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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

Monthly DNA

11 Jul, 2020

75 Min Read

Committee on Criminal Law Reform

GS-II :

Committee on Criminal Law Reform

  • The committee has been constituted under Ranbir Singh and several other members.
  • The committee would be gathering opinions online by consulting with experts and collating material for their report to the government.
  • The consultation exercise would start on 4th July 2020 and go on for the next three months.

Background of Criminal Justice System:

  • The codification of criminal laws in India was done during the British rule, which more or less remains the same even in the 21st century.
  • Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay is said to be the chief architect of codifications of criminal laws in India.
  • Criminal law in India is governed by Indian Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and Indian Evidence Act, 1872, etc.

Need for Reforms:

  • Colonial Era Laws: The criminal justice system is a replica of the British colonial jurisprudence, which was designed with the purpose of ruling the nation and not serving the citizens.
  • Ineffectiveness: The purpose of the criminal justice system was to protect the rights of the innocents and punish the guilty, but nowadays the system has become a tool of harassment of common people.
  • Pendency of Cases: According to Economic Survey 2018-19, there are about 3.5 crore cases pending in the judicial system, especially in district and subordinate courts, which leads to actualisation of the maxim “Justice delayed is justice denied.”
  • Huge Undertrials: India has one of the world’s largest number of undertrial prisoners.
  • According to NCRB -Prison Statistics India (2015), 67.2% of our total prison population comprises undertrial prisoners.
  • Investigation: Corruption, huge workload and accountability of police is a major hurdle in speedy and transparent delivery of justice.
  • Madhav Menon Committee: It submitted its report in 2007, suggesting various recommendations on reforms in the CJSI.
  • Malimath Committee Report: It submitted its report in 2003 on the Criminal Justice System of India (CJSI).
    • The Committee had opined that the existing system “weighed in favour of the accused and did not adequately focus on justice to the victims of crime.”
    • It has provided various recommendations to be made in the CJSI, which were not implemented.

Way Forward

  • India needs to draft a clear policy that should inform the changes to be envisaged in the existing criminal laws.
  • It also needs to make simultaneous improvements in the police, prosecution, judiciary and in prisons.
  • The focus of reform should be on reformative justice in order to bring all around peace in the society.

Source: TH

New national security law for Hong Kong

GS-II : International Relations

New national security law for Hong Kong

GS-PAPER-2 IR China

China has unveiled a new national security law for Hong Kong. The new law was passed by the Chinese parliament unanimously. It was subsequently made a part of Hong Kong’s Basic Law. The law will greatly expand Beijing’s power in Hong Kong.

New law target protesters?

The new law has widely defined some offences which punishes the protestors with harsh punishments. The offences include Secession, Subversion, Terrorist Activities, and Collusion with a Foreign Country or with External Elements to Endanger National Security.

All four offences can invite life imprisonment as the maximum punishment, followed by lesser penalties. The law allows the prosecution of persons who are not residents of Hong Kong for committing an offence under the law outside the city. This allows the prosecution of foreigners who involve in city politics.

What are the changes made?

Mainland China will establish a new department in Hong Kong called the ‘Office for Safeguarding National Security. With Beijing’s approval, the Office would be able to take over jurisdiction from Hong Kong’s law courts,

    • If a case is complex due to the involvement of a foreign country or external elements,
    • If a serious situation makes the local application of the security law difficult, or due to the occurrence of a major and imminent threat to national security.

In cases that are taken over by the Office, prosecutors, as well as adjudicators, will be appointed by mainland China. For these cases, Chinese procedural laws would apply. Under the new law, the power of interpretation of criminal statutes has been vested in the Standing Committee of the Chinese parliament.

If a trial involves “State secrets” or “public order”,

    • It could be closed to the media and the public;
    • Only the judgment would be delivered in open court.

What are the changes made to the Police Force?

  • The Hong Kong Police Force will have a separate department to deal with national security matters.
  • The city’s Justice Department will have to form a specialised prosecution division. The police will have sweeping powers to investigate certain offences.
  • Upon the Chief Executive’s approval, the police will have the power to investigate or tap phones.
  • These powers have traditionally required prior court approval.

New Committee formed:

  • A new body called the ‘Committee for Safeguarding National Security’ will be formed with Hong Kong’s Chief Executive at its helm. The Committee will be immune from judicial scrutiny.
  • It will have a Beijing-appointed national security adviser. It will be responsible for formulating national security policies among other tasks.

How is Hong Kong governed?

  • A former British colony, Hong Kong was handed over to mainland China in 1997, becoming one of its Special Administrative Regions.
  • It is governed by a mini-constitution called the Basic Law. The Basic Law affirms the principle of “one country, two systems”.
  • It upholds liberal policies, a system of governance, an independent judiciary, and individual freedoms of Hong Kong for 50 years from 1997.

Why this security law was enacted by China, not Hong Kong?

  • Under Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong was supposed to enact the national security law on its own. However, when the city government tried to enact the law in 2003, the issue became a rallying point for massive protests.
  • Ever since the government steered clear of introducing the law again. The other way of implementing the law was by its inclusion in Annex III of the Basic Law.
  • Annex III is a list of legislations confined to those relating to defence and foreign affairs, and other matters outside the limits of the Region’s autonomy.
  • Adding law to this list causes it to be enforced in the city by way of promulgation - meaning automatically being put into effect. Beijing chose this route.

Source: TH

World Investment Report

GS-II :

World Investment Report

GS-Paper-2 International organisation (PT-MAINS)

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released its World Investment Report.

It projected that the Foreign direct investment (FDI) to the developing Asian economies could drop by as much as 45%. FDI is falling and the immediate picture for many countries is not looking pretty. One sector that is expected to buck this trend is digital services.

Why digital services?

  • Digital services have become critical to every 21st century economy. They are filling gaps when national or global emergencies interrupt more traditional modes of commerce.
  • They enable access to and delivery of a wide array of products across multiple sectors.
  • Even in the midst of the pandemic, investments in digital services continue to flow at record levels globally.

What determines the flow of FDI?

  • India is an ideal destination for increased FDI flows in the digital services sector.
  • India offers undeniable potential for innovative homegrown start-ups because of its huge and increasingly digitised population.
  • However, Indian government policies will be key determinants in how quickly the Indian economy attracts new investment. They will also determine how India can foster Indian innovation, and expands its exporting prowess.

Measures:

  • There are three pending reform measures under consideration that may affect India’s growth trajectory in digital services for years to come. They are the Personal Data Protection Bill (PDPB), the e-commerce policy, and the Information Technology Act Amendments.
  • Approaches in these reforms emphasise a focus on protecting the domestic market for domestic companies and prioritising government access to data. It may be difficult to reconcile these approaches in India.
  • There is uncertainty about when these changes will be completed and implemented. The course of the India-U.S. trade relationship is uncertain, as signs of progress are continually interrupted new restrictions.

The bilateral relationship is an important factor in realising the potential for greater trade and investment in digital services. India and the U.S. are yet to conclude negotiation on a bilateral trade agreement that could address some digital services issues. The US initiated a Section 301 review of whether digital services taxes in 10 countries constitute unfair trade measures, including India’s equalisation levy.

Way forward:

  • India resumes its efforts to put into place a new architecture for digital services and pursues opportunities to attract new investment.
  • Therefore, the government and stakeholders might consider the full range of implications for the long-term. India will be the host of the G20 nations in 2022.
  • It is clear that post-COVID-19 international cooperation and approaches to good governance in the digital sphere will be top-priority initiatives. The steps India takes now could well establish itself as a true global leader.

Source: TH

World Population 2020 Report

GS-II :

World Population 2020 Report

GS-Paper-2 I.O Population report

It was developed during the initial stages of the pandemic by UNFPA. The report examines the issue of missing women by studying sex ratio imbalances at birth as a result of gender-biased sex selection as well as excess female mortality due to deliberate neglect of girls because of a culture of son preference.

Titled ‘Against my will: defying the practices that harm women and girls and undermine equality’.

It highlights at least 19 human rights violations against women and focuses on the three most prevalent ones, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), extreme bias against daughters, in favour of sons and child marriage.

According to the report

  • One in 9 females below the age of 5 die due to postnatal sex selection
  • One in 3 girls missing globally due to sex selection, both pre- and post-natal, is from India (46 million out of the total 142 million).

However, the advent of technology and increased access to ultrasound imaging ensured that parents didn’t have to wait for the birth of their girl child to kill her but could terminate a fetus upon knowing its gender. This resulted in the number of girls missing due to female feticide exceeding those that were missing because of postnatal sex selection.

DATA

Global Data:

The number of missing women has more than doubled over the past 50 years, who were at 61 million in 1970.

Missing females/women: These are women missing from the population at given dates due to the cumulative effect of postnatal and prenatal sex selection in the past. The phrase was coined by Amartya Sen.

In Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan excess female mortality of girls below 5 years of age was under 3%.

Excess female mortality:

It is the difference between observed and expected mortality of the girl child or avoidable death of girls during childhood. According to estimates averaged over a five year period (2013-17), annually, there were 1.2 million missing female births, at a global level.

India Specific Data:

One in three girls missing globally due to sex selection, both pre- and post-natal, are from India, i.e. 46 million out of the total 142 million.

India has the highest rate of excess female deaths at 13.5 per 1,000 female births or one in nine deaths of females below the age of 5 due to postnatal sex selection.

In India, around 460,000 girls went missing at birth, which means they were not born due to sex-selection biases, each year between 2013 and 2017.

India (40%) along with China (50%) account for around 90% of the estimated 1.2 million girls lost annually to female foeticide.

Female Genital Mutilation: It involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

The practise has no health benefits for girls and women and can cause severe bleeding, problems in urinating, cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.

An estimated 4.1 million girls will be subjected to female genital mutilation in 2020.

Extreme Bias against Daughters, in favour of sons: An extreme and continuing preference for sons over daughters in some countries has fuelled gender-biased sex selection or extreme neglect which leads to girls’ death as children, resulting in missing females.

The report examines the issue of missing women by studying sex ratio imbalances at birth as a result of gender-biased sex selection as well as excess female mortality.

The advent of technology and increased access to ultrasound imaging allow parents to terminate a foetus after knowing its gender.

Due to this, the number of girls missing due to female foeticide exceed those that are missing because of postnatal sex selection.

These skewed numbers change the population proportions and result in ‘marriage squeeze’.

Marriage squeeze: It happens when prospective grooms far outnumber prospective brides, which further results in human trafficking for marriage as well as child marriages.

These violations result in fewer choices for females and putting them under the sexual, economic and legal control of men, curbing their human rights.

Child Marriage: Every day, around 33,000 girls under age 18 are forced into marriage, usually to much older men. In India, child marriage is directly linked to poverty, poor education and geographic location and the rural and urban divide.

Covid-19 Induced Challenges:

The economic disruptions and income-loss because of the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to increase violence against girls and women due to intensified unwantedness of daughters and gender discrimination. The Covid-19 pandemic threatens to reverse the progress made in ending some harmful practices worldwide.

In India, Covid-19 has reduced access to contraception and abortion services, which is likely to lead to an increase in unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions.

Initiatives Appreciated:

The report pointed out that successful education-related interventions include the provision of cash transfers conditional on school attendance or support to cover the costs of school fees, books, uniforms and supplies. The report took note of the successful cash-transfer initiative such as ‘Apni Beti Apna Dhan’ in India.

United Nations Population Fund

  • It is a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly and works as a sexual and reproductive health agency.
  • It was established as a trust fund in 1967 and began operations in 1969.
  • In 1987, it was officially renamed the United Nations Population Fund but the original abbreviation, ‘UNFPA’ for the United Nations Fund for Population Activities was retained.
  • The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) establishes its mandate.
  • UNFPA is not supported by the UN budget, instead, it is entirely supported by voluntary contributions of donor governments, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector, foundations and individuals.
  • UNFPA works directly to tackle Sustainable Development Goals on health (SDG3), education (SDG4) and gender equality (SDG5).

Way Forward

People must protect women and girls by enforcing laws against practices like child marriage and female mutilation and also by changing attitudes and norms. The problem should be tackled by eliminating the root causes, especially gender-biased norms.

People must foster respect for women and girls, by changing attitudes and practices that commoditize them. Governments must fulfil their obligations under human rights treaties that require the elimination of these practices and rituals.
Countries that have ratified international treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, have a duty to end the harm, whether it’s inflicted on girls by family members, religious communities, health-care providers, commercial enterprises or State institutions themselves.

Source: TH

USA-CHINA 5G Issue

GS-II : International Relations China-USA

USA-CHINA 5G Issue

GS-Paper-2 International issue (Mains)

The US Federal Communications Commission (US FCC) designated Chinese telecom vendors Huawei and ZTE as national security threats.

US banned Huawei and ZTE?

The first official action on these Chinese telecom equipment makers was taken based on House Intelligence Committee’s report (2012). The report said that both the companies posed a risk to national security.

It also said that US businesses should avoid buying equipment from them. On most occasions, the US had accused Huawei and ZTE of working in ways that were contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.

Why ban?

Huawei is the world’s largest maker of telecom equipment and the second largest maker of mobile phone parts. It has been at the forefront of innovation that allowed many companies to build large telecom infrastructure at very low costs.

ZTE has tied up with several big corporations to manufacture their patented equipment in China at very low costs. A ban on both Huawei and ZTE could mean an increase of up to 30% in the cost of telecom equipment across the board. Apart from hardware, Huawei has also been trying to make inroads into the software and operating systems (OS) industry.

How it impact India?

This decision could put pressure on India to take similar action. Equipment market - The low-cost equipment from Huawei or ZTE could provide some relief to domestic telcos.

Huawei was a major equipment supplier to companies like Vodafone Idea and Airtel during the initial rollout of the 4G services in India. Over the years, Huawei has made inroads into nearly 25% of the total telecom equipment market in India.

4G expansion - Now, the Department of Telecommunications said that it would rework the 4G network expansion tenders of BSNL and MTNL. This would bar global vendors like Huawei and ZTE from participating.

5G trials - In 2019, the telecom minister said that all players, including Huawei, were permitted to participate in 5G trials in India. To allay security fears, Huawei had said it was ready to sign a no backdoor agreement with the government. Under the agreement, Huawei would vouch that it did not gain access to any Indian customer’s equipment under any circumstance.

Barring Huawei and ZTE from even bidding in the 5G auctions could mean equipment as much as 30% costlier.

Source: TH

World Population Prospects

GS-II :

World Population Prospects

According to ‘The World Population Prospects 2019’ published by the Population Division of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous country by 2027.

  • Through the end of the century (between 2019 and 2050) India (with an estimated population of 1.37 billion) is expected to remain the world’s most populous country, followed by China, Nigeria, United States of America, and Pakistan.
  • The global population is projected to increase by another 2 billion people by 2050.
  • Aging of the world's population will also spike due to increasing life expectancy and falling fertility levels. By 2050, one in six people in the world will be over age 65 (16%), up from one in 11 in 2019 (9%)
  • Aging will result in a decline in the proportion of the working age population that in turn will exert pressure on social security systems. Europe and North America will have a much higher number of aging population.
  • Many countries are experiencing a reduction in population size (between 2019 and 2050, many countries will experience populations shrink by at least 1%).
  • populations shrink can be attributed to sustained low levels of fertility and, in some cases, high rates of emigration.
  • In countries like Bangladesh, Nepal and the Philippines out-migration plays a key in population change (outflow of migrant workers).
  • In some instances, out-migration could also be caused by violence, lack of security or wars as in Myanmar, Syria and Venezuela.
  • Many of the fastest growing populations are in the poorest countries, where population growth brings additional challenges in the effort to eradicate poverty, achieve greater equality, combat hunger and malnutrition and strengthen the coverage and quality of health and education systems to ensure that no one is left behind.

Source: TH

External Commercial Borrowings

GS-III : Economic Issues External commercial borrowing

External Commercial Borrowings

External commercial borrowing (ECBs) are loans made by non-resident lenders in foreign currency to Indian borrowers. They are used widely in India to facilitate access to foreign money by Indian corporations and PSUs (public sector undertakings).

The debtors can be the government, corporations or citizens of that country. The debt includes money owed to private commercial banks, foreign governments, or international financial institutions such as IMF and World Bank. For the telecom sector, infrastructure and Greenfield projects, funding up to 50% (through ECB) is allowed.

Recently, RBI issued a guideline stating that all eligible borrowers can raise ECB up to USD 750 million or equivalent per financial year under the automatic route (earlier it was applicable only to corporate companies). The Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, along with RBI, monitors and regulates ECB guidelines and policies. U.S. dollar-denominated debt remains the largest component of the external debt.

The Sahoo Committee report on ECB

· The Sahoo Committee was set up in 2013, to develop a framework for access to domestic and overseas capital markets.

· The Committee made an assessment of the currency risk by Indian firms undertaking ECB.

· The Committee noted that the possibility of market failure can be ameliorated, by requiring firms that borrow in foreign currency to hedge their exchange risk exposure.

· The present complex array of controls on foreign currency borrowing should be done away with.

· The Indian domestic rupee debt market is a viable alternative to foreign borrowing for financing Indian firms and does not entail any market failure. · The policy should aim at the remove of all impediments to the development of the domestic rupee debt market.

Change in ECB norms:

  • It has been decided, in consultation with the Government of India, to liberalize some aspects of the ECB policy including policy on Rupee denominated bonds
  • As per the extant norms, ECB up to USD 50 million or its equivalent can be raised by eligible borrowers with minimum average maturity period of 3 years
  • It has been now decided to allow eligible ECB borrowers who are in the manufacturing sector to raise ECB up to USD 50 million or its equivalent with a minimum average maturity period of 1 year.
  • Presently, Indian banks, subject to applicable prudential norms, can act as arrangers and underwriters for RDB (Rupee Denominated Bond) issued overseas and in case of underwriting an issue, their holding cannot be more than 5 per cent of the issue size after 6 months of issue.
  • It has now been decided to permit Indian banks to participate as arrangers/underwriters/market makers/traders in RDBs issued overseas subject to applicable prudential norms.
  • The minimum average maturity requirement for ECBs (external commercial borrowings) in the infrastructure space raised by eligible borrowers has been reduced to three years from earlier five years.
  • Additionally, the average maturity requirement for mandatory hedging (an investment to reduce the risk of adverse price movements in an asset) has been reduced to five years from earlier ten years.

Advantages of ECBs:

  • ECBs provide an opportunity to borrow a large volume of funds
  • The funds are available for relatively long term
  • Interest rate are also lower compared to domestic funds
  • ECBs are in the form of foreign currencies. Hence, they enable the corporate to have foreign currency to meet the import of machinery
  • The corporate can raise ECBs from internationally recognized sources such as banks, export credit agencies, international capital markets

Disadvantages

· The growing importance of ECBs in the composition of external debt is a cause of concern for the Indian economy. Availability of funds at a cheaper rate may bring in lax attitude on the company’s side resulting in excessive borrowing.

· This eventually results in higher debt on the balance sheet which may affect many financial ratios adversely.

· Higher debt on the company’s balance sheet is usually viewed negatively by the rating agencies.

· This may result in a possible downgrade by rating agencies which eventually might increase the cost of debt.

· Effect on earnings due to interest expense payments.

· Since the repayment of the principal and the interest needs to be made in foreign currency, It exposes the company to interest and currency fluctuations.

· Companies may have to incur hedging costs or assume exchange rate risk which if goes against may end up negative for the borrowers.

Is it Enough?

  • Largely, rupee depreciation is based on a number of external factors which India couldn’t control like U.S Fed rate hike, the spiralling trade war between USA and China, and because of an election year and the related uncertainty about results in India etc. But, tweaking of ECB norms is a small step in the direction of correcting rupee fall further and also it will help the Indian companies working abroad to attract foreign currency more.

Source: TH

Measles and Rubella

GS-III :

Measles and Rubella

GS-Paper-3 Health and Children

Recently, the Maldives and Sri Lanka have become the first two countries in the World Health Organisation’s South-East Asian Region (WHO SEAR) to have eliminated both measles and rubella ahead of the 2023 deadline. In September 2019, member countries of WHO SEAR set 2023 as the target for the elimination of measles and rubella.

The announcement came after the 5th meeting of the SEAR Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination. The Commission comprises 11 independent international experts in the fields of epidemiology, virology and public health.

Bhutan, DPR Korea and Timor-Leste are countries in the region which have eliminated measles. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste have controlled Rubella.

Criteria:
A country is verified as having eliminated measles and rubella when there is no evidence of endemic transmission of the respective viruses for over three years in the presence of a well-performing surveillance system.

The Maldives reported its last endemic case of measles in 2009 and of rubella in October 2015. Sri Lanka reported the last endemic case of measles in May 2016 and of rubella in March 2017.

Steps Taken:

  • All countries in the region introduced two doses of measles-containing vaccine and at least one dose of rubella-containing vaccine in their routine immunisation programme.
  • Since 2017, nearly 500 million additional children have been vaccinated with measles and rubella-containing vaccines.
  • Surveillance for measles and rubella has been strengthened further.
  • The announcement comes amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and the success demonstrates the importance of joint efforts.
  • Globally, more than half of all countries reported moderate-to-severe disruptions or a total suspension of vaccination services in March and April.
  • Regionally, both immunisation coverage and surveillance were impacted. However, SEAR countries made coordinated efforts to resume immunisation and surveillance activities.

Measles

  • It is a highly contagious viral disease and is a cause of death among young children globally.
  • It is particularly dangerous for children from the economically weaker background, as it attacks malnourished children and those with reduced immunity.
  • It can cause serious complications, including blindness, encephalitis, severe diarrhoea, ear infection and pneumonia.

Rubella

  • It is also called German Measles.
  • Rubella is a contagious, generally mild viral infection that occurs most often in children and young adults.
  • Rubella infection in pregnant women may cause death or congenital defects known as Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS) which causes irreversible birth defects.

Measures and Vaccinations

  • The Measles and Rubella Initiative is a global program which aims at eliminating both these diseases.
  • The vaccine for the diseases are provided in the form of measles-rubella (MR), measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) or measles-mumps-rubella-varicella (MMRV) combination.

India and Measles

Despite the availability of a safe and effective vaccine since the 1960s, both measles and rubella are major public health concerns in India.

More than 1.3 million children acquire measles infection and around 49000 infected children die each year, contributing nearly 36% to the global figures.

Rubella infection in pregnant women may cause fetal death or congenital defects. It leads to the development of birth defects in almost 40,000 children annually in the country.

Government initiatives:

Measles-Rubella Vaccination

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare launched the MR Vaccination program in 2017. The MR campaign targets around 41 crore children across the country, the largest ever in any campaign.

All children aged between 9 months and less than 15 years are given a single shot of MR vaccination irrespective of their previous measles/rubella vaccination status or measles/rubella disease status. MR vaccines are provided free-of-cost across the states. Other Initiatives include Universal Immunization Programme (UIP), Mission Indradhanush and Intensified Mission Indradhanush.

Source: BL

Current Account

GS-III : Economic Issues Terminology

Current Account

The current account measures the flow of goods, services, and investments into and out of the country. It represents a country’s foreign transactions and, like the capital account, is a component of a country’s Balance of Payments (BOP).

A nation’s current account maintains a record of the country’s transactions with other nations that includes net income, including interest and dividends, and transfers, like foreign aid.

It comprises of following components -

  • Visible trade - Export and import of goods,
  • Invisible trade - Export and import of services
  • Unilateral transfers
  • Investment - Income from factors such as land or foreign shares

Current Account Deficit

There is a deficit in the Current Account if the value of the goods and services imported exceeds the value of those exported. It is measured as a percentage of GDP, the formulae for calculating CAD is as follows

Current Account = Trade gap + Net current transfers + Net income abroad

Trade gap = Exports – Imports

  • A country with rising CAD shows that it has become uncompetitive, and investors may not be willing to invest there.
  • Current Account Deficit and Fiscal Deficit are together known as twin deficits and both often reinforce each other, i.e., a high fiscal deficit leads to higher CAD and vice versa.
  • For the fiscal year 2019-20, the current account deficit narrowed to 0.9% of the GDP, compared with 2.1% in FY2018-19.

Source: PIB

Central Zoo Authority

GS-III :

Central Zoo Authority

The CZA is a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. It was constituted in 1992 under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. It is chaired by the Environment Minister and has 10 members and a member-secretary.

The main objectives of the authority are

  • To complement and strengthen the national effort in the conservation of rich biodiversity.
  • The authority provides recognition to zoos and is also tasked with regulating the zoos across the country.
  • It lays down guidelines and prescribes rules under which animals may be transferred among zoos nationally and internationally.
  • It coordinates and implements programmes on capacity building of zoo personnel, planned breeding programmes and ex-situ research.

Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has reconstituted the Central Zoo Authority (CZA). Now CZA will include an expert from the School of Planning and Architecture, Delhi, and a molecular biologist.

Source: TH

Namdapha National Park

GS-III :

Namdapha National Park

It lies at the international border between India and Myanmar within Changlang District in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. The national park is known for its Artic climate and Flying squirrels.

It is only park in the World to have the four Feline species of big cat namely the

  • Tiger (Panthera Tigris),
  • Leopard (Panthera Pardus),
  • Snow Leopard (Panthera Uncia)
  • Clouded Leopard (Neofelis Nebulosa).

Hoolock Gibbons, the only ‘ape’ species found in India is found in this National Park

Source: TH

ASEEM portal

GS-III : Economic Issues Labour

ASEEM portal

  • Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship today launched Aatamanirbhar Skilled Employee-Employer Mapping (ASEEM) portal to help skilled people find sustainable livelihood opportunities.
  • The portal will map details of workers based on regions and local industry demands and will bridge demand-supply gap of skilled workforce across sectors.
  • ASEEM portal will provide employers with a platform to assess the availability of a skilled workforce and formulate their hiring plans.
  • It refers to all the data, trends and analytics which describe the workforce market and map the demand for skilled workforce to supply.
  • The Artificial Intelligence-based platform will also provide real-time granular information by identifying relevant skilling requirements and employment prospects.
  • ASEEM will be used as a match-making engine to map skilled workers with the jobs available. The ASEEM portal and App will have provision for registration and data upload for workers across job roles, sectors and geographies.

Source: TH

TIGER ORCHID

GS-III :

TIGER ORCHID (GRAMMATOPHYLLUM SPECIOSUM)

  • The Queen of Orchids, Grammatophyllum speciosum, is the largest orchid species in the world. With huge, clump-forming plants weighing as much as two tonnes, it has flower stalks of up to 3 metres long, and a bloom time of up to two months! Native to Southeast Asia, from Myanmar through Malaysia, this warm-growing epiphyte thrives on sturdy tree branches in forests at elevations of 100 to 1,200 metres.
  • The genus name Grammatophyllum comes from the Greek words for ‘letter’ and ’leaf’ – petals evolved from modified leaves! The common name ‘tiger orchid’ also alludes to the floral markings and their resemblance to brown and orange tiger stripes.
  • It blooms in alternate years

Source: TH

Uniformity in Stamp Duties

GS-II : Governance

Uniformity in Stamp Duties

The amendments to the Stamp Act, 1899 were introduced in the Finance Bill, 2019. It has introduced the centralized system of stamp duty with a unified rate for all financial securities transactions effective from July 1.

Union government has created the legal and institutional mechanism to enable states to collect stamp duty on securities market instruments at one place by one agency, through the stock exchange or clearing corporation authorized by it or by the depository on one instrument.

At present, market participants collect stamp duty at rates fixed by the state where the trade takes place and deposit it with the local government. This created a complex system with multiple tax rates and differing regulations in different states, posing a challenge to settling deals. The amendment was brought for ease of doing business and bringing in uniformity of the stamp duty on securities across states thereby building a pan-India securities market.

Source: PIB

Finding on Fish landings

GS-III : Economic Issues Fisheri

Finding on Fish landings

According to Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) India’s marine fish production has registered a marginal increase of 2.1% in 2019 compared to the previous year.

Tamil Nadu took the first position in landings of fishes with 7.75 lakh tones. It was followed by Gujarat (7.49 lakh tones) and Kerala (5.44 lakh tones).

While States such as West Bengal (55%), Andhra Pradesh (34%), Odisha (14.5%), Karnataka (11%) and Tamil Nadu (10.4%) recorded increase in landings, the fish catch decreased in Maharashtra, Goa and Kerala compared to the previous year.

Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI)

  • It was established by Government of India in 1947 under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. Later, in 1967, it joined the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) family and emerged as a leading tropical marine fisheries research institute in the world.
  • The Headquarters is in Kochi, Kerala.

Currently, the institute is maintaining the National Marine Fisheries Data Centre (NMFDC) with over 9 million catch and effort data records of more than 1000 fished species, from all maritime states of India.

Source: PIB

Namami Gange

GS-III :

Namami Gange

Namami Gange Programme is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as a ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in June 2014. It is to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.

It is being operated under the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti. The program is being implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG).

The state counterpart organizations are State Program Management Groups (SPMGs). NMCG is the implementation wing of the National Ganga Council set in 2016, which replaced the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NRGBA).

It has an Rs. 20,000-crore, centrally-funded, non-lapsable corpus and consists of nearly 288 projects. Recently, the World Bank has approved a five-year loan (for the second phase) to the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) or Namami Gange Project worth Rs.3,000 crore to help stem pollution in the Ganga river basin.

Source: PIB

Globba andersonii

GS-III :

Globba andersonii

A team of researchers from Pune and Kerala have “rediscovered” a rare and critically endangered plant species called Globba andersonii. It is rediscovered from the Sikkim Himalayas near the Teesta river valley region after a gap of nearly 136 years.

The plant, known commonly as ‘dancing ladies’ or ‘swan flowers’ was thought to have been extinct until its “re-collection”, for the first time since 1875. Classified as “critically endangered” and “narrowly endemic”.

The species is restricted mainly to the Teesta River Valley region which includes the Sikkim Himalayas and Darjeeling hill ranges. Globba andersonii are characterized by white? owers, non-appendage anthers (the part of a stamen that contains the pollen) and a “yellowish lip”.

Source: PIB

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