Polity & Governance
- President commutes 20 death sentences in nine years
Issues related to Health & Education
- India to be trans-fat free by 2022: FSSAI
- India’s first e-waste clinic to be set up in Bhopal
- Key Takeaways from World Economic Forum’s 33rd India Economic Summit
- Textiles Minister to represent India at World Cotton Day celebrations in Geneva
- AIM NITI Aayog, UNDP India Jointly Launch Youth Co:Lab
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Power ministry issues revised norms for EV charging infra to boost e-mobility
- Centre announces Rs 1813.75 crore flood relief for Karnataka, Bihar
- Mizoram rejects proposed Forest Act amendment
Bilateral & International Relations
- Vice President Chairs 18th Governing Body meeting of ICWA
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Polity & Governance
President commutes 20 death sentences in nine years
The President commuted death sentences to life imprisonment in at least 20 cases over the past nine years, based on the recommendations received from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
President’s Pardoning power under Article 72:
- Under the Constitution of India (Article 72), the President of India can grant a pardon or reduce the sentence of a convicted person, particularly in cases involving capital punishment.
There are five different types of pardoning which are mandated by law:
- Pardon: completely absolving the person of the crime and letting him go free.
- Commutation: changing the type of punishment into a less harsh one
- Reprieve: a delay allowed in the execution of a sentence to apply for Presidential Pardon or some other legal remedy
- Respite: reducing the quantum or degree of the punishment to a criminal in view of some special circumstances, like pregnancy, mental condition etc.
- Remission: changing the quantum of the punishment without changing its nature.
How can President use his pardoning powers?
- This power of pardon shall be exercised by the President on the advice of Council of Ministers.
The President can exercise these powers:
- In all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court martial;
- In all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;
- In all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.
Pardoning powers of President Vs. Governors:
The pardoning power of President is wider than the governor and it differs in the following two ways:
- The power of the President to grant pardon extends in cases where the punishment or sentence is by a Court Martial but Article 161 does not provide any such power to the Governor.
- The President can grant pardon in all cases where the sentence given is sentence of death but pardoning power of Governor does not extend to death sentence cases.
Pardoning power & Judicial Review:
- The constitution of India does not provide for any mechanism to question the legality of decisions of President or governors exercising mercy jurisdiction.
- But the SC in Epuru Sudhakar case has given a small window for judicial review of the pardon powers of President and governors for the purpose of ruling out any arbitrariness.
- The court has earlier held that court has retained the power of judicial review even on a matter which has been vested by the Constitution solely in the Executive.
A Global View of Presidential Pardon
United States of America
- US President can grant pardon except in the cases of impeachment. Unlike Indian President, the American President has the absolute power, such power cannot be questioned or blocked by the court or the congress. Thus there is no question of any judicial review.
- Pakistan’s President has an absolute power to grant pardon, reprieve, respite and remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or authority. The power cannot be questioned.
France and Germany
- In France, pardon and act of clemency are granted by President of France who has the sole discretion and power is non questionable.
- A German President has pardoning power which he can transfer to someone else such as chancellor or the minister of justice.
Issues related to Health & Education
India to be trans-fat free by 2022: FSSAI
Union health minister launched the ‘Trans Fat-Free’ logo to accelerate Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI) ‘Eat Right India’, a movement to phase out trans-fat in the country.
- India targets to eliminate trans-fat by 2022, a year ahead of the global target by the World Health Organization.
- The fats are categorised as unsaturated, saturated, and trans fats, depending on the level of saturation of the fat molecule by Hydrogen.
- Unsaturated fats are the healthiest of all. They are present in nuts, avocados and vegetables.
- Saturated fats are mostly found in animal products, like lard, and are higher in calories than the unsaturated fats. For a healthy lifestyle, people are advised to reduce the consumption of saturated fats.
What are trans fats?
- Also called trans-unsaturated fatty acids or trans fatty acids, is a type of unsaturated fat that occurs in small amounts in nature, but became widely produced industrially from vegetable fats.
- Trans fats are the unsaturated fats that are partially saturated with hydrogen to increase their shelf life.
- They are largely produced artificially and occur naturally only in a small amount.
- Artificial TFAs are formed when hydrogen is made to react with the oil to produce fats resembling pure ghee/butter.
- There are two broad types of trans fats found in foods: naturally-occurring and artificial trans fats.
- Naturally–occurring trans fats are produced in the gut of some animals and foods made from these animals (e.g., milk and meat products) may contain small quantities of these fats.
- Artificial trans–are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.
- TFA containing oils can be preserved longer, they give the food the desired shape and texture and can easily substitute ‘Pure ghee’. These are comparatively far lower in cost and thus add to profit/saving.
How do trans fats affect our health?
- TFAs pose a higher risk of heart disease than saturated fats. While saturated fats raise total cholesterol levels, TFAs not only raise total cholesterol levels but also reduce the good cholesterol (HDL), which helps to protect us against heart disease. Trans fats consumption increases the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
- It is also associated with a higher risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, infertility, certain types of cancers and can also lead to compromised fetal development causing harm to the yet to be born baby.
Globally, industrial trans-fat intake leads to more than 540,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease every year. In India, the number of deaths is around 60,000.
Food Sources of Trans fats:
- In our diet the major sources of artificial TFAs are the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PHVO)/vanaspati/ margarine while the natural TFAs are present in meats and dairy products, though in small amounts.
- Any food that contains the ingredients which is referred to partially hydrogenated oils refers to contain TFAs in less or more amount.
WHO recommendations on trans fats:
WHO has released draft recommendations on limiting the intake of trans fats.
- Saturated fatty acids should not comprise more than 10% of your daily calorie intake.
- Trans fatty acids should not comprise more than 1% of your daily calorie intake.
- Use heart-healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) as replacement.
- The recommendations are applicable to both adults and children.
Why trans fats are used?
- Despite their harmful effect the reason why food manufacturers frequently use them because trans fats containing oils can be preserved longer, they give the food the desired shape and texture and can easily substitute ‘Pure ghee’.
- Further, these are comparatively far lower in cost and thus add to profit/saving.
About Eat Right movement
- It is an initiative of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India’s (FSSAI).
- It aims to engage and enable citizens to improve their health and wellbeing.
- It is built on two broad pillars of ‘Eat Healthy’ and ‘Eat Safe’.
The Eat Right Movement brings together three initiatives of the FSSAI-
- Safe and Nutritious Food Initiative which is focused on social and behavioural change;
- Eat Healthy Campaign for reduction of high fat, sugar and salt foods in the diet; and
- Food Fortification, focused on promoting staple foods like wheat flour, rice, oil etc with added vitamins and minerals.
Areas of Action of Eat right movement
[Ref: PIB, Down to Earth]
India’s first e-waste clinic to be set up in Bhopal
- The Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have joined hands to set up the country’s first e-waste clinic.
About first e-waste clinic
- In this clinic, electronic waste will be collected (door-to-door/deposited directly) at the clinic in exchange for a fee.
- The clinic is being conceived in compliance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
- It would enable segregation, processing and disposal of waste from both household and commercial units.
Key Takeaways from World Economic Forum’s 33rd India Economic Summit
Recently, the World Economic Forum and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) jointly organised the 33rd India Economic Summit in Delhi on October 3 and 4, 2019.
Key takeaways of 33rd India Economic Summit
WEF’s Drone Delivery India Pilot To Begin In 2020:
- The government of Telangana in collaboration with Apollo Hospitals and the World Economic Forum has formalised the plan for a six-month pilot called ‘Medicines from the Sky’, starting in 2020.
- The project aims to explore the use of drones to increase access to healthcare for communities across the Telangana state.
Corporate Tax Cut Alone Cannot Revive Economy
- While the government’s corporate tax cuts were welcomed by companies, the summit saw many corporate leaders expressing their views on how corporate cut alone would not be enough to revive the economy.
Govt should Allow Startup IPOs Even Without Profitability:
- Many Indian tech unicorns are at a very big disadvantage because the Indian public markets are designed to reward only profit-making companies. Whereas, a global company has the opportunity to go public and tap global markets, despite not showing profits.
India’s DPIIT Hopes To Have 1 Lakh Startups
- By 2024, the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade of India (DPIIT) hopes that there are 50,000 registered startups in India, and there will be 50K more by 2024 at this pace.
India To Become World’s Largest EV Market:
- The World Economic Forum has released a report stating that Indian has the potential to become the largest EV market in the world.
WEF Survey Found Indians Most Optimistic About Tech Globally
- According to an opinion poll by the World Economic Forum (WEF), people from India are among the world’s most optimistic about technology.
- The poll found that Indian respondents are exceptional in terms of their optimism. They are also some of the least sceptical in the world about the motives of technology companies.
About World Economic Forum (WEF)
- WEF is Swiss non-profit foundation, also recognized as international institution for public-private cooperation.
- It is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
- It is committed to improve state of world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas.
- WEF is best known for its annual winter meeting for five days in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubünden, in eastern Alps region of Switzerland.
Textiles Minister to represent India at World Cotton Day celebrations in Geneva
Union Minister of Textiles will participate in the plenary session of World Cotton Day being observed from October 7-11, 2019 in Geneva, which will also serve to shed light on the challenges faced by cotton economies around the world.
- At the event, the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) will be displaying various grades of raw cotton including SUVIN, the finest quality of Extra Long Staple Cotton produced in Tamil Nadu having the highest fibre length.
- Further, natural coloured cotton that is grown in Dharwad in Karnataka will also be on display.
About World Cotton Day 2019
- It is organized by the World Trade Organization (WTO) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC).
- WTO is hosting the event at the request of the Cotton – 4 countries, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali to celebrate their official application for the recognition of 7th October as World Cotton Day by the United Nations.
- The objective of World Cotton Day is to give recognition to cotton in production, transformation and trade; to engage beneficiaries and strengthen development assistance for cotton.
- Cotton is a global commodity that is produced all over the world.
- A single tonne of cotton provides year-round employment for five people on average.
- Cotton is a drought resistant crop which is ideal for arid climates.
- It occupies just 2.1 % of the world’s arable land, yet it meets 27% of the world’s textiles need.
- In addition to its fibre used in textiles and apparel, food products are also derived from cotton like edible oil and animal feed from the seed.
- Between 2011 and 2018, India implemented a Cotton Technical Assistance Programme (Cotton TAP-I) of about USD 2.85 million for seven African countries namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad and also Uganda, Malawi and Nigeria.
About Cotton Technical Assistance Programme (Cotton TAP)
- It is implemented by The Department of Commerce from 2012 to 2018 in selected 11 African countries.
11 Target countries
- Cotton TAP phase I (2012-2018): Burkina Faso, Benin, Chad, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda.
- Cotton TAP phase II (2019- 2023): Cotton TAP phase I countries + Mali, Ghana, Togo, Zambia and Tanzania
- Increasing cotton production
- Enhancing R&D/ Quality Control
- Strengthening of cotton residue based value addition industry
- Strengthening Downstream Industry in Textiles
- Directorate of Cotton Development (DOCD)
- Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR)
- Central Institute for Research on Cotton Technology (CIRCOT)
AIM NITI Aayog, UNDP India Jointly Launch Youth Co:Lab
Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India launched Youth Co:Lab.
About Youth Co:Lab
- It was Co-created in 2017 by UNDP and the Citi Foundation and is operational in 25 countries across the Asia Pacific region.
- It aims at accelerating social entrepreneurship and innovation in young people in India.
- Youth Co:Lab will convene social innovation challenges at the national and sub-national level, which will invite young people in the age group of 18-29 years and start-ups to showcase their proposed ideas to tackle the biggest social challenges.
- The first phase of Youth Co:Lab will focus on six SDGs:
- SDG 5 (Gender Equality)
- SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation)
- SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy)
- SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth)
- SDG 12 (Sustainable Consumption and Production) and
- SDG 13 (Climate Action)
About Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)
- AIM including Self-Employment and Talent Utilisation (SETU) is Government of India’s endeavour to serve as a platform for the promotion of innovation hubs, grand challenges and other self-employment activities.
- AIM is flagship initiative to promote culture of innovation and entrepreneurshipin country.
- Its sub-schemes include establishing Atal Tinkering Labs(ATLs) and Atal Incubation Centers (AICs), for providing scaling up support to Established Incubation Centres.
- It also includes finding ultra-low cost solutionto India’s most intractable problems through Atal Grand Challenges and Atal Vikas Challenges.
- Develop new programmes and policies for fostering innovation in different sectors of economy.
- Create umbrella structure to oversee innovation ecosystem of the country.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Power ministry issues revised norms for EV charging infra to boost e-mobility
To promote electric vehicles (EV), Power Minister approved amendments in guidelines and specifications for charging infrastructure as revised guidelines superseded the earlier guidelines issued by the Ministry in December, 2018.
Highlights of new guidelines
- In cities, there will be a public charging station for every 3 square km.
- One charging station every 25 km on intracity highways.
- On inter-city highways, there will be a fast-charging station every 100 km.
- Specifies the type of chargers of different standards (viz. CCS, CHAdeMO, Type-2 AC, Bharat AC 001) thus ensuring that the Public Charging Stations (PCS) owners have the freedom to install the chargers as per the market requirement.
- Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), a statutory body under Ministry of Power has been nominated as the Central Nodal Agency. A provision for State Nodal Agency for the respective states has been provided.
- Specifies the tariff to be charged, from PCS as well as from domestic consumers for domestic charging.
Centre announces Rs 1813.75 crore flood relief for Karnataka, Bihar
The Centre approved additional financial assistance of Rs 1813.75 crore to Karnataka and Bihar for the damages caused by the rains and floods in the two states from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) ‘on account basis’.
- The Disaster Management (DM) Act, 2005 has made the statutory provisions for constitution of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) for the purpose of specialized response to natural and man-made disasters.
- NDRF is constituted to supplement the funds of the State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) of the states to facilitate immediate relief in case of calamities of a severe nature.
- It was earlier known as National Calamity Contingency Fund (NCCF) till 2010.
- The financial assistance from SDRF/NDRF is for providing immediate relief and is not compensation for loss/damage to properties /crops.
- The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Disaster Management Authority takes decisions on the expenses from National Disaster Response Fund.
Key features of NDRF:
- It is located in the “Public Accounts” of Government of India under “Reserve Funds not bearing interest”.
- Department of Agriculture and Cooperation under Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) monitors relief activities for calamities associated with drought, hailstorms, pest attacks and cold wave /frost while rest of the natural calamities are monitored by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
- Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) audits the accounts of NDRF.
Evolution of NDRF
- Two national calamities in quick succession in the form of Orissa Super Cyclone (1999) and Gujarat Earthquake (2001) brought about the realization of the need of having a specialist response mechanism at National Level to effectively respond to disasters. This realization led to the enactment of the DM Act in 2005.
- The NDRF raised on January 19, 2006.
Role and mandate of NDRF
- Specialized response during disasters
- Proactive deployment during impending disaster situations
- Acquire and continually upgrade its own training and skills
- Liaison, Reconnaissance, Rehearsals and Mock Drills
- Impart basic and operational level training to State Response Forces (Police, Civil Defence and Home Guards)
- Community Capacity Building Programme
- Public Awareness Campaign
What are the features which make NDRF a Unique Force?
- The only dedicated disaster response force of the world.
- Experienced paramilitary personnel specially trained and equipped for disaster response.
- Capabilities for undertaking disaster response, prevention, mitigation and capacity building.
Locations of NDRF BNs:
- These NDRF battalions are located at ten different locations in the country based on the vulnerability profile of country and to cut down the response time for their deployment at disaster site.
About State Disaster Response Force (SDRF)
- Government of India supplements the effort of the State Government by providing assistance for relief of immediate nature through SDRF.
- A SDRF has been constituted for each State. The Central Government contributes 75% for General Category States and 90% for North-Eastern and Hilly States of the SDRF allocation each year.
- The first charge of relief expenditure is on SDRF and in the cases of calamities of severe nature, it is supplemented from NDRF as per established procedure.
Mizoram rejects proposed Forest Act amendment
The Mizoram government has rejected the Centre’s proposal to amend the “anti-indigenous people” Indian Forest Act, 1927, as its provisions are in conflict with the special provisions the State enjoys under Article 371G of the Constitution.
Reasons for protest:
- The amendment bill gives higher management powers beyond what is provided in the Forest Rights Act of 2006.
- Bill threatens to evict forest dwellers and promotes forest produce through private firms.
- Bill impinges the provisions of Article 371G. Article 371(G) of the Constitution states that the Parliament cannot decide on the matters of the religious and social practices of the Mizos, civil and criminal law of the land, land ownership transfer, and customary law procedure without the consent of the Assembly.
- The Indian Forest Act of 1927 had not been enforced in Mizoram. It’s areas under forest have been governed by the Mizoram Forest Act of 1955 in accordance with the customary laws and needs of the local people.
- An ethnicity-based organisation called Zo Indigenous Forum had submitted a memorandum to the United Nations saying the Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was anti-indigenous communities and against the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.
Proposed amendments in Indian Forest (Amendment) Bill, 2019
Key features of newly proposed amendments:
- The state government will have the power to take away the rights of forest dwellers if it feels it is not in line with ‘conservation of the proposed reserved forest’ by offering some arbitrary amount of cash compensation.
- It has provisions to override other forest laws, especially the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.
- It also allows the forest department to use firearms to prevent offences. However, no forest officer can be prosecuted unless the state government approves.
- It has the provision to punish entire communities by denying access to forests for offences committed by individual members.
- It has provision to create national and state forest funds aided by private companies.
- The present IFA is focuses on economic interests to consolidate the transit of forest-produce. However, the proposed IFA focusses on conservation and concerns related to climate change and international commitments.
- It proposes to allow the government to open any area of forest it deems fit for commercial plantations and also allows it to assign forests to non-state entities, but not on lease.
- While under FRA, the gram sabhas have the right to collect title claims, the amendment proposes that the authority will rest with the forest department.
- The forest department can also deem any forestland as degraded or a wasteland and give it to a private party after evicting the forest dwellers.
- It prescribes punishment for offences in detail—both bailable and non-bailable. The penalty for various offences has been increased from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000- Rs 500,000 and imprisonment has been increased from one month to seven years.
- Mizoram is among the 15 States and Union Territories with more than 33% of the geographical area under forest cover.
Bilateral & International Relations
Vice President Chairs 18th Governing Body meeting of ICWA
The Vice President of India addressed the 18th meeting of the Governing Body of Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) in New Delhi.
About Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA)
- ICWA was established in 1943 by group of Indian intellectuals as a think tank. It was established as non-official, non-political and non-profit organisation under Registration of Societies Act 1860.
- It was declared institution of national importance by Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), act 2001 enacted by Parliament.
- ICWA is devoted exclusively for the study of international relations and foreign affairs.
- The Vice President of India is the ex-officio President of ICWA, while the Minister of External Affairs is its Vice-President.
- The founder-president of the Council was Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru.
- It had conducted historic international conferences like Asian Relations Conference in 1947 under leadership Sarojini Naidu and United Nations and New World Order in 1994.