Current Affairs Analysis

29th May 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

European Union €750 billion economy rescue plan; Indian Olympic Association; Special Provisions for Fifth Schedule Areas; Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC); International Day of UN Peacekeepers 2020; Vinayak Damodar Savarkar; NPC law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to Safeguard National Security; Cordyceps militaris; Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology (CIPET); Operation Warp Speed; Proxima b; Fast blue optical transient; Montenegro; etc.
By IASToppers
May 29, 2020

Contents

Government Schemes & Policies

  • IOA forms 11-member annual grant and affiliation committee
  • Maharashtra Governor modifies law on forest rights

Economy

  • Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)

Bilateral & International Relations

  • European Union unveils €750 billion economy rescue plan
  • China passes controversial Hong Kong law
  • International Day of UN Peacekeepers 2020

Persons in News

  • Veer Savarkar

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Fungal powder to boost immunity
  • CIPET
  • Operation Warp Speed
  • Proxima b
  • Fast blue optical transient (FBOT)
  • Montenegro

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Government Schemes & Policies

IOA forms 11-member annual grant and affiliation committee

Indian Olympic Associationhas constituted an 11-member committee, led by Athletics Federation of India president Adille Sumariwala, to monitor annual grant and affiliation fee of its members for the 2020-2021 cycle.

About Indian Olympic Association:

  • The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is the body responsible for selecting athletes to represent India at the Olympic Games, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and other international athletic meets.
  • It is registered as a Non-Profit Organisation under the Societies Registration Act of 1860.
  • It is an affiliated member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) and Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).
  • The members of IOA include National Sports Federations, State Olympic Associations, IOC Members and other select multi-sport organisations.
  • It is currently governed by a 32-member Executive Council. The election for the Executive Council is held once in every 4 years.

Background

  • The seeds for creation of an organisation for coordinating the Olympic movement in India was related to India’s participation in the 1920 and 1924 Olympics, when Sir Dorabji Tata suggested the need for a Sports body at National level for promoting Olympic Sport in united India.
  • Subsequently, in 1923-24, a provisional All India Olympic Committee was set-up, which organised the All India Olympic Games (that later became the National Games of India) in February 1924. 
[Ref: PIB]

Maharashtra Governor modifies law on forest rights

Maharashtra Governor has modified the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, allowing rightful claimants of forest rights to appeal against decisions of the district level committee (DLC).

About the new notification

  • The Governor has modified Section 6 of the Act, in its application to Scheduled Area of the State of Maharashtra, in exercise of the powers conferred on him by Schedule V of the Constitution.
  • The notification states that divisional level committees under the chairmanship of divisional commissioners have been constituted to hear the appeals against the DLC’s decisions.
  • In the case of an order passed by the DLC before commencement of the notification, the application for appeal needs to be made within six months from the date of issue of notification.
  • However, if an order has been passed after commencement of the notification, the application has to be made within 90 days of the date of communication of the DLC’s order, the notification said.
  • The notification applies to areas covered in the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act in the State and allows appeal provision against the DLC’s decision.

Significance

  • The new notification is important to provide justice to tribals whose ‘individual or community forest right’ has been rejected by the DLC, constituted under the Forest Rights Act (FRA).

About Fifth Schedule:

  • The fifth schedule of the constitution under Article 244, deals with the “provisions relating to the administration and control of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes”.
  • At present, 10 States namely Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana have Fifth Schedule Areas.

Special Provisions for Fifth Schedule Areas

  • The Governor of each State having Scheduled Areas (SA) shall annually, or whenever so required by the President, make a report to the President regarding the administration of Scheduled Areas in that State.
  • The Union Government shall have executive powers to give directions to the States as to the administration of the Scheduled Areas.
  • Para 4 of the Fifth Schedule provides for establishment of a Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) in any State having Scheduled Areas.
  • If the President so directs, there will be established a TAC in a State having Scheduled tribes but not Scheduled Areas therein, consisting of not more than twenty members of whom, three-fourths shall be the representatives of the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assembly of the State.
  • If the number of representatives of the STs in the Legislative Assembly of the State is less than the number of seats in the TAC to be filled by such representatives, the remaining seats shall be filled by other members of those Tribes.
  • The TAC shall advise on such matters pertaining to the welfare and the advancement of the STs in the State as may be referred to them by the Governor.
  • The Governor may make rules prescribing or regulating
  • the number of members of the Council, the mode of their appointment and the appointment of the Chairman of the Council and of the officers and servants thereof,
  • the conduct of its meetings and its procedure in general; and all other incidental matters.
  • The Governor may direct that any particular Act of Parliament or of the Legislature of the State shall or shall not apply to a SA or any part thereof in the State.
  • The Governor may make regulations for the peace and good government of any area in the State which is for the time being a SA. Such regulations may
  • prohibit or restrict the transfer of land by or among members of the Scheduled tribes in such area;
  • regulate the allotment of land to members of the STs in such area;
  • regulate the carrying on of business as money-lender by persons who lend money to members of the STs in such area.
  • In making such regulations, the Governor may repeal or amend any Act of Parliament or of Legislature of the State or any existing law after obtaining assent of the President.

Criteria for Declaring Schedule Areas

These criteria are not spelt out in the Constitution of India but have become well established.

  • Preponderance of tribal population;
  • Compactness and reasonable size of the area;
  • Under-developed nature of the area; and
  • Marked disparity in economic standard of the people.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Economy

Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)

Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs chaired the 22nd Meeting of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC).

About Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)

  • Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC) was set up by Indian government in 2010.
  • It replaced the High Level Coordination Committee on Financial Markets (HLCCFM), which was facilitating regulatory coordination prior to the setting up of FSDC.
  • What distinguishes FSDC from other such similarly situated organizations across the globe is the additional responsibility given for development of financial sector.

Objective:

  • To strengthen the mechanism for maintaining financial stability and enhancing inter-regulatory coordination
  • To monitor macro prudential supervision of the economy including the functioning of large financial conglomerates.
  • To address inter-regulatory coordination issues focusing on financial literacy and financial inclusion.

Sub-committee of FSDC:

  • A sub-committee of FSDC was set up under the chairmanship of Governor RBI in 2011.
  • As a result of the deliberations of the Sub-Committee, two Technical Groups were set up – i) a Technical Group on Financial Inclusion and Financial Literacy and ii) an Inter Regulatory Technical Group.
  • The Inter Regulatory Technical Group is chaired by an Executive Director of RBI which discusses issues related to risks to systemic financial stability and inter regulatory coordination.
  • The Technical Group on Financial Inclusion and Financial Literacy is headed by the Deputy Governor of RBI and comprises of representatives of all Regulators and Ministry of Finance.
  • In addition, an Inter-Regulatory Forum for Monitoring of Financial Conglomerates has also been set up under the aegis of FSDC.

Composition:

  • The Chairman of the FSDC is the Finance Minister of India.

Members:

  • Heads of the financial sector regulatory authorities (i.e, SEBI, IRDA, RBI, PFRDA and FMC),
  • Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs
  • Secretary, Department of Financial Services
  • The Chief Economic Adviser
  • Forward Markets Commission (FMC)

Functions of FSDC:

  • The Council deals, inter-alia, with issues relating to financial stability, financial sector development, inter–regulatory coordination, financial literacy, financial inclusion and macro prudential supervision of the economy including the functioning of large financial conglomerates.
  • No funds are separately allocated to the Council for undertaking its activities.

Background:

  • High Level Coordination Committee on Financial Markets (HLCCFM) was formed in 1992 to deal with inter-regulatory issues arising in the financial and capital markets as India follows a multi-regulatory regime for financial sector.
  • However, it was an informal body having its own limitations as it did not had clear specifications as to its functions/powers.
  • As a result, some committees such as High Level Expert Committee on Making Mumbai an International Financial Centre (MIFC 2007) and Committee on Financial Sector Assessment (CFSA 2009) suggested integrated and holistic approach to financial regulatory mechanism.
  • Moreover, The Raghuram Rajan Report (CFSR) report suggested the creation of a statutory body called Financial Sector Oversight Agency (FSOA) to do the macro prudential supervision of the economy.
  • As a cumulative result, Financial Stability and Development Council was established in 2010.
[Ref: PIB]

Bilateral & International Relations

European Union unveils €750 billion economy rescue plan

The EuropeanUnion (EU)’s executive unveiled a €750 billion plan to prop up economies hammered by the COVID-19 crisis.

About the new rescue plan

  • The European Commission would borrow the funds from the market and then disburse two-thirds in grants (500 billion euros)and the rest in loans to cushion the unprecedented slump expected this year due to lockdowns.
  • This additional funding will be channelled through EU programmes and repaid over a long period of time throughout future EU budgets – not before 2028 and not after 2058.
  • In addition, in order to make funds available as soon as possible to respond to the most pressing needs, the Commission proposes to amend the current multiannual financial framework 2014-2020 to make an additional 11.5 billion euro in funding available already in 2020.

Need

  • If EU fail to rescue economies now in freefall, they risk something worse than their divisive debt crisis of a decade ago.
  • The grants, although controversial, are needed because Italy, Spain, Greece, France and Portugal already have high debt and rely heavily on tourism, which was halted by the pandemic.

Concern

  • However, Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark still broadly oppose issuing grants as a way to mitigate the economic fallout from the Covid-19 crisis, preferring instead loans that will be repaid. 
  • They also want strong economic reform commitments in return for any financial help.
  • The borrowing will have to be repaid, meaning higher national contributions to the EU budget in the future or new taxes assigned to the EU.

Key Facts

  • In order to fund some of the additional costs, the European Commission suggested implementing a carbon border duty, a common consolidated corporate tax base and a digital tax.

 [Ref: Times of India]

China passes controversial Hong Kong law

China’s Parliament passed new legislation for Hong Kong that will for the first time empower Beijing to draft national security laws for the Special Administrative Region (SAR).

About the new law

  • The new law is called the “NPC (National People’s Congress) Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to Safeguard National Security.
  • The law essentially empowers the NPC of China to draft new national security laws for Hong Kong.

Implications of new law

  • China officially has the broad power to quash unrest in Hong Kong by suppressing subversion, secession, terrorism and seemingly any acts that might threaten national security in the Honk Kong city.
  • The security law would “curtail the Hong Kong people’s liberties, and in doing so, dramatically erode Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Background

  • Since 1997, Hong Kong has been governed by the Basic Law under the “one country, two systems” arrangement, which gives the china “executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication”.
  • Only matters of defence and foreign affairs are handled by the central government.

Concern

  • The law enables organs of the central Chinese government “for the protection of national security” to set up “institutions in Hong Kong, a provision that has been a particular source of concern.
  • It is entirely unclear how the proposed agencies set up in the Hong Kong will operate, whether they will be bound by the laws of the Hong Kong, whether they have the power of enforcement, and whether such powers as exercised will be limited by the laws currently in force in the Hong Kong.
  • The law could also block foreign judges from sitting on national security cases, following the example of Macau, which has done so since 2018. Hong Kong’s court of final appeal has 15 foreign judges, under a system aimed to ensure judicial independence for a global financial centre.
  • U.S. said that Hong Kong could no longer enjoy the special economic privileges it had received from the U.S. because of the erosion of its autonomy.
[Ref: The Hindu, Hindustan Times]

International Day of UN Peacekeepers 2020

International Day of UN Peacekeepers 2020 was observed on May 29 with theme “Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace” to help mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

  • The first UN peacekeeping mission was established on 29th May 1948, when the Security Council authorized the deployment of a small number of UN military observers to the Middle East.

About UN Peacekeeping:

United Nations Peacekeeping was created in 1948.

  • Its first mission involved the establishment of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which served to observe and maintain ceasefire during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
  • UN peacekeeping is a unique global partnership. It brings together the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, troop and police contributors and the host governments in a combined effort to maintain international peace and security.

UN Peacekeeping maintains three basic principles:

  1. Consent of the parties,
  2. Impartiality and non-use of Force except in self-defence and
  3. Defence of the mandate.
  4. The UN Peacekeepers are led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DKPO).
  5. There are currently 17 UN peace operations deployed on four continents.
  6. UN Peacekeepers are from diverse backgrounds, from areas all around the world. They include police, military and civilian personnel. They are often referred to as Blue Berets or Blue Helmets because of their light blue berets or helmets.
  7. The UN Peacekeeping Force won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988.
  8. The United Nations Charter gives the United Nations Security Council the power and responsibility to take collective action to maintain international peace and security. For this reason, the international community usually looks to the Security Council to authorize peacekeeping operations.

Functions of UN peacekeeping operations

[Ref: UN, The Hindu]

Persons in News

Veer Savarkar

The invitation extended by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP)for inauguration of the Yelahanka flyover sparked off a political controversy with the initial intimation indicating that it would be named after Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar.

About Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

  • Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, commonly known as Veer Savarkar, was an Indian independence activist and formulator of the Hindutva philosophy.
  • In his teenage, he formed a youth organization Known as Mitra Mela (Group of Friends) to bring in national and revolutionary ideas.
  • He was against foreign goods and propagated the idea of Swadeshi. In 1905, he burnt all the foreign goods in a bonfire on Dussehra.
  • During his stay in London, he inspired his fellow Indian students residing with him at ‘India House’, and formed an organisation ‘Free India Society’ to fight against the British administration in India.
  • He championed atheism and rationality and also disapproved orthodox Hindu belief. In fact, he even dismissed cow worship as superstitious.
  • In his book, The History of the war of Indian Independence, Savarkar wrote about the guerilla warfare tricks used in 1857 Sepoy Mutiny.
  • He was arrested in 1909 on charges of plotting an armed revolt against the Morle-Minto reform. He was sentenced 50 years of imprisonment, during which he was taken to Central Jail of Andaman and Nicobar, famously known as Kala Pani. During his imprisonment in, he wrote his famous and controversial book, Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? In his book, he described Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism as one, who can support to create Akhand Bharat.
  • He worked on abolishment of untouchability in Ratnagiri. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar compared his work to Lord Buddha.
  • He founded the two-nation theory in his book ‘Hindutva’ calling Hindus and Muslims two separate nations. In 1937, Hindu Mahasabha passed it as a resolution.
  • He was a president of Hindu Mahasabha from 1937 to 1943. When congress ministries offered resignation in Oct 1939, Hindu mahaasabha under his leadership cooperated with Muslim league to form government in provinces like Sindh, Bengal and NWFP.
  • In Pune, Savarkar founded the “Abhinav Bharat Society”.
  • He was also involved in the Swadeshi movement and later joined Tilak’s Swaraj Party. 
  • He started a voluntary hunger-strike which ended with his death in 1966.
  • In 2002, Port Blair airport at Andaman and Nicobar’s Island was renamed after Veer Savarkar International Airport.
[Ref: PIB]

Prelims key facts

Fungal powder to boost immunity

  • Bodoland University of Assam has developed a fungal powder to help people boost their immunity to disease.
  • The powder is from a parasitic but rare “super mushroom” called Cordyceps militaris.
  • The earth has more than 400 species of Cordyceps, a fungus parasitic on insects as well as other fungi. Cordyceps known for its anti-ageing, anti-viral, energy and immunity-boosting effect.
  • Natural Cordyceps is hard to get and if dried, costs at least ₹8 lakh per kg. Bodoland University lab has been growing C. militaris since 2017 at a fraction of the cost.

CIPET

  • Central Institute of Plastics Engineering & Technology (CIPET) has been renamed as Central Institute of Petrochemicals Engineering & Technology (CIPET), a premier national institution under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, Govt. of India.
  • It is located in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.
  • Now CIPET will be in a position to fully devote itself for the growth of entire petrochemical sector with a focus on Academics, Skilling, Technology Support and Research. 
  • The primary objective of CIPET has been contributing towards the growth of the plastics industry through a combined program of education and research.

Operation Warp Speed

  • It is a public–private partnership, initiated by United States, to facilitate the development of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.
  • It is an interagency program that includes components of the Department of Health, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health and private firms.

Proxima b

  • Using state-of-the-art astronomical instruments, an international team of researchers has confirmed the existence of Proxima b, an Earth-like planet that’s orbiting the closest star to our Solar System, Proxima Centauri.
  • Proxima b was first discovered in 2016 using HARPS (High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher), a planet-hunting spectrograph mounted to one of the telescopes at the European Southern Observatory at the La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Fast blue optical transient (FBOT)

  • In 2016, scientists had observed a bright burst in a small galaxy 500 million light-years away from the Earth. They found out that that blue light was known to have been a result of a fast blue optical transient (FBOT) that was described as a new form of an explosion in the universe.
  • Now, four years later, another such FBOT has been detected called CSS161010, short for CRTS-CSS161010 J045834-081803, has taken scientists by surprise because of its speed and heaviness of the material outflows.
  • fast blue optical transient (FBOT) is a transient bright pulse lasting a very short time, caused by some very high-energy astrophysical process not yet understood.

Montenegro

  • Montenegro is the first country in Europe to declare itself coronavirus-free.
  • It is located in South and Southeast Europe on the coast of the Balkans.
  • It borders Bosnia-Herzegovina to the northwest, Serbia to the northeast, Kosovo to the east, Albania to the southeast, the Adriatic Sea to the southwest, and Croatia to the west.
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