2nd February 2016
Polity & Governance
- New Constitution Bench to examine Citizenship Act
- Laghu Udyog Bharati
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- India Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC)
Bilateral & International Relations
- J&K asks Centre to adopt Atal doctrine
- Sweden commits record $370 million of aid to UN World Food Programme
- Fifth South Asia Region Public Procurement Conference
Art & Culture
- Pre-Christian era artefacts unearthed in Odisha
Key Facts for Prelims
- Sherin’s Law
- 250th anniversary of Maratha Light Infantry Day
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Polity & Governance
New Constitution Bench to examine Citizenship Act
The Supreme Court decided to refer to a fresh Constitution Bench pleas to examine the validity of various aspects of a provision of the Citizenship Act 1955, including the cut-off date for awarding citizenship to Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam.
- Section 6A of the Act relates to provisions for citizenship of people covered by the Assam Accord.
- In December 2014, a two-judge Bench of the apex court had framed 13 questions, for deliberation by a larger Bench, which included whether Section 6A violates the Articles of the Constitution by diluting the political rights of residents of Assam.
- It had also framed a question about the scope of fundamental right contained in Article 29(1), relating to the right to conserve a distinct language, script or culture, and also about the meaning of expressions ‘culture’ and ‘conserve.’
- The Assam Movement (or Assam Agitation) was a popular movement between 1979 and 1985 against undocumented immigrants in Assam. The movement was led by All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the ‘All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad’ (AAGSP). The agitation leaders formed a political party, Asom Gana Parishad, which came to power in 1985 and 1996.
What is Assam Accord?
The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.
- The years between 1979 and 1985 witnessed huge political instability, collapse of state government, president’s rule and unprecedented ethnic violence in Assam.
- The elections conducted by the government were totally boycotted and violence based on linguistic and communal identities killed thousands in the state. Finally, to cope up with the situation, the then Rajiv Gandhi government signed a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) with the leaders of the movement on 15 August 1985 called Assam Accord.
As per this accord:
- All those foreigners who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship including the right to vote.
- Migrants those who had done so after 1971 were to be deported.
- Those who entered between 1961 and 1971 were to be denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.
Laghu Udyog Bharati
A national level meeting was recently convened by the Government of India with the members of Laghu Udyog Bharati.
About Laghu Udyog Bharati:
- Laghu Udyog Bharati is a registered all India organization of Micro and Small Industries in India since 1994.
- Today, Laghu udyog Bharati has its membership spread over the length and breadth of the country.
- It has membership in more than 400 Districts with 250 Branches all over the Country.
- In a genuine effort to organise MSE sector Laghu Udyog Bharati is fighting the various ills plaguing the sector and to remove impediments coming in the way to MSEs.
- The Government of India has authorised Laghu Udyog Bharati to issue Certificate of Origin to exporting units. [A Certificate of Origin (CO) is a document which is used for certification that the products exported are wholly obtained, produced or manufactured in a particular Country.]
Objectives of Laghu Udyog Bharati
Laghu Udyog Bharati render assistance to small scale industries as follows:
- Removal of inspector raj & simplification procedures
- Availability & distribution of power.
- Guidance for improving productivity
- Quality & technological upgradation & modernisation
- Better management
- Sales promotion & marketing assistance
- Raw material procurement
- Encouraging women entrepreneurs
- Organise conferences, seminars and workshops.
- Creating congenial environment for better entrepreneur, worker and customer relations
- Making various panels for better representation
- Participation in Trade-Fairs and Exhibitions for better product exposure
Significance of MSE sector:
- Worldwide, micro and small enterprises (MSEs) have been accepted as the engine of economic growth and for promoting equitable development.
- MSEs constitute over 95% of total enterprises in most of the economies and are credited with generating the highest rates of employment growth and account for a major share of industrial production and exports.
- It contributes more than 45% of total manufacturing production and 40% of exports, while employing 10 crores people.
It suits the Indian conditions in the following manner:
- It is only source which has the potential to absorb about 10 million new youths which enter the workforce every year, as there are hardly any job opportunities in Government sector; the agriculture sector is already super saturated; and the large / corporate sector has had less employment growth in last 2 decades.
- For country like India which has very scarce capital, promoting MSE is essential as only one tenth of capital investment is required to generate one employment in MSE sector as compared to investment required per capita employment in large sector.
- It mitigates the problem of migration to cities and slum dwellings in urban areas.
- It also ensure inclusive growth.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
India Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC)
Union Minister of State for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Shri Y. S. Chowdary, in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, stated that latest scientific techniques have been added to India Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC) to provide early warnings for an impending tsunami to all countries in the Indian Ocean region.
About India Tsunami Early Warning Centre (ITEWC):
The Indian Tsunami Early Warning System has the responsibility to provide tsunami advisories to Indian Mainland and the Island regions.
- Acting as one of the Regional Tsunami Advisory service Providers (RTSPs) for the Indian Ocean Region, ITEWS also provide tsunami advisories to the Indian Ocean rim countries along with Australia & Indonesia.
- ITEWC comprises a real-time seismic monitoring network of broadband seismic stations.
- ITEWC is also receiving data in real time from 350 seismic stations, 50 tsunami buoys and 300 tide gauges established in the Indian as well as the other oceans by other countries and international agencies.
- Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO has designated ITEWC as the Tsunami Service Provider (TSP) for the entire Indian Ocean Region.
- Since 2012, ITEWC is providing tsunami advisories and related services to about 25 countries”.
- Currently Warning Centre disseminates tsunami bulletins to various stakeholders through multiple dissemination modes simultaneously (Fax, Phone, Emails, GTS and SMS etc.). Users can also register on the website for receiving earthquake alerts and tsunami bulletins through emails and SMS.
Establishment of ITEWS:
- On December 26, 2004, one of the deadliest earthquakes (9.3 magnitude), epicentred off the West coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, triggered a tsunami that killed over 2.3 lakh people across 14 countries, including 11,000 in India.
- Since then, India has made rapid strides in establishing an early warning system with the help of various organisations and partnered with international agencies involved in the study of earthquakes, tsunami and other ocean-related natural disasters.
- India started its own interim tsunami warning center in the first quarter of 2005 to issue tsunami bulletins generated from seismic information. The interim services were succeeded by setting up of a state-of-the-art Indian Tsunami Early Warning System (ITEWS) at the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad, under the Earth System Sciences Organization (ESSO), Govt. of India.
- The system implemented in phases became full-fledged 24X7 operational early warning system in October 2007.
- Tsunamis are giant waves caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea.
- Even though tsunamis can be generated by various phenomenon, the most destructive tsunamis are generated from large, shallow earthquakes at subduction zones.
- Major tsunamis are produced by large earthquakes of magnitude greater than 7.0 associated with the movement of oceanic and continental plates.
- The waves can travel great distances from the source region, spreading destruction along their path.
Occurrences of Tsunamis:
- More than 80% of the world’s tsunamis occur in the Pacific along its Ring of Fire subduction zones. Tsunamis are not as common in the Indian Ocean as in the Pacific. As compared to average eight tsunamis per year in the Pacific, Indian Ocean has one in three years or so.
- About thirteen years ago, a magnitude 9.1 earthquake struck beneath the Indian Ocean near Indonesia, generating a massive tsunami that claimed more than 230,000 lives in fourteen different countries, one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded.
Bilateral & International Relations
J&K asks Centre to adopt Atal doctrine
The J&K government has asked the Centre to revisit former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s doctrine to defuse tension with Pakistan.
- The state government believes that dialogue and reconciliation is the only way to restore peace along the borders and on the mainland.
What is Vajpayee Doctrine/Atal Doctrine?
- The Vajpayee doctrine on Kashmir called for peace, progress and prosperity in the Valley by imbibing the spirit of Insaniyat (Humanity), Jamhuriyat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Identity of the people of Kashmir).
- The doctrine was universally acclaimed by all segments across of political spectrum in the state, including the extremist elements in the Valley.
- Vajpayee’s mantra included resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan, including that of Jammu and Kashmir issue in a peaceful manner through bilateral dialogue without any third party intervention.
- He carried his message of peace to Pakistan during a bus journey to Lahore on February 19, 1999.
- Vajpayee made it a point to visit to Minar-e-Pakistan where he re-affirmed India’s commitment to the existence of Pakistan.
- He reached out to the people of Pakistan in a passionate speech at the governor’s house in Lahore telecast live both in Pakistan & India.
- Vajpayee extended a hand of friendship on the basis of reciprocity and mutual trust and called for collective fight against poverty in the Indian subcontinent devoid of terrorism and drug-trafficking.
- Vajpayee also signed a Lahore Declaration with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on February 21, 1999. As part of the declaration, Pakistan agreed to resolve all bilateral issues between the two countries, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in a peaceful manner and through dialogue and to promote people to people contact.
- The Delhi-Lahore Bus Service Sada-e-Sarhad (Call of the Frontier) was launched as a symbol of the efforts of the Vajpayee government to promote peaceful and friendly relations with Pakistan on the basis of reciprocity.
- Vajpayee did not allow the bus service to be terminated even when Pakistan army chief Parvez Musharraf launched an attack in Kargil between May and July, 1999, which the Indian armed forces successfully repulsed forcing the Pakistani army to vacate the occupied hills in the region.
- However, the service had to be suspended during the heightened tension between the two neighbours in the aftermath of the Pakistan-ISI sponsored terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001. It was restored on July 16, 2003 when Pakistan assured the Indian government as well as the international community that Islamabad would not allow its territory to be used for terrorists’ activities.
- All the setbacks to his dialogue initiatives, including Kargil conflict, hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandhar and terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament, notwithstanding, Vajpayee did not allow the peace process to derail despite serious provocations by the Pakistan army and the ISI.
Sweden commits record $370 million of aid to UN World Food Programme
Sweden and the United Nations World Food Programme have signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement committing an unprecedented $370 million dollars to WFP over the next four years i.e. 2018-2021.
- The contribution is the biggest ever made by a donor within a WFP Strategic Partnership Agreement.
- Sweden has been the largest donor of flexible and predictable funds to WFP for almost a decade.
- The Swedish contribution comes at time of record need as the world is facing worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II with multiple large-scale hunger emergencies occurring across the planet.
- For the first time in decade, the number of hungry people in world is increasing and majority of them now live in countries affected by conflict. Ten of the 13 largest food crises on the planet are driven mainly by conflict.
About World Food Programme:
The World Food Programme (WFP) is the food assistance branch of the United Nations and the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security.
- The WFP strives to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, with the ultimate goal in mind of eliminating the need for food aid itself.
- It is a member of the United Nations Development Group and part of its Executive Committee.
- Born in 1961, WFP pursues a vision of the world in which every man, woman and child has access at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life.
- The WFP is governed by an Executive Board which consists of representatives from member states.
- The WFP operations are funded by voluntary donations from world governments, corporations and private donors.
- WFP food aid is also directed to fight micronutrient deficiencies, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, and combat disease, including HIV and AIDS.
Fifth South Asia Region Public Procurement Conference
The Fifth edition of South Asia Region Public Procurement Conference was held in New Delhi.
- It was hosted by Public Procurement Division (PPD) of Ministry of Finance and All India Management Association (AIMA).
- It was held under auspices of South Asia Region Public Procurement Network (SARPPN), which is sponsored and facilitated by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank.
- The theme of the Fifth Conference is: “Public Procurement and Service Delivery”.
- The Fifth Conference will deliberate upon key aspects of public procurement that help ensure delivery of these services; and identify and address areas that need improvement.
About the Conference:
- The Conference aims to strive to improve public procurement of member countries to ensure timely and quality delivery of public services.
- Its objective was to enable heads of Public Procurement and other key stakeholders in 8 South Asian countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan) to meet and learn from one another and from experts in field of public procurement.
- It will help South Asian Governments to consider enhancements and innovations in their public procurement systems, enable efficient utilization of public resources, ensure quality and timeliness in delivery of services.
- The First Conference was held in Kathmandu in 2010, second in Islamabad (2014), third in Dhaka (2015) and fourth in Sri Lanka (2017).
- All eight SAR countries spend approximately $550 billion equivalent on public procurement of goods, works and services, which eventually convert to public services.
Art & Culture
Pre-Christian era artefacts unearthed in Odisha
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has discovered pottery pieces, and tools made of stones and bones believed to be of the pre-Christian era from a mound in Jalalpur village of Cuttack district, Odisha.
- Discoveries of ancient artefacts indicated that a rural settlement might have thrived in that period.
- These settlements could have had cultural and trade ties with other settlements in the Prachi Valley that had come up around the Prachi river, which gradually disappeared.
About Prachi Valley civilisation:
- Prachi Valley civilisation is believed to be earlier than that of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro flourished on the banks of Prachi river.
- Prachi Valley civilisation has contributed a lot towards amalgamation, assimilation and proliferation of different religious faiths and cults.
About Prachi river:
- The Prachi river, a tributary of Mahanadi, originates about 10 km away from Bhubaneswar.
- The river flows through Puri, Khurda, Cuttack and Jagatsinghpur districts and it is this region that is called the Prachi Valley.
Key Facts for Prelims
- It is a new proposed law in the US state of Texas.
- It would make leaving a young child alone at home a felony offense.
- The Law would also require that any adult who witnesses or has personal knowledge of an abused child report it to authorities within 48 hours.
- The law was inspired by the death of Indian toddler Sherin Mathews, who was left alone in her Richardson, Texas, home last October as her Indian American adoptive parents went out to dinner.
250th anniversary of Maratha Light Infantry Day
- February 4 is celebrated as “Maratha Light Infantry Day” across the regiment throughout the country.
- This year, it celebrated its celebrated 250 years of its existence.
- The first battalion of regiment was raised as ‘Second Battalion Bombay Sepoys’ on 4th February in 1768.
- The date holds historic significance as on this day in 1670, Maratha ruler Chhatrapati Shivaji conquered famous Kondana Fort (now known as Sinhgad) near Pune, Maharashtra.
- The Maratha Light Infantry is infantry regiment of the Indian Army.
- The Maratha Light Infantry was also first infantry regiment of the Army to be awarded the title of ‘Light Infantry’ during the First Afghan War in 1841.
- It also has proud history of gallantry as it was honoured with 15 battle honours in the First World War.