Aadhaar: 9-judge Bench to consider whether privacy is a basic right: (The Hindu) (Nine- Judge Constitution Bench to hear Aadhaar petitions) Context: The Supreme Court decided to set up a nine-judge bench to decide whether right to privacy can be declared as a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution Introduction:
- A nine- judge Bench of the Supreme Court will on Wednesday hear the question whether privacy is a fundamental human rights and is part of the basic structure of the Constitution
- The decision taken by a five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice Khehar is on the basis of a bunch of petitions contending that the Aadhaar scheme is a violation of the citizens’ right to privacy.
- The petitions have argued that right to privacy is part of Article 21, the right to life, and interspersed in Article 19, though not explicitly slated in the Constitution.
- Two judgments of the Supreme Court- the M.P . Sharma case verdict pronounced by an eight-judge Bench in 1954 shortly after the Constitution came into force in 1950 and the Kharak Singh case verdict of 1962 by a six-judge Bench had dominated the judicial dialogue on privacy since Independence
- Both the judgments had concluded that privacy was not a fundamental or ‘guaranteed’ right
- The Supreme Court has decided to determine once and for all whether privacy is negotiable or not. The nine-judge Bench seeks to bring a quietus to the divergent judicial pronouncements of the past.
- “We have to first determine whether right to privacy is a fundamental right or not before going into the issue on the constitutionality of the Aadhaar scheme, “Chief Justice Khehar said.
Australia for ‘peaceful’ end to standoff: (Australia’s Role in Doklam Standoff) Context
- The ongoing India-China standoff in Doklam on the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction, now into its second month.
- Arguably it is the worst crisis between the two Asian giants ever since they fought a war in 1962.
- Both sides are sticking to their respectively stated “maximalist” position and asking each other to back off, but neither side is ready to budge.
- India rejected Australia’s request to join the Malabar exercises with the United States and Japanese navies.
- China had objected to the inclusion of Australia in the quadrilateral in the past, seen as one of the reasons for India’s decision this year.
- Australia has clearly stated that any territorial disputes should be resolved peacefully between the claimant countries and is not in favor of any escalation of tensions which could lead to a miscalculation or misjudgment.
- Distinguishing between land boundary disputes and the maritime disputes China has with countries in the South China Sea, through which two-thirds of Australia’s trade passes, the country has expressed that in the case of maritime disputes, issues should be subjected to arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS, if necessary.
- Land disputes should be resolved peacefully between the competing claimants
- Discussions with Australian Government had highlighted future defense cooperation between India and Australia that recently completed a bilateral naval exercise AUSINDEX and they spoke about training exercises between their troops as well.
- There are reports that several countries have raised concerns over growing tensions between India and China over the past month after Indian troops stopped a Chinese PLA road construction team on land claimed by Bhutan.
Onus is on India to avoid escalation of conflict: China (China asks India to withdraw their troops) Context
- China on Tuesday renewed a call for India to withdraw its troops immediately from the disputed Doklam plateau in the Himalayan mountains.
- The given demand follows a report that Chinese forces recently held live firing drills in the region.
- Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Lu Kang briefed at a news that Indian forces should leave the area to avoid an “escalation of the situation”.
- China stated that they are hoping the Indian side will get a clear understanding of the situation and effectively withdraw the troops that illegally crossed the border.
- Beijing and New Delhi have engaged in more than a month of confrontation after Chinese teams began building a road onto the Doklam plateau.
- China insists on Indian troops withdrawal before talks can take place to settle the most protracted standoff in coming years.
No common ground on the Doklam plateau: (The Hindu, Editorial) (The Cartographic aggression of China) Context
- China’s current claims over the Doklam plateau can be seen as an instance of cartographic aggression, which China often engages in.
- China may have temporarily halted its road construction programme, but it appears determined to hold on to its position.
- India is equally clear that it cannot afford to back down, having gone to Bhutan’s assistance at a time of need.
China and India stand-off om Doklam
- For both India – China, it seems that the Doklam stand-off very differently.
- For China, the issue is one of territorial ‘sovereignty’.
- For India, the issue is one of national security.
Both appear irreconcilable.
- China is generally not known to make concessions when it comes to aspects of territorial ‘sovereignty’.
- This would be the case if Chinese claims to the Doklam plateau are accepted and the tri-junction is accepted to be further south at Mt.
- It would bring China within striking distance of India’s vulnerable ‘Chicken Neck’, the Siliguri Corridor, the life-line to India’s Northeast.
- Diplomacy should customarily have been the way out, but relations between India and China are far from cordial at present.
- Even at the highest levels, there are few signs of a collaboration.
- No bilateral meeting took place between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit is best example.
- India needs to read proper meanings into China’s unwillingness to hold talks at the highest level.
- China is categorically laying down difficult pre-conditions for talks, though India is open to the idea of discussions without pre-conditions.
- These are well reflected in the differences seen between the high voltage Chinese reaction and the measured response of the Indian side.
The need for lateral entry in civil services: (Live Mint, Editorial) (Proposal for middle-rung lateral entry in ministries) Context
- The Prime Minister Office (PMO) has instructed the department of personnel and training to prepare a proposal for middle-rung lateral entry in ministries dealing with the economy and infrastructure.
The need for lateral entry.
- It is both a workaround for the civil services’ structural failings and an remedy to the complacency that can set in a career-based service.
- The second ARC report points out that it is both possible and desirable to incorporate elements of a position-based system where lateral entry and specialization are common.
- Domain experts have been brought in from outside the services to head various committees, advisory bodies and organizations.
- Both the Niti Aayog and the Planning Commission before it have allowed for lateral entry.
- States such as Jharkhand are now experimenting with it as well.
‘Nil GST on fabrics not feasible’: (The Hindu) (Aftermath of GST) Context: The government ruled out cutting tax rates for the textiles sector, saying a zero per cent GST on fabrics will break the input tax credit chain for the domestic industry and make imported items cheaper. Introduction:
- Organised traders and unorganized sellers in the textiles sector have not been affected by the Goods and Services Tax, according to Minister for Finance, Defence and Corporate Affairs Arun Jaitley, who ruled out a decrease in the tax rate on the sector under GST.
- The Finance Ministry clarified that hotels with a declared tariff of less than Rs 7,500 per day would attract a GST of 18% and hotels with tariffs above that would attract GST of 28%, regardless of the star rating of the hotels.
- Under the new taxation system that was rolled out on July 1, it was decided that garments under Rs 1,000 would attract a five per cent charge , while those above Rs 1,000 would attract a tax rate of 12 per cent. Also, a five per cent tax would be levied on fabrics with no refund of utilized input tax credit.
- Under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime yarn and fibres made from silk, wool, cotton or other vegetable fibres attract 5 per cent tax.
- GST pesticides attracted excise duty of 12.5 per cent in addition to average VAT rate of 4 per cent. Also there were taxes such as CST, Entry Tax, Octroi, etc.
- The GST rate on pesticides is 18 per cent
World’s northernmost corals bleached (An alarming concern – bleached corals in northernmost) Context:
- Japan researchers are concerned about the damage of habitats for the marine life.
- Bleaching has damaged the world’s northernmost coral reef in Japan.
- Coral can recover from mild bleaching but severe or long-term episodes are often lethal
- Since 2015, all tropical coral reefs have seen above-normal temperatures, and more than 70% experienced prolonged high temperatures that can cause bleaching.
- Early in 2017, the rise in water temperature caused significant bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia for the second consecutive year and also in American Samoa.
- The coral reefs protect shores from storms and offer habitats for fish and other marine life, including ecologically and economically important species. Colt McCoy – Texas Longhorns Bleaching of which damages the corals to the care.
- After the coral dies, reefs quickly degrade and the structures that coral build begins to erode.
‘Take my data, give me Wi-Fi’: (Security at a stake for Wi-Fi) Context:
- Reports said that in lieu of free internet connectivity Indians are sacrificing personal security.
What is it about?
- About 96% Indians have potentially put their personal information at risk by using public Wi-Fi for checking bank accounts or sharing personal photos.
- There is a deep division between what people think is safe when it comes to using public Wi-Fi versus the reality.
- A majority of 73% will do or swap something for a strong Wi-Fi signal.