- Law Commission’s consultation with political parties on simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha and State Assemblies ended without reaching a consensus.
2. Law panel has recommended holding simultaneous polls, but in two phases beginning 2019.
3. Four parties supported the idea, nine opposed it.
4. BJP sought more time to present its views, while congress said it will consult other parties.
5. Simultaneous elections:
- It refers to holding elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies simultaneously, once in a five year.
- The idea of simultaneous elections is not new to India.
- In 1951-52, the first general election to the Lok Sabha was held simultaneously with all State Assemblies. This practice continued till the general election of 1967.
- This practice got disrupted due to premature dissolution of some states legislative assemblies in 1968.
- Consequently, the elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies are being held separately.
- In recent times, the idea got momentum once again with support from President and Prime Minister.
- Reports of Law Commission and parliamentary standing committee have also favoured simultaneous elections.
6. Arguments in favour:
- It will reduce election expenditure
- It will help in reduce diversion of human resources for election duties.
- Model Code of Conduct (MCC) during election season is an obstacle to the government service delivery mechanism. Simultaneous elections will reduces such disruptions.
- During elections, political convenience takes precedence over public interest. Simultaneous elections reduce such opportunity for political parties.
- It promotes national perspective over the regional perspective.
- Simultaneous elections bring States on par with the Centre. This reduces the anomalies created by the Article 356 of the Indian constitution and hence, it strengthens federalism.
- The simultaneous elections once in every five years provide stability to the governments. It also allows the government to take difficult and harsh decision in larger public interest.
7. Arguments against simultaneous elections:
- No surety on reducing expenditure of political parties.
- Simultaneous elections may reduce the importance of state elections.
- It negates the concept of ‘no confidence motion’, which is an important tool for legislative control over the executive.
- Simultaneous elections will relegate local issues or issues of state importance to the background. This ignores the diversity of the country.
- The U.S.-China ongoing trade war
2. Both U.S. and China, implemented a tariff of Rs 25% on imports worth $34 billion.
3. Present trade war has the potential to cause some significant damage to the world economy.
4. In the beginning of this year, the U. S. President Donal Trump imposed tariff on imported solar panels and washing machines.
5. This results to possibly tax all Chinese imports into the U.S. , which previous year added up to a little over $500 billion.
6. China has responded by targeting American exports like Soyabean and automobiles.
7. This could cause job losses in America.
8. Other major U.S. trading partners such as European Union, Mexico, and Canada have also slapped retaliatory tariffs on various U.S. goods.
9. Impacts of trade wars in general:
- Affecting own economic interest.
- Disadvantage to its customers
- Consumer will have to pay higher prices for certain goods
- Tariffs will also disrupt the supply of producers who rely on foreign imports.
Impact on U.S:
- An economic uncertainty due to trade war is affecting private investments in the U.S.
- Many investors deciding to scale back or delay their investment plans.
- It could also isolate the U.S., which has refused to settle differences through serious negotiations, as other global economies strike trade deals on their own.
- Recently, 11 Asia-Pacific countries went ahead to sign a trans-Pacific trade deal while leaving out the U.S., which had pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in early 2017.
Impact on China:
- China is fighting an economic slowdown.
- The ongoing trade war also threatens the rules-based global trade order which has managed to amicably handle trade disputes between countries for decades.
- Currency derivatives , considered to be one of the best options to manage any risk against foreign currency exchange rate volatility,
2. Currency derivatives:
- Currency derivatives are exchange-based futures and options contracts that allow one to hedge against currency movements.
- One can use a currency future contract to exchange one currency for an another at a future date at a price decided on the day of the purchase of the contract.
- In India, one can use such derivative contracts to hedge against currencies like dollar, euro, U.K. pound and yen.
- Corporates, especially those with a significant exposure to imports or exports, use these contracts to hedge against their exposure to a certain currency.
- All such currency contracts are cash-settled in rupees. Recently the SEBI gave a green signal to start cross currency contracts as well on euro-dollar, pound-dollar and dollar-yen.
- The currency segment was unveiled in 2008 and since then, the volumes had registered a steady rise.
3. Trade in currency derivatives:
- The two national-level stock exchanges, BSE and the National Stock Exchange (NSE), have currency derivatives segments.
- The Metropolitan Stock Exchange of India (MSEI) also has such a segment.
- One can trade in currency derivatives through brokers.
- All the leading stock brokers offer currency trading services too.
- It is just like trading in equity or equity derivatives segment and can be done through the trading app of the broker.
4. Such derivatives introduced on exchange platform because:
- Prior to the introduction of currency derivatives on exchanges, there was only the OTC – over the counter – market to hedge currency risks and where forward contracts were negotiated and entered into.
- It was kind of an opaque and closed market where mostly banks and financial institutions traded.
- Exchange-based currency derivatives segment is a regulated and transparent market that can be used by small businesses and even individuals to hedge their currency risks.
- The Centre is planning to set up an information technology (IT)-based mechanism to keep a tab on all non-cash, financial transactions in the country.
2. The move aimed at the crackdown on black money and following the money trail flowing in and out of thousands of shell companies.
3. The RBI had been asked to develop the IT infrastructure for this purpose.
4. Presently, the idea is to make the RBI the sole repository of such information, which will not be made available to other agencies such as the income tax department and enforcement directorate.
5. Such agencies required to make specific request to the RBI if they want information on a particular set of entities.
6. Under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, banks and financial institutions are already required to alert the Financial Intelligence Unit, under the Finance Ministry, to any suspicious transactions, cash or otherwise.
7. Cash transactions of more than ₹10 lakh , need to be reported to the FIU.
8. In FY17, the FIU had received more than 15.9 million Cash Transaction Reports and 4.73 lakh Suspicious Transaction Reports.
9. All suspicious transactions need to report to the unit within seven days after it is concluded that those are suspicious in nature.
10. The move to track all financial transactions is the crucial step to curb black money and identify shell companies.
11. The government has shut down more than two lakh such entities and more than two lakh other firms that have not been carrying out operations have been sent notices.
- The Home Ministry is upgrading policy to secure government date and control access to it.
2. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, recently presided over a meeting to review the evolving cyberthreats, directed that the National Information Security Policy and Guidelines (NISPG) be upgraded and updated for the government sector.
3. In 2013, cybersecurity, was moved to the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) under the Prime Minister’s Office.
4. The critical infrastructure was moved to the National Technical Research Organisation and the non-critical part to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
5. There are issues relating to physical security of a computer as well as network.
6. If more people are accessing data, it requires a wider security network.
7. The new policy would cover issues pertaining to the Official Secretes Act.
- Six global aircraft manufacturers have responded to a Request for Information (RFI) from the Indian Air Force to supply 110 fighter aircraft.
2. The deadline for the RFI was July 6.
3. All six manufacturers have earlier bid for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), which was cancelled in 2015.
4. F-16, Gripen, Boeing F-18, Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and MiG-35 enter the contest.
5. Lockheed Martin F-16 and SAAB Gripen are single-engine fighters, while Boeing F-18, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and United Aircraft Corporation MiG35 are twin-engine ones.
6. The bids will be evaluated after which the IAF will issue the Request For Proposal(RFP) with the exact specifications of the aircraft to be procured.
7. The RFP is expected by next year.
8. The RFI was issued recently, states that the government plans to buy 110 fighters jet, of which 85% will have to be built in India under the ‘Make in India’ programme in partnership with a “Strategic Partner/ Indian Production Agency.”
9. The procurement will be processed through the Strategic Partnership (SP) model under the Defence Procurement Procedure.
10. Earlier, the IAF was looking for a single-engine jet to replace the MiG-21s and MiG 27s , but the RFI did not specify it , opening up the contest to both single and twin engine jets.
11. Final choice would depend on the price and extent of technology transfer.
12. Single-engine aircraft will cost lower than the twin-engine jets , both in unit and operational costs.
13. The move comes two decades after the IAF began the last major efforts to acquire fighters in large numbers.
14. The effort culminated in the global tender for 126 fighters under the MMRCA deal which was cancelled in 2015 after the government decided to buy 36 Rafale fighters from France under a government-to- government deal.
- Neha Sinha, wildlife conservationist, discussing about the ongoing protests in some of India’s cities including Delhi and Mumbai to save trees in urban spaces.
2. Cities are centres of construction created mainly by the human hand.
3. Many cities including Delhi and Mumbai witnessing the ongoing protest to save trees.
4. Hundreds of Delhi residents took to the streets in protest against a plan to 14,000 trees cut for the “redevelopment” of government colonies.
5. Similarly, in Mumbai, citizens have been fighting for years to save over 2,000 trees in Aarey, to make way for a metro line car shed.
6. Forests in India:
- In India, forests are governed under the Forest (Conservation )Act, 1980, State laws, and the Indian Forest Act, 1927, which lay down elaborate rules for the conservation and diversion of forests.
- The UN’s REDD, or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries, programme lays emphasis on planting and maintaining forests as a means to counter climate change.
- Despite above benefits, forests are the first targets for developmental projects such as mining, dams, highways, industrial projects etc.
- Trees in cities mostly come under State Tree Acts, they can have variable descriptions. For example in Delhi, there are usually avenue or colony trees.
- Mature tree creates a sense of civilization in a way that a manicured green belt cannot.
- Trees in Delhi purify the air and also provide visual relief.
- Thus the fight for Delhi’s trees is also a fight for the right kind of species to be allowed to grow.
- Many new apartment complexes have green belts that do very little for biodiversity or the ecological idea of greenery.
- Fish species purchased from Chinthadripet and Kasimedu, the two major fish markets in Chennai, have tested positive for formalin.
2. The fish were tested by scientist of the Tamil Nadu Dr J. Jayalaithaa Fisheries University.
3. This is the first time samples of fish in Tamil Nadu have tested positive for formalin.
4. A low-cost formalin detection kit developed by researchers of the state-run university was used to test the samples.
5. The test was conducted for ascertaining if they contained the carcinogen that is used widely as a preservative and disinfectant.
6. 13 samples of fish purchased from the Chinthadripet, Velachery and Neelankarai markets tested positive at the university’s referral laboratory in Madhavaram.
7. While, 10 of the 17 fish samples purchased from Chinthadripet and Kasimedu markets tested positive for the carcinogen, causing alarm.
8. The Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) officials have been undertaking tests at fish markets and harbours across the State to test for formalin.
- Formalin is a cancer-inducing chemical used illegally to preserve fish.
- Formalin causes irritation in the eyes, throat, skin and stomach.
- In the long run continued exposure causes harm to the kidneys, liver and can even cause cancers.
10. Procedure followed:
- For the test, a two gram piece of meat from the fish was taken and put inside four ml of diluent and shaken so that the formalin will get into it.
- Then this diluent was poured into the bottle containing the reagent that turned yellow revealing that it had tested positive.
- It is a very sensitive reagent and can detect up to 0.5 milligram per kilo.
- Formalin or formaldehyde is sprayed on the fish or injected into the fish or the fish is dipped into the solution. This helps keep the fish fresh for a longer time.
- Usually people who buy fish check the gills for freshness, if it is red it denotes freshness, when formalin is used the gills remain red for longer periods.
- In some cases, fishermen also apply kumkum to retain redness.
11. Findings of the test:
- Both big and small lizard fish or panna or kezhanga and paarai (Malabar trevally) were found to have formalin content of above 20 ppm (parts per million).
- Other varieties such as sura, octopus, eri vavvaal, ottu kanava, peikanava and kelithi had formalin of around 5 ppm.