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Your ten minute read!

January 14th, 2021

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LAW, POLICY & GOVERNANCE



Daily snippets

1. ‘Ban sex-­selective surgeries on inter-sex infants and children’

  • The Delhi Commission for Protections of Child Rights (DCPCR), in an order, recommended that the Delhi government should declare a ban on medically unnecessary, sex selective surgeries on inter-sex infants and children except in the case of life threatening situations.

  • The commission passed the order after deliberating on a plea that brought to its notice that there have been instances wherein inter-sex people are treated as disabled reducing them to an ‘impairment’ leading to medical interventions that can lead to long-term impairments and requiring lifetime medical care. Adviser to the commission, a human rights activist Anjali Gopalan, in her response said that such medical interventions are violative of the fundamental right to bodily integrity and physical autonomy.

  • The DCPCR also said it had taken due notice of the judgment of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court wherein the court directed the Government of Tamil Nadu to ban sex reassignment surgeries on intersex infants and children.

2. SC takes cognisance of contamination of rivers

  • The Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of the contamination of rivers by sewage effluents through lapses committed by municipalities. “Deterioration of quality of fresh water has a direct correlation with the quality of public health. The right to clean environment, and further, pollution free water, has been protected under the broad rubric of the right to life.

  • The Bench was hearing an urgent petition filed by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), represented by advocate Shadan Farasat, to “immediately stop” Haryana from discharging pollutants into the Yamuna, which is causing an alarming increase in ammonia levels in the water.

3. CBFC chief for regulating OTT platforms

  • OTT (Over-the-top) platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and others need to be regulated, Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Prasoon Joshi, said at a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology.

  • He also said while films which were made available for public viewing in cinema halls were regulated, similar checks and balances were missing for OTT platforms. The same content in cinema hall had to go through the CBFC, while it did not need any clearance if it was aired on the OTT platforms.

4. Ministry denies RTI query on farm law consultations

  • The Agriculture Ministry has denied a Right to Information (RTI) request for details on pre legislative consultations on the farm reform laws, saying the matter is subjudice. In its response, the Ministry cited the clause from the RTI Act that exempts information that has been forbidden to be published by a court of law or whose disclosure would amount to contempt of court.

5. Adultery law must stay for the military : Govt.

  • The Supreme Court admitted a petition filed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) seeking to exempt armed forces personnel from the ambit of a Constitution Bench judgment of 2018 that decriminalised adultery.

  • A three judge Bench led by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said the plea had to be considered by a Constitution Bench because the original verdict, striking down Section 497 (adultery) of the IPC, was pronounced by a five judge Bench in September 2018. The court referred the case to the Chief Justice to pass appropriate orders to form a five judge Bench to clarify the impact of the 2018 judgment on the armed forces.

  • The government said in the petition that personnel of the Army, Navy and the Air Force were a “distinct class”. They were governed by special legislation, the Army Act, the Navy Act and the Air Force Act.


NATIONAL NEWS/ INTERVENTIONS



Daily snippets

1. CCS approves 83 Tejas fighters for Air Force

  • In the biggest indigenous defence deal, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved the manufacture of 83 Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at a cost of around ₹47,000 crore.

  • The Cabinet also approved infrastructure development by the IAF under the project to enable them to handle repairs or servicing at their base depot so that the turnaround time is reduced for mission critical systems, which would lead to increased availability of aircraft for operational exploitation, the statement said.

  • The first LCA MK­1A is expected to roll out 2023-­24 onwards, after which HAL plans to ramp up the production rate to 16 aircraft a year.

2. Polio immunisation drive postponed

  • The Union Health Ministry has postponed the polio immunisation drive scheduled from January 17 till further notice, citing unforeseen activities. While the COVID­-19 vaccination starts on January 16, the National Immunisation Day (NID), commonly known as Pulse Polio Immunisation programme, was scheduled for January 17 across India.

3. NSA Doval holds talks in Afghanistan

  • National Security Adviser Ajit Doval held talks on Wednesday with the Afghan leadership in Kabul on the security scenario in Afghanistan, ahead of the arrival of the Biden-­Harris administration in Washington DC.

  • The Office of the National Security Council of Afghanistan said in a public announcement that the two sides held “extensive conversations on issues of strategic mutual interest, including on synchronising efforts to combat terrorism and build peace”. He also met with President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS/EVENTS/ PERSONALITIES



Daily snippets

1. Two protests and false parallels

  • As a pro­-Trump mob swarmed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, the comparisons drawn to the storming of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) complex on July 1, 2019 were immediate.

  • Stark differences : While those besieging the Capitol sought to overturn the results of an election to cement their strongman leader’s rule, those in Hong Kong sought to secure their right to elect their leader and govern themselves, as promised in their own constitutional document. While hordes supporting U.S. President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol as Congress was in session, intending to hold their elected representatives hostage, LegCo was occupied late at night when it was empty. The target of the Hong Kong protesters was not any individual but a symbol: a building that, far from a centuries old temple of democracy, was a barely eight year old steel glass dolmen for a government they had never voted for, and which continued to ignore them even when two million Hong Kongers marched peacefully through the streets to demand the withdrawal of a bill allowing criminal suspects to be sent to Communist Party­-controlled courts in mainland China.

  • One should also ask whether it is responsible to make an equivalence between an incident in which democracy was under siege and one in which autocracy was under siege.

2. Sri Lankan court acquits rebel turned lawmaker

  • The court in the eastern town of Batticaloa released Sivanesathurai Chandarakanthan, who won a seat while in detention in last August’s parliamentary election, representing a party that backs President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

  • Chandrakanthan was a former child soldier in the Tamil Tiger rebel group that fought a quarter century civil war. He later joined a renegade faction that emerged from the biggest split in the rebel group in 2004 and functioned as a paramilitary group supporting government forces. His faction played a key role in the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in the eastern province, a precursor to their total rout in 2009. He then entered politics and became the government backed Chief Minister of Eastern Province.

3. 57 killed in deadliest Israeli strikes on Syria in years

  • Israeli air strikes on east Syria killed 57 regime forces and allied Iran­-backed fighters, in the deadliest such strikes since the start of the conflict, a war monitoring group said on Wednesday.

  • Days before the strikes, the Fatimid Brigade transported a consignment of Iranian-­manufactured weapons to eastern Syria from neighbouring Iraq, said the Observatory. They were stored in the region targeted overnight, it added.

  • Syria Civil War : The Syrian civil war is an ongoing multi-sided civil war in Syria fought between the Ba'athist Syrian Arab Republic led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, along with domestic and foreign allies, and various domestic and foreign forces opposing both the Syrian government and each other in varying combinations.

4. Biden names Samantha Power as USAID chief

  • President-elect Joe Biden nominated former Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, a forceful advocate of humanitarian diplomacy, to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and elevated the position’s role. Ms. Power, if confirmed, would sit on the National Security Council along with John Kerry, the former Secretary of State tapped as climate envoy – for the first time giving such prominence to the two issues.

ECONOMICS & FINANCE



Daily snippets

1. RBI forms working group on digital lending

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has constituted a work­ing group on digital lending – including online platforms and mobile apps – to study all aspects of digital lending activities in the regulated financial sector as well as by unregulated players. This is to put in place an appropriate regulatory approach.

  • Digital lending has the potential to make access to financial products and services more fair, efficient and inclusive. From a peripheral supporting role a few years ago, FinTech-­led innovation is now at the core of the de­sign, pricing and delivery of financial products and ser­vices,” the RBI said in a noti­fication.

  • A balanced approach needs to be followed so that the regulatory framework supports innovation while ensuring data security, pri­vacy, confidentiality and consumer protection,” bank­ing regulator added.

  • The working group will evaluate digital lending ac­tivities and assess the pene­tration and standards of out­sourced digital lending activities in RBI regulated entities; identify the risks posed by unregulated digital lending to financial stability, regulated entities and con­sumers; and suggest regula­tory changes to promote or­derly growth of digital lending. It will also recommend measures for expansion of specific regulatory or statu­tory perimeter and suggest the role of various regulatory and government agencies. It will also recommend a ro­bust fair practices code for digital lending players.

2. IRDAI forms advisory panel on health cover

  • Insurance regulator IRDAI has constituted a health in­surance advisory commit­tee to examine the availa­bility of products, suggest an approach on the coverage of specific diseases, and develop a strategy on treat­ment protocol. The 10­-member com­mittee has been also tasked with examining the extant health insurance product structure in terms of policy conditions to protect the interest of the policyhol­ders.

SUGGESTED READINGS



1. The underworlds of WhatsApp https://rb.gy/62kwga

2. Giving freedom some breathing space https://rb.gy/v6neb2


Download Page : https://e-clat.com/dailynewspage

Sources referred to : The Hindu, The Indian Express, Live Law, Bar & Bench

END


January 13th, 2021

START


LAW, POLICY & GOVERNANCE



Daily snippets

1. SC stays implementation of three controversial farm laws

  • The Supreme Court stayed the implementation of three controversial farm laws, calling its order “extraordinary” and a “victory for fair play”. The court formed a four-member committee of experts “to listen to the grievances of the farmers on the laws and the views of the government and make recommendations”.

2. CJI against resuming physical hearings

  • Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde disagreed with the idea of resuming physical hearings in the Supreme Court, saying the court did not want to be the cause of fatalities due to the spread of COVID­-19. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said it was salutary how the court had not denied justice to anyone by working throughout the pandemic as virtual court.

  • The three judge Bench was hearing a suo motu case to provide financial aid to young lawyers struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic. One of the lawyers had sought a physical court hearing in the case.

3. HC notice to Centre on PIL challenging contempt Act

  • The Karnataka High Court ordered issue of notice to the Union government on a PIL petition filed by four eminent personalities challenging the constitutional validity of a provision of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, that makes “scandalising or tends to scandalising courts” as a ground for contempt.

  • The petitioners have contended in their present petition that Section 2©(i) of the Act violates the right to free speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) and does not amount to a reasonable restriction under Article 19(2). The offence of “scandalising the court” cannot be considered to be covered under the category of “contempt of court” under Article 19(2), the petitioners contended, claiming that even if Section 2©(i) were permissible under the ground of contempt in Article 19(2), it would be disproportionate and therefore unreasonable.

4. Allay fears on anti­-cow slaughter ordinance: HC

  • The Karnataka High Court ordered issue of notice to the State government on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition questioning the validity of the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Ordinance, 2020. The ordinance imposes penalties and varying jail terms for cattle slaughter.

  • The Bench asked Advocate­ General Prabhuling K. Navadgi to clear apprehension about likely prosecution of farmers for transporting cattle within the State even for the exemption granted for bona fide agriculture and animal husbandry purpose as the government is yet to frame rules prescribing the manner of such transportation.

5. SC to hear plea against Republic Day tractor rally

  • The Supreme Court agreed to examine a plea made by the Centre, through the Delhi Police, seeking an injunction order against any proposed tractor, trolley or vehicle march or any other kind of protest by farmers to “disrupt” the Republic Day events. Such a protest by farmers would cause an embarrassment to the nation, says Centre.

NATIONAL NEWS/ INTERVENTIONS



Daily snippets

1. In his first speech at UNSC, Jaishankar slams China and Pak

  • Urging UN Security Council members not to make false distinctions of “good” terrorists and “bad” terrorists, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar made indirect references to both China and Pakistan for delaying the process of designating terrorist individuals and entities, as well as failing to stop the funding of terror.

  • In a speech to the UNSC that convened a session to mark two decades since the 1373 anti­terror resolution was passed after the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., Mr. Jaishankar called for “zero tolerance to terrorism”. Mr. Jaishankar also made a call for “enhanced UN coordination with the FATF”, just ahead of a meeting of the Task Force’s Asia Pacific Joint Group (APJG), which will review Pakistan’s performance in countering terror financing and money laundering.

2. Labour codes may be implemented before April 1st

  • The four labour law codes enacted by Parliament in 2020 and 2019 could be im­plemented before the earlier target of April 1, according to Union Labour and Employ­ment Ministry officials. The codes have amalgamated 29 laws govern­ing minimum wages, occupa­tional safety, social security into four codes.

  • On Tuesday, Labour Minis­ter Santosh Kumar Gangwar held discussions with trade unions and employers’ organ­isations regarding the occupa­tional safety and social securi­ty rules. The rules under the Code on Wages, 2019 have been finalised, those under the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Condi­tions Code, 2020, the Indus­trial Relations Code, 2020 and the Social Security Code, 2020 were yet to be notified.

  • Ten central trade unions boycotted the virtual meeting, terming it a “farce” via a joint statement on Monday. “We have been critical of adoption of labour codes by flouting all Parliamentary norms without discussion in absence of the entire opposi­tion from the Parliament and without tripartite consulta­tions. Instead of taking our objections seriously, the government is trying to create a farce of tripartite consulta­tions by setting up this kind of video conference when we know that the physical meet­ings of the government at va­rious levels are taking place, including the negotiations with the farmers as well as the election preparation rallies in various states, etc,” the state­ment said.

3. Ajit Doval spurs youth to take nation-building path

  • National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval said that the youth of India is bursting with energy to march ahead with patrio­tism and that if they put their collective energy to­wards nation building, they could transform India and the world at large. Mr. Doval was delivering the first Swami Vivekananda Memorial Lecture at Jawa­harlal Nehru University. Mr. Doval said that Swami Vivekananda was a revolu­tionary young monk and a visionary who was the first to make the world look to­wards India and realise the glory of Hinduism.

  • He added that at the time when Swami Vivekananda was propagating his mes­sage, the country was politi­cally saturated, economical­ly impoverished, socially fragmented and psychologi­cally stunned to silence and his message helped people look towards a better future with hope and a belief that it can be changed.

4. No option to select between 2 vaccines : Health Ministry

  • People will not have the op­tion of making a choice bet­ween the two available CO­VID vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin – when the roll­ out starts on January 16. Four other COVID­-19 vac­cines are also under trial current­ly in the country.

  • ICMR head Dr. Balram Bhargava said, “There will be a gap of 28 days between two doses and the effectiveness begins 14 days after the second dose. During the vaccination pro­cess and after that also, CO­VID­-19 appropriate beha­viour is a must.’’


INTERNATIONAL NEWS/EVENTS/ PERSONALITIES



Daily snippets

1. Worries rise over more violence in the U.S.

  • U.S. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced his resignation as worries rose over more violence during President-­elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week. Mr. Wolf’s departure as head of the body in charge of security for the January 20 event came five days after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, hoping to prevent Mr. Biden from replacing him.

  • The Homeland Security Department oversees several law enforcement bodies, including the Secret Service, the point agency for security for the White House and the U.S. President. An internal FBI document warned of the possibility that armed Trump supporters could hold protests in all 50 States between the coming weekend and January 20, according to U.S. media. President Donald Trump denied responsibility for his supporters storming Congress, and warned that his imminent impeachment is causing “tremendous anger”.

2. Malaysia declares state of emergency over virus surge

  • Malaysia’s king declared a nationwide state of emergency to fight a coronavirus surge and Parliament was suspended, with critics charging that it was a bid by the unstable government to cling to power. The surprise move came a day after the Prime Minister announced sweeping new curbs across much of the Southeast Asian nation, including the closure of most businesses, and warned the health system was “at breaking point”.

  • Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah agreed to declare an emergency until August 1 following a request from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the national palace said in a statement. It is the first time Malaysia has declared a national state of emergency in over half a century and Mr. Muhyiddin, in a televised address, confirmed Parliament would be suspended and elections would not take place for the time being. Malaysia kept the virus in check for much of last year with a tough lockdown but, once curbs were eased, cases accelerated and have repeatedly hit fresh records in the recent days. The country has reported more than 1,38,000 virus cases and 555 deaths.

3. U.S. rebrands Cuba as state sponsor of terrorism

  • U.S. blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, erecting a roadblock to expected efforts by President-­elect Joe Biden to ease tensions. The terror designation hampers foreign investment and can only be removed after a formal review by the Biden administration.

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited Cuba’s ties with Colombian rebels, alliance with leftist Venezuela and sanctuary to several U.S. fugitives in justifying the blacklisting. Former President Barack Obama in 2015 delisted Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism as he moved to normalise relations.

4. Ahead of Gyawali’s visit, Nepal, India differ on conducting ‘border talks’

  • The Kalapani territorial dispute is expected to be “raised” by Nepal during the Joint Commission meeting to be held here during the visit of Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali this week, but there will be no “border talks”, officials here confirmed.

  • The visit, which was announced by Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli in his speech to the Upper House of Parliament, will instead focus on the Joint Commission agenda, which includes a broad spectrum of development projects. The boundary issue that erupted last year over Nepal’s decision to include Indian territories in its map, would be handled separately only when the designated Foreign Secretary Level mechanism, which is agreed upon bilaterally, meets.

  • It is understood that Nepal may raise its requirement of COVID­-19 vaccines and both sides may discuss an agreement for their supply, once the government clarifies its plans to allow the export of Covishield and Covaxin.

  • Eminent Persons Group (EPG) : Nepal is also expected to raise the need to discuss and adopt the Eminent Persons Group (EPG) report which has been completed but has not found official recognition from the Indian side. The EPG, constituted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Oli in February 2016, has recommended several measures such as firming up Nepal’s land boundary with India and the revision of historic treaties.

  • Mr. Gyawali’s visit comes weeks after Mr. Oli recommended the dissolution of the Lower House of Parliament — Pratinidhi Sabha. The “broader message” of the visit is likely to be India’s silent acknowledgement of the action of Mr. Oli. India had to engage Mr. Oli now as the other option would be to wait for the election which may not be held in the foreseeable future. Prime Minister Oli has called for election in April­-May, however the legal process over the dissolution of the Lower House is under way and sources indicated that they are expecting that the polling could be postponed.

5. Sri Lanka jails ex­Minister for saying judges are corrupt

  • An outspoken Sri Lankan Opposition politician was jailed on Tuesday for four years over his remarks alleging that the majority of judges in the South Asian nation were corrupt. Ranjan Ramanayake, a Deputy Minister of the United National Party before it was voted out in 2019, claimed that he was being targeted for speaking out against corruption.

  • Mr. Ramanayake was a Deputy Minister in the government of then President Maithripala Sirisena when he made the remarks after a meeting with top anti­-corruption officials. Following the change in government, Mr. Ramanayake was arrested and charged for allegedly recording more than 1, 00,000 personal phone calls. The sometimes lewd and compromising contents were leaked on social media early last year, causing a major scandal.


Analysis : In ancient Al-Ula, forging a new future

(i). Background

  • On January 5, the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) met at the ancient town of Al­-Ula in Saudi Arabia to end the bitter discord that three of its members – Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, along with Egypt – have had with their partner, Qatar.

  • On June 5, 2017, the Arab Quartet, as they styled themselves, subjected Qatar to an onerous diplomatic boycott and a total land, sea and air embargo. They accused Qatar of destabilising the region with its support for Islamist groups. They then presented Qatar with 13 demands including severing ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, diluting relations with Turkey and Iran, and shutting down the Al Jazeera network, in order to normalise ties.

(ii). Background to the boycott

  • Ten years ago, the Arab Spring uprisings across West Asia had thrown up popular demands for reform – an end to authoritarian rule and the restoration of Arab “dignity” through freedom and democracy. Four leaders fell under these pressures, which also gave rise to two new developments: one, Muslim Brotherhood ­affiliated parties came to power in Egypt and Tunisia; and, two, Saudi Arabia decided to divert demands for domestic reform by highlighting a threat from Iran.

  • Qatar and the Brotherhood : Qatar, a GCC member, has over several years been a maverick in GCC counsels. Besides supporting its independent television channel, Al Jazeera, that often criticises regional leaders, it is a major supporter of the Brotherhood.

(iii). How Qatar steered through the blockage ?

  • U.S. President Donald Trump’s visceral hostility towards Iran and total support for Saudi Arabia gave the quartet the opportunity to change Qatar’s ways: through the boycott of June 2017, they sought to pressurise their partner into submission. This approach failed: with its huge resources, Qatar could weather the financial assault, while the backing of Turkey, Iran and two GCC partners, Kuwait and Oman, ensured that the movement of goods and people was maintained.

(iv). Recent happenings and geopolitical impact

  • Recently, when the UAE and Bahrain “normalised” ties with Israel, both Qatar and Turkey affirmed their support for Hamas, the Islamist party in power in Gaza. The two countries are also partners in Libya, raging against the group backed by Egypt and the UAE in the ongoing civil conflict.

  • The Al­-Ula conclave could herald some major shifts in regional alignments. There could be a nascent Saudi-UAE competition, with the UAE ingratiating itself with the U.S. and supporting its interests in diverse theatres – Yemen, the Horn of Africa and the western Indian Ocean. Turkey and Qatar, possibly with Iran, could then seize the opportunity to re engage with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, thus shaping an alternative regional coalition that would perhaps be closer to Russia and China than to the U.S. As Mr. Biden takes charge in the U.S., the Al­-Ula conclave could trigger the emergence of a new regional order in West Asia.


ECONOMICS & FINANCE



Daily snippets

1. Inflation slows to 4.59%

  • India’s retail inflation decel­erated appreciably to 4.59% in December, from 6.93% in November, dipping below 6% for the first time since March 2020 as food prices cooled. The lowest consumer price inflation (CPI) print in 14 months was driven by a sharp slowdown in food price inflation, which eased to 3.4% in December, from the preceding month’s 9.5%.

  • India’s index of industrial production (IIP) for Novem­ber was dragged lower by mining and manufacturing. Mining out­put contracted 7.3% in the month, while manufacturing declined 1.7%. Electricity production grew for the third month in a row, rising 3.5% year-on-year. Only 10 out of 23 industry groups showed positive growth in November.

  • The November data once again shows that the uptick witnessed in the month of September and October was due to a combination of fes­tive and pent­-up demand and the recovery is still shal­low and fragile,” said an economist from India Ratings & Research.

2. WhatsApp goes all out for its privacy pitch

  • In the wake of a backlash ov­er its updated privacy policy, Facebook owned WhatsApp clarified that the update would not affect us­ers’ messages to friends or family. The changes only re­late to messaging a business using the platform. In an FAQ posted on its website, WhatsApp added that this update includes changes related to messag­ing a business on WhatsApp, which is optional, and pro­vided further transparency about how the company col­lects and uses data. The provider added that it neither keeps record of a us­er’s contacts nor can it see a user’s shared location.

3. Bharat Biotech to supply Covaxin to Brazil

  • Covaxin maker Bharat Bio­tech has signed an agree­ment with Precisa Medica­mentos, a firm in Brazil, to supply the COVID­-19 vac­cine candidate to the Latin American country. Twelve million doses of the indigenous vaccine are likely to be supplied over a period of time. The company will probably be the first to export COVID-­19 vaccines from India. Ambassador of Brazil André Aranha Corrêa do La­go had also expressed inter­est on behalf of the govern­ment of Brazil towards procurement of Covaxin.

4. EV major Tesla gets an India address

  • Electric vehicle company Tesla has officially entered India by registering with the Registrar of Companies as Tesla India Motors and Energy Private Ltd., incor­porated in Bengaluru. Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister C.N. Ashwath Na­rayan had earlier said that his government invited the EV firm to setup an R&D centre in the city. Tesla CEO Elon Musk had also said his company would enter India in 2021. Testa has been exploring its In­dia entry with a bunch of states in the last 3 years.

5. Dell technologies 'Data Protection Trends for 2021' report

  • Enterprises in 2021 will aggressively embrace digital transformation to protect and manage critical data. Data protection has transformed itself into a top priority and organisations are investing heavily to safeguard their IT architecture against any kind of cyber threat or malware attack. In 2021, some 42% of or­ganisations in India and glo­bally, will continue to invest in cybersecurity and priva­cy solutions. The report added that organisations need to accelerate their data mining and ex­tract maximum insights available from the collected data sets.

SUGGESTED READINGS



1. Harassment in common workplace : Rajasthan HC https://rb.gy/qn5q6d

2. Side-effects of a flawed vaccine trial https://rb.gy/vtqysa

3. What is Index of Industrial Production (IIP) https://rb.gy/ywvbby


Download Page : https://e-clat.com/dailynewspage

Sources referred to : The Hindu, The Indian Express, Live Law, Bar & Bench

END


January 12th, 2021

START


LAW, POLICY & GOVERNANCE



Daily snippets

1. SC intends to stay farm laws

  • The Supreme Court said it intended to stay the implementation of the controversial agricultural laws while proposing to form an independent committee chaired by a former Chief Justice of India to “amicably resolve” the stand­off. A three judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde, underlined its “disappointment” at the Centre’s handling of the protest.

  • Farmers groups have rejected the Supreme Court’s suggestion to appoint a committee to resolve the ongoing crisis over three farm reform laws. They say the Centre’s attitude in court makes it clear that the government will not agree to discuss farmers’ demand for repeal of the three laws in such a committee.

2. On the consultation seeked for farm laws by the government

  • The Union Agriculture Minis­try could not provide any re­cord of pre ­legislative con­sultations on the three farm reform laws, according to a response given by it to a qu­ery under the Right to Infor­mation Act. The Centre has now filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that it is an “er­roneous notion” that no con­sultations were held.

  • In December 2020, RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj asked the Agriculture Minis­try for all details regarding stakeholder consultations held before the Centre pro­mulgated three ordinances on agricultural reforms in June. The RTI request also asked for a copy of the comments and communications that had been sent by the States with which the consultations had been held. In a separate RTI filing, she also asked for details to show that the Central go­vernment had placed the draft legislation in the public domain for 30 days, in accor­dance with norms set by its own Pre­ Legislative Consul­tation Policy as well as by the Central Information Com­mission.

3. HC seeks govt. reply on plea to declare all child marriages in Capital invalid

  • The Delhi High Court asked the AAP government to respond to a petition seeking to declare all child marriages performed in the Capital as invalid. Directions came after a petition by a woman, who has sought to nullify her marriage which was allegedly performed when she was a minor.

  • The woman has challenged a provision of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, which makes wedding of minors voidable only at the option of either of the parties who was a child at the time of the event.

4. Bhandara blaze : NHRC sends notice to the Maharashtra government

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent a notice to the Maharashtra government and the State Director General of Police over the death of 10 babies in a fire at Bhandara district general hospital. The NHRC has sought a detailed report on the incident within four weeks. The Commission has also observed that the babies were in the custody of a State run hospital where they lost their lives, and “hence, the State cannot escape its responsibility”.

  • What is NHRC ? It is a Statutory public body constituted on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Ordinance of 28 September 1993. The NHRC is responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, defined by the Act as “Rights Relating To Life, liberty, equality and dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in India.”

5. Government defends rules for animal seizure

  • The Central government defended the law to deprive owners of their animals, including cattle, on the suspicion that they are being subject to cruelty or illegally transported for slaughter.

  • The government stated that the argument that owners are deprived of their right to livelihood is not sustainable. They have no right to do their business illegally. They have to transport the animals as per the requirements of the Transport of Animals Rules of 1978.

  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde was hearing a petition filed by the Buffalo Traders Welfare Association challenging the validity of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and maintenance of case property animals) Rules 2017.

6. Rubaiya Sayeed kidnapping : JKLF chief, 9 others to face charges

  • Sunit Gupta, Special Judge, Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act Court, Jammu, ordered the framing of charges against Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik and nine others in the Rubaiya Sayeed kidnapping, which took place 30 years ago.

  • The court is of the considered view that sufficient grounds exist for drawing prima facie presumption that the accused have committed offences under Sections 120 ­B read with Section 368 RPC and Section ¾ of TADA Act. The CBI has said several accused had made confessional statements and disclosed their role “which is found to be admissible in evidence under Section 15 of the TADA Act”.


NATIONAL NEWS/ INTERVENTIONS



Daily snippets

1. After 2 weeks, Dzukou Valley wildfire doused

  • The wildfire at Dzukou Valley, straddling the Manipur­-Nagaland border, has been doused after it raged for two weeks, officials said on Monday. No fresh fire or smoke was visible. The Dzukou Valley, situated at an average altitude of 2,452 metres, is a popular trekking destination known for its exotic flowers.

2. Centre orders 11 mn doses of Covishield

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the State governments would not have to pay for vaccinating the priority group of three crore healthcare and frontline workers, stating that the Centre would bear the cost. The announcement came as the Central government placed a purchase order with the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) for 11 million doses of Oxford COVID­-19 vaccine, Covishield, at a cost of ₹210 per dose (including GST).

3. Author Ved Mehta passes away in the U.S.

  • Celebrated Indian­-American author Ved Mehta, who overcame blindness and became widely known as the 20th century writer most responsible for introducing American readers to India, died in the U.S. The New Yorker magazine, where he had been a staff writer for 33 years, announced his death on Sunday.

  • He is best known for his 12­-volume memoir, which focused on the troubled modern history of India and his early struggles with blindness. Mehta brought out 24 books that included volumes of reportage on India, among them Walking the Indian Streets (1960), Portrait of India (1970) and Mahatma Gandhi and His Apostles (1977), as well as explorations of philosophy, theology and linguistics.


Opinion : Reframing India’s foreign policy priorities

(i). Background

  • The new year will be dominated by strong authoritarian leaders like Xi Jinping in China, Vladimir Putin in Russia, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey.

(ii). The China factor

  • The year 2021, hence, begins on a triumphal note for China and China’s Supreme Leader, Xi Jinping. China is about the only major country which had a positive rate of growth at the end of 2020, and its economy is poised to grow even faster in 2021.

  • Militarily, China has further strengthened itself, and now seeks to dominate the Indo-Pacific Ocean with its announcement of the launch of its third aircraft carrier in 2021. Simultaneously, it is seeking to strengthen its military coordination with Russia. Consequent on all this, and notwithstanding Chinese intransigence in several matters including its heavy handed actions in Hong Kong and Uighur, China’s position across Asia is, if anything, stronger than in 2020.

(iii). Russia’s change of priorities

  • Russia is beginning to display greater interest in the affairs of countries on its periphery and, together with strengthening ties with China and reaching an entente with Turkey, this seems to signal reduced interest in countries such as India.

(iv). West Asia's Abraham Accords

  • In West Asia, the Abraham Accords, leading to a realignment of forces in the Arab world, have sharpened the division between the Saudi Bloc and Iran-­Turkey. Despite the hype surrounding the Abraham Accords, the situation, however, remains fluid and has not reduced the risk of a confrontation between Iran and Israel. This does pose problems for India, since both have relations with it. Meanwhile, China demonstrates a willingness to play a much larger role in the region, including contemplating a 25-­year strategic cooperation agreement with Iran.

(v). India isolated

  • No breakthrough in Sino-Indian relations has, or is likely to occur, and the confrontation between Indian and Chinese armed forces is expected to continue.

  • India currently plays no significant role in West Asia. India-­Iran relations today lack warmth. In Afghanistan, India has been marginalised as far as the peace process is concerned. While India’s charges against Pakistan of sponsoring terror have had some impact globally, it has further aggravated tensions between the two neighbours, and in the process, also helped Pakistan to cement its relations with China. While hostility between India and Nepal appears to have reduced lately, relations continue to be strained. Through a series of diplomatic visits, India has made valiant efforts to improve relations with some of its neighbours such as Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, but as of now worthwhile results are not evident.

  • Currently, India remains isolated from two important supranational bodies of which it used to be a founding member, viz., the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Efforts to whip up enthusiasm for newer institutions such as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi­-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), have hardly been successful. India has opted out of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) (a majority of Asian countries are members), and failed to take advantage of the RIC, or the Russia, India and China grouping, even as relations with Russia and China have deteriorated.

  • India will serve as the president of the powerful UN Security Council for the month of August, 2021, but if it is to make a real impact, it must be seen to possess substantial weight to shape policies, more so in its traditional areas of influence


INTERNATIONAL NEWS/EVENTS/ PERSONALITIES



Daily snippets

1. Democrats introduce article of impeachment against Trump

  • Democrats in the House of Republicans introduced an article of impeachment against the U.S. President Donald Trump – the “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the attack on the Capitol last Wednesday. The House could vote on this charge on Wednesday.

  • House Republicans blocked a measure on asking Vice­-President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment, a statute by which the President can be removed on grounds of incapacitation.

  • The measure will go to the full House floor for a vote. There are ten days left in Mr. Trump’s term and if impeached, he will be the first President to be impeached twice. If convicted in the Senate, Mr. Trump could be barred from running for office again in the future.

2. WHO experts to visit China to trace origins of COVID-19

  • Chinese authorities said that a team of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) will arrive in China on Thursday to study the origins of COVID­-19. The trip had been scheduled for last week, but some members of the team were at the last minute told the trip would be delayed. WHO Director­-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week he was “very disappointed” China had not permitted the trip, in rare criticism of Beijing from the agency.

  • China’s National Health Commission said the team will arrive on Thursday “to conduct joint research with Chinese scientists on the origin tracing of the novel coronavirus”. Investigations into the origins of the coronavirus have already become politicised. The WHO has been criticised, particularly by the United States, for its response to the pandemic and was described by President Donald Trump as being “China-­centric” and “a puppet of China”. China’s authorities, for their part, have suggested they will control how much access international scientists will have and that its scientists will have a say in how the investigations go forward.

3. Iran warns against action over seized South Korean vessel

  • Iran warned on its seizure of a South Korean tanker in the Gulf must not be politicised, after the U.S. and France urged the Islamic Republic to release the ship. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized the Hankuk Chemi and arrested its multinational crew of 20 near the strategic Strait of Hormuz one week ago. The move came as Tehran urged Seoul to release billions of dollars of Iranian assets frozen in South Korea as part of U.S. sanctions.

4. Pope says women can read at Mass, but still can’t be priests

  • Pope Francis changed church law on Monday to explicitly allow women to do more things during Mass, while continuing to affirm that they cannot be priests. The Pope amended the law to formalise and institutionalise what is common practice in many parts of the world: that women can read the Gospel and serve on the altar as eucharistic ministers. Previously, such roles were officially reserved to men even though exceptions were made.

  • The change comes as Pope Francis remains under pressure to allow women to be deacons – ministers who perform many of the same functions as priests, such as presiding at weddings, baptisms and funerals. Currently, the ministry is reserved for men.


ECONOMICS & FINANCE



Daily snippets

1. RBI governor warns on stretched valuations

  • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das has flagged the growing dis­connect between exuberant equity markets and real eco­nomic activity and warned that the ‘stretched valua­tions of financial assets’ threaten overall financial stability. He wrote in his foreword to the RBI’s biannual Financial Stability Report (FSR). Pointing to the intercon­nected nature of the finan­cial system, the RBI Gover­nor urged banks and financial intermediaries to be cognisant of the risk.

  • Congenial liquidity and financing conditions have shored up the financial pa­rameters of banks, but it is recognised that the available accounting numbers ob­scure a true recognition of stress,” Mr. Das wrote. As per the FSR, the gross non performing assets (GNPA) and net NPA (NNPA) ratios of banks fell to 7.5% and 2.1%, respectively, by September 2020. But the RBI warned that the withdrawal of pandemic triggered reliefs could see a jump in bad loans at lenders.

  • Maintain­ing the health of the banking sector remains a policy priority and preservation of the stability of the financial system is an overarching goal,” Mr. Das said.

2. Amazon urges SEBI to suspend Future-RIL deal review

  • Amazon has written to SEBI again, apprising the regula­tor of the formation of the arbitration tribunal at SIAC while urging it to suspend the review of the ₹24,713­ crore Future­-RIL deal. The sin­gle­ member bench of the Delhi HC had rejected Fu­ture Group’s plea to restrain Amazon from writing to reg­ulatory authorities about the SIAC’s (Singapore Interna­tional Arbitration Centre) ar­bitral order but gave a go­ ahead to the regulators to decide on the deal.

  • Amazon had dragged Fu­ture Group to arbitration af­ter an indebted Kishore Bi­yani group firm signed a pact to sell retail, wholesale, logistics and warehousing units to Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance last year in a ₹24,713­crore deal. In 2019, Ama­zon had agreed to purchase 49% stake in Future’s unlist­ed firm – Future Coupons Ltd. – with the right to buy into FRL after a period of three to ten years.

3. GDP to expand by 10.1% in FY22

  • India’s GDP is expected to witness a record double­ digit expansion of 10.1% in FY22 but the value of the GDP will only mildly surpass the level that had been recorded in FY20, ICRA said in a report. “The seemingly­ sharp expansion will be led by the continued normalisation in economic activities as the rollout of COVID-­19 vaccines gathers traction, as well as the low base.”

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT



On the COVID-19 vaccination drive (N.K Ahuja, Head OR group, ICMR national task force for COVID-19 vaccine)

(i). Safety standards

  • India has an existing vaccine safety sur­veillance mechanism called the AEFI (Adverse Events Following Immunisation) surveillance. It comprises a national secretariat un­der the Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), in­cluding doctors, data specialists and public health specialists. The vaccine safe­ty surveillance network ex­tends up to every district where a panel of doctors and health workers monitor events of concern after getting any vaccine, investigate and report to state and na­tional level. The AEFI members will be trained to look for any adverse event before we start the immuni­sation process. Adverse event surveillance is being established to actively seek these events across designat­ed health facilities across the country.

(ii). Awareness programmes before vaccine roll-out?

  • Some people might face mild symptoms such as pain or swelling, mild fever, among others. It is a normal immune res­ponse.

  • All the global agencies have set the benchmark that only those vaccine candidates which show an efficacy of at least 50-­60% will be consi­dered. Interestingly, most of the vaccines have shown an efficacy of 70–90% within the short period of two or three months of observation. When a vaccine is given an emergency use authorisation, as in the case of the COVID-­19 vaccine, the trial follow-­ups continue for one­-two years to assess the total duration of protec­tion the vaccine will provide.

(iii). On authorisation of Covaxin before its Phase 3 trials

  • Both pre­clinical and clinical data (complete data for Phase I and II, and partial data for Phase III) of Covaxin have been thoroughly scruti­nised by the regulators. This data shows that the vaccine is safe and induces a robust antibody response. However, to what extent the vaccine will protect the recipients from getting the disease is not known yet. Hence, it has been approved to be used in trial mode.

(iv). Life cycle of trial mode?

  • First, the reci­pient will be asked to give a written consent. Then he/ she will undergo some blood tests before and after taking the vaccine. Additionally, the recipient will be followed up actively to see if the vaccine has led to any side effects. In short, it will be an extension of the Phase 3 trial. In this case the person will know that he/she has received a vaccine and not placebo. It will be completely a person’s choice if he or she would like to give the vaccine a try or not.

SUGGESTED READINGS



1. Plea to declare all child marriages in Delhi as void https://rb.gy/pdmw4u

2. Tractor Rally on the Republic Day https://rb.gy/oe3zsx

3. Minting money on people's faith https://rb.gy/ptjibm

4. Cuba's currency reforms https://rb.gy/ummxvp

5. Policy on paying women for domestic work https://rb.gy/zzhqf0


Download Page : https://e-clat.com/dailynewspage

Sources referred to : The Hindu, The Indian Express, Live Law, Bar & Bench

END


January 11th, 2021

START


LAW, POLICY & GOVERNANCE



Daily snippets

1. Relax detention norms to prevent drop­outs, says govt.

  • Schools must relax detention norms in order to prevent drop­outs in a year when COVID­-19 has disrupted the teaching and learning process. The HRD Ministry also told the States to conduct comprehensive door to door surveys to identify children out of school and migrant students, and prepare an action plan to prevent increased drop­outs.

  • Guidelines have been prepared “in order to ensure that school going children have access to education with quality and equity and to minimize the impact of the pandemic on school education across the country,” read a statement.

2. SC Bench to study Aadhaar verdict today

  • A five judge Bench of the Supreme Court led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar will examine seven petitions, including one by Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh, seeking a review of the court’s verdict upholding the Aadhaar programme as a reasonable restriction on individual privacy to fulfil the government’s “legitimate aim” to provide dignity to the poor.

  • The petition points to Section 2(k), which specifically prohibits any person from parting with any information which is pertaining to one’s “income”. It said the provision categorically states that demographic information shall not include information pertaining to one’s income statement.

  • Despite a clear legislative mandate to the contrary, Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961, made it compulsory to ensure that PAN card is linked with one’s Aadhaar details”.

3. HC upholds arrest provision in CGST Act for tax evasion

  • The Delhi High Court has upheld the controversial provisions in the Central Goods and Service Tax (CGST) Act that gives power to authorities to arrest any person if there is “reason to believe” that he has committed tax evasion.

  • The petitioners here, a man and a firm facing action for allegedly availing fraudulent IGST refund and Input Tax Credits (ITC), had claimed that Section 69 being of criminal nature, it could not have been enacted under Article 246A (https://rb.gy/xg67of) of the Constitution. However, the High Court ruled “...the pith and substance of the CGST Act is on a topic, upon which Parliament has power to le­gislate as the power to arrest and prosecute are ancillary and/or incidental to the pow­er to levy and collect Goods and Services Tax”.


Policy : Electrical mobility

(i). Background

  • Reducing de­pendence on crude oil will save the government money, reduce carbon emissions, and build domestic ener­gy independence. India’s transition to electric vehicles will allow us to fine­ tune our infrastructure.

  • Impact on foreign policy : our energy security dependence will shift from West Asia to Latin Ameri­ca. India imported 228.6 MT of crude oil worth $120 billion in 2018–19, which made it the third largest oil im­porter in the world in terms of value.

(ii). Shift to electric vehicles

  • Under the ‘Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles’ and its updated (Fame 2) version, the government has allocated $1.3 billion in incentives for electric buses, three-wheelers and four-wheelers to be used for commercial purposes till 2022, and earmarked another $135 million for charging stations. A proposal for a $4.6 billion subsidy for battery makers has also been proposed by the NITI Aayog.

  • These policies are embedded with the vision to have 30% electric vehi­cles plying the roads by 2030. Developing domestic battery ma­nufacturing capacity may fundamen­tally change India’s relationship with resource rich Latin America as the government plans to buy overseas lithium reserves. Latin America’s fa­mous lithium triangle that encom­passes lithium deposits under the salt flats of northwest Argentina, northern Chile, and southwest Bolivia holds about 80% of the explored lithium of the world. ­

(iii). Mineral assets

  • National Aluminium Company (NALCO), Hindustan Cop­per Limited (HCL) and Mineral Ex­ploration Corporation Ltd (MECL) formally signed a joint venture agree­ment to form Khanij Bidesh India Li­mited (KABIL) to scout for strategic mineral assets like lithium and cobalt abroad for commercial use and for supplying to meet the domestic re­quirement for battery manufactur­ers. At present, India’s lithium ion battery demand is fulfilled by im­ports from China, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.

  • Lithium is also used as a drug to treat bipolar disorder and is soon becoming the metal to treat a world polluted by excessive carbon emissions. Currently, India’s biggest trading partners in Latin America are Brazil, Mexico, and Ve­nezuela, and the majority of trade is con­centrated on crude oil which in­cludes 14%-­20% of India’s total crude oil imports.


NATIONAL NEWS/ INTERVENTIONS



Daily snippets

1. Shorter parade route, more tableaus this Republic Day

  • The Republic Day parade this year will see marching contingents terminate at the India Gate C ­Hexagon instead of the Red Fort. Earlier, the parade used to cover around 8 km but this year the distance has been reduced to roughly 3 km. The parade will now end at the National Stadium.

  • The number of members in a marching contingent has been reduced from 144 to 96. The number of tableaus has, however, been increased to 32 this year. In previous years, there were an average of 28 tableaus on display.

  • Following social distancing guidelines, the six day Bharat Parv event that is usually organised on Rajpath lawns from January 26-­31 has been cancelled. Due to COVID­-19 restrictions, only 25,000 visitors will be permitted to witness the Republic Day parade compared with the usual over one lakh. Children under the age of 15 will not be allowed at the event.

2. We were in the dark, say volunteers

  • Several persons in Bhopal who had volunteered for Bharat Biotech’s ongoing trial of Covaxin, one of the two COVID-­19 vaccine candidates approved in India, have alleged that the medical managers of the trial did not inform them that they were test subjects.

  • At an online press conference, the volunteers said they were led to believe that they were getting vaccines as part of a government vaccination drive and were also promised ₹750 each for participating.

  • The trial is being conducted at the People’s Medical College (PMC), where there were reports that a 42-year old volunteer, who had been part of the trial, had died. His post­mortem report, however, said the cause of death was “cardiorespiratory failure due to suspected poisoning”. Bharat Biotech denied that his death was due to the vaccine. It is not known whether he got the vaccine or a placebo.

3. Hospital fire in Maharashtra

  • The horrific tragedy in which 10 new­ born babies died in a hospi­tal fire at Bhandara district in Maharashtra, Chief Minis­ter Uddhav Thackeray said orders had been given for conducting a safety and fire audit of all go­vernment hospitals across the State.

  • A committee has been formed to investigate the reason for the accident. The committee would be headed by the Divisional Commissioner and would also include a senior mem­ber of the Fire Department of the Brihanmumbai Muni­cipal Corporation (BMC), Mr. Thackeray said.

4. Arunachal Pradesh : A key source of Vanadium

  • Arunachal Pradesh, consi­dered a sleeping hydropow­er giant, is likely to become India’s prime producer of va­nadium, a high value metal used in strengthening steel and titanium. Exploration being carried out by the Geological Survey of India (GSI) has placed the eastern Himalayan State on the vanadium map of the country, and geologists are confident of identifying a de­posit soon.

  • India con­sumed 4% of about 84,000 tonnes of vanadium pro­duced across the globe in 2017. China, which produces 57% of the world’s vanadi­um, consumed 44% of the metal. “The expected grade of vanadium mineralisation in Arunachal Pradesh is com­parable to the important va­nadium deposits of the world. The largest deposits are in China, followed by Russia and South Africa,” the specialist from the GSI said.

5. India-Australia test match racial abuse

  • The International Cricket Council (ICC) has launched an investigation into the In­dian team’s allegations of racist abuse from sections of the crowd in the third Test. The probe comes in the wake of Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah “being targeted” while fielding near the boundary in the test match.

  • Cricket Australia issued an apology to India and said anyone found guilty of abuse would face consequences. BCCI secretary Jay Shah, reacted strong­ly to the racist slurs hurled at Indian cricketers during the third Test in Australia.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS/EVENTS/ PERSONALITIES



Daily snippets

1. U.S. removes restrictions on diplomatic contact with Taiwan

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the State Department is voiding long standing restrictions on how U.S. diplomats and others have contact with their counterparts in Taiwan, another move that is expected to upset China as the Trump administration winds to an end.

  • The Trump administration has sought to strengthen bilateral relations with Taiwan. It announced that UN Ambassador Kelly Craft would go to Taiwan, a move that sparked sharp criticism from Beijing and a warning that the U.S. would pay a heavy price. In August, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar became the first Cabinet member to visit Taiwan since 2014.

  • Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu has welcomed the move.

  • China’s grip over Taiwan : The Chinese government maintains that mainland China and Taiwan are parts of “one China.” China has been stepping up its threats to bring the self governing island under its control by military force with frequent war games and aerial patrols. It has been using its diplomatic clout to stop Taiwan from joining any organisations that require statehood for membership.

2. Qataris head to Saudi Arabia after reopening of border

  • Qataris celebrated crossing their border with Saudi Arabia, calling the Kingdom “our second country”, as Doha readied its strict coronavirus measures for Saudis to enter following a Gulf diplomatic thaw.

  • Why was Qatar blocked ? Saudi Arabia shut its side of Qatar’s only land border in June 2017 as part of a package of sanctions it said was a response to Doha’s backing of radical Islamist groups and closeness to Iran. Qatar always denied the charges. Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, all of which had also imposed embargoes on travel and trade, agreed to lift the restrictions at a Gulf Cooperation Council summit in the kingdom on Tuesday.

  • Qatar Airways and Saudi Airlines said on Twitter that they would begin resuming flights between their countries from Monday.


SUGGESTED READINGS



1. Supreme Court on Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Rules 2017 https://rb.gy/huvtbx

2. Supreme Court on centre's handling of the Farmers' protests https://rb.gy/o3dfyc


Download Page : https://e-clat.com/dailynewspage

Sources referred to : The Hindu, The Indian Express, Live Law, Bar & Bench

END


Weekend Page : January 9th – January 10th, 2021

START


LAW, POLICY & GOVERNANCE



Daily snippets

1. Centre turns to SC as talks with farmers fail to break deadlock

  • The eighth round of talks between the Centre and the farmer unions, which saw raised voices and increased tensions, ended without any resolution to the ongoing stalemate. According to union leaders, the Centre told them that the issue is best resolved by the Supreme Court, asking the farmers to appear at the next hearing and suggesting that it would request daily hearings for speedy resolution of the case.

  • Farmer outfits from Punjab, including the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta­Ugrahan), said the Centre’s hint of getting the farm laws issue resolved by the Supreme Court was a ploy to prolong the issue in a bid to derail the ongoing agitation. “There is no need of going to the Supreme court. The government should listen to farmers demand and immediately repeal the laws”.

2. Supreme Court tells govt. to arm forest officers to fight poachers

  • The Supreme Court urged the government to arm forest officers and provide them with bullet­proof vests and vehicles when told that India recorded the “greatest number of mortal fatalities” among forest officials in the world.

  • The court said the Centre should consider involving premier organisations such as the CBI to help the forest staff. It suggested that there should even be a separate wing or wildlife division in the Enforcement Directorate with clean officials to track and investigate crimes of the poachers and the proceeds of their crime.

3. Decide on Rajoana mercy plea by Republic ­Day, SC tells govt.

  • The Supreme Court pushed the government to take a decision on a mercy petition filed by Balwant Singh Rajoana, facing capital punishment for the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, before Republic Day. Convict’s petition has been pending for eight years.

  • The President is empowered to take the final decision on whether Rajoana should live or not. Chief Justice Bobde said the government was merely asking for another week or two before taking a call.

4. SC to hear plea against confession

  • The Supreme Court agreed to consider after three weeks a petition filed by a group of women against the compulsory nature of sacred confessions to priests in Christianity. Appearing before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, for the petitioners, said “confessions are being abused”. He said forced confessions violated the right to privacy.

  • He said the court could examine the issues in the petition as they came within the ambit of the questions of faith, rights of women and equality referred to a nine- judge Constitution Bench in the Sabarimala case. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, when asked for an opinion by the court, said the whole issue stemmed from the Jacobite­ Orthodox dispute.

5. Vaccination drive to start on January 16

  • The COVID-­19 vaccination drive in India will begin on January 16, with priority being given to an estimated three crore healthcare workers and frontline workers. The Ministry, in a release, said the Drugs Controller General of India had granted Emergency Use Authorisation to two vaccines – Covishield and Covaxin. “The vaccination exercise will use the principles of – people’s participation (Jan Bhagidari), experience of elections (booth strategy) and Universal Immunisation Programme”.

6. Proceedings against Snapdeal quashed

  • The High Court of Karnataka has quashed criminal proceedings initiated against e­commerce website snapdeal.com and its chief executive officer Kunal Bahl and chief operating officer Rohit Kumar Bansal during June 2020, for enabling sale and supply of a drug in contravention of the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940.

  • An intermediary as defined under Section 2(w) of the Information Technology Act would not be liable for any action or inaction on part of a vendor/seller making use of the facilities provided by the intermediary in terms of a website or a marketplace,” The court also found no justification for the delay of six years in lodging the complaint by the drugs authorities. The court also found that Snapdeal had done due diligence of the vendor as per the law and had initiated action on the vendor of the drug as per law, acting on initiation by the drugs authorities.

7. M.P.’s anti­-conversion ordinance gets Govt. Nod

  • Madhya Pradesh Governor Anandiben Patel gave assent to an ordinance which penalises religious conversions through fraudulent means, including those for the sake of marriage. The Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Ordinance, 2020, provides for 10 years in jail in some cases.

8. Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas

  • It is a celebratory day observed on 9 January by the Republic of India to mark the contribution of the overseas Indian community towards the development of India. The day commemorates the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to Mumbai on 9 January 1915. Suriname President Chandrikapersad Santokhi was chief guest for the 2021 event.

NATIONAL NEWS/ INTERVENTIONS



Daily snippets

1. LeT commander gets 5­-year jail term for terror financing

  • Mumbai attack mastermind and Lashkar­-e­-Taiba operations commander Zaki­ur Rahman Lakhvi was sentenced to 5 years in jail by a Pakistani antiterrorism court here in a terror financing case, amidst mounting international pressure on Islamabad to bring to justice terrorists roaming free in the country.

  • The Anti-­Terrorism Court also directed law enforcement agencies to arrest the co-­accused in the case, Abu Anas Mohsin, due to the availability of sufficient evidence against him. The U.S. had welcomed Lakhvi's arrest last week but said Pakistan should try him for the Mumbai attacks also.

  • India called the process “farcical”, and accused Pakistan of carrying out quick prosecutions of various UN sanctioned terrorist leaders to avoid punitive action at the upcoming Financial Action Task Force (FATF) meetings, where it has been grey-listed.

  • Why is the upcoming FATF meeting crucial for Pakistan? Thus far, Pakistan has cleared 21 of the 27 markers according to the FATF, and the APJG will submit its report on whether it has made progress on the remaining six. The FATF plenary session in February will then decide whether Pakistan should remain on the greylist, be downgraded to the “blacklist” of sanctioned “high risk” countries like Iran and North Korea, or let off the list.

2. British MPs flag farmers’ protest

  • More than a hundred members of the British Parliament have signed a letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking him to raise the concerns of protesting farmers outside Delhi, and the “brute force” employed against them, in his discussion with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Indian diaspora and others have also joined in global protests in support of the farmers. Mr. Johnson has cancelled his plans to visit India as the chief guest for Republic Day because of the COVID­-19 crisis in his country.

  • Last month, a similar letter was written to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who was in Delhi in December. He said he raised the issue with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, but not with Mr. Modi. At that time, India termed the remarks on farmer protests by foreign leaders and politicians as “ill informed” and “unwarranted” as the matter pertained to the internal affairs of a democratic country.

3. Handover of power should be peaceful : MEA on the U.S. election crisis

  • Handover of power to the Bi­den-­Harris administration in the United States should be conducted in an “organised and peaceful” manner, India said on Friday. The violent incidents in the American capital will not succeed in subverting the democratic process. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said on Thursday that the mob attack on the U.S. Congress had left him “distressed”.

  • For the Indo-U.S bilateral relations, an immediate issue of bi­lateral concern is likely to be India’s purchase of a $400 million missile defence sys­tem from Russia despite the US objection. MEA spokesperson added that India conducts its fo­reign policy on the basis of choices made to safeguard its “national security inter­est”. “We pursue an inde­pendent foreign policy. This also applies to our defence acquisitions and supplies, which are guided by our na­tional security interest”.

4. Over half of Army personnel under severe stress, quotes a study

  • More than half of Indian Ar­my personnel seem to be un­der severe stress and the Ar­my has been losing more personnel every year due to suicides, fratricides and unto­ward incidents than in res­ponse to any enemy or terro­rist activities, according to the findings of a study by Un­ited Service Institution of In­dia (USI), a Service think tank. “Prolonged exposure of Indian Army personnel to Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorism (CI/CT) environment has been one of the contributory factors for increased stress levels,” the study notes. The research was underta­ken during 2019-­20 by Col. AK Mor, Senior Research Fel­low at the USI.

  • While operational stres­sors are well understood and accepted by Army personnel, the study says that non ­oper­ational stressors that add on “have compounding adverse effects on health and combat efficiency of soldiers and thus affecting their respective units too.” The study observes that the overall job satisfaction and pride in uniform remains high amongst JCOs (Junior Commissioned officers) and Ors (Other Ranks).

  • Despite harsh and chal­lenging service conditions, Indian Army personnel remain highly motivated to serve in CI/ CT areas volunta­rily. However, the Officers lack a similar level of trust, faith and confidence in their leadership that JCOs and ORs demonstrate,” it states.

  • Units and sub­units under stress are likely to witness an increased number of inci­dents of indiscipline, unsatis­factory state of training, in­ adequate maintenance of equipment and low morale, motivation and esprit­-de­-corps, thereby, adversely af­fecting their combat prepa­redness and operational per­formance,” it says.

5. Assam to gift Khadi clothes to employees

  • The Assam government has decided to gift khadi shirt, endi shawl and endi stole to Grade IV male and female employees. The decision to provide free khadi clothes would be implemented as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and his movement for khadi be­ sides paving the way for As­sam to be self-­reliant, CM Sarbananda Sonowal said.

6. Ken-Betwa link soon

  • Governments of Mad­hya Pradesh and Uttar Pra­desh were close to an agreement on the Ken-Betwa river linking projects. The Ken-Betwa Link Project (KBLP) is the River interlinking project that aims to transfer surplus water from the Ken river in MP to Betwa in UP to irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region spread across the districts of two states mainly Jhansi, Banda,Lalitpur and Mahoba districts of UP and Tikamgarh, Panna and Chhatarpur districts of MP. Rivers Ken and Betwa are tributaries of river Yamuna.

7. Arunachal Pradesh to recruit porters for moving food grains

  • Arunachal Pradesh has sought a return to the British­ era system of using porters to transport food grains in re­mote administrative circles to save on air freight charges paid or payable to the Indian Air Force. “This will not only minimize the expenditure on air freight charges but also create job opportunities for the rural youth in areas along the State’s international bor­ders,” said State Food and Civil Supplies Minister Kamlung Mosang.

8. Kerala to set up Kalaripayattu academy

  • Kalaripayattu, considered the oldest surviving martial art of the country, with a le­gacy of more than 3,000 years, is set to see a surge in popularity with the esta­blishment of an academy in the Kerala capital. Lessons in one of the most famous combat styles in the world will now be taught to the new generation at the fa­cility, which will come up at Kerala Tourism’s Vellar Crafts Village en route to Kovalam.

9. Co-WIN

  • Co­-WIN aspires to be a comprehensive digital database of every COVID­-19 vaccine that will be administered in India – tracking beneficiaries, intimating them about vaccine sites and dates, pre­ and post vaccination procedures, issuance of vaccination certificates, and follow up through the booster dose. Currently, self­ registration is not allowed on the application.

  • It has been promised that ‘at a later stage of implementation’, Co­-WIN will also be available as an application or as a website in multiple Indian languages so that beneficiaries can access it to keep track of their own progress and be connected organically to the system, if questions were to arise. It will also be a tool for others to “register” for a vaccine once the first line of targeted beneficiaries is cleared.

  • After the second dose, Co­-WIN will generate a digital certificate of completion for individuals who have been vaccinated. Messaging, chatbots and helpline assistance are available on the app, and any adverse event after the vaccination may be communicated back to the authorities through one of these access points.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS/EVENTS/ PERSONALITIES



Daily snippets

1. China holds third edition of South Asia multilateral meet

  • China has held its third multilateral dialogue with countries from South Asia to take forward closer cooperation on fighting COVID­19 and coordinating their economic agendas, reflecting a new approach in Beijing’s outreach to the region.

  • The third dialogue, held virtually on January 6, brought together every country in the region barring India, Bhutan and the Maldives. It was attended by all five countries that have taken part in these dialogues — Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh – and was a follow­up to the two earlier meetings.

  • In the previous two rounds, the countries also discussed how to work more closely together under China’s Belt and Road Initiative to boost their post-­COVID­-19 economic recovery and agreed that countries linked by land ports should establish joint response mechanisms in border areas, apart from committing to greater information sharing and international cooperation.

  • At the July quadrilateral dialogue with Afghanistan, Nepal and Pakistan, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed extending the China-­Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan, as well as taking forward an economic corridor plan with Nepal, called the Trans-­Himalayan Multi­dimensional Connectivity Network.

2. ‘Pfizer vaccine works against virus variants’

  • New research suggests that Pfizer’s COVID-­19 vaccine can protect against a mutation found in two easier­ to spread variants of the coronavirus that erupted in Britain and South Africa.

  • Pfizer, along with researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch, found that antibodies from vaccine recipients fended off the virus in lab dishes. The preliminary study is yet to be reviewed by experts.

3. Indonesian cleric linked to Bali bombings freed

  • A radical cleric linked to the Bali nightclub bombings was freed from prison on Friday, stirring grief and anger among victims nearly two decades after more than 200 people, mostly foreign tourists, were killed in the terror attack.

  • Abu Bakar Bashir, 82, is seen as the spiritual leader of Islamist terror network Jemaah Islamiyah ( JI), which was responsible for the massive blasts that ripped through a pair of packed bars in October 2002.

  • He was released after completing an unrelated jail term for helping fund militant training. But he has long been suspected of involvement in the horrific holiday island bombings. Sentenced to 15 years in 2011, his term was later cut due to sentencing reductions handed to most prisoners in Indonesia.

4. Biden picks Sumona Guha for key role on South Asia at NSC

  • The Biden­-Harris transition team announced the appointment of India ­American Sumona Guha to the role of Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council. Ms. Guha co-chaired the South Asia foreign policy working group on the Biden-­Harris campaign, and was a member of the transition team.

  • She will succeed the Trump administration’s Lisa Curtis in the role. Ms. Guha, a former Foreign Service officer, has been a senior vice-­president since mid­-2018 at the Albright Stonebridge Group, whose chair is former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She has also worked at the U.S.-­India Business Council and, prior to that, in the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff with responsibility for South Asia.

5. U.S. modifies H­1B visa selection process

  • The outgoing Trump administration on Friday modified the selection process for H­1B visa, giving priority to salary and skills instead of the current lottery procedures. The notification was published in the Federal Register. It would come into force in 60 days.

  • What is H1B Visa? : The H­1B visa is a non-­immigrant visa that allows U.S. firms to employ foreign workers in speciality occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. The technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China. The next H­1B visa filing season is slated to start on April 1. The notification is the latest effort to bar the entry of immigrants to the U.S.

6. Twitter bans Donald Trump, citing risk of violent incitement

  • Twitter has long given Mr. Trump and other world leaders broad exemptions from its rules against personal attacks, hate speech and other behaviours. But in a detailed explanation posted on its blog on Friday, the company said recent Trump tweets amounted to glorification of violence when read in the context of the Capitol riot and plans circulating online for future armed protests around the inauguration of President­-elect Joe Biden.

  • The official account for the President of the United States, @POTUS, remains live. In fact, Mr. Trump, who issued a statement on Friday evening that denounced Twitter as an enemy of free speech, floated the idea that he might build his own “platform”. The Democrats are considering lightning quick action. The Articles of Impeachment are expected to be introduced on Monday, with a House vote as soon as Wednesday.


OPINIONS & ANALYSIS



Analysis : ZAKIUR-REHMAN LAKHVI The terror mastermind

(i). Background

  • Just six days after his arrest on January 2, Zakiur­Rehman Lakhvi, the known Lashkar­-e-­Taiba mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror strikes, was sentenced to a five year jail term on terror financing charges on January 8.

  • The speed with which the wheels of justice turned in Pakistan in the case of Lahkhvi’s terror financing case are in sharp contrast to the years he remained charged in the Mumbai attack case, in which he was eventually bailed out.

(ii). Islamabad and FATF

  • It’s evident that where Indian pressure and American prodding didn’t work in ensuring Lakhvi’s conviction in the Mumbai terror strikes, in which 166 persons were killed, Islamabad’s fears about punitive action from the Financial Action Task Force, or FATF, seem to have done the trick. Lakhvi’s sentence is also in line with that of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed’s conviction in four terror­ financing cases in November and February 2020.

  • In October 2020, FATF decided that Pakistan would remain on its grey list, pending full compliance with its action plan.

(iii). Terrorism, Pakistan and deep-state

  • A recent arrest warrant for Masood Azhar, leader of the Jaish­-e­Muhammad, confirms after years the presence of the wanted terrorist in Pakistan. Azhar was one of the terrorists exchanged by India in return for the passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar in December 1999.

  • Given their being creatures of the Pakistani establishment, and the enduring interest in using non-­State actors to foment trouble in Jammu and Kashmir, it’s quite likely that new outfits may have already received the blessings of the deep State. For now, Lakhvi and Saeed are in jail. Azhar’s fate will be keenly watched in India.


Analysis : U.S. CAPITOL: The siege of a historical power centre

(i). Background

  • The grand U.S. Capitol building in Washington, home to the Senate and House of Representatives, has hardly been immune to attacks historically, but on January 6, many across the country and the world watched with disbelief as the beating heart of the world’s oldest democracy was subjected to a siege by a violent mob.

(ii). Cause of Mob violence

  • It appeared to be a dire warning and uncontrolled venting of rage that came with the election results – the loss of Mr. Trump by margin of nearly 7 million despite his garnering around 74 million votes – following which the Republicans also lost control of the Senate after a runoff election in Georgia on January 5 led to two seats of the upper chamber flipping to Democrats.

  • The violence triggered by these events, and also the evident desire of the mob to disrupt Congressional proceedings to formally certify the win of President ­elect Joe Biden – an act for which lawmakers boldly reconvened and voted on the same day – only demonstrates the importance of the Senate and House as parallel repositories of legislative power to counterbalance the executive power of the White House. It is undoubtedly for this reason that the Capitol building, as the locus of legislative power, has faced multiple security threats and assaults over many years since it was built.

(iii). History of the US Capitol

  • President George Washington laid the cornerstone for the capitol in 1793. The construction continued through the early 1800s, while the project cost soared to over $2.4 million by 1827. The building faced its first major attack, a fire set off by British troops in August 1814, during the 1812 war. The first major incident of violence came on January 30, 1835, when a British immigrant attempted to assassinate President Andrew Jackson.

  • The attacks took an international flavour in 1983 when a leftist group set off a bomb outside the Senate chamber, apparently to protest the U.S. military’s actions in Grenada and Lebanon.


Opinion : Beyond the Central Vista verdict, key questions

  • The Supreme Court of India has cleared the decks for the intensely contested new Parliament and Central Vista projects in New Delhi. The JUDGEMENT may have put an end to the litigation but it does not necessarily mean that such disputes and bitter situations would not recur. The critical questions on ensuring public commitment in civic projects, improving participatory processes in city building, and effective procurement of professional services remain unanswered. Inadequate regulations that do not incorporate best practices will remain as they are.

  • The Delhi project is only the most visible of instances, but the problem is widespread. The imprudent planning and reckless abandonment of Amaravati, the proposed capital for Andhra Pradesh, is but an example. As political scientists have explained, most governments ensure that whimsical agendas do not drive public projects by institutionalising ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ accountabilities.

  • A second regulatory change is required for choosing designers for public projects. Many public projects insist on steep turnover conditions for architecture firms to qualify.

  • To conclude, practices will improve as economic growth happens and as the country builds capabilities. On the face of it, such an incremental approach appears to make sense. However, it needs to be moderated in light of two facts. First, a comparison of responses to the novel coronavirus pandemic by India and the United States has shown that state capacity is not always directly proportional to wealth but more connected to will and second, state capacity does not grow on its own as wealth increases. It improves only when the state is committed to doing better.


ECONOMICS & FINANCE



Daily snippets

1. RBI to phase in normal liquidity management

  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said it had decided to restore normal liquidity management operations in a phased manner and would conduct variable rate reverse repo auction of ₹2 lakh crore on January 15. In February, RBI had announced a revised Liquidity Management Framework, but had temporarily suspended it in view of the COVID­-19 outbreak.

2. US loses 1.4 lakh jobs amidst surging COVD-19 cases

  • The U.S. economy shed jobs for the first time in eight months in December as the country buckled under an onslaught of COVID-­19 infec­tions, suggesting a significant loss of momentum that could temporarily stall re­covery from the pandemic. The economy has recovered just over half of the 22.2 mil­lion jobs lost in March and April. The unemployment rate was at 6.7% in December.

  • Despite the labour mar­ket weakness, the economy is unlikely to fall back into recession, with a backstop of nearly $900 billion in ad­ditional pandemic relief ap­proved by the government last week. More fiscal stimulus is ex­pected now that the Democrats have gained control of the Senate, boosting the pros­pects for President ­elect Joe Biden's legislative agenda.

3. SEBI eases norms for follow-on public orders

  • Capital markets watchdog SEBI relaxed the framework for follow­-on public offers (FPOs), a move that will help promoters of compa­nies to raise funds more ea­sily through this route. The applicability of mini­mum promoters’ contribu­tion norm and the subse­quent lock­-in requirements for the issuers making the FPO have been done away with by the regulator.

  • Earlier, promoters were mandated to contribute 20% towards a FPO. Also, the minimum promoters’ contribution was required to be locked ­in for three years. SEBI said the relaxation would be available for those companies which are fre­quently traded on a stock exchange for at least three years. Also, such firms should have redressed 95% of investor complaints.

4. Public procurement by Central government departments

  • The Finance Ministry has drafted a model tender doc­ument for public procure­ment by all central govern­ment departments, in a bid to standardise the language and clauses included, and avoid contractual disputes.

  • Public procurement ref­ers to the purchase of goods and services by the public sector or the government, accounting for an average 15% of GDP globally. In­ India, government procure­ment is estimated to consti­tute about 30% of GDP with the central government accounting for a major chunk.

  • There is no standardised nomenclature in public pro­curement in India and a mix of American, European and Indian nomenclature has become common,” the de­partment of expenditure pointed out in an introduction to the document for inviting bids for official supplies.


SPORTS



Daily snippets

1. India files racial abuse complaint

  • The Indian cricket team has lodged a official complaint with the match referee, claiming that Jaspreet Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj were targets of racial abuse from sections of the crowd at the Sydney Cricket Ground. The matter will now be dealt with by the International Cricket Council, the game’s governing body, and Cricket Australia.

2. Viswanathan Anand on the AICF's Advisory board

  • Five­ time World champion Viswanathan Anand has con­sented to be on the All India Chess Federation’s Advisory Board. The re­-elected AICF secre­tary Bharat Singh Chauhan said that Anand’s pre­sence will go a long way in strengthening the initiative to bring on board some of the chess ­loving people from the corporate sector and his guidance and inputs will be paramount.

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1. Irrational and indiscriminate arrests and violation of Human Rights https://rb.gy/w76nz0

2. Right to Personal Liberty : Challenges before Constitutional courts https://rb.gy/ikbhtg

3. Supreme Court and Farmer protests https://rb.gy/tliiaw

4. Criminal contempt and well founded criticism https://rb.gy/q1eqpg

5. Monitoring the performance of judges and judiciary https://rb.gy/cu3wr8

6. The threat posed by avian influenza https://rb.gy/hdu8fq


Download Page : https://e-clat.com/dailynewspage

Sources referred to : The Hindu, The Indian Express, Live Law, Bar & Bench

END

January 8th, 2021

START


LAW, POLICY & GOVERNANCE



Daily snippets

1. ‘Reply to plea on assistance for bonded labour victims’

  • The High Court sought response from the Centre as well as Delhi government to a plea seeking financial assistance for the rehabilitation of victims of child and bonded labour who have been rescued from the Capital.

  • A Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh asked the Union Ministry of Labour and the Delhi government to give their respective stands on the plea filed by the father of one of the children. Mohd. Kadir Ansari in his petition sought relief for 88 victims of child and bonded labour, which included his own minor son.

2. Meghalaya lawmakers asked to unite for ILP

  • An umbrella organisation of NGOs in Meghalaya has asked the State’s three MPs and all 60 MLAs to unite for the implementation of the Inner-Line Permit (ILP) and hit the streets of New Delhi together.

  • The ILP is an official document issued to let an Indian citizen enter a protected area for a limited period. Pressure groups in the northeast view this permit as a shield against the entry of illegal immigrants.

3. Rights activist Akhil Gogoi denied bail

  • The Gauhati High Court has rejected the bail plea of peasants’ rights activist Akhil Gogoi, who has been in jail since December 2019 on multiple charges, including sedition and incitement of violence during the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) movement.

  • The court heard Mr. Gogoi’s bail plea in a case registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in Guwahati.

4. SC expresses concern over farmers’ stir

  • Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde voiced the Supreme Court’s apprehension that mass gatherings of protesting farmers will lead to a “problem similar to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation”. The court was hearing a petition, seeking a CBI probe into circumstances leading to the swelling of migrant workers, anxious to leave the national capital for their villages and hometowns, at the Anand Vihar Bus Terminal for buses, and the Tablighi Jamaat congregation, which even saw foreign delegates, in violation of the social distancing norms.

  • The court issued notice to the Union and Delhi governments, and asked Mr. Mehta to file a detailed report on the guidelines to prevent COVID­-19, including restrictions on mass gatherings. The petition quoted the advisory, which mandates that “any event [social, cultural, political, religious, academic, sports, seminars and conference] except marriages is restricted to a maximum of 50 persons in the NCT of Delhi till March 31”.

5. SC notice to Centre on plea to debar legislators

  • The Supreme Court asked the Centre and the Election Commission of India (EC) to respond to a plea to debar legislators, disqualified under the Tenth Schedule, from contesting by-elections during the rest of the tenure of the House. A Bench led by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde issued notice and asked the government and the EC to respond in four weeks.

  • Once a member of the House incurs disqualification under the Tenth Schedule, he cannot be permitted to contest again during the term for which he was elected. Article 172 makes a membership of a House coterminous with the term of five years of the House except in circumstances mentioned therein,” the petition said.

6. Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia to head Gauhati HC

  • The Union Law Ministry notified the appointment of Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia as the new Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court. He is presently a judge in the Uttarakhand High Court.

NATIONAL NEWS/ INTERVENTIONS



Daily snippets

1. Flu in full flight

  • Avian influenza outbreak : Just three months after India declared itself to be free of the avian influenza outbreak, the highly pathogenic avian influenza subtypes, H5N1 and H5N8, have been reported from a dozen epicentres in four States – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala. While tests have confirmed H5N1 for causing the deaths of over 2,000 migratory birds in Himachal Pradesh, H5N8 has been identified for killing thousands of poultry in Kerala, and hundreds of crows in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

  • Cause of Flu : Migratory birds have been largely responsible for long distance transmission of the virus into India during winter. It then spreads through local movement of residential birds and poultry. Movement of men and material from poultry farms too has been a cause for further spread. This is why States have been asked to strengthen biosecurity of poultry farms, disinfection and proper disposal of dead birds.

  • Flu transmission to humans? Avian influenza virus crossing the species barrier and directly infecting humans happens occasionally, human to human spread has been rare. But mutations or genetic reassortment of an avian influenza A virus and a human influenza A virus in a person can create a new influenza A virus that could likely result in sustained transmission between humans, thus increasing the risk of a pandemic influenza. It is important to undertake genome sequencing of virus samples to track the evolution of the virus.

2. Satya Paul, who ‘reinvented’ the sari, passes away in Coimbatore

  • Satya Paul, best known as the designer who reinvented the sari for contemporary women, died. He was 78. He was a pioneer in the field of retailing, starting in the late 1960s and expanding to exports of the finest Indian handloom products to high end retail stores in Europe and the U.S. In 1980, he launched the first sari boutique in India, L’Affaire, and in 1986, India’s first designer label. The Satya Paul brand became one of the premier brands in the country.

3. China must respect rules, says France

  • A day after the Chinese Ambassador in India objected to the outgoing U.S. Ambassador’s comments on the India-­China stand­off, a senior French diplomat, said that “when China breaks rules, we have to be very robust and very clear”. When it came to direct threats to India, he said, France had always been supportive on Kashmir at the UN Security Council and did “not let the Chinese play any procedural games.”

4. WhatsApp updates privacy policy

  • WhatsApp has updated its terms of service and priva­cy policy regarding how it processes user data and partners with Facebook to offer integrations across the platform’s products. Key up­dates include more infor­mation about WhatsApp’s service and how it process­es user data; how business­es can use Facebook­ host­ed services to store and manage their WhatsApp chats; and how WhatsApp partners with Facebook to offer integrations across the company products.

  • As part of Facebook Companies, WhatsApp receives infor­mation from, and shares information with, other Fa­cebook Companies.”

5. New freight corridor

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugu­rated the New Rewari-­New Madar section of the West­ern Dedicated Freight Corri­dor and flagged off the world’s first 1.5­ km­ long elec­trified double stack long haul container train. Mr. Modi said the project was part of the mission to modernise the country’s in­frastructure and was being seen as a game changer for the India of the 21st century.

  • Given the rapid infrastructu­ral expansion, all the Northeast State capitals would soon be linked to the nation­al rail network. The work of indigenously developing high speed tracks was also under way. In all, 133 railway stations in nine States would be im­pacted by the Dedicated Freight Corridor. New multi­ model logistic parks, freight terminals, container depots/ terminals and parcel hubs would be developed at these places.

  • A portion of the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor, the New Bhaupur­-New Khur­ja section, was started last month and through it, farm produce were being tran­sported from Punjab and coal from Jharkhand was be­ing supplied to the National Capital Region, Haryana and Punjab.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS/EVENTS/ PERSONALITIES



Daily snippets

1. Biden win confirmed amid pro­-Trump mob attack

  • The U.S. Congress confirmed Democrat Joe Biden as the presidential election winner after a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in a stunning attempt to overturn the presidential election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep Mr. Trump in the White House.

  • Vice­-President Mike Pence, presiding over the joint session, announced the tally – 306­-232. Mr. Trump, who repeatedly refused to concede the election, said in a statement immediately after the vote that there would be a smooth transition of power on Inauguration Day.

  • The United States Capitol : Often called the Capitol Building, is the meeting place of the United States Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

  • The domed Capitol building has for centuries been the scene of protests and occasional violence. But Wednesday’s events were particularly astounding both because they unfolded at least initially with the implicit blessing of the President and because of the underlying goal of overturning the results of a free and fair poll. The last time the Capitol Building was attacked was when British forces burned it in August 1814.

  • China’s reaction : China on Thursday said it “hopes the people in the U.S. can enjoy peace” as it compared the events with the protests in Hong Kong. Similarity with the protests in Hong Kong was a common theme in China’s state media’s coverage.

  • India’s Reaction : “Distressed to see news about rioting and violence in Washington DC. Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue. The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests,” the Prime Minister Narender Modi said on his personal Twitter handle.

  • Trump’s trigger for the Violence : Over the last two months, Mr. Trump had encouraged his supporters to challenge the Presidential election results, which he said were fraudulent. The immediate trigger for the mob was the surprise victory of two Democratic candidates, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, in the January 5 run­off election in Georgia. That election was necessitated by the fact that no candidate won 50% of the popular vote in the November 3 general election. Their win gives Democrats 50 seats in the Senate, which is tantamount to control of the upper chamber of Congress, because the incoming Vice-­President, Kamala Harris, will cast a deciding vote in a tie.

  • Tough Road ahead for Joe Biden : To say that the incoming and 46th U.S. President, Joe Biden, has a tough job on his hands after his inauguration on January 20, would be an understatement. The sheer viciousness of the January 6 mob attack, and more than two months of hateful vitriol online and offline following the 2020 election, is proof that political America is deeply polarised, brimming with anger and disenchantment at the ground realities.

  • Trump banned on Social Media : Twitter for the first time locked Mr. Trump’s account, demanded that he remove the tweets excusing violence and threatened “permanent suspension”. Facebook banned him from the platform “indefinitely” due to his efforts to incite the violence, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said. As a result of Wednesday’s events, talk of the 25th Amendment, a statute that governs the removal of a sitting President from office due to reasons of incapacitation, increased.

2. ‘Alarming’ U.K. virus variant needs bolder response : WHO

  • The World Health Organization’s European branch said more needed to be done to deal with the alarming situation brought on by a recently discovered variant of the novel coronavirus. While it is natural for viruses to change over time and the variant is not believed to cause more severe symptoms, its “increased transmissibility” still raises concerns, according to WHO Europe.

3. Indian-­American named U.S. Army’s first CIO

  • Indian­-American Raj Iyer has taken over as the first Chief Information Officer (CIO) of the U.S. Army after the Pentagon created the position in July 2020.

  • One of the highest ranking Indian­-American civilians in the U.S. Department of Defense, Dr. Iyer, who holds a PhD. in Electrical Engineering, serves as the Principal Adviser to the Secretary of the Army and directs representation of the Secretary in matters relating to information management/ information technology (IT).

  • Equivalent in rank to a three star General, Dr. Iyer will supervise an annual budget of $16 billion for the U.S. Army’s IT operations. Over 15,000 civilians and military personnel posted across 100 countries work under him.

4. Pak. ATC court issues arrest warrant for Masood Azhar

  • An anti­terrorism court in Pakistan issued an arrest warrant for Masood Azhar, chief of the banned Jaish­-e­-Mohammad (JeM), on charges of terror financing. The Anti-­Terrorism Court (ATC) Gujranwala issued the warrant during a hearing in a terror financing case instituted by the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of the Punjab police against some members of the JeM.

  • Azhar is believed to be hiding in a “safe place” in his native town Bahawalpur. Following the Pulwama terror attack in February 2019 in India, Pakistan’s Punjab province police had launched a crackdown on terrorism financing, and in this connection arrested six activists of the JeM. The CTD said its teams raided the whereabouts of the JeM’s “safe house” and arrested its members and recovered lakhs of rupees from their possession.


ECONOMICS & FINANCE



Daily snippets

1. GDP likely to contract by 7.7% this fiscal : Government

  • India’s real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is esti­mated to contract by 7.7% in 2020­-21 with GVA (Gross Value added) shrinking by 7.2%, advance estimates re­leased by the National Sta­tistical Office show. India’s economy had ex­panded 4.2% in 2019-­20, but entered a recessionary phase with two successive quarters of sharp contrac­tion triggered by the CO­VID-­19 lockdowns.

  • Following a 23.9% collapse in the economy in the April­-June period, the GDP shrank by 7.5% in the se­cond quarter – leading to a real GDP contraction of 15.7% in the first half of 2020-­21.

  • Based on an uptick in sev­eral indicators in the past few months, several agen­cies have upgraded their es­timates, with the RBI recent­ly projecting a 7.5% contraction in the year com­pared to its earlier estimate of a 9.5% decline.

  • Just two sectors are estimat­ed to record positive growth in GVA, with agriculture continuing its strong run through the first half of the year into the second half (3.4%) and electricity, gas, water supply and other util­ity services posting (2.7%).

  • SBI group chief economic adviser Soumya Kanti Ghosh said, “It’s now official. Due to the pandemic, India will witness a negative GDP growth rate for the first time after 1979­80. This esti­mate, however, has a shelf life of only two months and is only used as an input for Budget arithmetic.

2. USTR slams India's digital tax, holds off on tariffs

  • Digital services taxes adopt­ed by India, Italy and Tur­key discriminate against U.S. companies and are in­ consistent with internation­al tax principles, the U.S. Trade Representative’s of­fice said, pav­ing the way for potential re­taliatory tariffs. USTR, releasing the find­ings of its “Section 301” in­vestigations into the digital taxes, said it was not taking specific actions at this time, but “will continue to eval­uate all available options”.

  • In the latest report, the USTR also said the Indian, Italian and Turkish taxes were “unreasonable” because they are inconsistent with principles of interna­tional taxation, including due to its application to revenue rather than income, extraterritorial application, and failure to provide tax certainty. India on Thursday said the 2% equalisation levy does not discriminate against U.S. companies as it applies equally to all non-resident e­ commerce operators irres­pective of their country of residence, Press Trust of India reported.

3. World Food Price Index

  • World food prices rose for a seventh consecutive month in December, with all the major categories, barring su­gar, posting gains last month, the United Nations food agency said. The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food price index, which measures monthly changes for a bas­ket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar, averaged 107.5 points last month versus 105.2 in No­vember. For the whole of 2020, the benchmark index averaged 97.9 points, a three-year high and a 3.1% increase from 2019.

  • Vegetable oil prices conti­nued recent strong gains, jumping 4.7% month ­on­ month in December. The cereal price index posted a more modest 1.1% rise in December from the month before. Export prices for wheat, maize, sorghum and rice all rose in December.


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1. BREXIT's legal ramification https://www.indialegallive.com/column-news/brexit-united-kingdom-european-union/

2. Social media and identity of sexual offence victims https://rb.gy/vo8uve

3. Do we have a grip on disinformation https://rb.gy/pxktij


Download Page : https://e-clat.com/dailynewspage

Sources referred to : The Hindu, The Indian Express, Live Law, Bar & Bench

END

January 7th, 2021

START


LAW, POLICY & GOVERNANCE



Daily snippets

1. SC to study anti-conversion laws of Uttarakhand and UP

  • The Supreme Court agreed to examine the constitutional validity of laws enacted by States, such as Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde, however, did not stay the implementation of the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 and the Uttarakhand Freedom of Religion Act, 2018, despite fervent pleas by petitioners. The petitioners said the laws were against public policy and society at large.

2. Using God's name to sell articles is illegal

  • The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court has declared that advertisement of any article using the name of any God and claiming that it has supernatural qualities, is “illegal” and falls under the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act.

  • A division bench of Justices T.V. Nalawade and M.G. Sewlikar was hearing a petition filed by Rajendra Ambhore, a teacher, seeking a direction and injunction to prevent advertisements on television channels that promote the sale of articles like Hanuman Chalisa Yantra.

3. Punishing someone for falling in love is a crime

  • It is a crime to punish a person for falling in love and yearning to have a life in each other’s company, the Supreme Court has said. It was among the worst forms of crime. The Chief Justice, leading a three-­judge Bench, was hearing the case for granting bail to 11 former Khap panchayat members who ordered the murder of a Dalit boy, his cousin and a girl.

4. Committee to look into Ladakh issues

  • A committee would be constituted under Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy to find an appropriate solution to the issues related to language, culture and conservation of land in the Union Territory of Ladakh. The committee would comprise members of the delegation that met the Home Minister, elected members from Ladakh, members of the LAHDC and ex-officio members representing the Government of India and the Ladakh administration.

NATIONAL NEWS/ INTERVENTIONS



Daily snippets

1. Sri Lanka will gain from meeting Tamil concerns’

  • It is in “Sri Lanka’s own interest” that the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and dignity within a united Sri Lanka are fulfilled, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said.

  • Consistent with New Delhi’s messaging on Sri Lanka’s Tamil question since the Rajapaksas came to power, Mr. Jaishankar’s emphasis on Tamil concerns appeared as a response to growing calls in Sri Lanka, including from senior Ministers in the ruling Rajapaksa administration and members of the influential Buddhist clergy, for the abolition of the provincial council system and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

  • Their campaign, while the government mulls holding elections to its nine provincial councils, effectively threatens the only legislative guarantee of a measure of power devolution, that followed the Indo­-Lanka Accord of 1987.

  • The Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord : It was an accord signed in Colombo on 29 July 1987, between Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J. R. Jayewardene. The accord was expected to resolve the Sri Lankan Civil War by enabling the thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka and the Provincial Councils Act of 1987. Under the terms of the agreement,Colombo agreed to a devolution of power to the provinces, the Sri Lankan troops were to be withdrawn to their barracks in the north and the Tamil rebels were to surrender their arms.

2. Science policy to boost journal access

  • The proposed Science, Tech­nology and Innovation Poli­cy (STIP) aims to establish a system whereby all research­ers in India can access research published in top in­ternational journals at no cost. The Science Ministry has not yet drawn up a plan of execution as the STI policy is still in draft mode. The policy sets a target for doubling the number of full­ time equivalent researchers, gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) and private sector contribution to the GERD every five years.

  • The policy has been drafted through a “four track” process of consultation and endeavours to implement major changes through short, medium and long­ term mission mode projects. The policy is to identify and address the strengths and weaknesses of the In­dian STI (Science, Technolo­gy, Innovation) ecosystem to catalyse the socio­economic development of the country.

3. Theme-based monitoring for Rajasthan forestry works

  • A new theme ­based moni­toring mechanism has been developed by the Forest de­partment in Rajasthan to en­able the field officers to en­sure progress and timely completion of works for protection of flora and fau­na. The field officers in the districts would visit the sites of forestry works, in­cluding those of compensatory afforestation, and shoot video footages of three mi­nutes each. These video clippings will be uploaded on the theme ­based moni­toring groups.

4. Foundation stone laid for 'New Anubhava Mantapa'

  • Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa laid the foundation stone for the ‘New Anubhava Mantapa’ in Basavakalyan, the place where 12th century poet­ philosopher Basavesh­wara lived for most of his life.

  • The New Anubhava Manta­pa, as envisaged now, will be a six-­floor structure in the midst of the 7.5 acre plot and represent various principles of Basaveshwara’s philoso­phy. It will showcase the 12th Century Anubhava Mantapa (often referred to as the “first Parliament of the world”) es­tablished by him in Basava­kalyan, where philosophers and social reformers held debates. The building will adopt the Kalyana Chalukya style of architecture.

  • Who was Basaveshwara? Basavanna was an Indian 12th-century statesman, philosopher, poet, Lingayat saint in the Shiva-focused Bhakti movement, and Hindu Shaivite social reformer during the reign of the Kalyani Chalukya/Kalachuri dynasty. Basavanna reached his peak of influence during the rule of King Bijjala II in Karnataka.

5. On the avian-flu outbreak

  • Avian flu has been reported at 12 epicentres in four States – Rajasthan, Madhya Pra­desh, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala. Avian influenza (AI) viruses have been circulating worldwide for centuries with four known major outbreaks recorded in the last century. India notified the first outbreak of avian in­fluenza in 2006.

  • In India, the disease spreads mainly from migrato­ry birds coming into the country during the winter months. However, secondary spread by human handling cannot be ruled out. Government had formulated the 2015 National Avian Influenza Plan.


    Boosting India with maritime domain awareness

(i). Expansion of India’s Maritime Surveillance

  • Of late, the Indian Navy has been on a drive to improve domain awareness in the Indian Ocean. The Navy is seeking to expand India’s surveillance footprint by setting up radar stations in the Maldives, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

  • Mauritius, the Seychelles and Sri Lanka have already integrated into the wider coastal radar chain network. The Indian Navy’s efforts seem focused primarily on monitoring Chinese activity in the Eastern Indian Ocean, particularly in the seas around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

  • Since June 2020, when the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army clashed in Galwan in northern Ladakh, Indian maritime planners have been wary of the possibility of a greater Chinese presence in the eastern littorals. In recent months, India’s P­-8I aircraft have scoured the near­seas for People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) submarines, and Indian naval ships have patrolled the Andaman Seas and eastern chokepoints to deter any maritime adventurism by Beijing.

(ii). Increased Synergy with Neighbours

  • Maritime domain awareness is also generating cooperative synergies in the neighbourhood. There are reports that seven Indian Ocean countries – Bangladesh, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Mauritius and the Seychelles – will soon post Liaison Officers at the Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre ­Indian Ocean Region in Gurugram. France already has an officer at the IFC, and four other Indo­-Pacific navies – Australia, Japan, the U.K and the U.S. – have also agreed to position officers at the centre, fast emerging as the most prominent information hub in the Eastern Indian Ocean.

  • New Delhi is also upping its engagement in the Western Indian Ocean by positioning a Liaison Officer at the Regional Maritime Information Fusion Centre (RMIFC) in Madagascar. Established under the auspices of the Indian Ocean Commission that India joined recently as an ‘observer’, the RMIFC is a key centre of maritime information in the Western Indian Ocean. India has also posted an officer at the European Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz (EMASOH) in Abu Dhabi to assist in the monitoring of maritime activity in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

  • France has been instrumental in securing ‘observer’ status for India at the Indian Ocean Commission, and is pushing for greater Indian participation in security initiatives in the Western Indian Ocean.

  • India’s military satellite (GSAT-­7A) may soon facilitate a real time sharing of maritime information with partners. These endeavours are a manifestation of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s philosophical mantra that advances the idea of India as a ‘security provider’ and ‘preferred partner’ in the Indo­-Pacific region.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS/EVENTS/ PERSONALITIES



Daily snippets

1. Democrats set to win Senate as Georgia results come in

  • Democrats inched closer to taking control of the U.S. Senate as African American pastor Raphael Warnock defeated incumbent Republican candidate Kelly Loeffler – a former businesswoman – in one of two run-off elections in Georgia. Mr. Warnock became the first black Senator elected from the southern State.

  • The other run­off race was too close to call with incumbent David Perdue, a Republican, trailing his challenger, 33-year old Jon Ossoff, a documentary filmmaker, by over 16,000 votes with 98% reporting on Wednesday morning (U.S. time).

  • Both run-offs were necessary because no candidate had won more than 50% of the vote in the November elections. If Mr. Ossoff wins the race,the Senate would be split 50­-50 between the two parties. Democrats, who already control the House of Representatives, would also have Vice­-President-­elect Kamala Harris’s vote in the case of a tie. If Republicans win the second run­off, they will control the Senate 51-­49. The high stakes races consequently broke fundraising records and compelled Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden to campaign for the candidates earlier this week.

2. U.S. meddling in stand­off : Chinese envoy

  • A day after the U.S. Ambassador said India and the U.S. were cooperating against Chinese “aggressive activity” at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), China’s Ambassador responded accusing the United States of “meddling” in the India­-China standoff.

3. U.K. court denies bail to Assange

  • WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange must remain in custody in Britain, while the U.S. appeals a court decision to block his extradition to face charges there for leaking secret documents, a judge in London ruled on Wednesday.

  • Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who refused to grant his extradition, told Westminster Magistrates Court that if released there were “substantial grounds” to suspect Mr. Assange would “fail to surrender” for future appeal hearings.

4. Hong Kong acts again to crack down on dissent

  • China’s crackdown in Hong Kong escalated with police arresting more than 50 opposition figures in their largest operation since a draconian security law was imposed on the financial hub. The sweep is the latest salvo in Beijing’s battle to stamp out dissent in the semi autonomous city after millions hit the streets in 2019 with huge pro democracy protests.

  • Hong Kong’s security chief John Lee described the arrests as “necessary” and aimed at a group of people who tried to “sink Hong Kong into an abyss” and “overthrow the government”. The EU – which recently agreed a major investment deal with Beijing – called for the “immediate release” of those arrested and said it was eyeing possible further sanctions on China over the crackdown.

5. China denies entry to WHO experts

  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said it was “very disappointed” that China had not allowed a team of international experts to go ahead with a visit to study the origins of COVID-­19 that was planned for this week. China’s decision to not permit the trip appeared to come at the last minute and catch the WHO by surprise, with some of the experts already having left home and in transit when told the visit would not take place.

  • WHO Director-­General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was “very disappointed” the visit could not go forward. Chinese authorities have suggested they will exert control over how much access international scientists will have and have also controlled research within China on the origins. In recent weeks, the State media in China has increasingly backed a narrative suggesting the virus came to China from elsewhere.

6. Control over ‘data’ behind Alibaba’s tussle with authorities

  • At the heart of the on­going tussle between Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group and regulators in China is the control over “troves of consumer credit data” that authorities believe have given the e-commerce giant an unfair advantage over its competitors.

  • On December 24, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) said it had launched a probe into Alibaba’s “suspected monopolistic acts”, including “forcing merchants to choose one platform between two competitors''. This followed the last minute suspension, the previous month, of what was expected to be a record breaking $35 billion initial public offering (IPO) of the Ant Group, which is the group’s financial arm and behind Alipay, China’s biggest digital payments company.


ECONOMICS & FINANCE



Daily snippets

1. Bidding for spectrums to start from March 1st

  • Bidding for the sixth round of spectrum auction for ra­dio waves worth ₹3.92 lakh crore will start from March 1, according to a notice is­sued by the Department of Telecom. The auction is being held after a gap of four years and more than two years after the Telecom Regulatory Authority of In­dia (TRAI) calculated and recommended a base price for the radio waves.

2. SEBI moots entry norms to set up stock exchanges

  • The Securities and Ex­change Board of India (SE­BI) has floated a discussion paper on review of owner­ship and governance norms to facilitate new entrants to set up stock exchanges and depositories, also called market infrastruc­ture institutions (MIIs).

  • As per the key proposals, a resident promoter setting up an MII may hold up to 100% shareholding, which will be brought down to not more than (either 51% or 26%) in 10 years. A foreign promoter from Financial Action Task Force FATF member jurisdictions setting up an MII may hold up to 49% shareholding, which shall be brought down to not more than (either 26% or 15%) in 10 years. Foreign individuals or en­tities from other than FATF member jurisdictions may acquire or hold up to 10% in an MII.

  • Any person other than the promoter may acquire or hold less than 25% shareholding. At least 50% of ownership of the MII may be represent­ed by individuals or entities with experience of five years or more in the areas of cap­ital markets or technology related to financial services.

3. Eurozone contraction could get worse in 2021

  • Eurozone economic activity contracted more sharply than previously thought at the end of 2020 and could get worse this year as renewed restrictions to contain COVID-­19 hit the bloc's service industry, an IHS Markit survey showed. The economy is expected to gain momentum later this year on vaccine hopes, a December Reuters poll found.

4. The National Infrastructure Pipeline

  • Finance and Corporate Af­fairs Minister Nir­mala Sitharaman reviewed the progress of the National In­frastructure Pipeline (NIP) as the government seeks to accelerate infrastructure spending in the economy. The NIP has been ex­panded from 6,385 projects at the time of its introduc­tion a year ago, to more than 7,300 projects, and is mak­ing progress despite the pandemic, the government said in a statement.

  • The NIP is a part of the Government of India’s initia­tive to provide world-class infrastructure to its citizens and enhance the ease of liv­ing”, she said. The Minister reviewed progress of the NIP, with a specific fo­cus on 34 water and health­ related infrastructure pro­jects worth ₹3.6 lakh crore.

5. Oil scales 11-month high

  • Oil prices rose to their highest since Fe­bruary 2020 after Saudi Ara­bia agreed to reduce output. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, agreed to make addi­tional, voluntary oil output cuts of 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in February and March, after a meeting with the Organization of the Pe­troleum Exporting Coun­tries (OPEC) and other ma­jor producers that form the group known as OPEC+.

  • With coronavirus infec­tions spreading rapidly in many parts of the world, producers are trying to sup­port prices as demand takes a hit from new lockdowns. Two OPEC+ members – Russia and Kazakhstan – will bump up their output by a combined 75,000 bar­rels per day, while other producers will hold pro­duction steady.


SUGGESTED READINGS



1. On Flexible working hours https://rb.gy/yoegmw

2. National Infrastructure Pipeline https://rb.gy/hmfogo

3. The importance of social interaction https://rb.gy/yxdl74


Download Page : https://e-clat.com/dailynewspage

Sources referred to : The Hindu, The Indian Express, Live Law, Bar & Bench

END


January 6th, 2021

START


LAW, POLICY & GOVERNANCE



Daily snippets

1. SC clears centre's plan to build a three times bigger Parliament

  • The Supreme Court, in a majority judgment, gave its go-ahead to the multi­-crore Central Vista redevelopment project, which proposes to build a new Parliament three times bigger than the existing 93­year-old heritage building.

  • The majority opinion said the project did not involve any “radical” change in land use. It dismissed notions that the project was “sui generis” and deserved a “heightened judicial review”. It stated that, It is not the court’s concern to enquire into the priorities of an elected government. Judicial review is never meant to venture into the mind of the government and thereby examine validity of a decision.

  • The majority judgment said there was absolutely no legal basis to “heighten” the judicial review by applying a yardstick beyond the statutory scheme, especially when the government itself had accorded no special status to the project.

  • Petitioners in the case and academics expressed their dismay at the Supreme Court giving its nod. Rajiv Suri, one of the petitioners, said that the court’s verdict was a long, rambling, drab and dreary judgment containing no landmarks or path breaking interpretations on law, a massive redevelopment exercise is being done without detailed discussion in Parliament from the environment point of view.

2. Ordinance on cow slaughter promulgated

  • The Karnataka government promulgated the Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Ordinance, 2020, to ban slaughter of cows. It also bans slaughter of bulls of all ages and buffaloes aged below 13. The new law will not stop slaughter of buffaloes aged above 13. Hence, slaughterhouses could continue to operate, and there will not be a blanket ban on beef.

3. Union budget to be presented on February 1st

  • The Budget session of Parliament is expected to begin on January 29, with the Budget being presented as per schedule on February 1. As is the norm, the Budget session will be conducted in two phases. The first, beginning on January 29, will conclude on February 15. The second phase will run from March 8 to April 8, sources said. The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs or CCPA.

Analysis : On the validity of law criminalising inter-faith marriages

(i). Background

  • Uttar Pradesh has an ordinance which criminalises inter faith marriages. The U.P. government’s focus is firmly on ‘protecting’ Hindu women from marrying Muslim men. It does this under the pretext of regulating religious conversions.

(ii). On the Constitutionality

  • Under the Constitution, it is the individual citizen who has and exercises rights and obligations. But these new laws treat religious communities, instead of individual citizens, as basic entities.

  • Constitution does address communities when speaking of minority rights and untouchability, it is to only acknowledge and overcome social discrimination because that impedes the ability of those citizens to exercise their rights as individuals.

  • These laws blatantly violate the Right to Privacy. The level of state interference in a civil union, which is a solemnisation of a relationship between two individuals, breaches the basic structure of the Constitution. The provisions impede the exercise of an individual’s right to choose her faith without seeking state sanction.

(iii). Conclusion

  • To fan rumours of ‘love jihad’ even as the government confirmed in Parliament that there was no evidence of it, is diabolical. But more than that, it is downright dangerous as it seeds mistrust, and changes fundamental and basic ground rules that all plural democracies must live by.

NATIONAL NEWS/ INTERVENTIONS



Daily snippets

1. U.K. PM Boris Johnson calls off India visit

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has cancelled his visit to India in the last week of January, when he was to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade. The U.K. Foreign Office said the decision was taken in view of the escalation in the COVID­-19 situation.

2. Changing contours of India­-U.K. ties

  • Republic Day Chief Guests under Modi Govt. : American President Donald Trump was Mr. Modi’s first choice for January 2019 but the honour eventually fell to Mr. Trump’s alter ego, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Mr. Modi’s selections are revealing: U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015, French President Francois Hollande in 2016, the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates in 2017, the ASEAN leaders in 2018, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2019, Mr. Bolsonaro in 2020, and Mr. Johnson for 2021.

  • India-­U.K. links are substantial : One and a half million persons of Indian origin reside in Britain, 15 of them are Members of Parliament, three in Cabinet and two holding high office as Finance and Home Ministers. Before COVID­-19, there were half a million tourists from India to Britain annually and twice that figure in the reverse direction. Around 30,000 Indians study in Britain despite restrictive opportunities for post graduation employment. Britain is among the top investors in India and India is the second biggest investor and a major job creator in Britain. India has a credit balance in a total trade of $16 billion, but the level is below India’s trade with Switzerland, Germany or Belgium.

  • India’s advantages : India has a shared past with Britain and needs to chart a different shared future, now that Britain has left the European Union (EU). One joint enterprise will be as members of the UN Security Council where Britain has permanent status and India holds a non-­permanent seat this year and next. And this year, Mr. Johnson will be hosting India as an invitee to the G­7, and the UN Climate Change Conference.

  • Britain’s advantages : From Britain’s point of view, Mr. Modi’s invitation to its Prime Minister was fortuitous because Brexit necessitates that every effort be made to seek commercial advantage in Asian countries with high growth rates. India has been fruitlessly negotiating a trade agreement with the EU since 2007, during which Britain was considered the main dealbreaker.

3. Two-­day Asian Waterbird Census off to a flying start

  • The two day Asian Waterbird Census­ 2020 commenced in Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday under the aegis of experts from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), covering at least two dozen sites, including Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, Kolleru Lake and Krishna Sanctuary

4. U.S., India cooperated on LAC action, says Juster

  • The U.S. has cooperated with India to counter “aggressive” Chinese actions at the Line of Actual Control, its Ambassador, Kenneth Juster, confirmed, saying it was for the Indian government to give details of the nature of military cooperation during the ongoing eight month stand­off between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army.

  • While this is the first time an official is confirming the cooperation over the standoff, it was reported earlier that over the past few months, the U.S. has assisted India with geospatial data, satellite maps and emergency procurement of extreme weather clothing. Officially, India has maintained that it is resolving the situation with China “bilaterally and diplomatically”.

5. States on alert on fear of bird flu

  • Several States sounded an alert to contain avian influenza, or H5N8, while Kerala began culling thousands of ducks. Nearly 2,000 migratory birds were found dead in Hi­machal Pradesh, while Ra­jasthan and Madhya Pradesh reported deaths of several hundred birds. In Haryana, the “unusual” deaths of four lakh poultry birds have been reported in the past 10 days. Tamil Nadu and Karnata­ka, both neighbouring Kerala, put their Animal Husban­dry and Forest Departments on alert as fears of the bird flu spreading grew.

6. Prime Minister inaugurates Kochi-Mangalore LNG pipeline

  • Inaugurating the 450­km Kochi­-Koottanad­-Mangalore LNG (liquefied natural gas) pipeline, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that as part of efforts to make India a natural gas­ based econo­my, 10,000 more CNG (com­pressed natural gas) stations would be opened and several lakh PNG (piped natural gas) household connections gi­ven in the coming days. The facility was deemed part of the “one nation, one gas grid” policy. The plan was to increase the share of natural gas in the energy sector from the pre­sent 6% to 15% by 2030.

  • Impetus is on diversification of energy requirements. Focus was being given on increasing production of ethanol to increase its content in petrol to 20% from the present 5%. The world’s largest hybrid energy plant (wind and solar) was coming up in Gujarat. The electric mobility sector too was be­ing encouraged. Union Minister for Petro­leum and Natural Gas Dhar­mendra Pradhan, said the new pipeline would have in­ternational importance, wherein the carbon footprint would get substantially reduced.

7. Government launches hackathon for toys

  • The Centre launched a hackathon for students, teachers and start­ ups to design and develop toys and games “based on Indian culture and ethos, lo­cal folklore and heroes, and Indian value systems.” The goal of the “toycath­on” is to promote India as a global toy manufacturing hub. The toy market in India is worth $1 billion, 80% toys are import­ed. The Toycathon has nine themes, including fitness and sport and rediscovering traditional Indian toys. The hackathon is an in­itiative of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Wo­men and Child Develop­ment, Ministry of Textile, Mi­nistry of Commerce and Industries, Ministry of Mi­cro, Small and Medium En­terprises, Ministry of Infor­mation and Broadcasting and All India Council for Technical Education.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS/EVENTS/ PERSONALITIES



Daily snippets

1. Gulf leaders sign deal to end years ­long dispute

  • Gulf leaders signed a “solidarity and stability” deal after leaders of Saudi Arabia and Qatar publicly embraced, bringing Doha back into the regional fold after a three year long rift.

  • Saudi Arabia had led a coalition of countries in the Gulf and beyond to cut ties and transport links with Qatar in June 2017, charging that it was too close to Iran and backed radical Islamist groups – allegations that Doha denied. Those countries, along with Oman and Kuwait, which have mediated between the two sides, signed a deal in Al­Ula, after Riyadh overnight re-opened its land, sea and air borders to Doha.

2. Georgia goes to polls for key Senate runoffs

  • After an unprecedented campaign that mobilised Donald Trump and his White House successor Joe Biden, Georgians went to the polls on Tuesday for two closely watched U.S. Senate runoffs that could shape the first years of the new Democratic presidency.

  • A staggering $832 million has been spent on the two contests, including spending in the primary and general elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. If Democrats flip both seats, they win back the Senate, effectively handing Mr. Biden all the levers of political power in Washington and helping him enact his ambitious legislative agenda.

3. China court sentences ex-banker to death

  • Lai Xiaomin, former chairman of Hong Kong-listed China Huarong Asset Management Co. and former Communist Party member, was sentenced to death for soliciting $260 million in corruption, bribery, and also bigamy.

4. Alibaba to stop online music streaming service amid probe

  • China’s e commerce giant, the Alibaba Group announced it will close a popular music streaming platform, Xiami Music. The announcement comes amid continuing investigations into the group and questions surrounding the future of its founder, Jack Ma.

  • The troubles for Alibaba started on the eve of the initial public offering (IPO) of its Ant Group, its financial arm and the company behind Alipay, China’s biggest digital payments company. The IPO was expected to be a world record breaking one and was likely to raise $35 billion. But it was suspended by regulators in early November. This followed a speech by Mr. Ma in Shanghai at a high profile financial forum. The speech was thought to have angered regulators as Mr. Ma took aim at China’s financial system and labelled state run banks, whose monopoly has been challenged by his group’s entry into online financial services, as “pawn shops”.

5. England’s lockdown could last into March, says Minister

  • England entered a strict national lockdown aimed at stemming a steep rise in COVID­-19 cases that a senior government Minister warned could last into March. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the measures, including school closures and a ban on leaving home except for exercise and essential shopping.

ECONOMICS & FINANCE



Daily snippets

1. Surge in stocks boost Mutual Fund assets

  • Mutual fund asset base rose by 7.6% to ₹29.71 lakh crore in the quarter ended Decem­ber, mainly on account of the rally in equity markets. The average assets under management (AAUM) of the industry, comprising 45 players, was at ₹27.6 lakh crore in July­-September quarter, according to data by Association of Mutual Funds in India (AMFI).

  • The surge in asset base comes on the back of excel­lent stock market perfor­mance over the last three months, with Nifty 50 rising by 3.15% in October, 12.02% in November and 14.9% in December. With an asset base of ₹4.56 lakh crore, SBI Mutual Fund continues to be the lar­gest fund house in India dur­ing the December quarter.

2. NYSE holds plans to delist three China telcos

  • The New York Stock Ex­change said it no longer intends to move for­ward with the delisting of China Mobile Ltd., China Te­lecom Corp. Ltd. and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. Earlier, China’s foreign minis­try had called the planned delisting of the three com­panies “unwise” and de­nounced what it said were “random, arbitrary and un­certain”.

3. World Bank predicts expansion of global output in FY22

  • Global economic output is projected to grow by 4% in 2021 assuming widespread roll­out of a COVID­-19 vac­cine throughout the year, as per the World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects (GEP) report. This projection is still 5% below pre­-pandemic levels. India is expected to grow at 5.4% in fiscal year 2021-­22 and 5.2% in fiscal 2022-­23 af­ter an expected contraction of 9.6% in fiscal 2020­-21.

  • India’s expected contrac­tion in the current fiscal is due to a sharp decline in household spending and private investment. There was severe income loss in the informal sector which accounts for four-­fifths of employment. The global recovery has been dampened by the re­surgence of the coronavirus but is expected to streng­then as confidence, trade and consumption start im­proving.

  • After an estimated 3.6% contraction in 2020, U.S. GDP is expected to grow at 3.5% in 2021 and the Euro area at 3.6%. Emerging mar­ket and developing econo­mies (EMDEs) are expected to grow at an average of 4.6% in 2021­-22 reflecting the above average rebound in China (forecasted at 7.9% and 5.2%, this year and the next).

  • Without course correc­tion investment could re­main feeble for years to come,” World Bank Group President David Malpass said, calling for governments, households and firms to res­pond to the new economic realities – protecting the most vulnerable and supporting policies that allow capital, labour, skills and innovation to shift to new pur­poses.

  • There has been a “mas­sive increase” in global debt because of the pandemic with EMDE government debt set to increase by 9 percentage points of GDP in 2020, the report noted. In­dia’s government debt is ex­pected to rise by 17 percen­tage points of GDP while service output shrinks over 9%. Private sector debt is also expected to rise sharply.


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1. Kerala High Court and its record for 2021 https://rb.gy/bimsy0

2. Approval of COVAXIN https://rb.gy/f59bnh

3. How does a bitcoin actually work https://rb.gy/127jnu


Download Page : https://e-clat.com/dailynewspage

Sources referred to : The Hindu, The Indian Express, Live Law, Bar & Bench

END

January 5th, 2021

START


LAW, POLICY & GOVERNANCE



Daily snippets

1. Repeal law permitting seizure of livestock: SC

  • The Supreme Court asked the Centre to “delete” its three year old law which allowed seizure and subsequent confiscation of livestock from people who depended on these animals for a livelihood, even before they were found guilty of cruelty towards them.

  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Sharad A. Bobde warned the government that it would “stay” the implementation of a 2017 law. In short, a farmer, a livestock owner or a cattle trader loses his animals before being found guilty of the charge of cruelty.

2. DoE circular asks teachers to check weight of school bags

  • The Directorate of Education has issued a circular asking schools to follow the new ‘School Bag Policy, 2020’ released by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). According to the circular, school teachers should inform the students in advance about the books and notebooks to be brought to school on a particular day and frequently check their bags to ensure that they are not carrying unnecessary material.

  • To reduce the weight of the school bag, the circular says that it is the duty and the responsibility of the school management to provide quality potable water in sufficient quantities to all the students in the school so that they do not need to carry water bottles from their homes. The heavy school bag has severe/adverse physical effects on growing children which can cause damage to their vertebral column and knees, the circular reads.

3. NHRC flags misreporting of scavenging data

  • The National Human Rights Commission recommended action against government officials responsible for incorrectly reporting the number of manual scavengers in the country.

4. Budget session to be held amid curbs

  • The budget session of Parliament is expected to be held under similar COVID­-19 safety measures and restrictions. The Parliament is expected to be convened in the fourth week of January. The Budget as a norm is presented on February 1. There is no clarity on whether the Question Hour which was suspended will resume in the budget session.

  • What is Question Hour? Question Hour is the first hour of a sitting session of India's Lok Sabha devoted to questions that Members of Parliament raise about any aspect of administrative activity. The concerned Minister is obliged to answer to the Parliament, either orally or in writing, depending on the type of question raised.

  • Sessions of the Parliament? In India the Parliament conducts three sessions a year – Budget Session (January/February to May), Monsoon Session (July to August/September), Winter Session (November to December).


Analysis : NREGA and Urban Unemployment

(i). Background

  • The focus on the employment question. Recent data from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (https://bit.ly/3hEnl7Z), point to a gradual slowdown in employment recovery from the month of July, with the latest num­bers pointing to a sharp rise in the national unemployment rate from 6.51% in November to 9.06% for the month of December.

(ii). NREGA structuring

  • For labour flocking back to rural India, employment support came in the form of an increased outlay for the National Rural Employ­ment Guarantee Scheme (NRE­GA), which witnessed a 243% increase in person workdays. This increased dependency on NREGA, has seen the Rural Development Ministry spend nearly 90% of its increased ₹86,4000 crore alloca­tion by the month of November, while still being unable to fulfil de­mands for nearly 13% of the 75 mil­lion households that demanded work.

(iii). On the gig economy

  • The report by Fair­work Foundation evaluates the well­ being of gig workers on 11 digital platforms and does so by evaluat­ing them on five metrics of Fair Pay, Fair Conditions, Fair Contracts, Fair Management and Fair Representation. In its findings ho­wever, only two firms (Urban Company and Flipkart) score grea­ter than five (out of a maximum of 10) while seven score only 2 or less. The bottom of rankings are rounded off by India’s four largest platform giants, namely, Uber, Ola, Swiggy and Zomato.

  • With no urban equivalent to the NREGA on the horizon for the urban unemployed, there must be an increased impetus on eval­uating, regulating and supporting new forms of employment that may currently be serving as an in­formal safety net for those desper­ately in search of work.

  • The current understanding of gig work and workers remains constrained to the limited disclosures made by the platforms themselves. With very few indepen­dent studies evaluating the scale and impact of these platforms, most regulators continue to remain in the dark on basic ques­tions surrounding platform la­bour.

(iv). Issue of regulation

  • Owing to the varied nature of gig work – some workers use these platforms as a “side hustle”, for others it conti­nues to serve as a primary source of employment, it is further complicated by the risk of a one­ size­ fits ­all regulatory strate­gy unintentionally hurting the si­milar, yet distinct, market for high­ly skilled (and highly paid) freelancers, that continues its ra­pid growth due to pandemic relat­ed full­time staff layoffs. A more viable strategy then would involve conditional go­vernment partnerships with platforms under some of its flagship schemes.

  • Initiatives like Swiggy’s Street Food Vendors pro­gramme under the PM SVANidhi, or PM Street Vendor’s Atma Nirb­har Nidhi scheme, Swiggy has announced the on­ boarding of 36,000 street food vendors onto the platform under the scheme and ensure that each vendor is registered and certified by the Food Safety and Standards Auth­ority of India. Thus, the creation of jobs, alongside the vo­luntary adoption of quality stan­dards is an example of a mutually beneficial partnership between the state and a platform

(v). Urban employment

  • Collaborations on urban employment, that require labour platforms to comply with disclo­sure norms and worker compensa­tion standards to access govern­ment support, could be one way for the government to kill two birds with one stone. It would bring down costs significantly for the Urban employment guarantee scheme and would also create an envi­ronment where firms would be more likely to cooperate with the state. The challenge of urban unemployment needs to be tackled. Li­mited fiscal space and a growing need to fuel the country’s con­sumption base, must push the go­vernment to build symbiotic rela­tionships with new partners.

NATIONAL NEWS/ INTERVENTIONS



Daily snippets

1. Ayodhya temple work to begin by January-end

  • Work on the foundation for the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya will start by January­ end, said the trust entrusted with its construction. It acknowledged that the study of the soil was still not complete even after seven months. The trust will start a mass contact and contribution campaign for the temple work from Makar Sankranti.

2. 122 Bangladesh soldiers to march in R-Day parade

  • A 122 member tri­-service contingent of the Bangladesh armed forces will participate in the Republic Day parade. This coincides with the 50th anniversary celebrations of the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. Indian Air Force planes will ferry the contingent to and from Bangladesh. The contingent will be carrying its own ceremonial rifles and the personnel will be in their combat dress during the march past.

3. Adverse events must be reported fortnightly

  • Both Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India (SII), which have received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India for manufacturing and distributing their COVID­19 vaccines, are expected to submit reports every 15 days on adverse events, if any, among those vaccinated for two months. After this, they would have to submit such reports once a month.

  • The vaccines developed by both companies have not gone through all the required tests, particularly the trials that determine whether the vaccines are effective in Indians. Both companies have been given approvals for “restricted emergency use”, though there are further caveats to Covaxin, the Bharat Biotech product, which restrict it to be provided only in a “clinical trial mode”.

  • The SII’s vaccine, Covishield, is based on a chimpanzee adenovirus and developed at Oxford University. U.K. trials showed a 70.4% efficacy with wide variation across subgroups.

  • Covaxin is a whole inactivated virus, the oldest technology in vaccine development, and current scientific reports suggest that it produced a strong immune response in animals but no data yet suggested its efficacy. According to the permission notices made public on Monday, Covaxin has to finish its Phase 1, ­2 and ­3 trials, and submit updated safety, immunogenicity and efficacy data.

4. India to aim at ‘reformed multilateralism

  • India was approaching its two year term on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) with “a strong commitment to reformed multilateralism”, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, T.S. Tirumurti said. The Ambassador was speaking at a ceremony to install the national flags of countries who will be UNSC members for 2021­-22.

5. Odisha government to track social media to check pangolin poaching

  • The Odisha Forest de­partment has stressed the need for stricter monitor­ing of social media platforms to check pangolin poaching and trading. Traf­ficking of live pangolin and its scales is a highly lucrative business for or­ganised mafia, who ex­ploit poor and vulnerable forest dwelling communi­ties for their criminal in­terests. This was push­ing the endangered spe­cies into extinction and simultaneously placing these communities at high risk. Owing to the cyber revolution, a sizeable chunk of wildlife trade started taking place through so­cial media. What are Pangolins ? (https://rb.gy/idioeh)

6. Delhi's tableau featuring new Chandni Chowk approved by centre

  • The city’s Republic Day ta­bleau – showcasing the Chandni Chowk Redevelop­ment Project – has been ac­corded approval by the Mi­nistry of Defence (MoD). Not only will it be the only other “live” tableau apart from the Ram Temple­ themed Uttar Pradesh float, Delhi’s tableau, featuring mi­ni contingents of four cy­clists each riding along on either side of it in a symbolic bid to promote it as a means of commuting in a megacity, according to government sources, will possibly be the first time bicycles will run on Raj path as part of a State float.

  • Chandni Chowk Redevelop­ment Project – undertaken at a cost of ₹90 crore and part of a larger redevelopment plan for the Walled City of Shahjahanabad which is on the brink of being inaugurat­ed – showcasing a Delhi go­vernment accomplishment after three years. Last year Delhi's tableau featured Mahatma Gandhi’s 720­ day stay in the city between 1915 and 1948.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS/EVENTS/ PERSONALITIES



Daily snippets

1. Assange’s extradition to U.S. rejected by U.K. court

  • A British judge blocked the extradition of **WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange **to the United States to face espionage charges, finding that he was at serious risk of suicide.

  • The ruling follows more than a decade of legal controversies. Mr. Assange and his lawyers have long argued that the protracted case was politically motivated. However, the U.S. government gave notice that it will challenge the decision, and has two weeks to appeal. Mr. Assange was remanded in custody until a bail hearing on Wednesday.

2. Iran steps up uranium enrichment, seizes tanker

  • Iran on Monday began enriching uranium up to 20% at an underground facility and seized a South Korean flagged oil tanker in the crucial Strait of Hormuz, further escalating tensions in West Asia between Tehran and the West.

  • The dual incidents come amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s term in office. During Mr. During Trump's tenure, the U.S. leader unilaterally withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018 and set off months of tense episodes that increasingly strained relations between the countries.

  • Iran’s decision to begin enriching to 20% purity a decade ago nearly triggered an Israeli strike targeting its nuclear facilities, tensions that only abated with the 2015 atomic deal. A resumption of 20% enrichment could see that brinkmanship return as that level of purity is only a technical step away from weapons grade levels of 90%. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu criticised Iran’s enrichment decision.

3. Thousands inoculated in Beijing’s vaccination drive

  • Thousands of people lined up in Beijing on Monday to receive a COVID­-19 vaccine as China races to inoculate millions before the Chinese New Year mass travel season in February.

  • Health authorities on New Year’s Eve granted “conditional” approval to a vaccine candidate made by Chinese pharma giant Sinopharm, which the company said had a 79% efficacy rate. China plans to vaccinate millions this winter in the run-­up to Lunar New Year in mid­-February.

4. Taliban to blame for spate of assassinations: U.S. military

  • The U.S. military blamed the Taliban for a spate of assassinations of prominent Afghans, the first time Washington has directly accused the insurgent group of the killings.

  • The charge comes as the Afghan government and Taliban are due Tuesday to resume peace talks in Qatar, as both sides seek an end to the long running conflict. Violence has surged across Afghanistan, with the Taliban and government forces fighting daily across swathes of rural areas.

5. Jack Ma ‘missing’ amid China’s clampdown on his businesses

  • Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s absence from public view in the past two months, including missing the final episode of a TV show on which he was to appear as a judge, has fuelled social media speculation over his whereabouts amid a Chinese regulatory clampdown on his sprawling business empire.

  • China’s highest profile entrepreneur has not appeared in a public setting since a late October forum in Shanghai, where he blasted China’s regulatory system in a speech that put him on collision course with officials, resulting in the suspension of a $37 billion IPO of Alibaba’s Ant Group fintech arm.

  • Chinese regulators have zeroed in on Mr. Ma’s businesses since his October speech, including launching an antitrust probe into Alibaba and ordering Ant to separate its lending business from its online payments division.

6. EU rejects criticism on slow vaccine rollout

  • The European Commission defended its coronavirus vaccination strategy amid growing criticism in member States about the slow rollout of COVID-19 shots across the region.

  • Vaccinations programmes in the 27 nation bloc have gotten off to a slow start and some EU members have been quick to blame the European Union’s executive arm for a perceived failure of delivering the right amount of doses. “We have actually signed contracts that would allow member states to get access to 2 billion doses, largely enough to vaccinate the whole of the EU population,” EU Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said.


ECONOMICS & FINANCE



Daily snippets

1. Vietnam buys Indian rice for first time in decades

  • Vietnam, the world’s third­ biggest exporter of rice, has started buying grain from rival India for the first time in decades after local prices jumped to their high­est in nine years amid limited domestic supplies. The purchases under­ score tightening supplies in Asia, which could lift rice prices in 2021 and even force traditional buyers of rice from Thailand and Viet­nam to switch to India – the world’s biggest exporter of the grain.

  • Indian prices are very at­tractive. The huge price dif­ference is making exports possible.” Vietnam’s 5% broken rice is offered at about $500-­$505 per tonne, com­pared to Indian prices of $381-­$387. In 2020 India exported a record 14 million tonnes of rice, provisional data from the trade Ministry showed.

2. Google workers form Union in the United States

  • More than 200 Google employees in the U.S. have formed a workers’ union, the elected leaders of the union wrote in an NYT opinion piece. The ‘Alphabet Workers Union’ aims to ensure that employees work at a fair wage, without fear of abuse, retaliation or discrimination, they wrote. So far, 226 employees had signed union cards with Communications Workers of America.

3. Manufacturing sector activity strengthened in December

  • India’s manufacturing sector activity strengthened in De­cember, with manufacturers stepping up production and input buying amid efforts to rebuild their inventories. The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit India Manufac­turing Purchasing Manag­ers’’ Index (PMI) was at 56.4 in December, a tick higher than November’s reading of 56.3. A print above 50 means expansion, while a score below that denotes contraction.

  • International demand for Indian goods rose in December, but the growth was hampered by the pandemic. As a result, new export orders rose at the slowest pace in the cur­rent four month sequence of expansion. Output growth also eased to a four month low, but remained strong. Employment fell again, stretching the current se­quence of job shedding to nine months. Input cost in­flation accelerated to a 26­ month high. Output charges were lifted in response to ris­ing cost burdens.


SPORTS



Daily snippets

1. Ronaldo goes past Pele

  • Cristiano Ronaldo has surpassed Brazilian legend Pele to become the second highest goal scorer. The Portuguese superstar’s brace in Juventus’ 4­-1 win over Udinese on Sunday took him to 758 career goals, one ahead of Pele. Ronaldo now sits second behind Austrian-­Czech legend Josef Bican, who, according to FIFA, netted 805 official goals between 1932 and 1955.

2. Teimour Radjabov wins

  • Teimour Radjabov maintained his calm and outsmarted Levon Aronian to win the $200,000 Airthings Masters online rapid chess final. The triumph was worth $60,000 for Radjabov who became the first player to book his spot in the season­ finale (in San Francisco in December) of the $1.5 mil­lion Meltwater Champions Chess Tour. For the third place, Max­ime Vachier-Lagrave beat Daniil Dubov 2.5­1.5 in the second set after the first ended 2­2.

SUGGESTED READINGS



1. Interview with Srinath Reddy on COVID-19 vaccine https://rb.gy/t05n7d

2. On vaccine trails https://rb.gy/rfzpjl

3. Right to Privacy and Free choice and the Supreme Court https://rb.gy/xvugas

4. Revisiting the Pesikaka case https://rb.gy/0syhbw


Download Page : https://e-clat.com/dailynewspage

Sources referred to : The Hindu, The Indian Express, Live Law, Bar & Bench

END


January 4th, 2021

START


NATIONAL NEWS/ INTERVENTIONS



Daily snippets

1. Malayalam poet lyricist Anil Panachooran passes away

  • Poet and lyricist Anil Panachooran passed away on Sunday following health complications. He was 55. A lawyer by profession, Panachooran came into the limelight in 2007 with the much appreciated songs in Arabikkadha, including ‘Chora Veena Mannil...’ and ‘Thirike Njan...’. ‘Chora Veena Mannil...’, sung with revolutionary fervour by the poet himself, is played regularly at Left cultural events.

  • Even before his arrival in films, he had attained popularity among the poetry aficionados in the State with poems such as ‘Anaadhan’, written in the 1990s.

2. Government enables I-T department to check on GST frauds

  • Tightening the noose around fraudsters rigging the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime, the govern­ment has roped in the In­come Tax Department to tap illicit incomes as part of a crackdown against 7,000 fraud companies. Any income traceable to the use of fake bills and oth­er GST frauds shall be consi­dered concealed income and attract severe penalties. This co-ordinated action had also helped bolster Customs revenues, which crossed the ₹16,000 crore mark in De­cember, 93% higher than the same period a year ago. The government launched the Vivaad se Vishwas scheme for resolving tax disputes and has already helped settle cas­es worth ₹83,000 crore out of an estimated ₹8 lakh crore.

  • The Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey mentioned that there is a strong coordination between In­come tax, Customs, banks and GST [Goods and Servic­es Tax], and are able to un­dertake data analytics, using artificial intelligence (AI). “We are able to trace all du­bious transactions from the inception of GST – if someone has issued or availed a fake bill in July 2017, we are able to detect that as well. Even if the bill may have passed through multiple layers of intermediaries, we are in a position to create a network diagram quickly through our AI tools and we are able to identify who all have been partners in the tax fraud”.

3. India approves two COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use

  • The Central Drugs and Standards Committee (CDSCO) formally approved the COVID­-19 vaccines by Bharat Biotech and the Serum Institute of India (SII). This allows the vaccines – Covishield by SII and based on the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, and Covaxin by Bharat Biotech – to be offered to healthcare workers and frontline workers in India. However, neither Covishield nor Covaxin has completed the crucial Phase-­3 trial, under which a vaccine candidate is administered to volunteers at multiple locations across the country. Several experts have raised concern over the “hasty approval” granted to the COVID-­19 vaccines despite the lack of adequate efficacy data.

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated India and it’s scientists and innovators minutes after the Drugs Controller General of India granted approval to the vaccines against COVID­19 manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech.

4. On vaccine roll-out

  • India should be able to roll out its COVID­-19 vaccina­tion programme in the “near future” as the prepa­rations are ready and ro­bust, NITI Aayog member (health) V.K. Paul said. He added that at least 12 countries had expressed interest in the indigenous vaccine, Covaxin.

  • Stating that all vaccines currently available across the world work even with the mutation of the virus, Dr. Paul said, “ICMR­ Bha­rat Biotech’s Covaxin is a whole virion vaccine ap­proved for restricted use in an emergency by the Drugs Controller General of India and since this vaccine works on the whole of the virus, this is our additional weapon against it.”

  • Experts on the COVAXIN added that the vaccine had the potential to mount a wider immune response against SARS-­COV­-2 as compared to any vaccine cur­rently available and hence offered better protection against its mutation.

5. Rajasthan village tackling the drug menace

  • Reeling under the drug menace for several years, people in a few villages of Jodhpur dis­trict’s Bilara block have come together to tackle addiction among the youth. Along with the boy­cott of persons consum­ing liquor, tobacco and narcotics, villagers have decided to impose a pe­nalty on the sellers and buyers of these substances. Villagers in Lamba, situated 19 km from the Block headquarters, announced fines ranging between ₹2,100 and ₹11,000 on buying and selling of heroin, liquor, tobacco and gutka.

  • The initiative taken in Lamba has had a ripple effect in the villages of the Bilara block. The mobilisation of villagers in support of de addiction has encour­aged them to voluntarily abstain from the con­sumption of narcotic substances. The Bilara Panchayat Samiti is also planning to start a counselling service for helping out youth willing to quit drug addiction.

6. FSSAI cuts limit for transfat levels in foods

  • The Food Safety and Stan­dards Authority of India (FSSAI) has capped the amount of trans fatty acids (TFA) in oils and fats to 3% for 2021 and 2% by 2022 from the current permissi­ble limit of 5% through an amendment to the Food Sa­fety and Standards (Prohibi­tion and Restriction on Sales) Regulations. The revised regulation applies to edible refined oils, vanaspati (partially hydroge­nated oils), margarine, bak­ery shortenings and other mediums of cooking such as vegetable fat spreads and mixed fat spreads.

  • What are transfats? Transfats are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and death from coronary heart disease. According to the World Health Organization, ap­proximately 5.4 lakh deaths take place each year globally because of the intake of in­dustrially produced trans fatty acids. The WHO has also called for the global elimination of transfats by 2023. While the regulation comes into effect immediately, in­dustry players were made to take a pledge back in 2018 that they would comply with the WHO’s call for action to reduce TFA by 3% by 2021 al­lowing them three years to comply with the latest norm.


INTERNATIONAL NEWS/EVENTS/ PERSONALITIES



Daily snippets

1. China amends defence law to boost war preparedness

  • China’s President Xi Jinping has signed an order that has amended China’s National Defence Law, giving the Central Military Commission (CMC), which he heads, greater power in mobilising resources to protect a new and broader definition of what constitutes the national interest.

  • The amendment broadened the scope of key security fields beyond land borders, maritime and air defence, to include outer space and electromagnetic networks.

  • The amendments, experts said, were also aimed at increasing the control exercised by the CMC and transferring some decision making previously exercised by the State Council, or Cabinet, that runs the government, to the CMC. The broader goal is to speed up the modernisation plans for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

  • After Mr. Xi assumed the role of General Secretary of the Communist Party in 2012 and as President the following year, a number of measures have restructured the Party­ State apparatus, handing back greater political control to Party bodies that previously had left decision making to the government machinery. In 2016, Mr. Xi pushed sweeping reforms of the PLA and brought its various departments under more direct control of the CMC, which he heads. Seven military regions were reorganised into five integrated theater commands. The Western Theater Command, the largest, is responsible for the border with India.

  • The change comes amid a push for closer civil military fusion, with a target to make the PLA a “world class” military, or on par with the United States military, by 2049, when the People’s Republic of China turns 100.

2. U.K. set for tougher virus restrictions

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “reconciled” to the prospect of tougher restrictions to combat spiralling coronavirus cases, as a row flared over whether schools should reopen. Britain recorded 57,725 new cases on Saturday, its highest total of the entire pandemic.

  • Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer urged the Prime Minister to immediately impose national lockdown measures. Much of Britain is already under regional lockdown, although primary schools are set to reopen in most of the country when the Christmas holiday ends on Monday.

3. ‘Scotland must wait a generation for new vote’

  • Another Scottish independence referendum should not take place for a generation, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday, as Scotland’s leader renewed calls for a fresh vote in the wake of Brexit. Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom in 2014.

  • Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon at the time called it a once ­in a ­generation vote, but now argues that Britain’s departure from the European Union, which a majority of Scots opposed, has changed the game. Recent polls have shown consistent support for independence.

4. Israel dismisses Iran charge it seeks to trick U.S. into war

  • Israel dismissed as “nonsense” an allegation by the Iranian Foreign Minister that Israel was trying to trick the United States into waging war on Iran.

  • It was Israel that needed to be on alert for possible Iranian strikes on the one-year anniversary on Sunday of the assassination of Tehran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani, in a U.S. drone strike in Iraq, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Kan public radio.

  • Washington blames Iran backed militia for regular rocket attacks on U.S. facilities in Iraq, including near the U.S. Embassy. No known Iran­ backed groups have claimed responsibility.


SUGGESTED READINGS



1. An anti-disclosure amendment that hits public health https://rb.gy/ibyltb

2. Fundamental Right to marry in India https://www.barandbench.com/columns/the-fundamental-right-to-marry-in-india-and-its-application-to-same-sex-marriages

3. Supreme Court and 2021 https://www.barandbench.com/news/litigation/supreme-court-of-india-what-to-expect-in-2021


Download Page : https://e-clat.com/dailynewspage

Sources referred to : The Hindu, The Indian Express, Live Law, Bar & Bench

END


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