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04 January, 2020

33 Min Read

Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Economy braces for a crude shock after US airstrike kills Iran general International Relations
Special provisions likely for J&K residents in jobs, land rights
CAA will leave many children stateless: plea
Centre approves 2,636 auto charging stations
Maharashtra to present plan on women’s cyber safety
NHRC tells Rajasthan to explain Kota deaths
GS-III Fears of surge in oil price, Govt looks outside Gulf Economic Issues
GS-II : International Relations West Asia
Economy braces for a crude shock after US airstrike kills Iran general

Syllabus subtopic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India's interests, Indian diaspora.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: escalating US-Iran tensions and its impact on India’s economy

 

News: Investors in India were rattled on Friday after a US airstrike killed a top Iranian general, sending crude oil prices soaring, a development that could further strain the finances of the world’s third largest crude importer and deepen an economic slowdown.

 

 

Context:

Crude oil futures in London and New York surged by more than 4% to levels not seen since the attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil production facility in September. The strike near Baghdad airport killed Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general who led the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, according to a US defence department statement.

 

 

Escalating tensions between US and Iran

While no oil installations or production were hit, the killing of one of Iran’s most powerful generals is a provocation that ratchets up tension between Washington and Tehran, heightening fears of an armed confrontation that could pull in other countries. As focus shifts to how Iran will react, the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed “severe retaliation” awaits the killers of Soleimani.

 

 

Impact on India’s economy

  • The surge in prices is worrying for New Delhi as India imports more than 80% of its fuel requirements. Analysts forecast that Brent crude oil prices could breach $70-72 a barrel in the coming weeks if Teheran retaliates.

 

  • Even though New Delhi has slashed its crude imports from Iran to negligible levels since a US sanctions waiver on its purchases ended in May last year, a bulk of India’s crude oil supplies are routed from West Asian nations through the Strait of Hormuza narrow passageway that carries one-fifth of the world’s oil—which could be vulnerable in the case of a wider US-Iran conflict.

 

Significance of Strait of Hormuz

Bounded to the north by Iran and to the south by Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Strait of Hormuz connects the Gulf with the Arabian Sea.

 

 

 

  • Iranian officials had in April threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation to US sanctions. India had deployed naval assets in the region to protect its supplies in the wake of mine attacks on oil tankers in the region.

 

  • With India’s gross domestic product growth slowing to a six-and-a-half-year low of 4.5% in the September quarter, there are serious concerns that high fuel prices could hurt economic recovery.

 

  • Another worry, according to government officials, is that tensions between Iran and the US could affect India’s trade with the region, which now stands at $78 billion (from Gulf Cooperation Council member countries—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman), according to April-November figures from India’s commerce ministry.

 

  • West Asia is the source of some $200 billion in remittances and investments for India.

 

  • The jitters over the potential economic impact saw the rupee on Friday closing at a six-week low against the dollar, while the benchmark BSE Sensex fell 0.39% to 41,464.61 points.

Source: Livemint

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GS-II :
Special provisions likely for J&K residents in jobs, land rights

Syllabus subtopic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the Centre’s decision on J&K and its significance; About scrapping of Article 35A and 370 and changes thereto

 

News: The Centre is all set to provide protection to domiciles of Jammu and Kashmir in government jobs, educational institutions and land rights, a senior government official said on Friday.

 

What is it about?

  • The Centre is exploring the option of implementing the mandatory requirement of continuous stay in the region for a minimum of 15 years before applying for a job in the government sector and for admissions in schools and colleges in the Union Territory of J&K.

 

  • The special provisions were being examined on the lines of those in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The provisions pertain to regulating ownership and transfer of land to conserve the limited resources available for development.

 

  • The regulations also ensure that the State preserves its unique identity.

 

What is Article 371 about?

  • There are 12 States including Himachal Pradesh where provisions of special status under Article 371 of the Constitution apply. The Centre was considering a proposal to grant special status to J&K. After the new UT of J&K was carved out, several groups in Jammu expressed concerns about losing special status and apprehension of losing land and jobs to outsiders.

 

  • Most of the States that have been accorded special provisions under Article 371 are in the northeast and the special status aims to preserve their tribal culture.

 

Background

On August 6, the Centre revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and Article 35A of the Constitution and downgraded and bifurcated the State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

 

What were Article 35A and Article 370 for?

The two provisions of the Constitution that were revoked let the J&K legislature decide the “permanent residents” of the State, prohibiting a non­J&K resident from buying property in the State and ensuring job reservation for its residents.

 

 

 

Source: Indian Express

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GS-II :
CAA will leave many children stateless: plea

Syllabus subtopic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the concerns raised by the plea; about CAA 2019 and its significance

 

News: The citizenship law which differentiates children on the basis of their date of birth will leave many stateless, a petition filed in the Supreme Court on Friday contended.

 

What did the plea challenge?

Besides challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, for discrimination in the grant of citizenship on the basis of religion, the petition filed by Association for Protection of Civil Rights, an NGO, challenged the validity of Section 3 (1) of the original Citizenship Act, 1955.

 

What does Section 3(1) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 say?

Section 3(1) creates three scenarios:

  1. It mandates that children born in India on or after January 26, 1950, but before July 1, 1987, are entitled to citizenship by birth.
  2. Secondly, it says children born in India on or after July 1, 1987, but before December 3, 2004, would be entitled to Indian citizenship by birth only if either of the parents is an Indian citizen.
  3. Thirdly, it provides that children born in India on or after December 3, 2004, would be entitled to Indian citizenship by birth only if both of parents are citizens or one of the parents is a citizen and the other is not an illegal migrant.

What does this mean?

Hence, while there are conditions for children born between 1950 and 1987, children born in the second and third time-frame may end up stateless.

  • Those children who were born in India on or after July 1, 1987, but before December 3, 2004, whose  parents were illegal migrants would not be granted citizenship but would not even be considered illegal migrants within Section 3(2) (b) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.
  • Similarly, those children who were born in India on or after December 3, 2004, either of whose parents was an illegal migrant, would again not be granted citizenship,” the petition contended.
  • The court will hear the petitions against the CAA and the NRC on January 22.

 

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II :
Centre approves 2,636 auto charging stations

Syllabus subtopic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About FAME India scheme; its features and significance

 

News: The Centre has approved setting up of 2,636 charging stations in 62 cities across the country under the FAME India scheme, which will encourage original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to launch new electric vehicle models, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Friday.

  • Of the 2,636 stations, 1,633 will be fast charging stations. About 14,000 chargers will be installed across the selected cities.

 

About FAME India scheme

  • FAME India is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP). Main thrust of FAME is to encourage electric vehicles by providing subsidies.
  • Vehicles in most segments – two wheelers, three wheelers, electric and hybrid cars and electric buses obtained the subsidy benefit of the scheme.
  • FAME focuses on 4 areas i.e. Technology development, Demand Creation, Pilot Projects and Charging Infrastructure.

 

 

 

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II :
Maharashtra to present plan on women’s cyber safety

Syllabus subtopic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the agenda of the Western Zonal Council; about Zonal Council: Composition; Objectives and functions

 

News: Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will co­chair the next meeting of the Western Zonal Council (WZC), which will have, among other issues, women safety on top of the agenda.

 

Other details

  • The 25th meet of the council will be held this month under the chairmanship of Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
  • Maharashtra, the lead coordinator this time, will present a roadmap for the safety of women online and ways to curb cyber bullying as its priority agenda, called theCyber Safe Women’ programme.

 

Western Zonal Council

  • The council, functioning under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Inter-State Council Secretariat, comprises Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, the Union Territories of Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

 

 

About Zonal councils

  • These are statutory bodies established under the States Reorganisation Act 1956 and not constitutional bodies. They are only deliberative and advisory bodies.

 

  • Aim:  to promote interstate cooperation and coordination.

 

 There are 5 Zonal councils namely:

  1. The Northern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, National Capital Territory of Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh.

 

  1. The Central Zonal Council, comprising the States of Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

 

  1. The Eastern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, and West Bengal.

 

  1. The Western Zonal Council, comprising the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra and the Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli.

 

  1. The Southern Zonal Council, comprising the States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry.

 

The North Eastern States i.e. (i) Assam (ii) Arunachal Pradesh (iii) Manipur (iv) Tripura (v) Mizoram (vi) Meghalaya (vii) Sikkim and (viii) Nagaland are not included in the Zonal Councils and their special problems are looked after by the North Eastern Council, set up under the North Eastern Council Act, 1972.

 

Organisational structure of Zonal Councils

  • Chairman – The Union Home Minister is the Chairman of each of these Councils.
  • Vice Chairman – The Chief Ministers of the States included in each zone act as Vice-Chairman of the Zonal Council for that zone by rotation, each holding office for a period of one year at a time.
  • Members– Chief Minister and two other Ministers as nominated by the Governor from each of the States and two members from Union Territories included in the zone.
  • Advisers– One person nominated by the Planning Commission (which has been replaced by NITI Ayog now) for each of the Zonal Councils, Chief Secretaries and another officer/Development Commissioner nominated by each of the States included in the Zone.
  • Union Ministers are also invited to participate in the meetings of Zonal Councils depending upon necessity.

 

The main objectives of setting up of Zonal Councils are:

  • Bringing out national integration.
  • Arresting the growth of acute State consciousness, regionalism, linguism and particularistic tendencies.
  • Enabling the Centre and the States to co-operate and exchange ideas and experiences.
  • Establishing a climate of co-operation amongst the States for successful and speedy execution of development projects.

 

Functions

In particular, a Zonal Council may discuss, and make recommendations with regard to:

  • any matter of common interest in the field of economic and social planning;
  • any matter concerning border disputes, linguistic minorities or inter-State transport;
  • any matter connected with or arising out of, the re-organization of the States under the States Reorganisation Act, 1956.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II :
NHRC tells Rajasthan to explain Kota deaths

Syllabus subtopic: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies

 

Prelims and Mains focus: About the recent deaths of children in Kota, Rajasthan; NHRC: composition, vision and significance

 

News: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday issued a notice to the Rajasthan government in connection with the deaths of over 100 children at the government­run J.K. Lon hospital in Kota in December.

 

  • Taking suo motu cognisance of media reports, the Commission issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, asking for a detailed report within four weeks.

Background

According to the reports, as many as 10 children died in just 48 hours between December 23 and 24, 2019 at the hospital.

 

Suo motu cognisance?

  • A Suo motu cognizance is a Latin term which means an action taken by a government agency, court or other central authority on their own apprehension.

 

  • A court takes a Suo Motu Cognizance of a legal matter when it receives information about the violation of rights or breach of duty through media or a third party’s notification.

 

  • In India, Article 32 of the Indian Constitution and Article 226 of the Indian Constitution lay down the provisions for filing Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in India in Supreme Court and High Courts respectively. This has given rise to the court's’ power to initiate legal action on their cognizance of a matter. Suo Motu’s actions by Indian courts are a reflection of activism by the judiciary and captivated the general public with the speedy delivery of justice by the courts. Suo Motu cases in India are generally taken up by the Supreme Court.

 

About NHRC

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India was established on 12 October, 1993. The statute under which it is established is the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993 as amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006.

 

  • It is in conformity with the Paris Principles, adopted at the first international workshop on national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights held in Paris in October 1991, and endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations by its Regulations 48/134 of 20 December, 1993.

 

  • The NHRC is an embodiment of India’s concern for the promotion and protection of human rights.

 

  • Section 2(1)(d) of the PHRA defines Human Rights as the 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.

 

Composition

The NHRC consists of:

  • A Chairperson, who has been a Chief Justice of India or a Judge of the Supreme Court
  • One member who is, or has been, a Judge of the Supreme Court of India
  • One member who is, or has been, the Chief Justice of a High Court
  • Three Members, out of which at least one shall be a woman to be appointed from amongst persons having knowledge of, or practical experience in, matters relating to human rights
  • In addition, the Chairpersons of National Commissions (Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Women , Minorities, Backward Classes, Protection of Child Rights) and Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities serve as ex officio members.
  • The sitting Judge of the Supreme Court or sitting Chief Justice of any High Court can be appointed only after the consultation with the Chief Justice of Supreme Court.

 

Vision & Mission

  • The NHRC has been set up by an Act of Parliament under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 for the protection and promotion of human rights. The functions of the Commission as stated in Section 12 of the Act and apart from enquiry into complaints of violation of human rights or negligence in the prevention of such violation by a public servant, the Commission also studies treaties and international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation to the Government.

 

  • The Commission is responsible for spreading of human rights awareness amongst the masses and encouraging the efforts of all stake holders in the field of human rights literacy not only at the national level but at international level too.

 

  • NHRC is a unique institution because it is one of the few National Human Rights Institutes (NHRIs) in the world whose Chairperson is the former Chief Justice of the country. The world looks at NHRC of India as a role model in promoting and monitoring effective implementation of promotion and protection of human rights.

 

  • The NHRC, India plays an active role in coordinating with other NHRIs of the world to enhance awareness from the perspective of human rights. It has also hosted delegations from UN Bodies and other National Human Rights Commissions as well as members of civil society, lawyers and political and social activists from many countries.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III : Economic Issues Others
Fears of surge in oil price, Govt looks outside Gulf

Syllabus subtopic:  Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: Escalating tensions in West Asia and its impact on Indian economy

 

News: As oil prices surged after the killing of Iranian commander, General Qassem Soleimani, in a US drone strike in Baghdad, senior officials of the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas held a high-level meeting Friday to assess the impact and review contingency measures.

 

Why?

  • There’s a possibility of a disruption to oil supplies impacting India’s external debt situation and restricting the headroom to counter the slowdown.

 

Why is it a worrying issue?

  • The concerns stem from the fact that the quartet of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the UAE are the top crude suppliers to India, all of which are in the geographical zone likely to be impacted. It is estimated that a $10-per-barrel increase in the price of oil would negatively impact India’s growth by 0.2-0.3 percentage points and worsen the Current Account Deficit (CAD) by $9-10 billion dollars.

 

  • While Indian refineries import crude oil from diverse sources, depending on their technical and commercial considerations and keeping in view the domestic requirement, imports from the OPEC bloc has progressively been brought down from 85.4 per cent in FY’17 to 75.4 per cent in the April-September period of FY’20.

 

  • A rise in global crude prices leads to an increase in the domestic price of crude products, thereby fuelling higher domestic inflation.

 

  • A surge has both a direct and indirect impact on the consumer price index (CPI) — firstly, with crude products themselves figuring as constituents in the CPI and seeing a price impact and then, indirectly, a rise in retail prices of all other commodities manufactured using crude as an input reflecting as a cascading impact, which pushes up the CPI again.

 

  • Crude oil import is denominated in the US Dollar and higher import prices raise the country’s import bill, leading to a worsening of the CAD — a measurement of a country’s trade balance when the value of the imported goods and services exceeds the value of the products it exports.

 

  • CAD, however, is only a part of the country’s Balance of Payments accounting, which is dependent on various factors that include supply and demand of Rupee versus US Dollars, interest rate differentials and capital flows.

 

  • India’s current account and fiscal deficits could worsen if oil prices remain at the elevated level, the RBI has warned it its last review. Experts said a sustained level above $70 a barrel could dent the country’s import bill and hence, fiscal math for the current fiscal.

 

  • The RBI, in its latest Monetary Policy Committee review, had flagged crude oil prices as among six factors that could influence inflation outlook, with the rider that “crude oil prices are expected to remain range bound, barring any supply disruptions due to geo-political tensions” even as it revised the CPI inflation projection upwards to 5.1-4.7 per cent for the second half of FY’20.

 

  • A further escalation of the crisis could potentially force the RBI to extended the pause in its rate-cutting cycle.

 

 

What was discussed in the meeting?

  • Both short-term and long-term diversification measures to reduce dependence on the West Asian region, especially in the wake of a protracted escalation of the crisis, were discussed.
  • They included alternative import options, including a status update on an agreement entered into with the US and ongoing talks with Russia for crude supplies.
  • Indian refineries are being progressively encouraged to import crude from sources such as the US, Canada and Mexico, apart from the discussions with Russia. An emphasis on expediting these negotiations has also been done.

Source: Indian Express

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