Polity & Governance
- Lok Sabha speaker refers bankruptcy code amendment bill to Standing Committee
- Finance ministry, IRDAI seek bank account insurance
- Finance Minister launches ‘eBkray’ auction platform
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Forest cover has risen by over 5,000 sq. km; confident to meet Paris goals
- Madhya Pradesh gets its first elephant colony
Bilateral & International Relations
- Russia gets UN backing on new Internet convention, alarming rights advocates
- Why Russia Avangard missile will have US worried
- Who was Swami Shraddhanand, who fell to bullets in December 1926
- The importance of December 27 for India’s National Anthem
- What is Accession Day, the new public holiday for Jammu and Kashmir
Science & Technology
- Longest single spacewalk by a woman, and other records
Key Facts for Prelims
- Drake Passage
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Polity & Governance
Lok Sabha speaker refers bankruptcy code amendment bill to Standing Committee
Lok Sabha Speaker has referred the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, to the Standing Committee on Finance, chaired Jayant Sinha.
- Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill Seeks to amend the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) in a manner in which successful bidders of insolvent companies will be ring-fenced from any risk of criminal proceedings for offences committed by previous promoters of companies concerned.
Four other bills, were also referred to different standing committees for further examination.
- Anti-maritime piracy bill: Proposes stringent punishment, including death penalty or life imprisonment, to those involved in piracy at sea.
- Code on industrial relations bill: Has been prepared after amalgamating The Trade Unions Act, 1926, The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946 and The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.
- Social security code bill: Proposes to set up a social security fund using the corpus available under corporate social responsibility. The fund will provide welfare benefits such as pension, medical cover, and death and disablement benefits to all workers, including gig workers.
- Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens (Amendment) Bill, 2019: Seeks to punish those who intentionally abuse their parents or senior citizens under their care and protection or abandon them may be sentenced to six months’ imprisonment or slapped with a fine of Rs 10,000 or both.
Need for Parliamentary Committees
- In a parliamentary democracy, Parliament has broadly two functions, which are lawmaking and oversight of the executive branch of the government. Committees fulfil the oversight function on executive branch.
- The practice of regularly referring bills to committees began in 1989 after government departments started forming their own standing committees. Prior to that, select committees or joint committees of the houses were only set up to scrutinize in detail some very important bills.
Types of Standing Committees
Standing Committees can be broadly classified as Standing Committees of the House and Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committees.
- Standing Committees are permanent regular committees which are constituted from time to time in pursuance of the provisions of an Act of Parliament or Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha.
- The work of these Committees is of continuous nature. The Financial Committees, DRSCs and some other Committees come under the category of Standing Committees.
Ad hoc Committees
- They are appointed for a specific purpose and they cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report.
- Parliamentary Committee works under the direction of the Speaker/Chairman.
- Parliamentary committees draw their authority from Article 105(on privileges of Parliament members) and Article 118 (on Parliament’s authority to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business).
[Ref: The Hindu]
Finance ministry, IRDAI seek bank account insurance
In the wake of the PMC Bank crisis, the finance ministry and IRDAI (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority) have asked insurers if they can come up with a product to provide coverage for deposits of above Rs 1 lakh. Currently, the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) covers only deposits of Rs 1 lakh and below.
What is Deposit insurance?
- Deposit insurance is providing insurance protection to the depositor’s money by receiving a premium.
- The government has set up Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC) under RBI to protect depositors if a bank fails to repay their customers.
- Every insured bank pays premium amounting to 0.001% of its deposits to DICGC every year.
What happens when a Bank is liquidated?
- When a bank goes into liquidation then in such a case the DICGC is liable to pay to each depositor through a liquidator appointed by RBI, the amount of his deposit up to Rs 1 lakh within two months from the date of claim list from the liquidator.
- If a bank is reconstructed or amalgamated or merged with another bank, then in such a case the DICGC pays to the bank concerned.
- In case of multiple bank accounts with the same bank, an account will get maximum of up to ₹1 lakh only.
About Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation (DICGC)
- DICGC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Reserve Bank of India.
- It was established in 1978 under the Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation Act, 1961 for the purpose of providing insurance of deposits and guaranteeing of credit facilities.
- The deposit insurance scheme is mandatory for all banks and no bank can voluntarily withdraw from it. However, DICGC has the power to cancel the registration of an insured bank if it fails to pay the premium for three consecutive half-year periods.
Institutions covered under deposit insurance
- The corporation covers all commercial and co-operative banks, except in Meghalaya, Chandigarh, Lakshadweep and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
- Primary cooperative societies are not insured by the DICGC.
What are insured by DICGC?
- DICGC insures all bank deposits, such as saving, fixed, current, recurring deposit for up to the limit of 100,000 of eachdeposits in a bank.
What types of deposits are not insured by the DICGC?
- Deposits of foreign governments
- Deposits of central/state governments
- Inter-bank deposits
- Deposits of the state land development banks with the state co-operative bank
- Any amount due on account of any deposit received outside India
- Any amount specifically exempted by the DICGC with previous approval of RBI
Finance Minister launches ‘eBkray’ auction platform
Finance Minister launched eBkray, an e-auction platform to enable online auction of attached assets by banks.
About eBkray platform
- The purpose of this portal is to seamless access to information by the search based on the type and location of the property put up for e-auction by the banks in India.
- The platform also helps the buyer to easily navigate to the bank e-auction site after a notified property is selected. It also helps the user to search property using State-wise, District-wise and bank-wise details.
About Indian Banks Auctions Mortgaged Properties Information (IBAPI) Portal
- Indian Banks Auctions Mortgaged Properties Information (IBAPI) portal is an initiative of Indian Banks Association (IBA) under the policy of the Department of Financial Services (DFS), Ministry of Finance, to provide details of mortgaged properties to be auctioned online by banks, starting with PSBs.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Forest cover has risen by over 5,000 sq. km; confident to meet Paris goals
India is on track to achieve its goal of creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5-3 billion tonnes under the Paris Agreement, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said, while releasing the two-yearly state of forest report.
Highlights of India State of Forest Report 2019
The top five states in terms of increase in forest cover:
- Karnataka (1,025 sq km)
- Andhra Pradesh (990 sq km)
- Kerala (823 sq km)
- Jammu & Kashmir (371 sq km)
- Himachal Pradesh (334 sq km)
- There is an increase of 3,976 sq km (0.56%) of forest cover, 1,212 sq km (1.29%) of tree cover and 5,188 sq km (0.65%) of forest and tree cover, as compared to the previous assessment i.e. ISFR 2017.
- Forest cover within the RFA has shown decrease of 330 sq km (0.05%) whereas there is an increase (4,306 sq km) of forest cover outside the RFA as compared to ISFR 2017.
- Except Assam and Tripura, all states in the North-East region show decrease in forest cover.
- The mangrove cover has increased by 54 sq km (1.1 %) as compared to the previous assessment.
- Amongst the states, Gujarat has largest area of wetlands within Recorded Forest Area (RFA) followed by West Bengal.
- Dependence for fuelwood on forests is highest in Maharashtra, whereas, for fodder, small timber and bamboo, dependence is highest in Madhya Pradesh.
- 4 % of the forest cover of the country is highly to extremely fire prone.
- Soil Organic Carbon (SOC), which represents the largest pool of carbon stock in forests, contributes 56 % to the total forest carbon stock of India.
Difference between Forest Cover and Recorded Forest Area (RFA)
- Forest Cover and Recorded Forest Area (RFA) are the two most commonly used terms to describe extent of forest.
- Forest cover on one hand gives information about the forest canopy area covered on the ground irrespective of the legal status of land, whereas RFA gives extent of forest in terms of legal status or definition of land as ‘forest’ irrespective of actual forest canopy cover on the ground.
About the India State of Forest Report
- Since It is published by Forest Survey of India (FSI) every two years since 1987.
- The India’s forest cover includes all patches of land with a tree canopy density of more than 10% and more than 1 ha in area, irrespective of land use, ownership and species of trees.
Results of the exercise is categorized in three canopy density classes viz
- Very Dense Forest with a canopy density more than 70%,
- Moderately Dense Forest with a canopy density between 40-70% and
- Open Forest with a canopy density between 10- 40%.
Madhya Pradesh gets its first elephant colony
In 2018, elephants in herds wandered into the forests of Bandhavgarh looking for food and water, like each year. In 2019, they have stayed back in Madhya Pradesh for the first time over seasons, choosing not to return to the withering forests of north Chhattisgarh.
About Bandhavgarh National Park
- Bandhavgarh National Park is located in Vindhyan mountain ranges in Madhya Pradesh.
- It is known for the Royal Bengal Tigers and has the highest density of the Tiger population in India.
- The park has also largest breeding population of leopards and various species of deer and other animals like Nilgai, Chausingha, Chital, Chinkara, Wild Boar and a Fox or Golden Jackal.
- The name Bandhavgarh has been derived from the ancient Bandhavgarh Fort. The Fort is of great importance as it is believed to have been gifted by Lord Rama to his younger brother Lakshmana.
- This park has been divided into three major zones named as Tala, Magdi and Bamera out of which the Tala zone attracts major number of tourists. Elephant shows are also organized in Magdi zone.
- It consists of mixed vegetations ranging from tall grasslands to thick Sal forest and so is the perfect habitat of variety of animals and birds.
Bilateral & International Relations
Russia gets UN backing on new Internet convention, alarming rights advocates
The United Nations approved a Russian-led bid that aims to create a new convention on cybercrime, alarming rights groups and Western powers that fear a bid to restrict online freedom.
- The United States and other groups fear that the new convention sought to criminalise the criticism of government.
- China heavily restricts Internet searches to avoid topics sensitive to its communist leadership, as well as news sites with critical coverage. Further, a number of countries have increasingly tried to turn off the Internet, with India cutting off internet access in Kashmir after amending Article 370 and Iran taking much of the country offline as it cracked down on protests recently.
- The US argues that the world should support 2001 Budapest Convention. However, Russia has opposed the Budapest Convention arguing that giving investigators access to computer data across borders violates national sovereignty.
Budapest Convention on Cybercrime or the Budapest Convention
- The Convention on Cybercrime or Budapest Convention is the only binding multilateral treaty instrument aimed at combating cybercrime.
- It was drafted by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France with active participation from its observer states in 2001. It entered into force in 2004.
- It was drawn up with the active participation of the Council of Europe’s observer states Canada, Japan, South Africa and the United States.
- It is open for ratification even to states that are not members of the Council of Europe.
- The Budapest Convention is supplemented by a Protocol on Xenophobia and Racismcommitted through computer systems.
Why India is not signatory of Budapest convention?
- India did not participate in the negotiationsof the Budapest Convention and should thus not sign up to it.
- Budapest Convention— through its Article 32b— allows for transborder access to data and thus infringes on national sovereignty.
- The Mutual legal assistance(MLA) regime of the Budapest Convention is not effective, i.e., that there are grounds for refusal to cooperate.
- It is a criminal justice treatyand thus does not cover state actors or that some of the States from which most attacks affecting India emanate, have not signed up to the Budapest Convention.
- India should promote a treaty at the level of the United Nations.
Why India should join Budapest convention?
- The challenges currently being addressed by the Parties to the Budapest Convention through the Cybercrime Convention Committee are highly relevant also for India.
- Budapest Convention offers a legal basis and practical frameworkfor police to police and judicial cooperation on cybercrime and electronic evidence with an increasing number of other Parties.
- As the Budapest Convention evolves, India would be able to contribute to shaping future solutionsif it were a Party;
- India would become a priority country for capacity building.
Why Russia Avangard missile will have US worried
Recently, Russia’s military deployed a new intercontinental weapon, the Avangard hypersonic missile system that can fly 27 times the speed of sound. It is Russia’s first Avangard hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
- Russian president earlier linked the development of Russia’s strategic weapons to the US withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) in 2002.
- Avangard is a hypersonic glide vehicle developed by Russia.
- It is mounted on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile and can carry a nuclear weapon.
- It’s designed to be mounted on intercontinental ballistic missile ICBM and once launched, it uses aerodynamic forces to sail on top of the atmosphere.
- It’s manoeuvring capability makes it difficult to predict its trajectory and gives it the ability to protect itself from the air and ballistic missile defences by delivering nuclear warheads to targets.
- The Avangard missiles have a range of over 6,000 km and can withstand temperatures of over 2000 C.
- The programme for Avangard hypersonic missile system was previously knowns as Project 4202.
Who was Swami Shraddhanand, who fell to bullets in December 1926
On December 23, 1926, Arya Samaj missionary Swami Shraddhanand was assassinated by a man called Abdul Rashid.
About Swami Shraddhanand
- Swami Shraddhanand was an Indian educationist and an Arya Samaj missionary who propagated the teachings of Dayananda Saraswati.
- He is also known as Brihaspati and Mahatma Munshi Ram.
- He wrote a book called “Hindu Sangathan, in which he described the history of the Hindu decline and tried to trace the causes which led to its present deplorable downfall.
- He founded a number of institutions aimed at social cultural betterment of ‘untouchables’. He came forward to make arrangements for the Congress session at Amritsar. In this historic session, he introduced the programme for eradication of untouchability.
- He also founded two prominent newspapers: The Urdu ‘Tej‘ and the Hindi ‘Arjun’.
Reason for his assassination
- Malkana Rajputs in the Mathura-Agra area had been forced by the Moghuls to convert to Islam. Swami Shraddhan encouraged Malkana Rajputs to return to their original religion. However, this infuriated many Muslims and one of the Muslim, named Abdul Rashid, killed Swami for this reason.
What is Arya Samaj?
- Arya Samaj is a Hindu reform movement that was founded by Dayanand Saraswati in 1875 in Bombay. The movement believes in the Vedas.
[Ref: Indian Express]
The importance of December 27 for India’s National Anthem
On December 27, 1911, the National Anthem was first sung at the Calcutta session of the Congress.
About Indian national Anthem
- Indian national Anthem – Jana Gana Mana was composed by the Rabindra Nath Tagore in 1911, originally in Bengali.
- A slightly varied version of the song was adopted by Subhash Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army in 1941 as the national anthem, called ‘Shubh Sukh Chain’, which also became popular in India since.
- It was adopted by the constituent assembly on January 24, 1950 in its Hindi version. On this day, Dr Rajendra Prasad, the President of the Assembly also declared ‘Vande Mataram’ as the National Song.
- There is no provision of law which compels anyone to sing the national anthem. It is not considered disrespectful to the nation or to the anthem if a person chooses only to stand up in respectful silence.
- According to Article 51A, Reverence to the National Anthem is a Fundamental duty in India.
Meaning of National Anthem
- First stanza: (Indian) People wake up remembering your good name and ask for your blessings and they sing your glories.
- Second stanza: Around your throne people of all religions come and give their love and anxiously wait to hear your kind words.
- Third stanza: Praise to the King for being the charioteer, for leading the ancient travellers beyond misery.
- Fourth stanza: Drowned in the deep ignorance and suffering, poverty-stricken, unconscious country? Waiting for the wink of your eye and your mother’s (the Queen’s) true protection.
- Fifth stanza: In your compassionate plans, the sleeping Bharat (India) will wake up. We bow down to your feet O’ Queen, and glory to Rajeshwara (the King).
- Bangladeshi anthem of ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’ (written to protest against the partition of Bengal by the British in 1905) was written by Rabindra Nath Tagore while and Sri Lanka’s national anthem had heavily influenced of Tagore’s composition.
What is Accession Day, the new public holiday for Jammu and Kashmir
From 2020, October 26 which will be observed as Accession Day in J&K, which marks the signing of the Instrument of Accession by Maharaja Hari Singh with Lord Mountbatten.
- The Instrument of Accession (IoA) is a legal document executed by Maharaja Hari Singh, the then ruler of the princely state of Jammu & Kashmir, on October 26, 1947, declaring that the state accedes to India.
- As per the Indian Independence Act, 1947, British India was divided into India and Pakistan and the roughly 580 princely states were given the option to remain independent or to join the Dominion of India or Pakistan.
- According to Section 6(a) of the Act, before joining India or Pakistan, these states had to sign an Instrument of Accession, in which they would specify the terms on which they were becoming part of the new dominions.
- Maharaja Hari Singh of J&K decided to remain independent and sign standstill instruments with India and Pakistan. However, after tribesmen and army men from Pakistan invaded in J&K, he sought India’s help, which sought the accession of J&K to the Dominion of India.
- On October 26, 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh of J&K signed an Instrument of Accession between J&K and India.
- The Schedule appended to the Instrument of Accession gave Indian Parliament the power to legislate in respect of J&K only on Defence, External Affairs and Communications.
What does the Instrument of Accession say?
- Terms of Instrument of Accession cannot be varied by any amendment of the Act or of Indian Independence Act unless such amendment is accepted by him.
- Provisions of Instrument does not commit maharaja in any way to accept any future constitution of India or to fetter maharaja’s discretion to enter into arrangements with the Government of India.
- Provisions of Instrument does not empower Indian Legislature to make any law for J&K authorising the compulsory acquisition of land for any purpose.
To know more about the detailed background, refer to IASTopper’s Mains Article on ‘Article 35 of Indian Constitution here: https://www.iastoppers.com/article-35a-scrapped-mains-article/[Ref: Indian Express]
Science & Technology
Longest single spacewalk by a woman, and other records
US astronaut Christina Koch set the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman when she crossed, 289 days in her current mission at the International Space Station (ISS).
- Gennady Padalka of Russia stayed in space for highest number of days (878 days).
About International Space Station (ISS)
- The International Space Station (ISS) is a space station, or a habitable artificial satellite, in low Earth orbit.
- The ISS is the largest artificial body in orbit.
- The ISS consists of pressurised modules, external trusses, solar arrays and other components.
- ISS components have been launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets as well as American Space Shuttles.
- The ISS serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which crew members conduct experiments in biology, human biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and other fields.
- The ISS is suited for the testing of spacecraft systems and equipment required for missions to the Moon and Mars.
- ISS is the ninth space station to be inhabited by crews, following the Soviet and later Russian Salyut, Almaz, and Mir stations as well as Skylab from the US.
- The ISS maintains an orbit with an altitude of between 330 and 435 km by means of reboost manoeuvres. It completes 54 earth orbits per day.
Use and ownership rights:
- The ISS programme is a joint project among five participating space agencies: NASA (US), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (European union), and CSA (China).
- The ownership and use of the space station is established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements.
- The station is divided into two sections, the Russian Orbital Segment (ROS) and the United States Orbital Segment (USOS), which is shared by many nations.
Key Facts for Prelims
- The Drake Passage, also known as Sea of Hoces, is the body of water between the southern tip of South America at Cape Horn, Chile and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica.
- It connects the southwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean (Scotia Sea) with the southeastern part of the Pacific Ocean and extends into the Southern Ocean.
- The Drake Passage between Cape Horn and Livingston Island is the shortest crossing from Antarctica to any other landmass.
- There is no significant land anywhere around the world at the latitudes of the Drake Passage, which is important to the unimpeded flow of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.
- It is believed that Drake Passage was closed until roughly 41 million years ago. Prior to the passage opening, the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans were completely blocked.
- Despite its rough seas and extreme weather condition, the Drake is still the preferred route for ships hoping to sail around the southern tip of South America because it is wider and does not become ice bound like nearly located Strait of Magellan and Beagle Channel.