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04 March, 2020

18 Min Read

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Paper Topics Subject
GS-II National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA)
New Technical Committee for APIs
United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)
G-7 (Group of Seven) bloc
India-Iran relations International Relations
GS-III Black Carbon
Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) Economic Issues
GS-II :
National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA)

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 new body and its significance; about issues related to ILR

 

News: The Central government is working on the establishment of an exclusive body to implement projects for linking rivers.

 

Background

The proposal for an apex body on river linking has been under discussion for the past 18 months. As of now, no specific timeline has been determined for the constitution of the Authority. Also, the earlier idea of framing a Bill, envisaging the creation of the NIRA, is not being pursued now.

 

About the proposed body

  • To be called the National Interlinking of Rivers Authority (NIRA), the proposed body is expected to take up both inter-State and intra-State projects.

 

  • It will also make arrangements for generating up funds, internally and externally.

 

  • The subject of establishment of the Authority was discussed at the last meeting of the Special Committee on Inter-Linking of Rivers (ILR) in New Delhi. Headed by Union Minister of Jal Shakti, the panel includes Irrigation or Water Resources Ministers and Secretaries of States. Since its formation, the Committee has held 17 meetings.

 

  • It is being assisted by a Task Force for ILR, which is a committee of experts essentially drawn from the Jal Shakti Ministry, Central Water Commission and the National Water Development Agency (NWDA).

 

What’s next?

  • An updated draft Cabinet note has been circulated to other Ministries in the Central government. On receipt of comments, the note will be finalised by the Ministry of Jal Shakti and sent to the Union Cabinet for approval.

 

  • Once approved, the projects will be pursued as national projects, wherein the Centre will absorb 90% of the cost and the States concerned the rest.

 

Note: National Water Development Agency (NWDA) is responsible for the formulation of proposals of the linking of rivers.

 

Present Scenario

  • As of now, six ILR (inter-linking of rivers) projects — the Ken-Betwa, Damanganga- Pinjal, Par-Tapi-Narmada, Manas-Sankosh-Teesta-Ganga, Mahanadi-Godavari and Godavari-Cauvery (Grand Anicut) — have been under examination of the authorities.

 

  • With regard to the peninsular rivers, the Centre has chosen to focus on the Godavari-Cauvery link than the earlier proposal to link the Mahanadi-Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery rivers. The latter has eluded consensus given reservations from Odisha.

 

Concerns

  • The Centre has not yet shared with States details regarding the new body though it has conveyed to them that it is planning to have an implementation agency for ILR projects.

 

  • In view of Tamil Nadu’s not-so-happy experience with its neighbours in getting its due share of water, it has been particular that either the Centre or any of its agencies execute the Godavari-Cauvery link project and look after operation.
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GS-II :
New Technical Committee for APIs

Syllabus subtopic: Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the new committee and its functions; about COVID-19 outbreak and its implications; about API

 

News: The government has decided to set up a 10-member technical committee to revive India’s lost capacity to make certain crucial drug ingredients.

 

Significance of the move

The development holds significance as it comes in the backdrop of a steady escalation of Covid-19 cases in India as well as a continued shutdown of operations in a major Chinese province that exports these key ingredients to the country.

 

Background

  • The development comes over a month after the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) formed an expert committee to monitor the potential impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak in China on its supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to India.

 

  • Around 58 such ingredients had been identified by the committee set up last month, including amoxicillin, vitamin C, neomycin, acyclovir and tetracycline. Exports of some of these ingredients, imported from China’s Hubei province that is currently under lockdown, have been restricted by the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).

 

  • The committee, chaired by CDSCO Joint Drug Controller, had recommended the formation of this technical committee, which is expected to suggest ways to revive India’s API segment, especially its fermentation-based APIs.

 

  • The committee had also recommended that the government establish a “Drug Security Authority” to make India “self-sufficient” and a “global leader” in APIs and other key intermediates domestically as well as an exporter, according to a person aware of its recommendations.

 

What are APIs?

APIs are the key ingredients that give a drug its therapeutic effect.

 

Need for a technical committee

DoP has constituted the new technical committee because it was receiving varied estimates from industry members of how much more expensive it was to make these APIs in India as compared to China.

 

Mandate of the proposed technical committee

  • Look into the cost of setting up fresh API manufacturing capacitiesgreenfield projects — to wean India off its dependency on imports for these products.

 

  • Examine the latest “viable” technologies to make these products, “including backward integration”.

 

  • Examine a proposal to restart manufacturing of some of these APIs by government undertaking Hindustan Antibiotics Limited (HAL).

 

  • Look into other existing facilities along with their capacities to make these ingredients.

 

API manufacturing plants in India: Challenges

  • Between the 1960s to 1980s, India had set up 7-8 manufacturing plants to make as many as 20 crucial fermentation-based ingredients, including penicillin G, erythromycin, citric acid and vitamin B12. However, in the last three decades, these manufacturing plans were shut down due to “cheaper” alternatives from China.

 

  • This was because Chinese API manufacturers managed to scale up production with government support like cheaper land during that time. Their products became 20-25 per cent cheaper than domestic firms (even with import duties), making Indian API manufacturers less competitive.

 

  • India relies on China for nearly 70 per cent of its total API imports, leaving the country in a vulnerable state during the current outbreak of the deadly respiratory coronavirus.

 

  • According to DoP, the present stock of APIs may be sufficient for 2-3 months to make formulations.
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GS-II :
United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

Syllabus subtopic: Important International Institutions, agencies and fora - their Structure, Mandate.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the issue; about CAA; about UNHRC and OHCHR: mandate and objectives

 

News: In an unprecedented departure, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), has informed India’s Permanent Mission at the UN in Geneva that it “intends to file” an intervention application in the Supreme Court on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

 

Reason given by OHCHR

  • An examination of the CAA in the present case raises important issues with respect to international human rights law and its application to migrants, including refugees.

 

  • Through the application, the UN High Commissioner seeks to intervene as amicus curiae (third-party) in this case, by virtue of its mandate to inter alia protect and promote all human rights and to conduct necessary advocacy in that regard, established pursuant to the United Nations General Assembly resolution 48/141.

 

Background

  • The Supreme Court is hearing a batch of pleas challenging the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

 

  • There is no known precedent of the UN moving the Supreme Court in India in the recent past. A Special Rapporteur of the United Nations had filed an intervention application before the Supreme Court, seeking to assist the Court in the matter concerning deportation of Rohingyas from India. In the case of foreign governments, the Italian envoy was made a party at the Italian marines case.

 

India’s reaction

India reacted sharply and underlined that the CAA was an “internal matter of India” and “no foreign party has any locus standi” on issues pertaining to its sovereignty.

 

Core international human rights treaties to which India is a State party

  1. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
  2. International Covenant on Economic Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),
  3. International Covenant on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD),
  4. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
  5. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

 

About United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)

  • The UNHRC is a United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world.

 

  • The UNHRC was established by the UN General Assembly on March 15, 2006 (by resolution A/RES/60/251) to replace the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) that had been strongly criticised for allowing countries with poor human rights records to be members.

 

  • The UNHRC has 47 members elected for three-year terms on a regional group basis.

 

  • The headquarters of UNHRC is in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

  • The UNHRC works closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and engages the UN's special procedures.

 

Mandate

The UNHRC investigates allegations of breaches of human rights in UN member states, and addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women's rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.

 

Criticism

UN Secretaries General Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon, former president of the council Doru Costea, the European Union, Canada, and the United States have accused the UNHRC of focusing disproportionately on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and many allege an anti-Israel bias – the Council has resolved more resolutions condemning Israel than the rest of the world combined.

 

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

  • OHCHR or the UN Human Rights Office, is a department of the Secretariat of the United Nations that works to promote and protect the human rights that are guaranteed under international law and stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

 

  • The office was established by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 1993 in the wake of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights.

 

  • The office is headed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights (with the rank of Under-Secretary-General), who co-ordinates human rights activities throughout the UN System and acts as the secretariat of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

  • It is an ex officio member of the Committee of the United Nations Development Group.

 

  • Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland; New York City, United States

 

Mandate

  • The mandate of OHCHR derives from Articles 1, 13 and 55 of the Charter of the United Nations, the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action and General Assembly resolution 48/141 of 20 December 1993, by which the Assembly established the post of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

 

  • In connection with the programme for reform of the United Nations (A/51/950, para. 79), the OHCHR and the Centre for Human Rights were consolidated into a single OHCHR on 15 September 1997.

 

The objectives of OHCHR are to:

  1. Promote universal enjoyment of all human rights by giving practical effect to the will and resolve of the world community as expressed by the United Nations
  2. Play the leading role on human rights issues and emphasize the importance of human rights at the international and national levels
  3. Promote international cooperation for human rights
  4. Stimulate and coordinate action for human rights throughout the United Nations system
  5. Promote universal ratification and implementation of international standards
  6. Assist in the development of new norms
  7. Support human rights organs and treaty monitoring bodies
  8. Respond to serious violations of human rights
  9. Undertake preventive human rights action
  10.  Promote the establishment of national human rights infrastructures
  11.  Undertake human rights field activities and operations
  12.  Provide education, information advisory services and technical assistance in the field of human rights
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GS-II :
G-7 (Group of Seven) bloc

Syllabus subtopic: Important International Institutions, agencies and fora - their Structure, Mandate.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the COVID-19 outbreak; about G-7 and its working

 

News: The Group of Seven (G-7) finance chiefs said they’re ready to act to shelter their economies from the spreading coronavirus, though they stopped short of spelling out what specific measures they would put into place.

 

About G-7 (Group of Seven)

  • The G7, originally G8, was set up in 1975 as an informal forum bringing together the leaders of the world’s leading industrial nations

 

  • The Group of Seven (G7) is an international intergovernmental economic organization consisting of the seven (International Monetary Fund) IMF- advanced economies in the world: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

 

  • As of 2018, the seven countries involved represent 58% of the global net wealth ($317 trillion) and more than 46% of the global gross domestic product (GDP) based on nominal values, and more than 32% of the global GDP based on purchasing power parity. The European Union is an invitee to G7.

 

Working

  • Since 1975, the group meets annually on summit site to discuss economic policies; since 1987, the G7 Finance Ministers have met at least semi-annually, up to four times a year at stand-alone meetings.

 

  • The annual G7 leaders summit is attended by the heads of government. The member country holding the G7 presidency is responsible for organizing and hosting the year's summit. Generally every country hosts the summit once every 7 years

 

  • G7 is capable of setting the global agenda because decisions taken by these major economic powers have a real impact. Thus, decisions taken at the G7 are not legally binding, but exert strong political influence.

 

Criticisms

  1. G7 gatherings tend to attract thousands of protesters, and it is protested by thousands every year.

 

  1. Many protesters claim the G7 – which has no representative from any African, Russian or Middle Eastern nation – is completely outdated.

 

  1. Protest groups also use the worldwide platform as a stage to lobby and campaign on issues that are important to them.

 

  1. G7 leaders are creating a wide gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ both in their countries as well as across the globe, according to a report published by non-profit Oxfam International. As a result, they are making the fight against alleviating poverty more difficult, claimed the report.
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GS-II : International Relations
India-Iran relations

Syllabus subtopic: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the issue; about India-Iran relations

 

News: India summoned Iranian ambassador to the foreign office to protest remarks made by Iran’s foreign minister on the recent riots in the national capital.

 

Background

  • In a rare rebuke to India, Iran’s foreign minister slammed the government for the riots in the national capital, which have claimed over 40 lives.

 

  • India has drawn criticism for the violent clashes in the national capital but Iran’s comments were unexpected given that Tehran generally avoids public criticism of matters seen as internal to India.

 

  • Following the revocation of Article 370, which had granted special status to Kashmir, Tehran had limited its reaction to expressing concerns over the “condition of people" in the Valley and urging New Delhi to adopt “a fair policy" towards the people of the region.

 

  • Tehran has also avoided taking Islamabad’s side whenever tension between India and Pakistan have escalated in recent years.

 

 

India-Iran ties

  • India and Iran established diplomatic links on March 15, 1950. In addition to the Embassy in Tehran, India has two Consulates in Iran, one in Bandar Abbas and other in Zahedan.

 

  • The ties between India and Iran have been on an upswing over the last few years notwithstanding US sanctions against the Shia majority country. India has been maintaining cordial ties with Tehran and has been actively involved in the development of the strategically located Chabahar port in the Gulf nation.

 

  • Since the 1990s, India and Iran have cultivated fairly close ties. It was then Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s visit to India in 1994 that ended India’s isolation in the Islamic world over the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

 

  • In 1994, Iran had helped kill an anti-India human rights resolution on Kashmir that was brought in by Pakistan at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

 

  • Some years later, India and Iran joined hands with Russia to back Afghanistan’s anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, which was headed by Tajik leader Ahmad Shah Masood till his assassination in September 2001.

 

  • In 2003, India and Iran agreed to develop the Chabahar port but the project is yet to be completed as a result of India pursuing a civil nuclear deal with the US and also because of delays associated with India’s own decision making processes, according to analysts.

 

  • In recent years, India has had to reduce its oil imports from the Shia majority country despite the fact that New Delhi acknowledges that Iran is an energy source that is situated geographically close to India. One reason that is given for New Delhi stopping oil imports from Tehran is the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran by the US after it pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

 

  • The Indian community in Iran comprises of around 4000 Indian nationals. (This includes 80- 100 families in Tehran and 13-15 families in Zahedan. There are approx. 2800 Indian nationals in Qom, Esfahan and Mashhad consisting of Indian students undergoing theological studies and their family members. There are also around 200 Indian nationals working in private companies in Iran). There is an Indian school in Tehran run by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) under the aegis of Embassy of India
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GS-III :
Black Carbon

Syllabus subtopic: Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental Impact Assessment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the study and its findings; about black carbon

 

News: A study by scientists at the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) was recently released.

 

About the study

The team of scientists from WIHG measured variations of black carbon concentration at Chirbasa, near the Gangotri glacier in the Indian Himalaya, and located at an altitude of 3,600 metres, during the year 2016.

 

Key findings of the study

  • Black carbon concentrations near the Gangotri glacier rose 400 times in summer due to forest fires and stubble burning from agricultural waste, and triggered glacial melt.

 

  • The monthly mean concentration of EBC (equivalent black carbon) was found to be minimum in August and maximum in the month of May. The observed seasonal mean concentrations of EBC indicated a pristine glacial source and an absence of EBC sources in the locality.

 

  • The concentration varied from a minimum of 0.01μg/cubic metre in winter to 4.62μg/cubic metre during summer. Being a pristine zone far from sources of pollution, the measurements are critical to establishing a baseline for pollution loads and estimating the contribution of various sources to pollution.

 

About Black Carbon

  • Black carbon results from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels and biomass. The fine particles absorb light and about a million times more energy than carbon dioxide. It is said to be the second largest contributor to climate change after CO2.

 

  • But unlike CO2, which can stay in the atmosphere for years together, black carbon is short-lived and remains in the atmosphere only for days to weeks before it descends as rain or snow.

 

  • Black carbon absorbs solar energy and warms the atmosphere. When it falls to earth with precipitation, it darkens the surface of snow and ice, reducing their albedo (the reflecting power of a surface), warming the snow, and hastening melting.

 

  • India is the second largest emitter of black carbon in the world, with emissions expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades, says an April 2019 study in the journal Atmospheric Research, with the Indo Gangetic plains said to be the largest contributor.
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GS-III : Economic Issues
Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)

Syllabus subtopic: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources, Growth, Development and Employment.

 

Prelims and Mains focus: about the scheme and its benefits; about LLPs and their advantages

 

News: The government is set to introduce an amnesty scheme for Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) firms for delays in mandatory filings which could benefit 20-25 per cent of the 1.25 lakh LLPs registered in the country.

 

Aim: The move is aimed at bringing non-compliant LLPs into the legal fold.

 

Background

The government had in January extended a provision in the Companies Act to LLPs allowing it to condone delays in filing of documents. LLPs are a lower cost and lower compliance business structure relative to companies.

 

About the amnesty scheme

  • Under the scheme, LLPs will be given a three-month window to complete overdue filings of four forms through which LLPs provide details of the LLP agreement, partners as well as statement of accounts and annual returns.

 

  • The scheme which is set to be run for 90 days from March 16 to June 13 will allow LLPs to file these forms for a delay fee of Rs 10 per day with a maximum of Rs 5,000 per form. Under the LLP act, the charge for delayed filing is Rs 100 per day with no upper limit.

 

Non-compliance by LLPs

  • Over 11,000 LLPs had not yet filed forms 3 and 4 which provide details of the LLP agreement and partners.

 

  • In cases where these forms have not been filed for 10 years, a stakeholder may have to pay over Rs 3.5 lakh (under the LLP Act). They are presently not completing filings because it is too expensive.

 

Benefit of the move

Experts say the move would improve compliance and may even prompt some LLPs to re-initiate business activity.

 

Concept of "limited liability partnership" (LLPs)

  • LLP is an alternative corporate business firm that gives the benefits of limited liability of a company and the flexibility of a partnership.

 

  • The LLP can continue its existence irrespective of changes in partners. It is capable of entering into contracts and holding property in its own name.

 

  • The LLP is a separate legal entity, is liable to the full extent of its assets but liability of the partners is limited to their agreed contribution in the LLP.

 

  • Further, no partner is liable on account of the independent or un-authorized actions of other partners, thus individual partners are shielded from joint liability created by another partner’s wrongful business decisions or misconduct.

 

  • Mutual rights and duties of the partners within a LLP are governed by an agreement between the partners or between the partners and the LLP as the case may be. The LLP, however, is not relieved of the liability for its other obligations as a separate entity.

 

  • Since LLP contains elements of both ‘a corporate structure’ as well as ‘a partnership firm structure’ LLP is called a hybrid between a company and a partnership.

 

Advantages

LLP form is a form of business model which:

  1. is organized and operates on the basis of an agreement.

 

  1. provides flexibility without imposing detailed legal and procedural requirements

 

  1. enables professional/technical expertise and initiative to combine with financial risk taking capacity in an innovative and efficient manner.

 

Difference between LLP & "traditional partnership firm"

  • Under “traditional partnership firm”, every partner is liable, jointly with all the other partners and also severally for all acts of the firm done while he is a partner.

 

  • Under LLP structure, liability of the partner is limited to his agreed contribution. Further, no partner is liable on account of the independent or un-authorized acts of other partners, thus allowing individual partners to be shielded from joint liability created by another partner’s wrongful acts or misconduct.

 

Difference between LLP & a Company

  • A basic difference between an LLP and a joint stock company lies in that the internal governance structure of a company is regulated by statute (i.e. Companies Act, 1956) whereas for an LLP it would be by a contractual agreement between partners.

 

  • The management-ownership divide inherent in a company is not there in a limited liability partnership.

 

  • LLP will have more flexibility as compared to a company.

 

  • LLP will have lesser compliance requirements as compared to a company.
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