Polity & Governance
- Controversial Gujarat anti-terror law gets President’s nod
Issues related to Health & Education
- Lung infections accounted for 69% morbidity in 2018: National Health Profile report
- What is trade deficit and what does it signify?
- Economic slowdown will lighten India’s carbon burden
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- US notifies UN of withdrawal from Paris climate accord
- Ministry of rural development releases fifth edition of Wasteland Atlas
- SC asks Punjab, Haryana, U.P. to end stubble burning immediately
Bilateral & International Relations
- Iran breaks further away from crumbling nuclear deal
- The Third Battle of Panipat changed the power equation in India
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Polity & Governance
Controversial Gujarat anti-terror law gets President’s nod
President Ram of India has given his assent to the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime (GCTOC) Bill, a controversial anti-terror legislation passed by the Gujrat in March 2015.
Why the GCTOC act is controversial?
- GCTOC Act includes the consideration of intercepted telephonic conversations as legitimate evidence.
This act also provides for the
- Creation of a special court
- The appointment of special public prosecutors
- The admissibility of a confession made before a police officer as evidence.
The act will prove crucial in dealing with terrorism and organised crimes such as contract killing, ponzi schemes, narcotics trade and extortion rackets.
- It provides for attachment of properties acquired through organised crimes. Transfer of properties can also be cancelled.
- The Bill provides for admissibility of evidence collected through interception of mobile calls of an accused or through confessions made before an investigating officer, in a court of law.
- Clause 16, which makes confessions before police officers admissible in court.
- The bill empowers police to tap telephonic conversations and submit them in court as evidence.
- It extends period of probe from stipulated 90 days to 180 days before filing of charge sheet.
- The legislation makes offences under the Gujarat Control of Terrorism and Organised Crime Act, 2015, non-bailable.
- The Bill provides immunity to the State government from legal action.
- The Bill, earlier named as the Gujarat Control of Organised Crime (GUJCOC) Bill, failed to get the presidential nod thrice since 2004.
- In 2015, the Gujarat government re-introduced the Bill by renaming it the GCTOC, but retained controversial provisions like empowering the police to tap telephonic conversations and submit them in court as evidence.
Issues related to Health & Education
Lung infections accounted for 69% morbidity in 2018: National Health Profile report
Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) accounted for 69.47% of morbidity last year which was the highest in the communicable disease category leading to 27.21% mortality.
Lung infections related highlights of National Health Profile-2019
- Acute Respiratory Infections (ARI) accounted for 69.47% of morbidity in 2018 which was the highest in the communicable disease category.
- Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal reported a large number of fatalities due to ARI.
About Acute respiratory infection
- Acute respiratory infection prevents normal breathing function.
- It usually begins as a viral infection in the nose, trachea (windpipe), or lungs. If the infection is not treated, it can spread to the entire respiratory system.
- Acute respiratory infection prevents the body from getting oxygen and can result in death.
- It is particularly dangerous for children as well as older adults, and people with immune system disorders.
- It can also affects pregnant women resulting in a medical condition called intrauterine inflammation.Prenatal exposure to pollutants increases risk of pre-term delivery and low birth weight.
- There is no specific cure.
Causes of Acute Respiratory Infection
Although some causes of the condition are unknown, a few have been identified. They are:
- Adenoviruses: consist of more than 50 different types of viruses known to cause the common cold, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
- Pneumococcus : a type of bacterium that causes meningitis. However, it can also trigger certain respiratory illnesses like pneumonia.
- Rhinoviruses : source of the common cold, which can advance to acute respiratory infection.
What is trade deficit and what does it signify?
Recently, India decided that it won’t sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Participation agreement. While India decided to pull out, the other 15 members of RCEP arrived at a consensus and are likely to formally announce the regional trade pact next year.
Why did India pull out from RCEP?
- Existence of trade deficits with many of the countries of the RCEP.
- Joining the RCEP trade pact could lead to Chinese goods flooding the Indian markets
- India’s increasing trade deficit against most of the RCEP members.
To know more about India’s apprehensions on RCEP, refer IASToppers’ video summary here: https://www.iastoppers.com/rstv-big-picture-indias-world-rcep-challenges-way-forward/
What is trade deficit?
If the total value of goods imported by a country is more than the total value of goods exported by that country, then it is referred to as a trade deficit.
Trade deficit signifies two things:
- The demand in the domestic economy is not being met by the domestic producers. For instance, India may be producing a lot of milk but still not enough for the total milk demand in the country. As such, India may choose to import milk.
- The lack of competitiveness of the domestic industry. For instance, Indian car manufacturers could import steel from China instead of procuring it from the domestic producers if the Chinese steel is cheaper.
Is a trade deficit a bad thing?
- No trade is ever balanced as all countries have different strengths and weaknesses. India may have a trade deficit with China but a surplus with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
- Trade typically enhances wellbeing all across the world by forcing countries to do what they can do most efficiently and procure (import) from the rest of the world what they cannot produce efficiently.
- Another way to look at trade deficits is to look at the outcome of trade agreements on consumers instead of producers. For instance, if cheaper and better quality milk or steel was to come into India, Indian consumers would benefit as their health improves and their cars become more affordable. Of course, Indian producers of steel and milk will cry foul but then if they are not efficient, they should be producing something else.
Economic slowdown will lighten India’s carbon burden
Carbon dioxide emissions are poised to grow at their slowest (a 2% rise from 2018) since 2001, according to an analysis published in Carbon Brief, a site that tracks emission and carbon dioxide trends.
Carbon dioxide trend in India
- The CO2 emissions in India was 7.7% in 2014 and 3.5% in 2015 and then back to 7.8% in 2018.
- In 2019, it will be the first time that emissions are expected to grow below 3% since 2018. This is because of slower growth in coal and oil industries. Slower growth in coal-based power generation will benefit India’s air quality efforts, as all coal-fired power plants lack required pollution controls.
Renewable energy trend
- Wind generation rose by 17% in the first six months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018, with solar increasing by 30% and hydropower increasing by 22%.
- In 2018, India’s per capita emissions was about 40% of the global average and contributed 7% to the global carbon dioxide burden.
- Under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, India has promised to reduce the emission intensity of its economy by 2030, compared to 2005 levels.
- India has committed to having 40% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
US notifies UN of withdrawal from Paris climate accord
The US has formally notified the UN of its withdrawal from the 2015 Paris climate accord, a landmark global agreement which brought together 188 nations, including India, to combat global warming.
What is the Paris Agreement?
- It is an international accord (signed by 200 countries in 2016) to reduce global greenhouse emissions in an effort to fight climate change.
- It seeks to keep global temperature rise to below 20 C from pre-industrial levels, and to try and limit the temperature increase even further to 1.50
Why did US leave Paris Agreement?
- Inclination of US government towards fossil fuel industry
- Political and social polarization in US politics
- S. president never publicly acknowledged that climate change is happening and is mainly caused by human beings, a consensus shared by most U.S. scientists.
- Belief that this agreement impairs both employment and traditional energy industries,
- Agreement weakens the U.S. sovereignty
How does a country leave the Agreement?
- Article 28 of the Paris Agreement allows countries to leave the Paris Agreement.
- A country can only give a notice for leaving at least three years after the Paris Agreement came into force. This happened on November 4, 2016. Therefore, the US was eligible to move a notice for leaving on November 4 this year, which it did.
- The withdrawal is not immediate, however. It takes effect one year after the submission of the notice. It means the United States will be out of Paris Agreement only on November 4 next year.
Is it possible that the US returns to the Paris Agreement at a later date?
- Yes, there is no bar on a country on re-joining the Paris
Why does the US’s leave matter?
- During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump had said the Paris Agreement was “unfair” to US interests. He had promised to pull out of the Agreement if he was elected.
- US is the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases. If it does not reduce its emissions, it could seriously jeopardise the objective of keeping the global temperature rise to within 20
- Under the Paris Agreement, developed countries are under obligation to mobilise at least $100 billion every year from 2020 in climate finance. The pull out of US from climate agreement could seriously hamper that effort.
- As part of its commitment to the Paris Agreement, the United States had promised to reduce its emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent by the year 2025 from 2005 levels.
- The United States plays a preeminent role in mobilising financial resources globally, and its absence from the scene could seriously hamper that effort.
- Under the Paris Agreement, developed countries are under obligation to mobilise at least $100 billion every year from the year 2020 in climate finance meant for the developing world. This amount has to be revised upwards after five years. As it is, countries are struggling to reach this amount by next year.
- The US was opposed to this move.
Implications of this move:
- While exiting the Paris Agreement does not automatically mean the abandonment of this target or of any future action by the United States on climate change, it would no longer be committed to these actions.
- But the biggest impact of the exit of the United States from the Agreement might be on the financial flows to enable climate actions.
Is it affects the war on climate change?
- No, the US will not be entirely missing from the climate negotiations.
- While it is pulling out of the Paris Agreement, it remains part of the UNFCCC, the mother agreement that was finalised in 1994.
- The Framework Convention was the first international agreement to identify and acknowledge the problem of climate change.
- It had laid down the principles and guidelines to achieve the objective of stabilising the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to levels that would cause least damage to climate system.
- The Paris Agreement is an instrument of the Framework Convention to achieve that objective.
- The United States will be out of the Paris Agreement, but by virtue of being a signatory to the UNFCCC would continue to be a part of the other processes and meetings under the Framework Convention.
- The US had signed the Paris Agreement in 2016.
Ministry of rural development releases fifth edition of Wasteland Atlas
In an effort to productively use India’s wastelands, the ministry of rural development has come out with the fifth edition of Wasteland Atlas -2019, eight years after the last edition was published in 2011.
Highlights of the Wasteland Atlas -2019
- The wastelands of India are 55.76 Mha (96 % of geographical area of India i.e. 328.72 Mha) for 2015-16 as compared to 56.60 Mha (17.21 %) in 2008-09.
- During 2008-09 and 2015-16, 1.45 Mha of wastelands are converted into non wastelands categories.
- There is a net conversionof 84 Mha (0.26%) of different wasteland categories during 2008-09 to 2015-16. A reduction in wasteland area was observed in the categories of land with dense scrub, waterlogged and marshy land, sandy areas, degraded pastures and grazing land.
- The wastelands have undergone positive change in Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and West Bengal.
About Wasteland of India Report
- The Department of Land Resources in collaboration with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Department of Space has published Wastelands Atlases of India – 2000, 2005, 2010, 2011 and 2019 editions.
About Wastelands mapping 2019
- The wastelands mapping 2019 was carried out by National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) using the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite data.
- The Wastelands Atlas-2019 provides district and state wise distribution of different categories of wastelands area including mapping of unmapped area of Jammu & Kashmir.
- India with 2.4 per cent of total land area of the world is supporting 18 per cent of the world’s population.
- The per capita availability of agriculture land in India is 0.12 ha whereas World per capita agriculture land is 0.29 ha.
SC asks Punjab, Haryana, U.P. to end stubble burning immediately
In a bid to save Delhi from the choking air pollution, the Supreme Court asked the governments of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to immediately stop their farmers from stubble burning.
What does court said?
- The court ordered asked Chief Secretaries of the three neighbouring States of Delhi to explain why their governments should not be punished under tort law. Court also said that the ‘Polluter Pays Principle’ does apply to the State and the local bodies.
Banned by court in Delhi to control pollution
- Ban on construction and demolition activities in Delhi
- Banned the burning of garbage in open dumps.
- Banned the use of diesel generators in Delhi for the time being
What is a tort law?
- A tort is a civil wrong that causes a claimant to suffer loss or harm, resulting in legal liability for the person who commits the tortious act.
- The word tort is derived from the Latin word tortum which means twisted or wrong.
Difference between crime and tort
- Tort is an infringement or privation of private or civil rights belonging to individuals, whereas crime is a breach of public rights and duties which affect the whole community.
- In tort, the wrong doer has to compensate the injured party whereas in crime, he is punished by the state in the interest of the society.
- In tort the action is brought about by the injured party whereas in crime the proceedings are conducted in the name of the state.
- In tort damages are paid for compensating the injured and in crime it is paid out of the fine which is paid as a part of punishment. Thus the primary purpose of awarding compensation in a criminal prosecution is punitive rather than compensatory.
- The damages in tort are unliquidated and in crime they are liquidated.
Similarities between crime and tort
- In criminal law the primary duty, not to commit an offence, like any primary duty in tort is imposed by law.
- The same set of circumstances will, from one point of view, constitute a crime and, from another point of view, a tort. For example every man has the right that his bodily safety shall be respected. Hence in an assault, the sufferer is entitled to get damages (tort). Also, the act of assault is a menace to the society and hence will be punished by the state (crime).
- In Rathinam. v. Union of India, the Supreme Court observed that there is no distinction between crime and a tort, in as tort harms an individual whereas a crime is harm a society which is made of individuals.
Categories of torts in India
Offences to the person
- Assault (physical threat or a harm accompanied by a capacity to carry out such a threat)
- Battery (harmful, offensive and unlawful touching of a person against his will)
- False imprisonment (Unlawfully restraining a person without his will by someone who does not have any legal authority to do so)
- Professional negligence (not possessed of the requisite skill which he professed or did not exercise, with reasonable competence, the skill he possess.)
- Contributory negligence (failure by a person to use reasonable care for the safety of either of himself or his property)
Defamation (intentional false communication either written or spoken which harms a person’s reputation)
Economic torts (seek to protect a person in relation to his trade, business or livelihood)
- Trespass to land (an unjustifiable physical encroachment of land of one person by another)
- Nuisance (unlawful interference with a person’s enjoyment of land or some rights over or in connection with it)
- Rule in Rylands v Fletcher (Concept of Strict Liability – a person may be held responsible for doing a wrong even though he has no intention to do such wrong or even if he had taken necessary steps to prevent such a wrong).
Constitutional torts (public law remedy for violations of rights, generally by agents of the state, and is premised on the strict liability principle).
Polluter Pays Principle
- The ‘polluter pays’ principle is the commonly accepted practice that those who produce pollution should bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment.
- For instance, a factory that produces a potentially poisonous substance as a by-product of its activities is usually held responsible for its safe disposal.
What is Stubble burning?
- Stubble burning is intentionally setting fire to the straw stubble that remains after grains, like paddy, wheat, etc., have been harvested.
- Stubble burning contributes significantly towards the air pollution in north India every winter.
- Open stubble burning emits large amount of toxic pollutants in the atmosphere which contain harmful gases like Methane (CH4), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Volatile organic compound (VOC) and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
- Although burning of straw residues emits large amounts of CO2, this component of the smoke is not considered as net Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and only concludes the annual carbon cycle that has started with photosynthesis.
Why do farmers burn the stubble?
- Stubble burning usually required in areas that use the combine harvesting method which leaves crop residue behind.
- Combines are machines that harvest, separate the grain, and also clean the separated grain, all at once.
- The problem, however, is that the machine doesn’t cut close enough to the ground, leaving stubble behind that the farmer has no use for.
- There is pressure on the farmer to sow the next crop in time for it to achieve a full yield. The quickest and cheapest solution, therefore, is to clear the field by burning the stubble.
Bilateral & International Relations
Iran breaks further away from crumbling nuclear deal
Iran announced its latest violations of the nuclear deal with world powers, saying that it now operates twice as many advanced centrifuges banned by the 2015 accord and is working on a prototype that’s 50 times faster than those allowed by the deal.
- The announcement came as Iran marks the 40th anniversary of the 1979 US Embassy takeover that started over 400-day long hostage crisis.
Announcements (on breaching Iran nuclear deal) made by Iran
- Iran Nuclear deal limited Iran to use only first-generation IR-1 centrifuges to enrich uranium. However, Iran is working on a prototype called the IR-9, which worked 50-times faster than the IR-1.
- Iran is operating IR-6 advanced centrifuges which can produce enriched uranium 10 times faster than IR-1.
Reason for such announcements
- Iran is trying to increase the pressure on Britain, France and Germany to buy oil from Iran similar to earlier situation when Iran was not under nuclear sanctions.
- By starting up these advanced centrifuges, Iran further cuts into the one year that experts estimate Iran would need to have enough material for building a nuclear weapon if it chose to pursue one.
To know more about Nuclear deal and Iran issue, refer to IASToppers’ Main article here: https://www.iastoppers.com/iran-nuclear-deal-mains-article/[Ref: The Hindu, News18]
The Third Battle of Panipat changed the power equation in India
The trailer for the upcoming Hindi film ‘Panipat’, which focuses on Third Battle of Panipat, fought in 1761, was released recently.
About third Battle of Panipat
- The Third Battle of Panipat took place on 14 January 1761 at Panipat between the Maratha Empire and invading forces of the King of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Abdali.
- Abdali was supported by two Indian allies—the Rohillas Najib-ud-daulah, Afghans of the Doab region and Shuja-ud-Daula-the Nawab of Awadh.
Cause of the Third Battle of Panipat
- After the death of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, there was a sudden rise of the Marathas. The Marathas reversed all his territorial gains in the Deccan and conquered a considerable part of India.
- The Mughal decline was hastened by the invasion of India by Nader Shah, who also took away Takht-i-Taus (the Peacock Throne) and Kohinoor Diamond in 1739.
- Marathas also captured Lahore and drove out Timur Shah Durrani (the son of the Afghan ruler, Ahmad Shah Abdali) from Lahore. Hence, Ahmad Shah Durrani planned to attack the Marathas.
- By the end of 1759, Durrani reached Lahore as well as Delhi. The Maratha and Durrani fought at Karnal and Kunjpura where the entire Afghan garrison was killed or enslaved.
- The massacre of the Kunjpura garrison angered Durrani and he ordered for crossing the Ravi river at all costs to attack the Marathas.
- The Marathas were defeated in the battle, with 40,000 of their troops killed, while Abdali’s army is estimated to have suffered around 20,000 casualties.
- It marked a loss of prestige for the Marathas, who lost their preeminent position in north India after this war, paving the way for British colonial power to expand here.
- The Marathas lost some of their most important generals and administrators, including Sadashivrao and heir-apparent Vishwasrao of the Peshwa household, Ibrahim Khan Gardi, Jankojirao Scindia, and Yashwantrao Puar.
Causes of defeat of Marthas
- Large Afghan army with effective artillery. Afghan army used muskets while Martha used swords and lances.
- Marathas’ inability to persuade the Rajputs, Jats and Sikhs to fight on their side proved fatal for the Marathas.
- Near famine condition in Maratha camp as road to Delhi was cut by off by afghan war.
- Mutual jealousies among Martha commanders.
- No support from any Muslim power of Northern India
- The disaster of Panipat lowered Maratha prestige in the Indian political world. The Marathas who could not protect their dependents or themselves came to be looked upon as a weak ruler to bank upon.
- The Marathas took the Mughal emperor under their protection and escorted him to Delhi in 1772 and again in 1789, but they never made any attempt to recover the provinces of Punjab and Multan or to play the role of the wardens of the North west Frontier.
- The First Battle of Panipat (1526) laid the foundation of the Mughal Empire in India after its first ruler, Babur, ended the Delhi Sultanate led by the Lodi dynasty.
- The Second Battle of Panipat (1556) cemented Mughal rule when Akbar fought off a threat from the king Hemu ‘Vikramaditya’.