National Current Affairs – UPSC/IAS Exams – 12th July 2019
Topic: Important International Organisations
In News: India has urged the Commonwealth to expedite readmission of the Maldives as a member country. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar conveyed India’s stand at the 19 Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting in London.
More on the Topic:
- The support came weeks after Mr. Modi visited Male in his first overseas trip after his re-election. The Maldives withdrew from the Commonwealth during the tenure of President Abdullah Yameen in 2016 after the Commonwealth expressed serious concern over the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.
- Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was elected President in a democratic wave against the rule of Mr. Yameen.
About Common Wealth Nations:
- Formerly called the British Commonwealth
- It is an intergovernmental organisation of 53 member states that were mostly territories of the former British Empire
- HQ : London
- Mozambique and Rwanda are also its members, who were never colonies of Britain
- This was set up after the second world war (in 1949) by Britain, to maintain close economic ties with its erstwhile colonies that were now rapidly becoming independent
- It is not a trade block. It aims to promote democracy, human rights, world peace etc.
- Commonwealth countries in theory do not consider each other ‘foreign’, and hence send ‘High Commissioners’ and not ‘Ambassadors.’
- Several countries (such as Britain, Caribbean islands) grant the right to vote to any commonwealth country citizen residing in their territory to vote in their elections.
- In non-commonwealth countries, commonwealth countries can seek assistance at the British embassy, in case their own country does not have consular services in that country
- On occasion, the commonwealth has suspended members for not maintaining democratic governments (such as Nigeria, Maldives).
Model Mains Question: Comment on the relevance of common wealth nations in the present era.
Source: The Hindu
India e-commerce rules
Topic: Indian Economy
In News: Walmart told the U.S. government privately in January that India’s new investment rules for e-commerce were regressive and had the potential to hurt trade ties.
More on the Topic:
- India’s Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal has said the government was committed to protecting small traders, but open to ironing out policy-related issues.
- In a closed-door meeting last month, however, Goyal warned both Flipkart and Amazon to comply with the new rules in letter and spirit, and questioned them on their discounting policies.
Key Highlights of the India e-commerce rules:
- Bar online retailers from selling products through vendors in which they have an equity interest.
- Also bars them from entering into exclusive deals with brands for selling products only on their platforms.
- All online retailers will be required to maintain a level playing field for all the vendors selling their products on the platform, and it shall not affect the sale prices of goods in any manner.
- Disallows e-commerce players to control the inventory of the vendors. Any such ownership over the inventory will convert it into inventory based model from marketplace based model, which is not entitled to FDI.
- Under the new rules, the e-commerce retailer shall be deemed to own the inventory of a vendor if over 25 per cent of the purchases of such a vendor are through it.
- Restricts marketplaces from influencing prices in a bid to curb deep discounting. With this, special offers like cashback, extended warranties, faster deliveries to some brands will be prohibited, with the view to provide a level playing field.
- The key objective behind the revising the FDI rules for the e-commerce giants is to level the playing field in the retail space, as heavy discounting on online retail sites was causing heavy losses to the small and medium brick and mortar stores.
Expected impacts and outcomes:
- The policy will impact global e-commerce players like Walmart-owned Flipkart and Amazon, who would have to change their business structures to comply with the new policy.
- The new norms could take a massive toll on the earnings of Amazon and Flipkart.
Topic: Social Justice
In News: Watching, possessing or circulating animations or cartoons that depict a minor engaging in a sexually explicit conduct could land you in jail. The Union Cabinet has approved a new definition for child pornography in its amendments to the POCSO Act.
More on the Topic:
- According to the spokesperson of the Women and Child Development Ministry, the amended law will also apply to pornographic content where adults or young adults pretend to be children.
- The Cabinet has also enhanced the fine for possessing child porn but not deleting or reporting it to ₹5,000 from the earlier proposal of ₹1,000. If a person stores such content for distributing it further, except for when presenting it in court as evidence, he could face a punishment of upto three years.
About POSCO Act:
- In order to effectively address the heinous crimes of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children through less ambiguous and more stringent legal provisions, the Ministry of Women and Child Development championed the introduction of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
- The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, and regards the best interests and well-being of the child as being of paramount importance at every stage, to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
- It defines different forms of sexual abuse, including penetrative and non-penetrative assault, as well as sexual harassment and pornography, and deems a sexual assault to be “aggravated” under certain circumstances, such as when the abused child is mentally ill or when the abuse is committed by a person in a position of trust or authority vis-à-vis the child, like a family member, police officer, teacher, or doctor.
- People who traffic children for sexual purposes are also punishable under the provisions relating to abetment in the Act. The Act prescribes stringent punishment graded as per the gravity of the offence, with a maximum term of rigorous imprisonment for life, and fine.
- The Act provides for the establishment of Special Courts for trial of offences under the Act, keeping the best interest of the child as of paramount importance at every stage of the judicial process.
- The Act incorporates child friendly procedures for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation and trial of offences.
- The Act recognizes that the Intent to commit an offence, even when unsuccessful for whatever reason, needs to be penalized.
- The Act also provides for punishment for abetment of the offence, which is the same as for the commission of the offence.
- The Act makes it mandatory to report commission of an offence and also the recording of complaint and failure to do so would make a person liable for punishment of imprisonment for six months or / and with fine. 1t is a Punishable action if Police / Special Juvenile Police Unit fails to report a commission of the offence under this act.
- For the more heinous offences of Penetrative Sexual Assault, Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault, Sexual Assault and Aggravated Sexual Assault, the burden of proof is shifted to the accused. This provision has been made keeping in view the greater vulnerability and innocence of children.
- To prevent misuse of the law, punishment has been provided for making false complaint or proving false information with malicious intent. Such punishment has been kept relatively light (six months) to encourage reporting. If false complaint is made against a child, punishment is higher (one year).
- The media has been barred from disclosing the identity of the child.
- For speedy trial, the Act provides for the evidence of the child to be recorded within a period of 30 days. Also, the Special Court is to complete the trial within a period of one year, as far as possible.
- To provide for relief and rehabilitation of the child, as soon as the complaint is made to the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU) or local police, these will make immediate arrangements to give the child, care and protection such as admitting the child into shelter home or to the nearest hospital within twenty-four hours of the report.
- The SJPU or the local police are also required to report the matter to the Child Welfare Committee within 24 hours of recording the complaint, for long term rehabilitation of the child.
- The Act casts a duty on the Central and State Governments to spread awareness through media including the television, radio and the print media at regular intervals to make the general public, children as well as their parents and guardians aware of the provisions of this Act.
Topic: Science and Technology
In News: Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa 2 has touched down on a faraway asteroid, where it will collect space rock that may hold clues to how the Solar System evolved. The successful contact with the Ryugu asteroid was met with relief and cheering in the control room at Japan’s space agency, JAXA.
More on the Topic:
- It is the second touchdown for the robotic Hayabusa-2 craft, which grabbed rocks from the asteroid.After blasting a crater into Ryugu, it has returned to pick up fresh rubble.
- As the samples will come from within the asteroid, they will have had reduced exposure to the harsh environment of space.
- It’s hoped the rock will give scientists more data on the origins of the Solar System.
- Ryugu belongs to a particularly primitive type of space rock, left over from the early days of our Solar System.
- It may therefore contain clues about the conditions and chemistry of that time – some 4.5 billion years ago.
- Hayabusa-2 started its mission to reach Ryugu in 2014, launching from Japan’s space port Tanegashima.
- The asteroid is a 900m-wide space rock, about 290 million km (180 million miles) from Earth.
- Asteroids are essentially leftover building materials from the formation of the Solar System.
- It’s also thought they may contain chemical compounds that could have been important for kick-starting life on Earth.
- They can contain water, organic (carbon-rich) compounds and precious metals.
- The last of those has even tempted several companies to look into the feasibility of asteroid mining.
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana
Topic: Government Policies
In News: In a major developmental boost for road connectivity around villages, PM Modi-led Cabinet has approved the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana-III (PMGSY-III).
More on the Topic:
The duration of the projects’ implementation is 2019-2020 to 2024-2025. According to the Cabinet decision, some of the prominent features of the PMGSY-III scheme are as follows:
- The project will be able to facilitate easy and faster movement to and from the GrAMs, higher secondary schools as well as hospitals.
- The roads constructed under the PMGSY scheme would also be maintained properly.
- The funds would be shared in the ratio of 60:40 between the Central government and the State governments for all the states, except for eight Northeastern states and three Himalayan states, namely Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, for which the share ratio is 90:10.
- The selection of the candidate roads will be based upon the sum total of the marks obtained by that particular road on the basis of parameters such as population served, market, educational as well as medical facilities
- The construction of bridges in this scheme have been proposed up to 150 metre across the plain areas and 200 metre in the Himalayan and Northeastern States, as against the existing provisions of 75 metre and 100 metre in plain areas and Northeastern, Himalayan states respectively.
Source: Financial Express
Topic: Science and Technology
In News: The Army has placed an order for procuring Israeli anti-tank Spike missiles.
More on the Topic:
- The missiles are known for their precision targeting with an ability to pierce even bunkers.
- This missiles are ordred under emergency purchases to meet operational preparedness.
- The missiles can hits targets at a range of four kilometers and can be deployed in both mountains and plains.
- They can be fired from different platforms vehicles, helicopters, ships and ground launchers and can be deployed even along the Line of Control (LoC).
About powers to make emergency purchases:
- After the February 14 Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed, the three armed forces were given powers to make emergency purchases.
- Under this provision, the forces can make procurement up to Rs 300 crore.
Source: Money Control
In News: The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, has greeted everyone, especially the people of Tripura on the start of the auspicious Kharchi Pooja.
More on the Topic:
- It is an important festival celebrated in The word Kharchi is derived from the word ‘Khya’ which means ‘Earth’. It is basically done to worship mother Earth.
- It is performed after ‘Ama pechi’ or ‘Ambu bachi’ period.
- According to Tripuri, ‘Ama Pechi’ is menstruation of mother goddess or mother Earth.Among Tripuri the menstruation of a woman is considered as unholy.During this period all the auspicious functions performed by women are prohibited.
- After the menstruation period ‘Ama pechi’, mother Earth is considered to become unholy. So even the soil is not ploughed nor digging of any where on this day, to give it time to cleanse.
- The Puja is performed to wash out the sins and to clean the post menstrual phase of mother earth’s menstruation.The festival lasts for 7 days and 14 gods of the dynasty deity of Tripuri people are worshipped.