exchanges.
- Lower fund management fee o than that of a normal mutual fund scheme.
- They are cost efficient as they don’t use services of star fund managers.
- It allows investors to avoid the risk of poor security selection by the fund manager, while offering a diversified investment portfolio.
- The stocks in the indices are carefully selected by index providers and are rebalanced periodically.
Difference between an ETF and an Index Fund
- Index fund is just like any other mutual fund where the net asset value (NAV) of the fund is based on the closing price of the underlying securities. In ETF, the NAV is continuously linked to the current market price of the underlying stocks, which also makes it possible to buy or sell the ETF throughout the day just like an ordinary stock.
- ETF needs a demat account to buy or sell whereas an index fund can be bought directly from an asset management company without having a demat account.
- In 2018-19, the Centre launched Bharat-22 ETF and CPSE (central public sector enterprises) ETF comprising stake sale in a basket of 22 and 11 government companies, respectively.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Centre nudging Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh on Ken-Betwa river interlinking project
The government has said it is pushing Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to make progress on the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project.
About Ken-Betwa link project
- The Ken-Betwa link project is India’s first river interlinking project.
- The project involves transferring surplus water from the Ken river in Madhya Pradesh to the Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh.
- It will divert water for irrigation in the Bundelkhand region of both States, drinking water purposes and generation of hydropower through Daudhan Dam.
- The project involves transferring surplus water from the Ken river in Madhya Pradesh to the Betwa river in Uttar Pradesh and irrigate land.
- The project, which involves deforesting a portion of the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, was accorded clearance by the National Wildlife Board on the condition that the land lost would be made good by acquiring contiguous, revenue land.
Issues over Ken-Betwa link project
- Differences between the States: As per 2005 agreement between the two States on how water would be shared, Madhya Pradesh says this agreement is no longer valid and the only way to meet the increased water requirements would be to include local management projects such as the Kotha barrage that were originally envisaged in the second phase of the project, in the first phase.
- Project threatened to partly submerge the Panna Tiger Reserve and affect the habitat of vultures and jackals.
- Difficulty in acquiring non-forest land
- Other Environmental challenges
About river Ken:
- The Ken is the last tributary of the Yamuna before it joins the Ganga. Majority of it lies in Madhya Pradesh while small part lies in Uttar Pradesh.
About river Betwa:
- The Betwa is an interstate river that rises in Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh, before it flows towards Jhansi district in Uttar Pradesh. This too is a tributary of the Yamuna.
Key Facts for Prelims
Haryana’s johads set for revamp, 18 model ponds planned
Haryana’s Johads are all set for a revamp. The state government has come out with a plan of rehabilitating over 16,400 ponds in rural areas across the state in order to analyze pond water to ascertain its suitability for irrigation and other uses.
Jodhas: A community-owned rainwater storage wetland mainly used for harnessing water resources.
What is Haryana’s Pond and Waste Management Authority Act?
- It is an act to establish an authority in the Haryana for development and management of pond, utilisation of pond water and treatment to manage treated effluent of sewage effluent treatment plants for irrigation.
- Under the Act, no person is allowed to construct any structure on pond land, green belt and catchment areas, occupy any pond land or cause any obstruction in the natural course of water into or from the pond without permission of the authority.
How is the government identifying the ponds?
- The government has created a Pond Data Management Software and started generating a unique identification number each such water body.
What are model ponds?
- Haryana Pond and Waste Water Management Authority is developing 18 model ponds on a pilot project basis and based on it, a future action plan will be prepared for renovation of other ponds.
- Beautification, demarcation of area for fishing and animals, conservation of water to be used for irrigation purposes will be the main focus of model ponds.
- In April 2019, Haryana’s Pond and Waste Management Authority asked urban local bodies to identify water bodies and assign them a unique identification number so that data can be collected for the preservation of such water bodies.
Sumatran rhino is now extinct in Malaysia
The Sumatran rhino has become extinct in Malaysia, one of the two countries where it is mostly found after the last remaining individual died recently due to natural causes.
About Sumatran rhino
- The Sumatran rhino is the smallest of the five extant rhino species in the world (Other 4 are: White Rhino, the Black Rhino, the Greater One-Horned Rhinoceros and the Javan Rhino).
- They are the only Asian rhino with two horns.
- IUCN Status: Critically Endangered
- They are covered with long hair and are more closely related to the extinct woolly rhinos than any of the other rhino species alive today.
- Today, Sumatran rhino are only found on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
- Its population decline continuously as they survive in small, fragmented non-viable populations, and with limited possibilities to find each other to breed.
Why Bangladesh sees golden rice as a threat
Bangladesh farmers and environment groups are angry over the government’s decision to allow commercial cultivation of the controversial genetically modified (GM) rice, popularly called as the golden rice.
- Stop Golden Rice Network (SGRN) — a network of farmers across Asian countries and farmer organisations of Bangladesh — organised a rally against the decision to introduce golden rice which will impact their traditional agriculture system.
- After Bangladesh completed the confined field testing of golden rice in 2017, Bangladesh Agriculture Minister in early 2019 announced that cultivation of golden rice will start in Bangladesh soon.
- Bangladesh has already allowed commercial production of BT Brinjal.
What is genetically modified (GM) rice or Golden Rice?
- Golden Rice is conventional rice that has been genetically engineered to have high levels of beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A.
- It is called the golden rice because of the golden colour of its grains.
- It was claimed that the rice is bio-fortified, and is supposedly high in Vitamin A, Iron and Zinc.
- The Golden Rice prototype was developed in the 1990s by European scientist Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer without any direct corporate involvement.
Arguments against the use of Golden Rice
- As per USA’s Food and Drug Administration (US FDA), beta carotene levels are too low in golden rice to counter Vitamin-A deficiency.
- According to non-profit organization GRAIN, Golden rice could further push for public acceptance of genetically-modified crops and erode food diversity as well as increase corporate control on agriculture system.
- Golden rice may specifically target the deficiency of vitamin A but it could not address the countless additional social, economic, and cultural factors that contribute to vitamin A deficiency.
- There has been no study suggesting any health issues related to the consumption of golden rice.
- A possible threat to biodiversity arises when genetically modified rice breed with wild species. This could create unwanted resistance of a pesticide or herbicide, or could increase the strength of weeds.
- The use of golden rice has not reduced the prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency (VAD), it remains prevalent in poor and developed countries as well.
Certifying Agency for Organic Foodgrains
In 2017, FSSAI notified domestic standards for organic products as pre-requisite for qualifying the organic food claim in domestic market. These Regulations require organic food to comply with the provisions of any one of the existing certification systems – National Programme for Organic Production or Participatory Guarantee System for India (PGS).
About National Programme for Organic Production
- Launched in 2000, the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) provides Standards for organic production for accreditation of Certification Bodies (which provides certification to organic products).
- It also provides an institutional mechanism for the implementation of National Standards for Organic Production (NSOP).
- The Department of Commerce under Ministry of Commerce and Industry is the Apex body of the NPOP. The National Steering Committee (NSC) under Department of Commerce is responsible for the implementation and administration of NPOP. Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) act as the Secretariat for NSC.
- In NPOP certification system, an independent organization reviews entire production, processing and transport to ensure the compliance of organic standards.
- Tracenet is an on-line traceability platform to maintain entire data base and chain of custody of NPOP.
- A trademark – “India Organic” is granted on the basis of compliance with the NSOP. Only such manufacturers whose products are duly certified by the accredited Certification Bodies, are eligible for grant of licence to use this logo.
What is Participatory Guarantee System (PGS)?
- PGS is an internationally applicable organic quality assurance system.
- Participatory Guarantee System –India (PGS-India) is a decentralised organic farming certification system.
- The system certifies organic products maintaining the requisite quality standards, including ensuring that the cultivation and production process is done complying the standards laid down for organic products.
- The scheme is implemented by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture and is supported by the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) scheme.
Benefits of PGS
- Help small and marginal farmers to easily get access to organic certification.
- Cost effective, hassle-free and farmer-friendly.
- Helps in increasing domestic demand for organic produce.
- Prepares the farmers to opt for third party certification, if he wants to opt for exporting his produce. This is a pre-requirement to enter the market for export of organic produce.
- Enables the direct participation of the stakeholders in the choice and definition of the standards, in implementing the certification decisions.
Approximately 30 years after a decade-long brutal civil war in Bougainville, a tiny island in the Pacific, is going to the polls to vote on its independence from Papua New Guinea. If Bougainville’s people vote for its independence, the world will get its newest and possibly smallest nation.
What is the Bougainvillean referendum about?
- Between 1988-1998, political factions in Bougainville were involved in an armed conflict with the government of Papua New Guinea, in an attempt to force Papua New Guinea to divest control of the Bougainvillean.
- This referendum is a result of one of the three provisions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, signed in 2001, the other two provisions being weapons disposal and autonomy. The peace agreement of 2001 brought an end to the violent conflict between the Bougainville and Papua New Guinea.
Why is Bougainville an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea?
- In 1885, Bougainville came under the German protectorate of German New Guinea. In 1914, Bougainville and Papua New Guinea fell under the control of Australian forces. This arrangement lasted till 1975, ending with Papua New Guinea gaining independence.
- In the late 1970s, a decentralised system of provincial government was introduced in Bougainville and the current autonomy arrangements were implemented following Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001.
Why does Bougainville want complete independence from Papua New Guinea?
- As per Bougainville Peace Agreement, Bougainville was assured guaranteed financial grants, which the Papua New Guinea Government has not provided.
- Bougainville has large deposits of copper. After the discovery of copper during the 1960s in Bougainvill, a mining conglomerate set up the Panguna mine, also known as the Bougainville Copper Mine, which is the world’s largest open cut copper mine.
- The mine created job opportunities for people from Papua New Guinea. However, when Australia started intervening in this mine, it leads to conflicts with Bougainvillean locals who also reported discrimination at the hands of foreigner mine workers. This protest resulted in civil war and closure of Panguna mine in 1989.
Impact of Bougainville referendum
- If Bougainville becomes an independent nation, Papua Guinea will lose access to Bougainville’s natural resources.
- Bougainville referendum will have consequences on the Australia and by virtue of its relationship with other ANZUS members (Australia, New Zealand, United States).
- Bougainville Island is the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea.
- It is the largest of the Solomon Islands archipelago.
- Bougainville got its name after French colonizer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, who undertook sea voyages to colonise new territory for France. However, as per some resources, the nomenclature for the tropical flower Bougainvillea can also be attributed to Louis-Antoine de Bougainville.