Polity & Governance
- Congress for no slugfest over Leader of Opposition post
- Govt amends 60-year-old rule to grant 3-month extension to Cabinet Secretory
Issues related to Health & Education
- Draft National Education Policy (DNEP) Puts Forward A Proposal For Formal Education From Age Of Three
- Ministry of Health and Family Welfare inaugurates first-ever World Food Safety Day
Bilateral & International Relations
- G20 ministerial meeting on trade, digital economy opens in Japan’s Tsukuba
- UAE Cabinet adopts “National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031”
Defence & Security Issues
- Indian Air Force Inks Rs 300 Crore Deal to Procure Spice Bombs from Israel
- Indonesia volcano on Ring of Fire erupts blasting ash seven kilometres high
Key Facts for Prelims
- Romila Thapar elected as member of American Philosophical Society
- Long March 11 rocket
- Ambassador of Conscience Award 2019
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Polity & Governance
Congress for no slugfest over Leader of Opposition post
The Congress claimed that it will not stake claim for the position of Leader of Opposition in Parliament since it is short of the necessary numbers to be eligible for the position.
What is the norm to be opposition Party?
- According to established norm, a party needs 10% of the strength of the House (543) to be eligible as leader of opposition party.
- In Lok Sabha, total strength is 545 members so any party that has 55 members can get the post. The Congress which is the second largest party in the house only has 52 members which is three short of the necessary figure.
- In 1984 when Congress got 404 seats in Lok Sabha, it did not concede the position of LoP to Telugu Desam Party which was the second largest party with 30 seats in Lok Sabha.
- The 10% rule was in fact brought in 1985 by the then Lok Sabha Speaker Balram Jakhar to deny the position to Telugu Desam Party.
- The first LoP was designated only in 1969 and there was no such post in the fifth (1971-77), seventh (1980-84) and eighth (1984-89) Lok Sabha.
Legality of 10% Rule:
- As per the Directions 120 and 121(1)(c) of the “Directions by the Speaker of Lok Sabha” issued in 1956 , the Speaker is not obliged to recognise any member of the largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha as Leader of Opposition in case the said party does not have the strength equal to 1/10th of the quorum required for a sitting of the House.
- Direction 120 reads: The Speaker may recognise an association of members as a Parliamentary Party or Group for the purpose of functioning in the House and the decision of the Speaker shall be final.
- Direction 121(1)(c) reads: In recognising a Parliamentary Party…(it) shall have at least a strength equal to the quorum fixed to constitute a sitting of the House, that is one-tenth of the total number of members of the House.
- Direction 122 lists seven purposes: (a) allotment of block of seats in the House (b) allotment of room in the Parliament House (c) allotment of committee rooms for holding party meetings (d) supply of official documents; (e) nomination to a Parliamentary Committee; (f) submission of a panel of names to the Speaker for debates and (g) consultation for fixing business of the House or any other important matter coming before the House.
- There is no mention of LoP in these directions. Rather, these are to recognise Parliamentary Party or Group.
- The recognition of LoP is “outside the purview of the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977.”
- This Act is meant specifically for the LoP and gives it a statutory status.
- The Act says, Leader of the Opposition is the leader in that House of the party in opposition to the Government having the greatest numerical strength and recognised as such by the Chairman of the Council of States or the Speaker of the House of the People, as the case may be.
- There is no mention of 10 per cent strength but “the greatest numerical strength” of the opposition party is set out as the basis for recognising the LoP.
- It is about the presence of LoP in the ‘selection committee’ for appointments under the CVC Act, RTI Act, Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act and Protection of Human Rights Act.
- While the CVC Act and RTI Act provided for substituting LoP with the leader of the single largest group in opposition in Lok Sabha, all the four laws provided that no selection would be invalid merely on account of any vacancy of any member in the Committee dismissing the legal need for LoP.
Importance of LoP:
- The LoP is critical to effective functioning of the opposition in the Parliament and its role in bringing neutrality to the appointments in institutions of accountability.
- In the Westminster model that India follows, the opposition is a recognisable entity and the LoP is referred to as the ‘shadow Prime Minister’ because she/he is expected to be ready to take over if the government falls.
- The LoP also plays an important role in bringing cohesiveness and effectiveness to the opposition’s functioning in policy and legislative work.
Govt amends 60-year-old rule to grant 3-month extension to Cabinet Secretary
The Centre has amended a 60-year-old rule to grant three-month extension to Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar Sinha.
What is the current rule?
- A cabinet secretary is appointed for a fixed tenure of two years.
- According to All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement-Benefits) Rules, 1958, the government can give extension in service to a cabinet secretary provided the total tenure does not exceed four years.
What changes have been made?
- As per the modified rules, the central government may give an extension in service for a further period not exceeding three months, beyond the period of four years to a cabinet secretary.
All about Cabinet Secretariat:
- The Cabinet Secretariat is responsible for the administration of the Government of India (Transaction of Business) Rules, 1961 and the Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules 1961, facilitating smooth transaction of business in Ministries/ Departments of the Government.
- The Cabinet Secretariat functions directly under the Prime Minister.
- The administrative head of the Secretariat is the Cabinet Secretary who is also the ex-officio Chairman of the Civil Services Board.
- He is the custodian of the papers of the Cabinet meetings.
- A monthly report is sent by Ministries to the Cabinet Secretariat providing details on a wider range of issues such as important policy matters, sanction for prosecution pending for more than 3 months, departure from ToB Rules, implementation of e-Governance etc.
- Assists in decision-making in Government by ensuring Inter-Ministerial coordination, ironing out differences amongst Ministries/Departments.
- Evolving consensus through the instrumentality of the standing/adhoc Committees of Secretaries.
- Promoting inter-Ministerial coordination
- Management of major crisis situations in the country.
- Convening of the meetings of the Cabinet & its Committees on the orders of the Prime Minister.
- Preparation and circulation of the agenda.
- Circulation of papers related to the cases on the agenda and Preparation of record of discussions.
- Circulation of the record of discussions after obtaining the approval of the Prime Minister and Monitoring implementation of decisions taken by the Cabinet and its Committees.
The Cabinet Secretariat building houses the offices of the following:
- Prime Minister (PMO)
- National Security Advisor
- Foreign Secretary of India
- Ministry of Home Affairs
- Ministry of External Affairs
- Ministry of Finance
- Ministry of Defence
Issues related to Health & Education
Draft National Education Policy (DNEP) Puts Forward A Proposal For Formal Education From Age Of Three
With Draft National’s Education Policy proposal of expansion of Right to Education Act, Indian children could soon enter the formal education system at the age of three.
Proposal in Draft National Education Policy (DNEP):
What is current Scenario?
- As of the current scenario, early childhood education is being overseen by private pre-schools and Anganwadis, for the 3 to 6 years age group.
- The Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has been overseeing the Anganwadis system for over four decades.
Proposed changes in Draft National Education Policy (DNEP):
- Cover three years of preschool before class 1.
- Childhood education to be overseen and regulated by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) as part of the school system.
- This will be in addition to the private pre-schools and anganwadis that currently cater to the 3-to-6 years age group.
- A new integrated curricular framework for 3 to 8-year olds with a flexible system based on play, activity and discover and beginning exposure to three languages from age 3 onwards.
- The NEP could result in an upheaval in the anganwadi system which has been overseen by the Ministry of WCD for more than four decades.
- Most anganwadis have remained relatively light on the educational aspects of ‘Early Childhood Care and Education’ (ECCE).
- Anganwadis are currently deficient in supplies and infrastructure for education; as a result, they tend to contain more children in the 2-4 year age range and fewer in the educationally critical 4-6 year age range.
- They also have few teachers trained in or specially dedicated to early childhood education.
- Moreover, private pre-schools often consist of formal teaching and rote memorisation with limited play-based learning.
- This framework would be implemented by training anganwadi capabilities and linking them to a local primary school, co-locating anganwadis and pre-schools with primary schools, or building stand-alone pre-schools also linked to a local primary school.
What is Anganwadi?
- Anganwadi is a type of rural child care centre which were started by the Indian government in 1975 as part of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) program to combat child hunger and malnutrition.
- ICDS is the world’s largest community based outreach programme which offers a package of health, nutrition and education services to the children below six years and pregnant and nursing mothers is one of the initiatives taken up by the Central Government, which provides a package of six services viz., supplementary nutrition, immunization, health checkups, referral services, nutrition and health education for mothers/pregnant women, nursing mothers and to adolescent girls (kishoris) through anganwadi workers.
- It caters to children in the 0-6 age group.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare inaugurates first-ever World Food Safety Day
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Promotes “Eat Less, Eat Right” movement and pledges to make Jan Andolan on not wasting even one grain of food.
World Food Safety Day:
- The first ever World Food Safety Day was celebrated by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
- The theme for the celebration was ‘food safety, everyone’s business.
About Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI):
- The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is an agency of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India.
- The FSSAI has been established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 which is a consolidating statute related to food safety and regulation in India.
- The FSSAI is led by a non-executive Chairperson, appointed by the Central Government.
- The Chairperson is in the rank of Secretary to Government of India.
- The agency also has 8 regional offices, 4 referral laboratories and 72 local laboratories located throughout India.
Initiates of FSSAI
Clean Street Food Hub
- Project Clean Street Food is one of the initiatives taken up by FSSAI under a 360 degree approach to Food Safety and Healthy Nutrition.
- Kankaria Lake area in Ahmedabad was the country’s first clean street food hub. Recently, Golden Temple Street, Amritsar has been also recognized as a ‘Clean Street Food Hub’.
- The Ministry launched a new-age, hand-held battery operated device called ‘Raman 1.0’.
- This device performs rapid detection (in less than 1 minute) of economically driven adulteration in edible oils, fats and ghee.
- The equipment tests more than 250 samples per battery charge, collects and stores data on the cloud using a smart device.
- This is the first of 19 such equipment and methods that have been provisionally approved by FSSAI for strengthening the food testing infrastructure in the country.
State Food Safety Index
- FSSAI has developed the first State Food Safety Index (SFSI) to measure the performance of States on five parameters of food safety.
- The categories included Human Resources and Institutional Arrangements, Compliance, Food Testing- Infrastructure and Surveillance, Training and Capacity Building and Consumer Empowerment.
Food Safety Magic Box
- Food Safety Magic Box is a do-it-yourself food testing kit comprises a manual and equipment to check for food adulterants, which schoolchildren can use in their classroom laboratories.
- This kit is also useful for frontline health workers.
Eat Right Awards
- FSSAI has instituted the ‘Eat Right Awards’ to recognize the contribution of food companies and individuals to empower citizens to choose safe and healthy food options, which would help improve their health and well-being.
Bilateral & International Relations
G20 ministerial meeting on trade, digital economy opens in Japan’s Tsukuba
G20 Ministerial Meeting on Trade and Digital Economy opened in the Japanese city of Tsukuba, one of the country’s main academic and research centers.
Pre meetings before G20:
- In meeting on Trade and Digital Economy, issues of free trade are expected to dominate discussion against the backdrop of the trade war between the United States and China.
- Simultaneously, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting is about to open in southwestern Japan’s Fukuoka.
- A series of various ministerial meetings will be held in Japan’s 8 cities throughout the year.
G20 Osaka Summit:
- The 2019 G20 Osaka summit will be the fourteenth meeting of G20 which will be held on 28–29 June 2019 in Osaka, Japan.
- In 2019, Japan assumed its first-ever rotating presidency in G20.
Themes of G20 Osaka Summit:
- Global Economy
- Trade and Investment
- Environment and Energy
- Women’s empowerment
All about G20
- The Group of Twenty (G20) is the premier forum for its members’ international economic cooperation and decision-making.
- Its members include Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, India, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, UK, US and EU.
- It comprises total 19 countries plus the European Union (EU), representing 85% of global GDP, 80% of international trade, 65% of world’s population. The European Union is represented by the European Commission and by the European Central Bank.
- It is deliberating forum for the governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies on economic issues and other important development challenges.
- It was started in 1999 as a meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in the aftermath of the Southeast Asian (Tiger economies) financial crisis.
- It was established for studying, reviewing, and promoting high-level discussion of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability.
- In 2008, the first G20 Leaders’ Summit was held in Washington DC, US. The group had played a key role in responding to the global financial crisis.
- The G20 is supported by international organisations, including the Financial Stability Board, the International Labour Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.
- G20 also works with its official engagement groups, the B20, C20, L20, T20 and Y20, comprising business, civil society, organised labour, academia and youth.
How does the G20 work?
The work of the G20 is generally divided into two tracks:
- The Finance track comprises all meetings with G20 finance ministers and central bank governors and their deputies.
- Convening several times throughout the year, they focus on financial and economic issues, such as monetary, fiscal and exchange rate policies, infrastructure investment, financial regulation, financial inclusion and international taxation.
- The Sherpa track focuses on broader issues such as political engagement, anti-corruption, development, trade, energy and climate change, gender equality, among others.
- Each G20 country is represented at these meetings by its relevant minister, and by its designated sherpa, or emissary.
- The sherpa engages in planning, negotiation and implementation tasks on behalf of the leader of their respective country.
- Each sherpa orients their minister and head of state or government accordingly on the progress of the G20, and delegates the dialogue and topics to relevant working groups.
UAE Cabinet adopts “National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031”
The UAE Cabinet adopted the National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031 during its meeting at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi.
About the National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031:
- The National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031 aims to make the UAE a world leader in quality of life through a number of strategic objectives.
- It also aims to promote an integrated concept of wellbeing, thus supporting the vision of the UAE Vision 2021 and the UAE Centennial 2071.
- It will monitor a number of indicators of wellbeing in the UAE, propose training programmes for government employees, and launch of the Academy of Wellbeing future generations, in addition to the formation of a National Wellbeing Council to manage and coordinate the national strategy.
- One of the most important initiatives is the development of the first ‘National Wellbeing Observatory’ to support the policymaking process.
- The Strategy is based on a national framework of three main levels – individuals, society and the country.
- It includes 14 components and nine strategic objectives, which include enhancing people’s wellbeing by promoting healthy and active lifestyles, promoting good mental health and adopting positive thinking.
- The Strategy includes 90 supporting initiatives targeting more than 40 priority areas.
Other major reforms:
- It adopted the Federal Law on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms, which aims to protect public health from the risks of genetically modified organisms or their products.
- Agreements with Korea and Peru on the elimination of double taxation in respect of income taxes were also ratified, along with an agreement with Gabon on mutual encouragement and protection of investments, and an agreement with Uzbekistan on administrative cooperation and exchange of customs matters.
- The UAE did ratification of the UAE’s accession to the International Alliance for Green Development along the Belt and Road initiative, as well as an agreement between the Government of the UAE and the Government of Peru on the mutual exemption of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic and private passports.
- The Cabinet also approved an agreement with Honduras on air services between and beyond their territory, as well as membership in the Multilateral Organisations Performance Assessment Network.
Defence & Security Issues
Indian Air Force Inks Rs 300 Crore Deal to Procure Spice Bombs from Israel
The Indian Air Force has signed a Rs 300 crore deal with a Israeli defence firm to procure a batch of SPICE 2000 guided bombs.
- The deal was signed with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
About SPICE Bombs:
- The “SPICE” (Smart, Precise Impact, Cost-Effective) is an Israeli-developed, GPS-guided guidance kit for converting air-droppable unguided bombs into precision guided bombs.
- SPICE bomb has a standoff range of 60 kilometres.
- It has weight of nearly 900 kg or 2000 pounds, hence the name SPICE 2000.
- It approaches the target as its unique scene-matching algorithm compares the electro-optical image received in real-time and adjusts the flight path accordingly.
- SPICE 2000 consists of an add-on kit for warheads such as the MK-84, BLU-109, APW and RAP-2000.
- It has day, night and adverse weather capability because of its dual infrared IR/CCD-TV seeker and advanced scene-matching algorithms.
- It can choose among 100 potential targets and multiple weapons can be released at the same time providing simultaneous attack against various targets located across a given area capability.
- The other variant of SPICE bombs are SPICE 1000 and SPICE 250.
- The India Air Force (IAF) had used SPICE bombs in its strikes on a terrorist training camp in Pakistan’s Balakot on February 26.
Indonesia volcano on Ring of Fire erupts blasting ash seven kilometres high
Mount Sinabung on the island of Sumatra, which has seen a spike in activity since 2010, was erupted sending clouds of volcanic ash several kilometres into the sky.
- Mount Sinabung is located within the Karo regency of North Sumatra province, Indonesia.
- Among the Indonesia’s most active volcanoes, it is 2,460 m high.
- It was inactive for 400 years before its 2010 eruption.
Ring of Fire:
- The Ring of Fire is a horseshoe-shaped region surrounding the Pacific Ocean. Around 25,000 miles long, this region contains 75 % of the world’s volcanoes, and 90% of the world’s earthquakes hit the countries that border this region.
- The ring of fire lies on Pacific tectonic plate, which joins with several other plates. These areas therefore are also prone to volcanic and seismic activity.
Key facts about the Ring of Fire:
- The countries that border the Ring of Fire include the Western Coast of the United States, Japan, Indonesia, and many Pacific islands.
- The Ring of Fire is home to the deepest ocean trench, called the Mariana Trench.
- Mount Tambora of Indonesia is on Ring of fire which erupted in 1815 and became the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history.
- 22 of the 25 largest volcanic eruptions in the last 11,700 years occurred in the ‘Ring of Fire’.
- Most of the active volcanoes in the ring are situated underwater.
- Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand is the most active volcano in the ring, with yearly minor eruptions and major eruptions every 50 years.
What causes Ring of Fire?
- Most of the Earth’s volcanoes are located around the Pacific Ring of Fire because that the location of most of the Earth’s subduction zones.
- A subduction zone is a place where one plate of oceanic lithosphere (= the crust + uppermost mantle) is shoved under another plate.
- The down going plate is always the oceanic one. The oceanic plate collected water-saturated sediments and its uppermost few hundred meters got water saturated also.
- As it is shoved into the hotter mantle the plate heats up and all this water and other volatiles boil off and migrate upwards through the overlying plate. The addition of volatiles such as water to the hot overlying mantle causes partial melting and the production of magma.
- This magma rises up through the over-lying plate to erupt at the surface. If the overlying plate is a continent, formation of chain of volcanoes such as the Andes or Cascades occurs. If the overlying plate is ocean, a chain of volcanic islands such as the Marianas or Aleutians occurs.
- This is also where the Earth’s deep ocean trenches are and where the Earth’s deep earthquakes are. The trenches form because the down going plate is bent downward as it subducts. The earthquakes form as the two plates scrape against each other (earthquakes down to about 150 km) and then as the down going plate bends (earthquakes down to about 700 km).
- The earthquakes do a very good job of tracing the position of the downgoing plate. These zones of earthquakes are called Wadati-Benioff zones, after the two seismologists who first recognized them.
Areas under risk:
- The people most at risk from activity in the Ring of Fire are in the US west coast, Chile, Japan and island nations including the Solomon Islands.
- These areas are most at risk because they lie on so-called subduction zones – which are boundaries that mark the collision between two of the planet’s tectonic plates.
- Indonesia has nearly 130 active volcanoes, more than any other country.
Vulnerability of Indonesia:
- Indonesia sit along the Ring of Fire region, an area where most of the world’s volcanic eruptions occur.
- Indonesia is at the meeting point of three major continental plates – the Pacific, the Eurasian and the Indo-Australian plates – and the much smaller Philippine plate. As a result, several volcanoes on the Indonesian islands are prone to erupting.
- Indonesia is home to roughly 400 volcanoes, out of which 127 are currently active, accounting for about a third of the world’s active volcanoes.
Key Facts for Prelims
Romila Thapar elected as member of American Philosophical Society
- Famous historian and writer Romila Thapar has been elected as international member of American Philosophical Society (APS).
- She is Professor Emerita of history at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi.
About American Philosophical Society:
- The American Philosophical Society is the oldest learned society in the United States.
- Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743, it continues its mission of “promoting useful knowledge” through research, fellowships, and public outreach.
Long March 11 rocket
- It is a space rocket recently launched by China from a mobile launch platform in Yellow Sea off Shandong province (China) for the first time.
- With this China became 3rd nation following the U.S. and Russia to successfully demonstrate ability to launch satellites into orbit from a floating platform.
- The space rocket carried 2 experimental satellites (named Bufeng-1A and Bufeng-1B) and 5 commercial ones.
Ambassador of Conscience Award 2019
- Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement of school-children have been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2019.
About Ambassador of Conscience Award:
- The Ambassador of Conscience Award is Amnesty International’s most prestigious human rights award.
- It celebrates individuals and groups who have furthered the cause of human rights by showing exceptional courage standing up to injustice and who have used their talents to inspire others.
- It also aims to generate debate, encourage public action and raise awareness of inspirational stories and human rights issues.