Polity & Governance
- Govt to achieve digitisation of waqf properties in first 100 days
- The long journey from West Bengal to Bangla
Government Schemes & Policies
- Dam Safety Bill runs into Opposition criticism
- After Rasagola, Odisha demands GI tag for Chhena Poda and Arisa
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- China, Russia, France share satellite data on Assam floods
Bilateral & International Relations
- Indian President arrives in Benin, 1st visit by an Indian head of state
- India should ensure Industry’s support to RCEP deal: Australian envoy
- Google Doodle celebrates Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddi, India’s first woman legislator
Science & Technology
- Draft Notification Issued Allowing Motor Vehicles and their Parts to be Affixed with Microdots
Key Facts for Prelims
- Maha launches AMBIS to speed up crime investigation
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Polity & Governance
Govt to achieve digitisation of waqf properties in first 100 days
The Centre aims to achieve 100 per cent digitisation of waqf properties across the country in its first 100 days.
Government’s efforts for development of waqf properties:
- A programme has been launched for 100 per cent geo-tagging and digitalisation of waqf properties across the country to ensure these lands can be utilised for welfare of the society.
- GIS/GPS mapping of the waqf properties is done with the help of IIT Roorkee and the Aligarh Muslim University.
- For the first time since Independence, the government is providing 100 per cent funding to develop schools, colleges, ITIs, hospitals, multi-purpose community hall, common service centres, and other basic infrastructure on Waqf land under Pradhanmantri Jan Vikas Karykram (PMJVK).
- The recommendations of a committee headed by Justice Zakiullah Khan, which was constituted to review waqf properties lease rule, will ensure that waqf rules are made easy and effective for better utilisation of waqf properties.
- Moreover, Ministry of Minority Affairs awarded, for the first time, eight mutawalis (custodian of waqf properties) under the ‘Qaumi Waqf Board Taraqqiati Scheme’ for better management of waqf properties.
What is Wakf?
- When a Muslim person who is working for a charitable purpose under religious faith and for the benefit and upliftment of the society, has donated his property in the name of Allah is called
- Waqf literally means ‘detention’, stoppage or tying up, meaning that the ownership of dedicated property is taken away from the person making waqf and transferred and detained by God.
- There are more than 6 lakh registered waqf properties across the country.
About Central Wakf Council:
- Central Wakf Council is a statutory body established in 1964 by the Government of India under Wakf Act, 1954 (now a sub section the Wakf Act, 1995).
- It has been established for the purpose of advising Centre on matters pertaining to working of the State Wakf Boards and proper administration of the Wakfs in the country.
Composition and appointments:
- The Council is headed by a Chairperson, who is the Union Minister in charge of Wakfs and there are maximum 20 other members, appointed by Government of India as stipulated in the Wakf Act.
The long journey from West Bengal to Bangla
Over the years, several demands have been made, for reasons that could be either political or administrative, to change the name of West Bengal.
Need for changing the name of West Bengal:
- The state’s name West Bengal starts with the letter ‘W’, which being the fourth last letter among English alphabet pushes the state to number 30 in the inter-state meetings.
- The implication is that during official meetings where all states are present, by the time West Bengal gets a turn to speak, either the hall was half-empty or the audience was fast asleep.
- Changing the name to ‘Bangla’ would give it precedence, pushing it to spot number four.
- The first demand was for the state’s name to be changed to ‘Paschim Banga’ or ‘Paschim Bango’ which in Bengali means West Bengal.
- This resolution was not passed as a name starting with ‘P’ would not give it much of an advantage in the state roll calls.
- Five years later, another resolution was passed proposing that the new name be ‘Bongo’ or ‘Bangla’.
- According to the demands of this resolution the state would be called ‘Bengal’ in English, ‘Bangla’ in Bengali and ‘Bangal’ in Hindi.
- To counter this demand, the central ruling party organised a ‘Bangla Bachao Signature Campaign’. This resolution was sent back by the Centre asking the state to suggest a single name.
- In July 2018, the Assembly unanimously passed a resolution to change the name to ‘Bangla’. However, the centre is still not approving the renaming of West Bengal.
Rationale behind renaming:
- The state government first proposed the renaming in 2016. West Bengal argues for the change saying bureaucrats and politicians from the state often complain that they are asked to speak at the end of every national-level meeting in Delhi. This was because the speakers’ lists at such meeting are prepared according to alphabetical order of the states they represent. If West Bengal gets the new name, it will leapfrog from bottom of the list to the top of the pecking order.
- The renaming will help the state appear at the fourth spot after Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Assam in the alphabetic order of the states.
Procedure for Renaming a City
- Renaming of a city is a thoughtful task that it given to the State Legislators. To complete the renaming of a state, the State Legislator should follow a guideline that will rule the validity of a particular renaming done by the said authority.
The procedure differs from state to state but regulations that need to be followed are –
- The first step involves raising of a request in form of a resolution by any Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) which proposes the renaming of any particular city or street.
- On the basis of the request of the MLA, the issue would be deliberated upon and the consequences of the same shall be discussed upon. Hence, the second step involves the deliberation over the request of the renaming of the city or the street.
- The final step involves voting of the validity of the resolution. If there are majority votes in favour of the resolution, the said resolution shall be declared passed. If the majority of votes for a resolution are not achieved, the resolution shall fail.
- The State Legislation on the basis of the majority view shall make the necessary changes in the name of the state or city public.
Procedure for Renaming a State
- The Constitution of India provides for the renaming of a state under Article 3 and Article 4.
The procedure of renaming of the state can be initiated by either the Parliament or the State Legislator and the procedure is as follows:
- A bill for renaming a state may be introduced in the Parliament on the recommendation of the President.
- Before the introduction of the bill, the President shall send the bill to the respective state assembly for expressing their views within a stipulated time.
- The views of the state assembly are not binding, neither on the President nor on the Parliament. But the process must not be skipped as it is of vital importance as any law so made will be affecting that particular state.
- On the expiry of the period, the bill will be sent to the Parliament for deliberation.
- The bill in order to take the force of a law must be passed by a simple majority.
- The bill is sent for approval to the President. After the approval of the said bill, the bill becomes a law and the name of the state stands modified.
Initiation by a State:
- If any fresh proposal comes from states to the Home Ministry, it will prepare a note for the Union Cabinet for an amendment to the Schedule 1 of the Constitution. Thereafter, a Constitution Amendment Bill will be introduced in Parliament, which has to approve it with a simple majority, before the President gives his assent to it.
Government Schemes & Policies
Dam Safety Bill runs into Opposition criticism
Opposition MPs in the Lok Sabha expressed deep reservations about the Centre’s decision to introduce the Dam Safety Bill, 2019, asserting that the legislation, which is aimed at providing uniform safety measures across the country, would undermine the powers of State governments since water is a State subject.
Why did centre enact the law which is a state subject?
- Centre is empowered to enact a law on the subject, especially as 92% of the dams involved two or more States.
- Article 246 and 56 empowered the Centre to intervene in state laws.
Provisions of the bill:
National Committee on Dam Safety:
- The National Committee on Dam Safety will be constituted and will be chaired by the Chairperson, Central Water Commission for formulating policies and regulations regarding dam safety standards and prevention of dam failures.
National Dam Safety Authority:
- The National Dam Safety Authority will be set up for
- Implementing the policies formulated by the National Committee on Dam Safety
- Resolving issues between State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs), or between a SDSO and any dam owner in that state
- Specifying regulations for inspection and investigation of dams
- Providing accreditation to agencies working on dams
State Dam Safety Organisation:
- State governments will establish State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs).
- All specified dams situated in a state will fall under the jurisdiction of that state’s SDSO.
- However, in certain cases the National Dam Safety Authority will act as the SDSO. These include cases where a dam: (i) is owned by one state but situated in another state, (ii) extends over multiple states, or (iii) is owned by a central public sector undertaking.
State Committee on Dam Safety:
- The Bill provides for the constitution of State Committees on Dam Safety by state governments.
- Functions of the Committee include: (i) reviewing the work of the SDSO, (ii) ordering dam safety investigations, (iii) recommending dam safety measures.
Obligations of dam owners:
- Owners of specified dams are required to provide a dam safety unit in each dam.
- This unit will inspect the dams: (i) before and after the monsoon session, and (ii) during and after every earthquake, flood, or any other calamity or sign of distress.
- Dam owners will be required to prepare an emergency action plan, and carry out risk assessment studies for each dam at specified regular intervals.
Offences and penalties:
- The Bill provides for two types of offences. These are: (i) obstructing a person in the discharge of his functions under the Bill, and (ii) refusing to comply with directions issued under the Bill.
Need of the bill
- India ranks third after USA and China in the number of large dams.
- More than 5000 large dams are in operation in the country currently and another 447 are under construction. In addition to this, there are thousands of medium and small dams.
- However, about 75 per cent of the large dams in India are more than 25 years old and about 164 dams are more than 100 years old.
- A badly maintained, unsafe dam can be a hazard to human life, flora and fauna, public and private assets and the environment.
- India has had 37 dam failures in the past in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and Odisha.
Critical analysis of the bill:
- The bill is too focused on structural safety and not on operational safety.
- There is inadequate compensation to the people affected by dams.
- There is need for an independent regulator as well as for a precise definition of stakeholders.
- Many states say it encroaches upon the sovereignty of States to manage their dams, and violates the principles of federalism enshrined in the Constitution. They see it as an attempt by the Centre to consolidate power in the guise of safety concerns.
Significance of the bill:
- The bill addresses all issues concerning safety of dams, including regular inspection, emergency action plan and comprehensive safety review.
- The legislation will help the states and Union territories to adopt uniform dam safety procedures.
- The bill will also help in safeguarding human life, livestock and property.
After Rasagola, Odisha demands GI tag for Chhena Poda and Arisa
Buoyed by the Geographical Indication (GI) tag to its famous ‘Rasagola’, the Odisha government will now push for the GI tag for ‘Chhena Poda’ and ‘Arisa Pitha’ — the two traditional delicacies of the state.
- West Bengal was involved in a lengthy battle with Odisha, which too had claimed Rasogolla as its invention.
- While West Bengal believes that the Rasogolla was invented in Calcutta by confectioner Nabin Chandra Das, Odisha says it was invented in the holy city of Puri in the 13th century.
- West Bengal in its application had provided proof of origin — historical records dating back to 1896.
- According to one of the documents submitted by West Bengal citing historical evidence, Rasogollas invented in the Nadia district of West Bengal are 60 years old (lower end time frame). Haradhan, a confectioner of village Phulia is named as the inventor. West Bengal has given half-a-dozen historical evidences to back its claim.
- On the other hand, the Odisha government is claiming that ‘Odishara Rasagolla’ originated in Odisha and is offered at Jagannath Temple as part of religious rituals by people of Odisha since the 12th century.
What is a Geographical Indication?
- A ‘geographical indication’ (GI) is a place name used to identify the origin and quality, reputation or other characteristics of products.
- There are currently more than 340 GIs in India.
- The registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years which can be renewed from time to time.
- The Appellate Board or the Registrar of Geographical Indications has the power to remove the geographical indication or an authorised user from the register.
GI registration confers:
- Legal protection to the products.
- Prevents unauthorised use of a GI by others.
- Helps consumers get quality products of desired traits.
- Promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods by enhancing demand in national and international markets.
Why is it important?
- Article 22 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement says unless a geographical indication is protected in the country of its origin, there is no obligation under the agreement for other countries to extend reciprocal protection.
- Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness, which is essentially attributable to the place of its origin.
- Products sold with the GI tag get premium pricing
GIs and international conventions:
GI registration is essential to get protection in other countries.
- Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of IPR
- They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the agreements concluded at the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
- India, as member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999 that came into force from September 15, 2003.
Some popular registered GIs in India:
- Some of the popular registered GIs in India are Mysore Silk, Mysore Agarbathi, Kancheepuram Silk, Orissa Ikat, Channapatna Toys & Dolls, and Coimbatore Wet Grinder, Mysore Pak (sweet), Tanjavur Veena, Pusa Basmati 1 (a high-yielding variety of scented Basmati rice) etc.
[Ref: Business Standard]
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
China, Russia, France share satellite data on Assam floods
With Assam inundated by floods, several countries including China, Russia and France collaborated with India on sharing satellite images of the scale of inundation.
How did ISRO get the flood data?
- Based on an activation request of the International Charter Space and Major Disaster by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), France, China and Russia shared satellite images of the flood situation in the in Assam with ISRO’s National Remote Sensing Centre.
- In the past ISRO too had provided information to other space agencies in response to similar requests. In August 2014, for instance, ISRO’s CARTOSAT shared images after an activation request from China after an earthquake struck Yunan province.
The International Charter Space and Major Disaster
- The International Charter of Space and Major Disasters is a venture between 17 space agencies to provide free satellite data to those affected by natural disasters.
- It is a non-binding charter.
- It provides for the charitable and humanitarian related acquisition of and transmission of space satellite data to relief organizations in the event of major disasters.
- All the signatories to the International Charter Space and Major Disasters can send a request to activate the Charter.
- This would immediately trigger a request by the coordinators to space agencies of other countries whose satellites have greater accessibility on the site of the disaster.
- European Space Agency (ESA) and France’s space agency initiated the International Charter Space and Major Disasters in 1999. They were joined by the Canadian Space Agency in 2000.
- Every six months, a different member takes the role of ‘Primus Inter Pares’ – or Charter lead.
How it works?
- The Charter is a worldwide collaboration, through which satellite data are made available for the benefit of disaster management. By combining Earth observation assets from different space agencies, the Charter allows resources and expertise to be coordinated for rapid response to major disaster situations; thereby helping civil protection authorities and the international humanitarian community.
- This unique initiative is able to mobilise agencies around the world and benefit from their know-how and their satellites through a single access point that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and at no cost to the user.
Bilateral & International Relations
Indian President arrives in Benin, 1st visit by an Indian head of state
President Ram Nath Kovind is now on his visit of three African countries i.e. Benin, Gambia and Guinea.
- This is first visit by either a head of state or head of government to three West African countries.
- During his visit, India offered a fresh line of credit of USD 100 million to finance development projects in Benin.
- In the last 10 years, bilateral trade has risen from USD 350 million to more than USD 800 million. With this, India has become Benin’s largest trading partner.
Location of Benin:
- Benin is a country in West Africa.
- It is bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north.
- The majority of its population lives on the small southern coastline of the Bight of Benin, part of the Gulf of Guinea in the northernmost tropical portion of the Atlantic Ocean.
Location of Gambia:
- Gambia is a country in West Africa that is almost entirely surrounded by Senegal with the exception of its western coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.
- It is the smallest country within mainland Africa.
- The Gambia is situated on both sides of the lower reaches of the Gambia River, the nation’s namesake, which flows through the centre of The Gambia and empties into the Atlantic Ocean.
Location of Guinea:
- Guinea is a west-coastal country in West Africa.
- Guinea shares a border with Senegal on the north, Mali on the northeast, Ivory Coast to the east, and Liberia and Sierra Leone to the south.
India should ensure Industry’s support to RCEP deal: Australian envoy
Making a push for India, Australia’s High Commissioner says political will to conclude the RCEP Free Trade Agreement must be matched with persuading Indian industry.
Regional comprehensive Partnership Agreement (RCEP):
- The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a free trade agreement (FTA).
- It is proposed between:
- the ten-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and
- the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).
- RCEP negotiations were formally launched in November 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia.
- The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is among the proposed three mega FTAs in the world so far. The other two is:
- The TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership, led by the US) and
- The TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and the EU).
- RCEP is viewed as an alternative to the TPP trade agreement, which includes the United States but excludes China
- The RCEP negotiation includes:
- Trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement, e-commerce, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and other issues.
- RCEP is the world’s largest economic bloc, covering nearly half of the global economy.
India’s concerns associated with RCEP:
- Emphasis of RCEP is on trade in goods and the same enthusiasm is not shared for trade in services. The reluctance in giving market access for trade in services is a big challenge for India.
- While there is immense pressure on India in the RCEP negotiations to commit to opening up (90%) of its traded goods, what is troubling the government is the fact that other RCEP countries have so far been lukewarm to India’s demands for greater market access in services, particularly on easing norms on the movement of professionals and skilled workers across borders for short-term work.
- India, which is defensive regarding opening up its goods sector, is currently virtually isolated in the RCEP talks. Also, existing huge goods trade deficit has led to questions on whether the pact is only helping ASEAN nations and not benefiting India.
- Significantly, while the India-ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement was inked and enforced from January 1, 2010, India’s goods trade deficit with ASEAN widened from $4.98 billion in 2010-11 to $14.75 billion in 2015-16, and then narrowed to $9.56 billion in 2016-17. The huge goods trade deficit has led to questions on whether the pact is only helping ASEAN nations and not benefiting India.
About India-Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA)
- Based on the recommendation of the Joint Study Group (JSG) in 2010 and subsequent approval of The Trade and Economic Relations Committee (TERC), India is negotiating with Australia Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) covering trade in goods, services, investment and related issues.
- Five rounds of negotiations for India Australia CECA negotiations have been held so far. The 1st round held in 2011 and the last round was held in 2013.
Google Doodle celebrates Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddi, India’s first woman legislator
Google celebrated Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddi, a surgeon, educator, lawmaker and social reformer, on her 133rd birth anniversary.
About Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddi:
- Was the first Indian woman legislator, a campaigner of women’s rights.
- Was a driving force behind one of the biggest cancer institute’s – Kasturba Hospital.
- Was the driving force behind major improvements and additions to the Children’s Aid Society for which she was honoured with the first active Honorary Secretary and Organiser.
- Became the first woman House surgeon in the Government Maternity and Ophthalmic Hospital.
- Was inspired by the Mahatma Gandhi and Dr Annie Besant.
- Was associated with Women’s Indian Association from 1917 and took an active part in its activities.
- Developed an interest in orphan children, which led her to build Avvai Home in Madras in 1930, under which she used to give free education, clothes and proper diet to orphans.
- Wrote a book named ‘My Experience as a Legislator’ which recorded all of her services in the Legislature.
- Became the first Alderwoman of the Madras Corporation in 1937.
Science & Technology
Draft Notification Issued Allowing Motor Vehicles and their Parts to be Affixed with Microdots
The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has issued a draft notification amending Central Motor Vehicle Rules, allowing motor vehicles and their parts to be affixed with permanent and nearly invisible microdots that can be read physically with a microscope and identified with ultra violet light source.
What is Microdot technology?
- Microdot technology involves spraying the body and parts of the vehicle or any other machine with microscopic dots, which give a unique identification.
- The microdots and adhesive will become permanent fixtures which cannot be removed without damaging the asset, that is the vehicle itself.
- Use of this technology will help check theft of vehicles and also use of fake spare parts.
Key Facts for Prelims
Maha launches AMBIS to speed up crime investigation
In a bid to gear up a criminal tracking system, the Maharashtra government has set up the Automated Multimodal Biometric Identification System (AMBIS) – the first-of-its-kind in India.
About Automated Multimodal Biometric Identification System (AMBIS):
- The AMBIS system can collect humongous demographic and biometric data of criminals including finger and palm prints.
- It also includes a portable system to capture fingerprints from crime scenes.
- AMBIS replaces the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), which has been used by Indian law enforcement agencies to search finger and palm prints.
- AFIS has limited utility, providing only one-to-one fingerprint matches as compared multimodal matches possible with AMBIS.
- This system would be useful in quickly providing the information about the criminals and to increase the percentage of convictions.
- With the integration of the system with facial recognition from CCTV cameras, AMBIS enables the police to cross-reference and put faces to criminals whose fingerprints have been captured on paper over the decades, apart from solving fresh crimes.