Prime Minister has announced the creation
of the post of the Chief of Defence Staff.
The Chief of Defence Staff(CDS) is a high
military office that oversees and coordinates the working of the three
Services.The role of the CDS becomes critical in times of conflict.
He offers seamless tri-service views and
single-point advice to the Prime Minister on long-term defence planning
and management including manpower, equipment and strategy, and above all
jointmanship in operations.
Currently,India has had a feeble
equivalent known as the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee(CoSC) but this
is a toothless office given the manner in which it is structured.
The senior-most among the three Service
Chiefs is appointed to head the CoSC.But it is an additional role and the
tenures have been very short.
The proposal for a CDS has been there for
two decades.It was first made by K. Subrahmanyam committee appointed after
the Kargil conflict of 1999 to recommend higher military
reforms.However,lack of consensus and apprehensions among services meant
it never moved forward.
In 2012,the Naresh Chandra committee
recommended the appointment of a Permanent Chairman of Chiefs of Staff
Committee (COSC) as a midway to allay apprehensions over the CDS.
The CDS was also one of the 99
recommendations made by the Lt General D.B. Shekatkar (retd) Committee
which submitted its report in December 2016 which had 34 recommendations
pertaining to the tri-services.
The UN Security Council will be meeting at
the request of China and Pakistan to discuss India’s decision to revoke
the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
The last time UNSC discussed Kashmir was
in 1971 during the Bangladesh war which led to the Simla agreement.
UNSC Resolution 307 had taken up the
Kashmir issue in the backdrop of the war of 1971 while demanding ceasefire
between India and Pakistan.
But after the 1972 Simla Agreement between
India and Pakistan,India had informed the U.N about the treaty which had
turned Kashmir into a bilateral subject.
Therefore,the UNSC first of all has to
discuss if the members have the legal space to deal with the Kashmir issue
as India and Pakistan had termed Kashmir as a bilateral issue through
However,diplomats have said that a mention
of Kashmir in the UNSC is not a positive turn for India as it indicates
that China is eager to pacify Pakistan’s concern.
Further,Russia is also not willing to play
the role that it used to play during the 1970s and 1980s when the fear of
the veto from Soviet Union was a significant deterrent for any Pakistani
action at the UNSC on Kashmir.
The World Trade Organization(WTO) has set
up panels to rule on complaints by Australia,Brazil and Guatemala against
India’s export subsidies for sugar and sugarcane producers.
The three countries have claimed that
India provides trade-distorting production subsidies including soft loans
and subsidies to maintain stocks of sugar and tax rebates.
Australia has held India responsible for
contributing to oversupply in the international sugar market.The
production of sugar in India has increased from 22 million tonnes in
2016-17 to 34 million tonnes in 2017-18 thereby contributing to a surplus
of 12 million tonnes.
Brazil has charged India with intensifying
various support programmes for the sugar sector including higher minimum
prices for sugarcane. Brazil has said that mandating the mills to export 5
million tonnes of sugar has led to substantial pricing pressures on world
However,India has disagreed with the
claims made by the three countries.It said that its sugar-support
programmes are aimed at assisting over 35 million vulnerable low-income
resource-poor farmers to have a just and equitable share in economic
Further,India has also maintained that its
measures were consistent with global trade rules, and did not create any
adverse effect in the global sugar market.
President of India has awarded the
“President’s Certificate of Honour” and “Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman”
for the Year 2019.
Maharshi Badrayan Vyas Samman were
introduced in the year 2002.It is given to selected young scholars in the
age group of 30 to 45 years.On the other hand,Presidential award carries a
certificate of honour a memento and a one time cash prize of Rs.1 lakh
The awards are conferred annually to
recognise the contribution of scholars in the field of 9 languages which
are (a)Sanskrit (b)Persian (c)Arabic (d)Pali (e)Prakrit (f)Classical Oriya
(g)Classical Kannada (h)Classical Telugu and (I)Classical Malayalam.
These awards are not given
posthumously.These awards are also not given to scholars (a)who have
received this award earlier or (b)who are convicted in a criminal
case/against whom a criminal case is pending in a court.
Recently,the Mumbai Customs department has
stopped clearing parcels under the gifts and samples route.
According to the Foreign Trade Act,gift
items of a value of up to ₹5,000 received from foreign countries to people
residing in India are exempted from customs duty.
However,there is no cap on the number of
gifts an individual can receive.
E-commerce platforms especially from China
has misused this rule to ship cheaper products to Indian customers as
gifts,thus avoiding customs duty and goods and services tax.
Central Board of Indirect Tax and
Customs(CBIC) have asked domestic industry to come up with a detailed plan
by the end of the month to plug these loopholes.
One of the suggestions being mooted is the
imposition of a flat rate of tax and Integrated Goods and Services Tax to
be applied on all items imported from e-commerce companies.This way,gifts
can be distinguished from e-commerce purchases.
Another approach is to integrate the
payment portals of the e-commerce companies with the CBIC so that when a
payment is made for a product that has to enter India,the CBIC has the
barcode and other details it can match with the product when it physically
arrives at a port of entry.
All India Plastics Manufacturers’
Association(AIPMA) has said that plastics industry is under severe stress
due to environmental challenges.
They have asked the government for export
promotion schemes for Micro,Small, Medium Enterprises(MSMEs) in the
plastic sector and removal of anti-dumping duty on machines not made in
The industry has sought allocation of 25%
of the land available at all industrial corridors for MSMEs at discounted
rates.Additionally,it appealed to the government to make lending to MSMEs
Further,they have also asked for the
establishment of a helpdesk for MSMEs at banks and the current limits
under the Credit Guarantee Fund Trust for Micro and Small
Enterprises(CGTMSE) scheme needs to increase to ₹4 crore.
They have also demanded direct tax
exemption on export income and income generated directly or indirectly
from indigenisation as well as import substitution exemption for a period
of five years.
Prime Minister has called for ‘one
nation,one election’.He said that a committee would be formed to discuss
the idea with all political parties.
One nation,One Election is the method of
holding single elections for both Lok Sabha and States instead of separate
and continuous elections.
Simultaneous elections are not new to
India.They were the norm until 1967.But following dissolution of some
Legislative Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 and that of the Lok Sabha in
December 1970,elections to State Assemblies and Parliament have been held
The idea of reverting to simultaneous
polls was mooted in the annual report of the Election Commission in
1983.The Law Commission’s Report also referred to it in 1999.
Simultaneous polls are needed as it
(a)will reduce the enormous costs involved in separate elections (b)It
will help ruling parties focus on governance instead of being constantly
in election mode (c)boost voter turnout and (d)Frees up security forces
for deployment in their core areas.
The arguments against the simultaneous
polls are (a)National and state issues are different and holding
simultaneous elections is likely to affect the judgment of voters and
(b)Since elections will be held once in five years,it will reduce the
government’s accountability to the people.
In 2018,the Law Commission had said that
simultaneous elections could not be held within the existing framework of
the Constitution.This will require appropriate amendments to the
Constitution,the Representation of the People Act 1951 and the Rules
of Procedure of Lok Sabha and state Assemblies would be required.
The Commission has also recommended that
all elections due in a calendar year should be conducted together.To
preempt the disruption a no-confidence motion should be replaced with a
constructive vote of no-confidence which means that a government may be
replaced only if there is confidence in an alternative government.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister has announced
an increase in reservations for OBCs and Scheduled Castes in state
government jobs and education.
The government has decided to increase the
quota for Scheduled Castes by 1% (at present it is 12%) The reservation
for OBCs will be increased from 14% to 27%. The quota for Scheduled Tribes
will remain at 32%.
Once in effect, Chhattisgarh will have a
total of 72% reservation, the highest in India. The will breach the 50%
cap on reservation imposed by the Supreme Court in 1992.
The Supreme Court in the Indira Sawhney
case (1992), had held that the power conferred to the State by Clause (4)
of Article 16 should be exercised in a fair manner and within reasonable
limits. The court upheld that reservation under Clause (4) shall not
exceed 50% of the appointments or posts, barring certain extraordinary
Article 16 (4) empowers the State to make
provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any
backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is
inadequately represented in public employment.
Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill 2019 aims at the social, economic and educational empowerment of transgender persons.
Under the bill, transgender persons are defined as those “whose gender does not match the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-men or trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons having socio-cultural identities”
According to the bill, a person would have the right to choose to be identified as a man, woman or transgender, irrespective of sex reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy.
It also requires transgender persons to go through a district magistrate and district screening committee to get certified as a transperson.
It also states that the government, through an insurance scheme, will cover medical expenses for sex reassignment surgery, hormonal therapy, laser therapy or any such health related expenses of transgender persons
The Bill prohibits any person or establishment from discriminating against a transgender person in any way.
It has also proposed establishing a National Council for Transgender persons. The Council would advise the central government on related policies and legislation and also act as a centre for grievance redressal.
Few of the provisions of the Bill has raised concerns among the transgender community. The features of the bill which have been criticised are:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his
Independence Day speech, has said that Rs 3.5 lakh crore will be spent in
the coming years under the Jal Jeevan Mission to bring piped water to
Jal Jeevan Mission seeks to provide safe
and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections
(HarGharJal) to all rural households by 2024. The mission will be
implemented by the Jal Shakti Ministry.
The Mission will focus on integrated
demand and supply-side management of water at the local level. It will
implement source sustainability measures recharge and reuse through grey
water management, water conservation, rain water harvesting.
The Mission seeks to converge with other
Central and State Government Schemes to achieve its objectives of
sustainable water supply management across India.
According to the Jal Shakti Ministry, only
18% of India’s rural households have access to piped water.
Scientists have detected microplastic
particles in the Arctic and the Alps. The microplastics had been carried
by the wind and later washed out in the snow. The study has been published
in the journal Science Advances.
The high microplastic concentrations in
snow has indicated significant contamination of the atmosphere.
This has raised concerns about potential
health risk to people and animals from inhalation of microplastic
contaminated air. A recent report titled “New Plastics Economy Report”,
had noted that an individual consumes about 250 grams annually.
Microplastics are plastics which are less
than five mm in diameter in size. Sources of micro plastic include
clothing, cosmetics, industrial processes etc.
Scientists have discovered micro plastics
in a remote area of the Pyrenees Mountains, which runs between France and
Spain. Other recent studies have found micro plastics in farmland soils
near Shanghai, China, in the Galápagos Islands (a UNESCO world heritage
site), and in rivers in the Czech Republic.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) has announced that July was the hottest month on
record (records date to 1880).
The global average surface temperature in
July 2019 was 0.95 degree Celsius warmer than the 20th century average.
The previous hottest month on record was July 2016.
The areas that had the most notable
departures from their normal July temperatures were Alaska, central
Europe, northern and south-western parts of Asia, and parts of Africa and
The NOAA also noted that at the end of
July 2019 both Arctic sea ice and Antarctic sea ice were at their lowest
levels on record for the month. The previous historic low was in July
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration is an American scientific agency within the United States
Department of Commerce. It studies the conditions of the oceans, major
waterways, and the atmosphere.