Current Affairs 17th January, 2019

PAPER – 1

Topics Covered

1. Awards of prominence

Gandhi Peace Prize

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What to read?

Prelims – About the prize

The Gandhi Peace Prize for the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 has been conferred on the following 

  • Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari for the year 2015 for their contribution in Rural Development, Education , Development of natural resources.

  • For 2016 jointly to AkshayaPatra Foundation for its contribution in providing mid-day meals to millions of children across India and Sulabh International for its contribution in improving the condition of sanitation in India and emancipation of manual scavengers.

  • EkalAbhiyan Trust for the year 2017 for their contribution in providing Education for Rural and Tribal Children in remote areas pan India, Rural Empowerment, Gender and Social Equality

  • Shri YoheiSasakawa for the year 2018 for his contribution in Leprosy Eradication in India and across the world.

The selection panel

The jury under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister and comprising the Chief Justice of India, , Speaker of LokSabha, Leader of the single largest Opposition Party in and Member of Parliament, Shri L.K. Advani after detailed discussions on 16th January, 2019 unanimously decided to select the above organisation/persons in recognition to their outstanding contributions in the fields mentioned above.

 About the prize

  • The annual award was instituted by the Government of India in 1995 during the commemoration of 125th Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

  • The award carries an amount of Rs 1Crore, a Citation in a scroll, a plaque as well as an exquisite traditional handicraft/handloom item.

  • It is constituted by Ministry of Culture.

 

PAPER – 2

Topics Covered

1. Polity

2. Judiciary

2 High Court judges elevated to be the Judges of Supreme court

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What to read?

Prelims – About the appointment of Judges in Supreme Court

Mains – Evolvement in judicial appointment

The government on January 16 notified the appointment of Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Delhi High Court judge, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, as Supreme Court judges.

How has the system evolved?

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  • Constitution - The Constituent Assembly adopted a consultative process of appointing judges to ensure that judges remain insulated from political influence.

  • It avoided legislative interference and also the undemocratic provision of a veto to the Chief Justice.

  • Instead it vested in the President the power to both make appointments and transfer judges between high courts.

  • The President (to act on the advice of the council of ministers) was however required to consult certain authorities such as the CJI or chief justice of the high court appropriately.

  • 'Consultation' - The Supreme Court earlier ruled that the word “consultation” could not be interpreted to mean “concurrence”.

  • Accordingly the CJI’s opinion was not binding on the executive.

  • Nevertheless, the executive could depart from the opinion only in exceptional circumstances and any such decision could be subject to judicial review.

  • The system was thus fairly balanced and in the First Judges Case, 1981 the court once again endorsed this interpretation.

  • Second Judges Case - In the famous Second Judges Case, 1993 the court however overruled its earlier decisions.

  • It now held that “consultation” meant “concurrence”, and that the CJI’s view enjoys primacy.

  • This is with the rationale that CJI could be best equipped to know and assess the "worth" of candidates.

  • But, the CJI was to formulate the opinion only through a body of senior judges that the court described as the 'collegium'.

  • Collegium - In the Third Judges Case, 1998 the court clarified that the collegium would comprise CJI and four senior-most colleagues, in appointments to the Supreme Court.

  • And, the CJI and two senior-most colleagues in the case of appointments to the high courts.

  • Additionally, for HCs, the collegium would consult other senior judges in the SC who had previously served in the HC concerned.

  • On whether these views of the consultee-judges are binding on the collegium or not, the judgments are silent.

  • NJAC - The government, through 99th constitutional amendment, sought to replace the collegium with the National Judicial Appointments Commission.

  • The Supreme Court however struck NJAC down.

  • The court's rationale was that the NJAC law gave politicians an equal say in judicial appointments to constitutional courts.

  • Change - In what might now be called the Fourth Judges Case (2015), the court upheld the primacy of the collegium.

  • More importantly it declared collegium as part of the Constitution’s basic structure.

  • And so its power could not be removed even through a constitutional amendment.

  • But given the criticisms against the system, the judgment promised to consider appropriate measures to improve the collegium system.

What are the recent developments?

  • The Supreme Court recently questioned the centre on the delay in finalising a Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) for judicial appointments as per its earlier order.

  • Importantly, the apex court recently declared that it would make public, on the court’s website, its various decisions.

  • The information to be made public include:

  • its verdicts on persons nominated for elevation as judges to the high courts.

  • its choices of candidates for elevation to the Supreme Court.

  • its decisions on transfer of judges between different high courts.

  • these will be accompanied by the reasons underpinning the collegium’s choices.

What are the shortfalls?

  • The move is essential in terms of bringing transparency into a system that has been long been criticised for its opacity.

  • However, the recently released first set of publications implies that the actual functioning is far from its proposed objective.

  • Notably, the details on the valid reasons behind the selection or rejection still lack clarity.

  • Also details on which of the judges reject the candidature is unrevealed.

  • In case of lack of consensus, at times the majority views are being over-ridden even by decision one of the judges in the collegium.

  • These shortfalls seem to go against the objective of transparency and impartiality, and thus the system needs further assessment.

  • Meanwhile the centre should hasten its process of finalising the MoP on judicial appointments.

Probable Mains Question

Evaluate the evolution in judicial appointments and examine transparency in the process.

 

PAPER – 2 and PAPER – 3

Topics Covered

1. Governance

2. Indian Economy

Recapitalisation of Export-Import Bank of India

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What to read?

Prelims – Recapitalisation and EXIM bank

Mains – How recapitalisation would solve the problem of liquidity crunch in Indian Banking system.

EXIM bank of India

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  • Exim Bank of India (Exim Bank) was established in 1982 under an Act of Parliament as the apex financial institution for financing, facilitating and promoting India's international trade.

  • The Bank primarily lends for exports from India including supporting overseas buyers and Indian suppliers for export of developmental and infrastructure projects, equipment, goods and services from India.

  • It is regulated by RBI.

The details of the Recapitalisation

  • Issuance of Recapitalization Bonds by Government of India to the tune of Rs.6,000 crore for capital infusion in Export Import Bank of India (Exim Bank). 

  • The equity will be infused in two tranches of Rs. 4,500 crore in FY 2018-19 and Rs.1,500 crore in FY 2019-20 respectively.

  • The Cabinet also approved an increase in the authorized capital of Exim Bank from Rs. 10,000 crore to Rs. 20,000 crore. The recapitalisation bonds will be on the lines issued to Public Sector Banks.

 Major Impact

  • Exim Bank is the principal export credit agency for India.

  • The infusion of capital into Exim Bank will enable it to augment capital adequacy and support Indian exports with enhanced ability.

  • The infusion will give an impetus to anticipate new initiatives like supporting Indian textile industries, likely changes in Concessional Finance Scheme (CFS), likelihood of new LoCs in future in view of India's active foreign policy and strategic intent.

 

PAPER – 2 AND PAPER – 3

Topics Covered

1. Governance

2. Indian Economy

GoM constituted on issues relating to lottery

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What to read?

Prelims – GoM, its Terms of reference

In pursuance of decision in the 32nd Meeting of GST Council, a Group of Ministers (GoM) on issues relating to lottery has been constituted.

GoM and EGoM

Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) is a Group of Ministers (GoM) of the Union Government who, after being appointed by the Cabinet, a Cabinet Committee or the Prime Minister for investigating and reporting on such matters as may be specified, are also authorised(empowered) by the appointing authority to take decisions in such matters after investigation.

GoM investigates and reports to the Cabinet, which takes the decision, an EGoM additionally takes decisions on matters it is authorised for, and such decisions have the force of the Government decision.

Terms of Refernce of GoM constituted on issues relating to lottery

  • Whether the disparity in tax structure on the same product/commodity be continued or a uniform rate be prescribed for both;

  • Whether private persons authorized by the States are misusing the lower rate and getting enriched themselves at the cost of the State and suggest measures to curb it;

  • Examine any other issue related to enforcement including the legal frame work, so as to prevent evasion of tax on lottery and suggest appropriate tax rate to address the problem;

  • The GoM on issues relating to lottery shall be assisted by a Committee of officers from the Centre and the States as convened by the GoM;

  • Secretary of the GoM on issues relating to lottery shall be Joint Secretary (TRU-II), CBIC;

  • The GoM for lottery shall submit its report to GST Council in next Meeting for consideration of the GST Council

PAPER – 2

Topics Covered

1. Polity

2. Legislation

3. Issues and Management in Human Resource Development

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Act, 2019

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What to read?

Prelims and Mains – Highlights and Key features in the Act

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Act, 2019 which was passed by the Parliament on 3rdJanuary, 2019 received the assent of the President of India on 10th January, 2019.It has been notified in the Gazette of India.

Significance

The legislation is significant as it brings accountability in the elementary education system. The proposal received the support of a majority of state governments.

RTE amendment Bill- Key features

  • The Bill seeks to amend the Right to Education (RTE) Act to abolish the “no-detention” policy in schools. Under the current provisions of the Act, no student can be detained up to class VIII.

  • As per the amendment, it would be left to the states to decide whether to continue the no-detention policy.

  • The bill provides for regular examination in classes V and VIII, and if a child fails, the amendment bill grants a provision to give her or him additional opportunity to take a re-examination within two months. Such children will be provided with two-month remedial teaching to perform better in the re-examinations. If the students still do not pass the exam, the state government may decide to detain them.

 Right to Education (RTE) Act

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (the Act) provides for free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years.

 What is no detention policy?

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According to this provision “no child admitted in a school shall be held back in any class”. This translates into automatic promotions to the next class every year until Class VII. Instead of exams, schools are supposed to hold Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluations (CCE) for every child.

 Need for removal of this clause:

The provision had attracted criticism with several states and schools complaining that it compromised on academic rigour and learning levels and quality at schools.

  • The TSR Subramanian committee for formulation of the National Policy on Education has also suggested that ‘no detention’ policy should be discontinued after Class V. It had recommended restoration of detention provision, remedial coaching and two extra chances to each student such to move to a higher class.

  • A sub-committee of the Central Advisory Board of Education also studied the issue closely and recommended a provisional detention clause at Classes V and VIII. In 2013, a parliamentary panel had also asked the ministry to ‘rethink’ on its “policy of automatic promotion up to Class VIII”.

Probable Mains Question

In the light of abolishing the “no-detention” policy, critically analyse success and failures of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or the Right to Education Act (RTE).