National Current Affairs – UPSC/KAS Exams- 11th September 2018
Delhi launches doorstep delivery of govt. Services
Why in news?
After months of planning, the Delhi government launched its ambitious project to deliver public services at the doorstep of residents.
- From driving licences to marriage certificates, Delhiites can now apply for 40 government documents to be delivered at their homes for a fee of Rs. 50 per service.
- The applicant would have to call 1076 and fix an appointment with a mobile sahayak, who will go to their home and help with filling forms, payment of fees and collection of documents.
- The mobile sahayak would then submit the documents at the government office concerned, which would post the certificate or licence once issued.
- The project, which has been outsourced by the Administrative Reforms Department to VFS Global, had received the Cabinet’s in-principle approval in November 2017.
- Though Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal had raised certain concerns, including about potential security threat from sahayaks, the Cabinet approved the contract with VFS on July 3.
- The number of services to be home-delivered would be increased to 100 within three months
There are SDM offices where people start lining up at 4 a.m. and their turn comes at 10 a.m. They get tired of waiting and end up going to touts. Now, there is no need for this.
Babri Masjid case
Why in news?
The Supreme Court asked additional sessions judge S.K. Yadav, who is hearing the Babri Masjid demolition cases against top BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders to explain how he intends to complete the trial by April 2019, the stipulated deadline given by the Supreme Court.
- The Supreme Court had on April 19, 2017, revived the criminal conspiracy charge against the top BJP leaders and transferred their case, languishing in the magistrate court at Rae Bareilly, to the additional sessions court (Ayodhya matters) in Lucknow.
- In the Rae Bareilly case, the BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders are accused of having given speeches to promote enmity and threatening national integration.
- On 6 December 1992, a large crowd of Hindu Kar Sevaks (activists) demolished the 16th-century Babri Mosque in the city of Ayodhya, in Uttar Pradesh. The demolition occurred after a political rally at the site turned violent.
- In Hindu tradition, the city of Ayodhya is the birthplace of Rama. In the 16th century a Mughal general, Mir Baqi, had built a mosque, known as the Babri Masjid, at a site considered by some Hindus to be Ram Janmabhoomi, the birthplace of Rama.
- In the 1980s, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) began a campaign for the construction of a temple dedicated to Rama at the site, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as its political voice. Several rallies and marches were held as a part of this movement, including the Ram Rath Yatra led by L. K. Advani.
Casting capers: Maneka sees animals in wrong role
Why in news?
Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has locked horns with the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), accusing it of being lax in enforcement of rules that specify how wild animals can be depicted in films and television programmes.
Allegations on AWBI
- In a July 23 letter to Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, Ms. Gandhi, who is also known for her activism for animal rights, listed “blatant errors” by the AWBI subcommittee that screens applications from film-makers.
- She alleged that the committee did not seek details of the species being used, which were required to determine whether they were protected. It had even allowed their depiction in scenes that could promote cruelty to animals.
- The letter, seen by The Hindu , cites an instance of the AWBI allowing the featuring of a hoolock gibbon, an endangered species, in a documentary film without enquiring from the film-makers whether or not special permission was obtained.
- In July, a TV show called “India’s Next Top Model” was given approval for using animals and birds brought from outside the country, such as macaws and ball pythons, without verifying how they were sourced and whether requisite certificate was obtained for their import.
- While tigers, monkeys, lions, bears, panthers (including leopards) are banned from being exhibited under Section 22 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the government body has allowed their use on several occasions, Ms. Gandhi wrote in her letter. The subcommittee has granted requests for showing snakes and birds without applicants specifying the species.
Provisions related to animal protection
- The Constitution of India Provides Animal Protection by Article 51 Ensuring “Compassion to all Living Creatures”.
- Further, in pursuance of the recommendations of Datter Singh’s Committee for providing prohibition of slaughter of cows and its progeny, the constitution in its Directive Principle of state policy provided protection to cow and its progeny by prohibiting slaughter of all milch animals, which especially identified cows and calf.
Animal welfare Board of India
- The Animal Welfare Board of India was established in 1962 under Section 4 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960.
- The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), headquartered at Ballabhgarh in Haryana state, is a statutory advisory body advising the Government of India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. It was previously based at Chennai.
- The Animal Welfare Board of India was started under the stewardship of Late Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale, well known humanitarian.
- The Board consists of 28 Members. The term of office of Members is for a period of 3 years.
- To keep the law in force in India for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals under constant study and to advise the government on the amendments to be undertaken in any such law from time to time.
- To advise the Central Government on the making of rules under the Act with a view to preventing unnecessary pain or suffering to animals generally, and more particularly when they are being transported from one place to another or when they are used as performing animals or when they are kept in captivity or confinment.
- To advise the Government or any local authority or other person on improvements in the design of vehicles so as to lessen the burden on draught animals.
- To take all such steps as the Board may think fit for amelioration of animals by encouraging, or providing for the construction of sheds, water troughs and the like and by providing for veterinary assistance to animals.
- To advise the Government or any local authority or other person in the design of slaughter houses or the maintenance of slaughter houses or in connection with slaughter of animals so that unnecessary pain or suffering, whether physicrd or mental, is eliminated in the pre- slaughter stages as far as possible, and animals are killed, wherever necessary, in as humane a manner as possible.
- To take all such steps as the Board may think fit to ensure that unwanted animals are destroyed by local authorities, whenever it is necessary to do so, either instantaneously or after being rendered insensible to pain or suffering.
- To encourage by the grant of financial assistance or otherwise, the formation or establishment of Pinjarapoles, rescue homes, animals shelters, sanctuaries and the like, where animals and birds may find a shelter when they have become old and useless or when they need protection.
- To co-operate with, and co-ordinate the work of associations or bodies established for the purpose of preventing unnecessary pain or suffering to animals or for the protection of animals and birds.
- To give financial assistance and other assistance to Animal Welfare Organisations functioning in any local area or to encourage the formation of Animal Welfare Organisations in any local area which shall work under the general supervision and guidance of the Board.
- To advise the Government on matters relating to the medical care and attention which may be provided in animal hospitals, and to give financial and other assistance to animal hospitals whenever the Board think it is necessary to do so.
- To impart education in relation to the humane treatment of animals and to encourage the formation of public opinion against the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to animals and for the promotion of animal welfare by means of lectures books, posters, cinematographic exhibitions and the like.
- To advise the Government on any matter connected with animal welfare or the Prevention of infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.
Why in news?
Historians have vociferously opposed changes to the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958, which proposes to allow the construction of Centre-approved public infrastructure within a 100 metre radius of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)-protected monuments at a Parliamentary panel’s meeting.
- This could open the way for denigration of ancient monuments in the name of development.
- The amendment will pave way for certain constructions limited strictly to public works and projects essential to public within the prohibited area and benefit the public at large.
Why this change now?
Prohibition of new construction within prohibited area is adversely impacting various public works and developmental projects of the Central Government.
Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958
- The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (or AMASR Act) is an act of parliament of the government of India that provides for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for the protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects
- The Archaeological Survey of India functions under the provisions of this act.
- The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites Remains Act, 1958 (as amended in the year 2010) prohibits grant of any permission for new construction within the prohibited area of a centrally protected monument/ site.
Google wants more time to meet data storage norms
Why in news?
Technology giant Google has sought two more months from the Indian government to comply with RBI guidelines mandating storing of data by digital payment services providers locally.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in April this year, had directed payment system operators to store all data, including full end-to-end transaction details and information collected, within India. The service providers were given six months till October 15 to comply.
- Soaring data flows generate more economic value and hence the socio-economic impact of restricting data flows must be thoroughly considered while framing any policy.
- There is a need to find practical and contemporary solutions to policy issues in line with global best practices. we have nothing to add at this point of time.
Seven countries at risk of exchange rate crises: Nomura
Why in news?
Seven countries, including Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Turkey, are at risk of exchange rate crises as investors re-assess their risks following the contagion in Argentina and Turkey, a new index by Nomura says.
According to the global financial services major, emerging markets are under pressure as investors reassess the risks amid monetary policy normalisation in developed markets, trade protectionism and China’s economic slowdown.
Damocles — The new gauge
- The new gauge, Damocles, that assessed the risk of exchange rate crises for 30 emerging market economies, noted that seven countries are at risk of exchange rate crises with scores over 100: Sri Lanka, South Africa, Argentina, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey and Ukraine.
- A score above 100 suggests a country is vulnerable to an exchange rate crisis in the next 12 months, while a reading above 150 signals a crisis could erupt at any time.
- As per the index Sri Lanka has a score of 175, followed by South Africa (143), Argentina (140), Pakistan (136), Egypt (111), Turkey (104) and Ukraine (100).
- India’s Damocles score stood at 25.
- On India, the report said CPI inflation had moderated (to around 4.5% in 2018 from 9.7% in 2012), as has the current account deficit (around 2.5% of GDP versus 5%).
- Moreover, the central bank has a sufficient forex reserve buffer, as a result, India’s Damocles score has fallen to 25 in July-September quarter of 2018.
- The other risk factors for the Indian economy stem from the government turning more populist ahead of the 2019 general elections and a sharper-than-expected domestic growth slowdown, which in turn will trigger equity outflows, it added.