National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 16th January 2020
Topic: International Relations
In News: For the second time since the government’s decision on Article 370 in August last year, China raised the issue of Kashmir at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) recently, prompting a protest from New Delhi.
More on the topic:
- The government said that Beijing should “refrain” from bringing a bilateral issue into the UNSC, and accused China of working at Pakistan’s behest.
- New Delhi’s response also pointed to the “overwhelming majority” of Security Council members being opposed to the Chinese reference on conditions in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), which resulted in a lack of consensus for any kind of statement at the end of the meeting.
- India’s case rests on the 1972 Shimla accord, where India and Pakistan agreed to resolve the Kashmir issue bilaterally. China’s repeated raising of Kashmir since last August, which includes an aborted attempt in December, is unconstructive and will impact the India-China bilateral relationship if it continues.
- It is also unlikely to push the government, which has already defied several international calls from friendly countries, into lifting restrictions or rolling back its measures in Kashmir.
- Given that New Delhi has refrained from raising similar issues over Tibet, Xinjiang or Hong Kong, it is unfair on the part of Beijing to take its concerns to the international stage, especially since President Xi Jinping didn’t officially raise such concerns while visiting India in October.
Impacts and Way Ahead:
- China may have found no takers for a statement, but the fact that it was allowed to raise the issue at the UNSC cannot be brushed away.
- Nor can India maintain the duality of insisting, on the one hand, that Kashmir is a bilateral issue and, on the other hand, rejecting all bilateral talks with Pakistan. At some point, the government must push for normalisation of ties with Pakistan as well as for the lifting of restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir.
- In the past few days, it seems the government has decided to review some of its decisions taken in August: it has released political prisoners and restored 2G connectivity to select places; it has also taken one group of envoys to Srinagar and Jammu, and is making plans for 36 Cabinet Ministers, who have not visited the region yet, to travel there.
- These measures, however, must not come in dribs and drabs, but must be comprehensive. Only when all communications are restored, all political prisoners freed and added security restrictions removed can the real task of healing in J&K even begin.
In News: The 7.35% rise in consumer price inflation in December set off fears over whether India is entering a period of slow growth accompanied by high inflation, in other words, stagflation.
More on the Topic:
- The headline inflation number is driven mainly by food inflation at 14.12% — it was 10.01% in November and -2.65% in December 2018. While onion was the prime villain pushing up price inflation in vegetables to a huge 60.50% compared to December 2018, prices of other food items such as meat and fish (up 9.57%), milk (up 4.22%), eggs (up 8.79%) and some pulses were also on the upswing.
- These are a largely seasonal rise in prices and are driven mainly by supply-side factors and the prices will reverse once the supply shortfall is addressed. An analysis by State Bank of India’s research team shows that minus the increase in prices of onion, potato and ginger, headline CPI inflation would be just 4.48%.
- Core inflation, which is the one that should be of concern, has only inched up marginally from 3.5% in November to 3.7% in December. That said, it would be worrisome indeed if core inflation were to shoot up or if food inflation does not cool down in the next couple of months. Also, the effects of the increase in telecom tariffs, rail tickets and in fuel prices need to be closely watched.
- The December data is way above the monetary policy committee’s (MPC) mandated inflation limit of 6% (4% plus 2%) which means that a rate cut is not viable. Yet, with growth sagging, there is pressure on the central bank to cut rates at least one more time to stimulate growth.
- The government should engage all levers to address the supply-side issues that are behind the rise in food inflation. A calming down of food prices will help Reserve bank to lower rates.
- Budget which is due on February will also determine what will lie ahead.
NIA Act, 2008
Topic: Polity and Governance
In News: The Chhattisgarh state govt. moved the Supreme Court against the 2008 National Investigative Agency (NIA) Act, stating it is violative of the Constitution.
More on the Topic:
- The NIA Act, 2008 governs the functioning of India’s premier counter-terror agency.
- The Act makes the NIA the only truly federal agency in the country, along the lines of the FBI in the United States, more powerful than the CBI.
- It gives the NIA powers to take suo motucognizance of terror activities in any part of India and register a case, to enter any state without permission from the state government, and to investigate and arrest people.
- It was introduced in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks and was passed in Parliament with very little opposition.
Arguments by Chhattisgarh:
- According to the state, the 2008 Act allows the Centre to create an agency for investigation, which is a function of the state police.
- The Chhattisgarh govt. said the Act is “ultra vires the Constitution” and “beyond the legislative competence of the Parliament”.
- ‘Police’ is an entry in the State List of the Constitution’s 7th Schedule.
- The petition says the 2008 Act takes away the state’s power of conducting an investigation through the police, while conferring unfettered, discretionary and arbitrary powers” on the Centre.
- The provisions of the Act leave no room of coordination and pre-condition of consent, in any form whatsoever, by the Centre from the State govt. which clearly repudiates the idea of state sovereignty as envisaged under the Constitution.
The 2019 NIA Amendment Act:
- The 2019 NIA Amendment Act expanded the type of offences that the investigative body could investigate and prosecute.
- The agency can now investigate offences related to human trafficking, counterfeit currency, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism, and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.
- The amendment also enables the central government to designate sessions courts as special courts for NIA trials.
- The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment (UAPA), also passed in 2019, allows an NIA officer to conduct raids, and seize properties that are suspected to be linked to terrorist activities without taking prior permission of the DG of Police of a state.
- The investigating officer only requires sanction from the Director General of NIA.
Source: Indian Express
In News: The Union Ministry of Culture and Tourism launched a month-long special exhibition titled Indian Heritage in Digital Space. This special exhibition showcases the adaptation and infusion of technologies being developed under the Indian Digital Heritage (IDH) initiative.
More on the Topic:
- This initiative is undertaken by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in the cultural heritage domain of the country.
- The exhibition demonstrates the outcome of two flagship projects viz., A digital mini-spectacle to showcase the glory of Hampi and Augmented Reality based interactions with physical models of monuments.
- The goals of these projects: to create digital installations using 3D laser scan data, AR, holographic projections and 3D fabrication,to provide interactive and immersive experiences showcasing the glory of Hampi and five Indian monuments namely Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi; TajMahal, Agra; Sun Temple, Konark; Ramachandra Temple, Hampi ; and RaniKiVav, Patan .
- These projections are driven by cutting-edge technologies such as 3D fabrication, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality, Holographic Projections and Projection Mapping etc.
In News: No imports will be allowed without HSN code into the country clarified the Union Minister of Commerce & Industry.
More on the Topic:
- HSN code stands for “Harmonized System of Nomenclature”.
- This system has been introduced for the systematic classification of goods all over the world.
- HSN code is a 6-digit uniform code that classifies 5000+ products and is accepted worldwide.
- It was developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO) and it came into effect from 1988.
- The main purpose of HSN is to classify goods from all over the World in a systematic and logical manner. This brings in a uniform classification of goods and facilitates international trade.
Topic: Defence Technologies
In News: The naval version of the indigenously built Mk1 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) landed on aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya.
More on the Topic:
- This has taken India into a select group of nations the US, UK, Russia, France, and China that have developed aircraft capable of landing and taking off from the severely constrained confines of an aircraft carrier deck, which is barely 200 metres long.
- It is the smallest lightweight, multi-role, single-engine tactical fighter aircraft in the world and is being developed in single-seat fighter and twin seat trainer variants for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
- It is an indigenous fighter aircraft jointly developed by Aeronautical Development Agency and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.