Current Affairs Analysis

2nd September 2020 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Special Frontier Force; NRC re-verification demand; National Register of Citizens; Foreigners’ tribunals; Distribution of food grain to migrants; Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India report, 2019; Delhi tops in road accident deaths; Index-linked funds; Dinesh Pant working group; Green Term Ahead Market; Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR); Ivory; Official Development Assistance (ODA); Vikas Battalion; AUDFs01; Spot robot; Exercise Indra 2020; World Coconut Day; etc.
By IASToppers
September 02, 2020

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Assam govt. firm on NRC re-verification demand
  • 13% of allocated free food grain handed out to migrants

Issues related to Health & Education

  • Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India report, 2019
  • Capital tops in road accident deaths

Economy

  • Index-linked funds
  • Green Term Ahead Market
  • How will telecom firms pay AGR dues over next 10 years?

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

  • Ivory weighing 19.6 kg seized in Odisha

Bilateral & International Relations

  • Japan gives ODA loan to India

Defence & Security Issues

  • What is Special Frontier Force or Vikas Battalion?

Science & Technology

  • Discovery of one of the farthest Star galaxies in universe

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Spot robot
  • Exercise Indra 2020
  • World Coconut Day

For IASToppers Current Affairs Analysis Archive, Click Here

Polity & Governance

Assam govt. firm on NRC re-verification demand

The Assam government sticks to its demand of 10-20% re-verification of names included in final National Register of Citizens (NRC) published in 2019.

What is the issue?

  • Around 19 lakh applicants were left out of the NRC.
  • The rejection orders to the 19 lakh excluded persons are yet to be issued.
  • The excluded persons can appeal against the exclusion in the Foreigners’ Tribunals.
  • The state govt. has given an affidavit in Supreme Court for re-verification of 20% included names in the districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% in rest of the districts.
  • This is being done to provide correct NRC to people of Assam.

National Register of Citizens:

  • The NRC was introduced to identify illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and recognise the Indian citizens in Assam.
  • It was first prepared in 1951 and Assam is the only state having this arrangement.
  • Under NRC, immigrants who have documents proving that they entered Assam before 1971 will be considered Indian citizens and others have to show that they their ascendants have lived in Assam even before 1971.
  • The NRC list was updated under the direct monitoring of the Supreme Court for the first time since 1951 to identify illegal migration into Assam.
  • The Final NRC list was published on August 31, 2019 which excluded 19 lakh applicants.

What are Foreigners’ tribunals (FT)?

  • The Foreigners’ Tribunals are quasi-judicial bodies meant to furnish opinion on the question as to whether a person is or is not a foreigner within the meaning of Foreigners Act, 1946.
  • In 1964, Centre passed Foreigners’ (Tribunals) Order under provisions of Section 3 of the Foreigners Act, 1946.
  • FTs get two kinds of cases: Those against whom a reference has been made by border police, and those whose names in the electoral rolls have a D (Doubtful) against them.

Why were Foreigners’ tribunals set up in Assam?

  • In 1962, Registrar General of India in his report said more than 2 lakhs infiltrators had entered Assam from East Pakistan (Bangladesh now).
  • As a result, a police drive was initiated to detect and deport such infiltrators.
  • Many politicians opposed it stating several genuine citizens were also being deported.
  • As a result, Central government said that such persons would need to go through a judicial process before being deported which created the Foreign tribunals.
  • Following the order, several tribunals were set up in Assam.
  • After the Illegal (Migrant) Determination Act (IMDT), 1983 even more tribunals were set up.
  • However, in 2005, the Supreme Court defined IMDT as unconstitutional and brought the Tribunals under the Foreigners Act.

Burden of Proof:

  • As per the section 9 of the Foreigners Act: The accused has to prove that he or she is an Indian.
  • The onus is on the person being investigated to prove himself/herself as Indian and if he or she is absconding and doesn’t appear before the tribunal, the FT member can pass an ex parte order (temporary custody).
[Ref: The Hindu, Indian Express]

13% of allocated free food grain handed out to migrants

As per the latest data of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, only 13 % of 8 lakhs metric tonnes of free food grains allocated for returning migrant workers under Atma Nirbhar Bharat package have actually reached migrants during May and June.

Major Highlights:

  • The Centre announced of distributing free 5-kg food grain per month to about 8 crore migrant workers who do not have ration cards.
  • Only 2.13 crore were the beneficiaries of it in May (1.21 crore) and June (92.44 lakh).
  • All 36 states and UTs lifted 6.38 lakh metric tonnes, or 80 % of 8 lakhs metric tonnes of food grains allocated for May and June.
  • But they have distributed only 1.07 lakh metric tonnes (or 13 % of allocated quantity) of free food grain to the intended beneficiaries until June 30.

Distribution data:

  • Despite lifting their full two months’ quota, several states did not distribute the free food grain to the returning workers.
  • The maximum quantity was allocated to Uttar Pradesh, which lifted major % of the allotment but distributed only 2.03 %.
  • Eleven states and one UT did not distribute even 1 % of the quantity they had lifted to the beneficiaries during June. These are Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Ladakh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Odisha, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Tripura.
  • Rajasthan lifted almost 100 % of its allocated quota and distributed over 95 % in May and June.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Issues related to Health & Education

Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India report, 2019

The Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India report for 2019 has been released by National Crime Records Bureau.

  • 139,123 people died by suicide and 421,104 were killed in accidents in India in 2019.
  • Between 2018 and 2019, the number of people dying in accidents increased by 2.3% and suicides increased by 3.4%.

Causes of deaths:

  • Traffic accidents were the single-biggest contributor to accidental deaths in India, amounting to 43% of all such fatalities.

Suicide data:

  • One in every three of the people who died of suicide in 2019 took the step due to family problems.

Professions of persons who committed suicide:

  • Daily wage earners comprised highest number of those who did suicide.
  • Farmers comprise 7.4% of all people who died due to suicide in India.

[Ref: Hindustan Times]

Capital tops in road accident deaths

As per the data by National Crime Records Bureau, Delhi recorded the highest number of deaths due to dangerous driving and overall road accidents in 2019 among all cities.

  • According to the data, maximum people died in road accidents in Delhi followed by Chennai (Tamil Nadu) and Bengaluru (Karnataka).
  • The number of road accidents in Delhi, however, has seen a decline of 7.2% as compared to 2018.

Way Ahead:

  • Speed management to prevent dangerous driving
  • Increased number of CCTV cameras across the city
  • Penalty and hefty fine
  • Awareness
[Ref: The Hindu]

Economy

Index-linked funds

Insurance regulator Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) has constituted a six-member working group on index-linked products.

  • Current IRDAI product regulations do not specifically permit insurers to sell index-linked products.

Dinesh Pant working group:

  • The six-member working group working group led by Dinesh Pant will examine need for such products in India.
  • It will figure out how they will better serve needs and interests of customers relative to traditional savings product.
  • It will examine the products earlier available in the market in terms of product structure, ease of customer understanding and administrative processes etc.
  • The group will make recommendations on specific aspects like product structure and its pricing.

Types of funds:

1. Actively Managed Funds:

  • Presently one may invest in any of the fund options such as equity or debt.
  • These funds are actively managed by a fund manager and are benchmarked to an index.

2. Index-linked fund:

  • An index fund is a portfolio of stocks or bonds which mimics the composition and performance of a financial market index.
  • These funds invest in an index i.e. purchase all the stocks in the same proportion as in a particular index.
  • They follow a passive investment strategy and there is no role of the fund manager.
  • Index funds seek to match the risk and return of the market, on the theory that in the long-term, the market will outperform any single investment.
  • The fund management charges very low in them compared to actively-managed funds.

 [Ref: The Hindu; Investopedia]

Green Term Ahead Market

Union government recently launched pan-India Green Term Ahead Market (GTAM) in electricity.

Green Term Ahead Market:

  • The Government of India’s has target of 175 GW Renewable Energy (RE) capacity by 2022.
  • Green Term Ahead Market contracts will allow:
    • Additional avenues to (RE) generators for sale of renewable energy.
    • Enable Obligated entities to procure renewable power at competitive prices to meet their Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO).
    • Provide platform to environmentally conscious open access consumers and utilities to buy green power.

Key features of GTAM:

  1. Transactions through GTAM will be bilateral in nature. With clear identification of corresponding buyers and sellers, there will not be any difficulty in accounting for RPO.
  2. GTAM contracts will be segregated into Solar RPO & Non-Solar RPO as RPO targets are also segregated.
  3. GTAM contracts will have Green Intraday, Day Ahead Contingency, Daily and Weekly Contracts.
    1. Green Intraday Contract & Day Ahead Contingency Contract – Bidding will take place on a 15-minute time-block wise MW basis.
    2. Daily & Weekly Contracts – Bidding will take place on MWh (Mega Watt hour) basis.
  4. Price discovery will take place on a continuous basis i.e. price time priority basis.
  5. Energy scheduled through GTAM contract shall be considered as deemed RPO compliance of the buyer.

Significance:

  • The introduction of GTAM platform would lessen burden on Renewable Energy-rich States and incentivize them to develop RE capacity beyond their own RPO.
  • This would promote RE merchant capacity addition and help in achieving RE capacity addition targets of the country.
  • The GTAM platform will lead to increase in number of participants in renewable energy sector.
  • It will benefit buyers of RE through competitive prices and transparent and flexible procurement.
  • It will also benefit RE sellers by providing access to pan- India market.
[Ref: PIB]

How will telecom firms pay AGR dues over next 10 years?

The Supreme Court held that telecom firms will get 10 years to clear their adjusted gross revenue or AGR dues.

Supreme Court’s ruling on AGR dues:

  • SC gave all Telcos a 10-year timeline to complete the payments of AGR dues, instead of the old 20-year schedule suggested by the DoT (Department of Telecommunications).
  • Telcos should pay 10% of the total dues by March 31, 2021, following which they can make payments in annual installments between 2021 and 2031.
  • The non-payment of dues in any year would lead to accrual of interest and invite contempt of court proceedings against such companies.
  • The managing directors of Telcos will deposit a personal guarantee within four weeks from the verdict.
  • National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) should decide whether or not spectrum can be sold under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.

Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR):

  • AGR is the spectrum usage charges and licensing fee that telecom operators are charged by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for using the spectrum owned by the government.
  • Currently, telecom operators pay 8% of the AGR as license fee, while spectrum usage charges (SUC) vary between 3-5% of AGR.
  • As per DoT, the charges are calculated based on all revenues earned by a Telcom operators, including non-telecom related sources such as deposit interests and asset sales.
  • Telcom operators insist that AGR should comprise only the revenues generated from telecom services.
  • The Supreme Court has upheld the definition of AGR calculation as stipulated by the DoT.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management

Ivory weighing 19.6 kg seized in Odisha

The Odisha Forest Department has seized ivory weighing 19.6 kg in the Keonjhar district and intensified its investigation into the network of wildlife poachers and traders in the State.

  • Nearly 50% of the elephant mortality in Odisha is caused unnaturally.

What is ivory and its use?

  • Ivory is a hard, white material from tusks and teeth of animals (traditionally elephants).
  • Ivory has been used for making a range of items from ivory carvings to false teeth, piano keys, fans, dominoes and joint tubes.
  • The national and international trade in ivory of elephants is illegal.
[Ref: The Hindu]

Bilateral & International Relations

Japan gives ODA loan to India

Japan’s donor agency Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) provided about Rs 3,500 crore in loan to boost the fight against COVID-19 pandemic in India.

Objective:

  • To strengthen public healthcare system and implementing emergency response programmes for the health sector amid COVID-19.

Major Highlights:

  • This loan will be used for financing requirement for implementation of Prime Minister Atma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana (PM-ASBY) governed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as the Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package for health sector.
  • Along with financial support, JICA is considering the provision of technical assistance for monitoring the activities under PM-ASBY and share Japanese knowledge for better implementation.

Official Development Assistance (ODA):

  • ODA is defined as government aid designed to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries.
  • ODA in the form of grants are soft loans with a substantial grant component, or technical assistance that plays a key role in eradicating poverty and forming foundation for sustainable growth.
[Ref: The Outlook]

Defence & Security Issues

What is Special Frontier Force or Vikas Battalion?

There are reports that a Special Frontier Force unit, referred as Vikas Battalion has been instrumental in occupying some key heights on Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in Ladakh.

  • This has been done to thwart any occupation by the Chinese troops.

Special Frontier Force (SFF):

  • SFF was raised in the immediate aftermath of 1962 Sino-India war.
  • It was a covert outfit which recruited Tibetans (now it has a mixture of Tibetans and Gorkhas) and initially went by the name of Establishment 22.
  • The group was renamed as Special Frontier Force and falls under purview of Cabinet Secretariat.
  • It is headed by an Inspector General who is an Army officer of the rank of Major General.
  • The units that comprise the SFF are known as Vikas battalions.

Are SFF units part of the Army?

  • SFF units are not part of the Army but they function under operational control of the Army.
  • The units have their own rank structures which have equivalent status with Army ranks.
  • They are highly trained special forces personnel who undertake tasks normally not performed by any special forces unit.
  • The SFF units have their own training establishment where the recruits to SFF are imparted special forces training
  • Women soldiers too form a part of SFF units and perform specialised tasks.

Major operations in which SFF units took part:

  • Operations in the 1971 war (Bangladesh liberation war).
  • Operation Blue Star in Golden Temple Amritsar.
  • Kargil conflict.
  • Counter-insurgency operations etc.

 [Ref: Indian Express]

Science & Technology

Discovery of one of the farthest Star galaxies in universe

Indian Astronomers have discovered one of the farthest Star galaxies in the universe.

Major Highlights:

  • India’s first Multi-Wavelength Space Observatory AstroSat has detected extreme-UV light from a galaxy located 9.3 billion light-years away from Earth.
  • The galaxy called AUDFs01 was discovered by Astronomers from Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) Pune.
  • India’s AstroSat/UVIT was able to achieve this because background noise in UVIT detector is much less than Hubble Space Telescope of US based NASA.

Key Fact:

  • India’s first Space Observatory AstroSat was launched by Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on September 28, 2015.

 [Ref: PIB]

Key Facts for Prelims:

Spot robot

  • A robot called Spot has been developed by Boston Dynamics, of Massachusetts Institute of Technology which can measure skin temperature, breathing rate, pulse rate, and blood oxygen saturation in healthy patients from 2 metres away.
  • The robot is mounted with four cameras — one infrared, three monochrome.
  • Body temperature: The infrared camera measures skin temperature on the face. An algorithm then correlates the facial skin temperature with core body temperature.
  • Breathing rate: The infrared camera measures the temperature change, enabling researchers to calculate the breathing rate.
  • Pulse RATE & Oxygen level variation ismeasured with help of three monochrome cameras.

Exercise Indra 2020

  • India and Russia are scheduled to hold the bilateral naval exercise Indra 2020 in September.
  • The maritime exercise will be held in the Andaman Sea, close to the strategic Strait of Malacca.
  • India withdrew from the Kavkaz-2020 multinational exercise in Russia scheduled in September 2020, allegedly due to the participation of Chinese troops.

World Coconut Day

  • September 2 is observed annually as World Coconut Day.
  • Coconut is native to the tropics (region of the Earth surrounding the Equator).
  • It has its origins in the coastal regions along the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
  • The coconut made its way to coast of east Africa from India, due to Arab and Persian sailors.
  • Austronesian sailors took it west to the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar as well as east to the islands of the Pacific.
  • The coconut tree provides with a wide range of products including coconut water, kernels, oil and milk etc.
  • In India, coconut palm grows in coastal region stretching from Sir Creek to the Sundarbans.
  • Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are the top coconut-producing states.
  • The coconut tree called Kalpavriksha and significant to Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.
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