Polity & Governance
- No intention to scrap Article 371
Government Schemes & Policies
- PMAY(U) Awards for Beneficiaries instituted
- Landmark Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 gets Parliamentary approval
- 7th August: National Handloom Day
Bilateral & International Relations
- What is the UN Security Council resolution 47 on Kashmir?
- US officially labels China a ‘currency manipulator’
Key Facts for Prelims
- Adjournment Sine Die
- Raksha Rajya Mantri off Mountaineering Expedition team to climb Mt. Elbrus
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Polity & Governance
No intention to scrap Article 371
Government had no intention of removing Article 371 of the Constitution which includes special provisions for 11 states, including six states of the Northeast.
What is Article 371?
- Article 371 relates to special provisions to special clauses favouring development to backward regions in some states.
Various provision of Articles 371:
Various provision of Articles 371, (from 371A to 371J) define special provisions with regard to another state (or states).
- Maharashtra and Gujarat – gives the power to the President of India to establish separate development boards for Vidarbha, Marathwada regions of Maharashtra and the rest of the State and Saurashtra, Kutch and rest of Gujarat.
Article 371A (13th Amendment Act, 1962), Nagaland –
- Nagas of Nagaland and their land and resources are protected under Article 371 A.
- Inserted after a 16-point agreementbetween the Centre and the Naga People’s Convention in 1960, which led to the creation of Nagaland in 1963.
- Parliament cannot legislatein matters of Naga religion or social practices, Naga customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law, and ownership and transfer of land without concurrence of the state Assembly.
Article 371B (22nd Amendment Act, 1969): Assam
- The main objective was to facilitate the creation of the sub-State ‘Meghalaya’.
- The President may provide for the constitution and functions of a committee of the Assembly consisting of members elected from the state’s tribal areas.
Article 371C (27th Amendment Act, 1971): Special Provision for Manipur
- The President may provide for the constitution of a committee of elected members from the Hill areas in the Assembly, and entrust “special responsibility” to the Governor to ensure its proper functioning.
Article 371D (32nd Amendment Act, 1973; substituted by The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014), Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
- President must ensure “equitable opportunities and facilities” in “public employment and education to people from different parts of the state”. He may require the state government to organise “any class or classes of posts in a civil service of, or any class or classes of civil posts under, the State into different local cadres for different parts of the State”. He has similar powers vis-à-vis admissions in educational institutions.
- Allows for the establishment of a university in Andhra Pradesh by a law of Parliament. But this is not a “special provision” in the sense of the others in this part.
Article 371F (36th Amendment Act, 1975): Special Provision for Sikkim
- The members of the Legislative Assembly of Sikkim shall elect the representative of Sikkim in the House of the People. To protect the rights and interests of various sections of the population of Sikkim, Parliament may provide for the number of seats in the Assembly, which may be filled only by candidates from those sections.
Article 371G (53rd Amendment Act, 1986): Special Provision for Mizoram
- Parliament cannot make laws on “religious or social practices of the Mizos, Mizo customary law and procedure, administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Mizo customary law, ownership and transfer of land… unless the Assembly… so decides”.
Article 371H (55th Amendment Act, 1986): Special Provision for Arunachal Pradesh
- The Governor has a special responsibility with regard to law and order, and “he shall, after consulting the Council of Ministers, exercise his individual judgment as to the action to be taken”.
Article 371J (98th Amendment Act, 2012): Special Provision for Karnataka
- There is a provision for a separate development board for the Hyderabad-Karnataka region. There shall be “equitable allocation of funds for developmental expenditure over the said region”, and “equitable opportunities and facilities” for people of this region in government jobs and education. A proportion of seats in educational institutions and state government jobs in Hyderabad-Karnataka.
- It deals with Goa, but it does not include any provision that can be deemed ‘special’.
- Articles 369 through 392 (including some that have been removed) appear in Part XXI of the Constitution, titled ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’.
- All these provisions take into account the special circumstances of individual states, and lay down a wide range of specific safeguards that are deemed important for these states.
- In these range of Articles from 371 to 371J, Article 371I, which deals with Goa, stands out in the sense that it does not include any provision that can be deemed “special”. Article 371E, which deals with Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, too, is not that “special”.
Government Schemes & Policies
PMAY(U) Awards for Beneficiaries instituted
Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has instituted PMAY(U) Awards for Beneficiaries for the first time to recognise the contribution of States/UTs, Urban Local Bodies and Beneficiaries.
Significance of the awards:
- This special award for beneficiaries will enthuse the States / UTs to fulfil the dream of house for millions and also encourage beneficiaries to build their house aesthetically using sustainable methods under ‘Beneficiary-led Construction’ component of PMAY(U).
About Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)
- Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana is an initiative by Government of India under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (MoHUPA) in which affordable housing will be provided to the urban poor.
- The PMAY (U) mission was launched in June 2015 with the aim to provide houses to every eligible urban household in India by the year 2022.
- It will be implemented as Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) except for the component of credit linked subsidy which will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme.
Components of the PMAY (U):
- Beneficiary led Construction (BLC)
- Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS)
- Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP)
- In-Situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR)
Features of PMAY(U)
- Subsidy of 6.5% on home loan interest rate for a term of 20 years.
- The credit linked subsidy up to Rs 6 lakhs. Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) and National Housing Bank (NHB) are the Central Nodal Agencies (CNAs) to channelize this subsidy.
- Compulsory ground floor housing accommodation for senior citizens and the differently-abled.
- Mandatory use of eco-friendly materials for building construction.
- Extending scheme coverage to include all urban areas in India.
- Encouraging women to become home owners by making it mandatory to register a property with both the male and female heads of family unless there is no female family member.
- Economically Weaker Section (EWS):Annual household income less than Rs.3 lakh.
- Light Income Group (LIG):Annual household income ranging between Rs.3 lakh to 6 lakh.
- Medium Income Group (MIG1):Annual household income below Rs.12 lakh fall
- Medium Income Group (MIG2):Annual household income between Rs.12 to Rs.18.
- Minorities:People hailing from minority groups like SC/ST/OBC will fall under minorities.
- Women: Women belonging to EWS/LIG categories will be considered under PMAY scheme.
- EWS category of beneficiaries is eligible for assistance in all four components of the Missions whereas LIG and MIG categories are eligible under only Credit linked subsidy scheme (CLSS) component of the Mission.
- The scheme focuses to cover the entire urban area consisting of all statutory towns and areas including Notified Planning/ Development Area/ Industrial Development Authority/Special Area Development Authority/ Urban Development Authority or any such Authority under the State legislation which is entrusted with the functions of urban planning and regulations.
The scheme is divided into three phases.
- Phase I (April 2015 – March 2017) to cover 100 Cities selected from States/UTs as per their willingness.
- Phase II (April 2017 – March 2019) to cover additional 200 Cities
- Phase III (April 2019 – March 2022) to cover all other remaining Cities
Ownership of houses:
- House is to be allotted in the name of adult female member or in joint name and all houses to have toilet facility, drinking water and power supply. Preference is given to persons with disabilities, ST/ SC/ OBCs, minorities and transgender.
Landmark Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 gets Parliamentary approval
The Parliament gave its nod to the landmark Consumer Protection Bill, 2019 which aims to protect the rights of consumers by establishing authorities for timely and effective administration and settlement of consumers’ dispute.
About the Consumer Protection Bill, 2019
The Bill replace the more than three decades old Consumer Protection Act, 1986.
Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA)
- The bill sets up an executive agency called Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA).
- To carry out investigations into violations of consumer rights and recall of unsafe goods and services and discontinue unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements.
- To impose penalties on manufacturers of unsafe goods and endorsers and publishers of misleading advertisements.
- To give manufacturers and service providers who make false or misleading advertisements repeatedly a jail term of up to five years and a fine of up to ₹50 lakhs.
- Celebrities who endorse products or feature in ads with misleading claims may have to pay a penalty of up to ₹10 lakhs and may even be barred from endorsing any product for a year.
- Product liability means the liability of a product manufacturer, service provider or seller to compensate a consumer for any harm or injury caused by a defective good or deficient service.
- To claim compensation, a consumer has to prove any one of the conditions for defect or deficiency, as given in the Bill. Hence, For the first time, there will be an exclusive law dealing with Product Liability.
- The Bill for the first time have a mechanism for dealing with grievances of e-commerce consumers.
- To help dispose cases early, it also provides for court-directed mediation to redress grievances. No appeal will be allowed on cases settled through mediation.
Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission:
- Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (CDRCs) will be set up at the district, state, and national levels.
- It does not insist on having at least 50 per cent of consumer commission from judicial background, both at district as well as at State levels.
- Pecuniary Jurisdiction enhanced to-
- District Commission –Up to Rs 1 crore
- State Commission- Between Rs 1 crore and Rs 10 crore
- National Commission –Above Rs.10 crore
- Deemed admissibility after 21days of filing
- Empowerment of Consumer Commission to enforce their orders
- Appeals only on question of law after second stage
- Presently Consumer only have a single point of access to justice, which is time consuming. Additional swift executive remedies are proposed in the bill through Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA).
- Deterrent punishment to check misleading advertisements and adulteration of products
- Product liability provision to deter manufacturers and service providers from delivering defective products or deficient services.
- Ease of approaching Consumer Commission and Simplification of Adjudication process
- Scope for early disposal of cases through mediation.
- Provision for rules for new age consumer issues: e-commerce & direct selling.
- The Bill does not address the fundamental problem of complicated litigation which is the bane of consumer forums constituted under the Consumer Protection Act of 1986. Instead, it provides an alternative to the consumer forums in the form of mediation.
- The Bill does not simplify consumer proceedings procedures and prohibit lawyers or even restrict their presence to complaints of high value.
- The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 does not provide a regulator to enforce the rights of consumers. The Bill does provide for a regulator, but there is no proper focus on the duties of the regulator.
- One of the first rights of consumers listed in the CP Act of 1986 is the right to safe goods and services, however, the enforcement of this right does not get due importance in the bill.
- Today, there is emphasis on simplifying laws so that it is easily understood by all. However, even the definition of ‘consumer rights’ in the Bill is not simple and straight forward.
7th August: National Handloom Day
The National Handloom Day is being observed every year on 7 August to honour the handloom weavers in the country.
- The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched the first National Handloom Day on 7th August 2015.
- National Handloom Day was launched with the objective to generate awareness about the importance of handloom industry and its contribution to the socioeconomic development of the country in general and to promote handlooms, increase income of weavers and enhance their pride in particular.
Why August 7?
- The date August 7 has been chosen due to its special significance in India’s freedom struggle.
- It was on this day in 1905 that the Swadeshi Movement was formally launched, at a massive meeting in the Calcutta Town hall.
- The movement involved revival of domestic products and production processes.
Handloom sector in India:
- India exports about 95% of hand-woven fabric in the world.
- In India itself, handweaving covers one of the largest sectors in Indian economy and it provides employment to about 43 lakh weavers.
- It is time to encourage citizens to use more of handloom products because a certain increase of 5% in the consumption would help the handloom market and revenue grow by over 33%.
Bilateral & International Relations
What is the UN Security Council resolution 47 on Kashmir?
Resolution 47 of the UNSC focuses on the complaint of India concerning the dispute over the State of Jammu and Kashmir, that India took to the Security Council in January 1948.
What is United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 47?
- The United Nations Security Council Resolution 47, adopted in 1948, concerns the resolution of the Kashmir conflict.
How did it come into effect?
- In October 1947, following an invasion by soldiers from the Pakistan Army, the Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh sought assistance from India and signed the Instrument of Accession (acceded J&K into India).
- After the first war in Kashmir (1947-1948), India approached the UN Security Council to bring the conflict in Kashmir to the notice of Security Council members.
Who were the UNSC members who oversaw the issue?
- The UN Security Council increased the size of the investigating council established by UNSC Resolution 39 to include six members along with permanent members of the UNSC.
- Along with the five permanent members, China, France, UK, US & Russia, non-permanent members included Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Syria and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
What was the recommendations of UNSC resolution 47?
The Resolution recommended a three-step process for the resolution of the dispute.
- In the first step, Pakistan was asked to withdraw all its nationals from Kashmir.
- In the second step, India was asked to progressively reduce its forces to the minimum level required for law and order.
- In the third step, India was asked to appoint a plebiscite administrator nominated by the United Nations who would conduct a plebiscite (a free and impartial voting to know the people’s desire about J&K merger (with India or Pakistan)).
How did India & Pakistan react to the UNSC Resolution 47?
- Both countries rejected Resolution 47.
India rejected it for several reasons:
- The resolution ignored the military invasion by Pakistan.
- The Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh had already signed the Instrument of Accession. Hence there is no need for Plebiscite (voting).
- Ther resolution did not allow India to retain military presence which it believed it needed for defence.
- The Resolution’s order to form a coalition government, would also put Sheikh Abdullah, the then Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, in a difficult position.
- India also believed that the powers conferred on the Plebiscite Administrator undermined the state’s sovereignty.
US officially labels China a ‘currency manipulator’
China’s central bank said that US’s decision to label Beijing as a currency manipulator would severely damage international financial order and cause chaos in financial markets.
What is currency manipulation and who determines it?
- The US Department of the Treasury publishes a semi-annual report in which the developments in global economic and exchange rate policies are reviewed.
- If a US trade partner meets three assessment criteria, the US labels it a currency manipulator.
- The US defines currency manipulation as when countries deliberately influence the exchange rate between their currency and the US dollar to gain unfair competitive advantage in international trade.
- Currently, India is in the monitoring list of US and meets only one of the three criteria. If this remains the case till the next report, US would likely remove India from the Monitoring List.
The three criteria are:
- A significant bilateral trade surplus with the US (at least $20 billion).
- A material global current account surplus (at least 3% of GDP)
- Persistent one-way intervention in foreign exchange markets.
What is the issue?
- The US called China as ‘currency manipulator’ after China deliberately lower its currency.
- A weaker yuan (Chinese currency) makes Chinese exports more competitive or cheaper to buy with foreign currencies such as US dollars.
- Hence, china deliberately decreases the yuan price on a historic low (more than 7 Yuan per dollar) since 2008 due to the imposition of increased tariff on China by the US in the ongoing US-china trade war.
Reason for lowering the currency value:
- China decided to retaliate (by decreasing the Yuan value) after US vowed to impose 10% tariffs on $300bn of Chinese imports.
- When the US Treasury labels a country a currency manipulator – as it has done here with China – the next step would normally be for negotiations to begin between the two countries. In this case, trade negotiations have already been going on for more than a year.
- The process also opens the path for America to introduce tariffs. Again, that’s already happening as part of Mr Trump’s ‘America First’ approach to trade.
- Under the 1988 Omnibus Foreign Trade and Competitiveness Act, the U.S. will have to negotiate with China or take its case to the International Monetary Fund.
Potential penalties by the U.S. include:
- Banning the Overseas Private Investment Corporation — an American government agency that invests in developing countries — from financing China.
- Excluding China from U.S. government procurement contracts.
Key Facts for Prelims
Adjournment Sine Die
- In terms of Legislative procedures it means to adjourn an assembly for an indefinite period.
- Its literal meaning in latin is without day i.e. without assigning a day for a further (or next) meeting or hearing.
- Power of adjournment sine die lies with presiding officer of House. Also, presiding officer of a House can call a sitting of House before date/time to which it has been adjourned or at any time after House has been adjourned sine die.
Why in news?
- The 1st session of 17th Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die, a day ahead of scheduled conclusion, as 99% of government business has been completed.
- The announcement in this regard was made by the Speaker.
Raksha Rajya Mantri off Mountaineering Expedition team to climb Mt. Elbrus
Raksha Rajya Mantri flagged off an Expedition Team of Himalayan Mountaineering Institute (HMI), Darjeeling to Mt. Elbrus, Russia.
About the Expedition:
- The expedition team of professional mountaineers plans to hoist India’s national flag atop the mountain on the 73rd Independence Day.
- With a view to showcase the importance of Yoga activities to the international community, the team will also perform ‘Asanas’ atop Mt. Elbrus.
Location of Mount Elbrus
- Mount Elbrus, an inactive volcano, is the highest peak of the Caucasus Mountains in Russia.
- It is the highest peak in the European continent and included in the Seven Great Summits of the world.
- The mountain is located near the Russian-Georgian border.
What are Seven Summits?
The Seven Summits are the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. Summiting all of them is regarded as a mountaineering challenge.
- Everest (Asia)
- Kosciuszko (Australia)
- Aconcagua (South America)
- Vinson Massif (Antarctica)
- Denali (North America)
- Elbrus (Europe)
- Kilimanjaro (Africa)
- It is India’s first wireless 3-D Smart Traffic Signal System recently launched by the Mohali traffic police in Punjab.
- It proposes an Intelligent Traffic Timer Control to regulate traffic signals with smart bird’s eye view using wireless sensor system.
How it works?
- It uses dynamic signal control technology to adjust timers of red, yellow and green lights according to the traffic density at an intersection.
- It uses existing CCTV cameras to gather live traffic video feed, and automatically evaluates the traffic density using Artificial Intelligence (AI), and sets signal timers accordingly. This process is repeated for every cycle of traffic lights to keep traffic flowing smoothly.