9 PM Current Affairs Brief – November 27th, 2019

I&B Ministry proposes to replace archaic PRB Act for registration of print and publishing industry

News:The Information & Broadcasting Ministry has proposed the introduction of draft Registration of Press and Periodicals (RPP) Bill,2019.

Facts:

  • The draft bill will replace the Press and Registration of Books (PRB) Act,1867 which currently regulates printing presses and newspapers.

Features of the Draft Bill:

Digital media:

  • The bill proposes to remove books under its provisions and includes Digital media which are not registered with any authority in the country at the moment.
  • The bill states that publishers of news on digital media shall register themselves with the Registrar of Newspapers of India.
  • It defines news on digital media as the news in digitised format that can be transmitted over the internet, computer or mobile networks and includes text, audio, video and graphics.

Registration process:

  • The bill significantly simplifies the registration process of a newspaper and proposes the appointment of a press registrar general and other officers by the central government.
  • The proposed bill does not give powers to local authorities such as the magistrate to arrest a person or seize equipment for being in contravention of provisions of the law.
  • However,it does provide the Press Registrar to cancel a publication’s registration if found to be going against the law.
  • An appellate board named the Press and Registration Appellate Board, for any person aggrieved by an order of the Press Registrar will consist of the chairman of the Press Council of India and another member who will be nominated by the Press Council.

Prosecution provisions:

  • The draft bill has also proposed to do away with the prosecution provisions of imprisonment of publishers.
  • Currently,the Act offences are punishable with an imprisonment term of up to six months as part of the penalty clause for improper disclosure of information.
  • Further,the bill also enables the Central and the State governments to frame appropriate rules to regulate the criteria for issuing government advertisements in newspapers, accreditation of newspapers and other facilities.

Infra spending by States must rise: Crisil

News:The Credit rating agency CRISIL has released its Infrastructure Yearbook 2019.

Facts:

Key takeaways from the Yearbook:

  • CRISIL has said that states need to scale up investments to Rs 110 lakh crore over the next decade to achieve India’s massive infrastructure targets.
  • The country-wide infrastructure spending required will be Rs 235 lakh crore over the next decade and has called for average GDP growth of 7.5% and infrastructure spending of above 6% of GDP to help achieve infrastructure targets.
  • Currently,the cumulative investment in infrastructure by state government is Rs 31 lakh crore or 41% of the total expenditure by the Centre and private sector which stood at Rs 77 lakh crores.
  • The five sectors which accounted for two-thirds of the states spending are transport, irrigation, energy, urban & housing, and water & sanitation.

Categorisation of states:The Yearbook has bucketed states into three categories:

  • Frontrunner states such as Gujarat,Maharashtra and Karnataka has seen a slowdown in capital expenditure.These states need to attract private investments and find new ways to grow capital expenditure.
  • Middle of the pack states such as Haryana,Andhra Pradesh and Telangana can be growth leaders by sustaining their current spending.
  • Climbers states such as Rajasthan and UP which have been high spenders in recent years could be constrained by surging debt burden.

Constraints in infrastructure spending:CRISIL has identified key structural constraints to address for a sustained increase in spending which are:

  • fiscal deterioration
  • institutional weaknesses and
  • inability to scale up commercial financing and public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Recommendations:CRISILhas recommended several measures to address the structural constraints which are

  • expanding fiscal space by unlocking asset monetisation potential and moving to merit-based directed subsidies
  • nurturing robust counter-party institutions that can own up infrastructure development (including driving viable PPPs)
  • ironing out sectoral creases and rolling out policies that lift the investment momentum.

Additional information:

About CRISIL:

  • CRISIL stands for Credit Rating Information Services of India Limited.It was the first credit rating agency set up in India in 1987.It is headquartered in Mumbai.
  • It provides an independent opinion and efficient solutions by performing data analysis and research.

Explained: Amid Maharashtra drama, recalling a landmark SC judgment–S R Bommai

News:The Supreme Court has directed the Maharashtra Governor to ensure that the trust vote be held on November 28,2019.Several important observations were made by the Court from the ‘Bommai case’.

Facts:

About S.R Bommai vs Union of India case:

  • S.R. Bommai was the Chief Minister of the Janata Dal government in Karnataka.
  • His government was dismissed in 1989 under Article 356 of the Constitution and President’s Rule was imposed.
  • The dismissal was on the grounds that the Bommai government had lost majority following large-scale defections engineered.
  • The then Governor refused to give Bommai an opportunity to test his majority in the Assembly despite the latter presenting him with a copy of the resolution passed by the Janata Dal Legislature Party.
  • Bommai party went to Supreme Court against the Governor’s decision to recommend President’s Rule.

What was the Supreme Court ruling?

  • The Supreme Court has laid down a number of guidelines to curb the Centre’s capacity to dismiss a state government, and upheld the federal structure enshrined in the Constitution.
  • The ruling laid down the law that the only way to determine support enjoyed by a particular state government would be by means of a floor test.
  • The court also ruled that the validity of a proclamation of President’s Rule is subject to judicial review.
  • Further,it said that the only time the President shall have unconditional powers to dissolve a state government is when there is a complete breakdown of constitutional machinery.
  • The judgment also underlined the secular nature of the Constitution and said that a party cannot resort to religion for the sake of gaining power and, if found to be indulging in religious politics, could be acted against using Article 356.

Significance of the ruling:

  • Since the Constitution came into force,President’s Rule under Article 356 has been imposed on states on several occasions.However,these instances declined considerably after the S R Bommai ruling.
  • The judgement has become one of the most cited whenever hung Assemblies were returned and parties scrambled to form a government.

Additional information:

Other cases referred by Supreme Court:

Jagdambika Pal vs Union of India:

  • In 1999,the matter had come to the Supreme Court after UP Governor had sacked Kalyan Singh as chief minister and appointed Congress leader Jagdambika Pal as his successor.
  • In this case,the court had ordered composite floor test between contending parties in order to see which out of the two contesting claimants of chief ministership had a majority in the House.

Union of India vs Harish Chandra Singh Rawat:

  • In 2016,Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat had moved the apex court after the government dismissed the then Congress government and imposed President’s rule after nine Congress MLAs sided with the BJP on the Appropriation Bill.
  • The rebel MLAs were subsequently disqualified by the Speaker under the anti-defection law, a decision that was upheld by the high court and the Supreme Court.
  • In its order,the top court had directed that floor test be conducted on a special session of Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly to be convened in which the only agenda would be a vote of confidence.

Indian Army inducts Israel made Anti Tank Guided Missiles Spike along LoC in J&K

News:The Indian Army has inducted Israel made Anti Tank Guided Missiles Spike along the Line of Control(LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.

Facts:

About Spike missile:

  • Spike is an Israeli fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile and anti-personnel missile.
  • The missiles have been manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.
  • The missile is known for their precision targeting with an ability to pierce even bunkers.
  • The Spike missile can hit targets at a range of 4 kilometers.It can be deployed in both mountains and plains.
  • The missiles have automatic self-guidance system.It also possess imaging infrared system.

Additional information:

Other Anti-tank guided missile of India:

Nag missile:

  • The Nag missile is a third generation fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile.It is an all weather,top attack missile with a range of 3 to 7 km.
  • The missile can seek and destroy all known enemy tanks during day and night or under any adverse weather conditions.
  • The missile has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation(DRDO) under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme(IGMDP).

Other Defence Technologies imported by India from Israel:

Heron:

  • Heron is the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial system used for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance purposes.
  • It is a high-endurance drone that can fly to heights of up to 35,000ft for more than 45 hours at a time.
  • It has a visual line-of-sight(LOS) range of 350 km and beyond line-of-sight(BLOS) range of 1,000 km.

Searcher:

  • Searcher is a multi-mission tactical Unmanned aerial vehicle(UAV) for surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery adjustment and damage assessment.
  • It is capable of real-time gathering and data transmission.It can continuously fly for up to 20 hours within a range of 300 km.

SPYDER:

  • SPYDER is a low-level quick reaction missile (LLQRM) system developed by Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, an Israeli defence-technology company.
  • It is used to protect critical infrastructure in ground-to-air missions from wide-spectrum of incoming air-borne threats ranging from aircrafts, helicopters, UAVs, precision-guided munitions(PGMs).

Python-5:

  • Python-5 is a fifth generation air-to-air missile (AAM) manufactured by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
  • The missile can engage enemy aircraft from very short ranges and near beyond visual range.

Barak-8:

  • Barak 8 is an Indian-Israeli surface-to-air missile (SAM).It is designed to defend against any type of airborne threats including aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles, and UAVs as well as cruise missiles and combat jets.
  • Barak 8 was jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), India’s Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), Israel’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, Elta Systems, Rafael and other companies.

Explained: Supreme Court orders Maharashtra floor test tomorrow, what next?

News:Recently,the Supreme Court has ordered a floor test in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.

Facts:

About the Floor Test:

  • A floor test is the determination on the floor of the House whether the Chief Minister commands the support of the majority of the MLAs.
  • This can be done by means of a voice vote or by recording the vote of each MLA in the House.This determination of majority is done in a sitting of the legislature for which the legislature has to be convened.

Who orders the convening of the Legislative Assembly?

  • Under the Constitution,the Governor convenes the session of the legislature.
  • But on multiple occasions in the past,the Supreme Court has ordered the convening of the Assembly to hold the floor test.

Who conducts the floor test in the Legislative Assembly?

  • The proceedings of a legislature are presided over by the Speaker.
  • Often, in cases where an immediate floor test is ordered,the election of the Speaker is taken up after the conclusion of the floor test.
  • However,in the absence of a Speaker,the Governor appoints one of the MLAs as the pro tem Speaker to perform the duties of the Speaker.

Selection of Pro term Speaker:

  • The Constitution gives the Governor’s discretion in the selection of pro tem speaker.
  • On many occasions,Governors have appointed the most tenured MLA in the Assembly as the pro tem Speaker. However,this is only a convention with which Governors have broken in the past.

LS Speaker addresses Commonwealth Youth Parliament

News:Lok Sabha Speaker addressed the inaugural session of the 10th Commonwealth Youth Parliament in Delhi Assembly.

Facts:

About Commonwealth Youth Parliament:

  • The Commonwealth Youth Parliament is an annual gathering hosted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).
  • It brings together young people aged 18–29 from across the Commonwealth of Nations to discuss issues of democracy and governance.
  • The Commonwealth Youth Parliament rotates annually through the nine regions of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Additional information:

About CPA:

  • The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association(CPA) was founded in 1911 as the Empire Parliamentary Association(EPA).Its headquarter is located in London.
  • It is an association to serve the Parliamentarians of the Commonwealth Countries by providing machinery for regular consultation and exchange of ideas and information among members of Commonwealth Parliaments.
  • Currently,CPA has approximately 180 branches and is divided into nine regions – Africa; Asia; Australia; British Islands and Mediterranean; Canada; Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic; India; Pacific and South-East Asia.

About Commonwealth of Nations:

  • Commonwealth of Nations is an international intergovernmental organization of countries that were mostly former territories of the British Empire and dependencies.
  • Commonwealth was established by the London Declaration in 1949. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of the Commonwealth.
  • The current membership includes 53 Countries.The membership is based on free and equal voluntary cooperation.
  • The member states of the commonwealth are not legally liable or bound to each other.They are rather united by language,history,culture,likeness of democracy,human rights and the rule of law.

To tackle pollution, smog tower to come up in Delhi

News:Recently,the Supreme Court has directed the Centre and the Delhi government to draw up a comprehensive plan to install ‘smog towers’ across Delhi to deal with air pollution.

Facts:

About Smog Towers:

  • Smog towers are structures designed to work as large-scale air purifiers.
  • They are usually fitted with multiple layers of air filters, which clean the air of pollutants as it passes through them.
  • China has the world’s largest smog tower and has reduced the particulate matter pollution by 19% in an area of around 6 sq km in the tower’s vicinity.

Smog Tower in Delhi:

  • The smog tower project in Delhi will be headed by the Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) Bombay in collaboration with IIT-Delhi and the University of Minnesota.
  • The smog tower is expected to reduce particulate matter by 50% in the area.
  • The smog tower filters being installed would use carbon nanofibres as a major component.However,the proposed smog tower is focused only on reducing particulate matter load at present.

Additional information:

About Smog:

  • Smog is derived from two words i.e smoke and fog which is also described as the type of fog having smoke or soot particles in it or a mixture of various gases with dust and water vapour and makes breathing difficult.
  • It is a yellowish or blackish fog mainly formed by a mixture of air pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and some other organic compounds that combine with sunlight to form ozone.

Turtle survival rides on handmade towel in Assam

News:Recently,multipurpose Assamese gamosa which is a white cotton towel, has been assigned a function of conservation of Assam freshwater turtles.

Facts:

About Assamese Gamosa:

  • The Assamese Gamusa is generally a white rectangular piece of cloth with primarily a red border on three sides and red woven motifs on the fourth.
  • It is valued as a gift for visitors, used as a scarf, anti-dust mask and wrapped around the head as a turban.
  • Conservationists are now banking on this cultural icon to carry forward the message of turtle conservation with gamosa woven with turtle images.

About Assam Roofed Turtle:

  • The Assam roofed turtle (Pangshura sylhetensis) also known as Sylhet roofed turtle is a species of the turtle family Geoemydidae.
  • The species is primarily found in Bangladesh, Assam(India) and possibly in Bhutan.
  • It is found in terrestrial and freshwater habitats in areas with upland tropical moist forest, and fast-flowing streams and perhaps also small rivers.
  • It is listed as Endangered in the IUCN red list.Further, it has been listed on Schedule – I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972.
  • The species is exploited for its (a)meat and eggs for local consumption and may also enter the pet trade (b)Habitat destruction by logging and (c)incidental capture in fishing gear.

Govt launches Credit-linked Subsidy Services Awas Portal

News:Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs has launched Credit-linked Subsidy Services Awas Portal(CLAP) for Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban).

Facts:

  • The portal was launched along with the signing of agreements between the Union Housing Affairs Ministry and state governments for the construction of LightHouse projects under GHTC-India.

About the Portal:

  • The portal provides a transparent and robust real-time web-based monitoring system for credit-linked Subsidy Services(CLSS) beneficiaries.
  • Using the portal,a beneficiary can track his application status in real-time.
  • The credit-linked Subsidy Services(CLSS) is one of the components of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Urban(PMAY-U).

About Global Housing Technology Challenge(GHTC-India):

  • Global Housing Technology Challenge-India was launched in January 2019.
  • It aims to transform the ecosystem of housing construction sector in the country through lighthouse projects built using advanced proven technologies.
  • It will foster the development of domestic technological research and building platforms for knowledge sharing and networking across the sector.
  • The challenge is an initiative under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana Urban(PMAY-U).

About Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana(Urban):

  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) – Housing for All Mission was launched on 25th June 2015.
  • The objective of the Mission is to provide Central assistance to implementing agencies through States/Union Territories (UTs) for providing houses to all eligible families/beneficiaries by 2022.

Components of the scheme:

  • Slum rehabilitation of Slum Dwellers with participation of private developers using land as a resource
  • Promotion of Affordable Housing for weaker section through credit linked subsidy scheme(CLSS)
  • Affordable Housing in Partnership with Public & Private sector
  • Subsidy for beneficiary-led individual house construction/enhancement.

Features of the scheme:

  • The scheme is being implemented as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) except for the component of credit linked subsidy which will be implemented as a Central Sector Scheme.
  • Through the Credit linked subsidy,the Government of India aims at increasing the credit flow in institutions to meet the housing needs of the urban poor population in our country.
  • Credit Linked Subsidy will be implemented by two central nodal agencies in India, namely Housing Urban Development Corp and National Housing Bank.

Additional information:

About National Housing Bank(NHB)

  • NHB was set up in 1988 under the National Housing Bank Act,1987.It is an apex financial institution for housing.
  • Its objective is to operate as a principal agency to promote housing finance institutions both at local and regional levels and to provide financial and other support incidental to such institutions and for matters connected therewith.
  • Recently,RBI had divested its stake in National Housing Bank(NHB) and National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (Nabard) by making them fully government-owned.

About Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd (HUDCO)

  • It is the premier techno-financing public sector enterprise, in the field of housing and infrastructure development in our country.
  • The corporation is headquartered in the national capital, New Delhi and operates through a strong and multi-disciplinary work force placed over its nationwide network of regional and development offices.

Reserve Bank flags rising bad assets from Mudra loans

News:The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has expressed concern over rising bad loans from Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yo­jana(PMMY).

Facts:

About Rising Bad loans in MUDRA Yojana:

  • The RBI Deputy Governor said that MUDRA was launched with the objective of lifting many beneficiaries out of poverty.
  • However,there have been concerns at the growing level of non-performing assets(NPAs) among these MUDRA borrowers.
  • The data has shown that non-performing assets ratio or bad loans as a percentage of MUDRA loans were at 2.68% in 2018-19 from 2.52% in the 2017-18.
  • Hence, the RBI has asked the Banks to focus on repayment capacity at the appraisal stage and monitor the loans through the life cycle much more closely.

Additional information:

About Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yo­jana(PMMY):

  • Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) is a scheme launched by the Prime Minister in 2015.
  • It aims for providing loans up to 10 lakh to the non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises.
  • These loans are given by Commercial Banks, RRBs, Small Finance Banks, MFIs and NBFCs.

Categories of Loans:

  • The loans under Mudra are given under different categories viz. ‘Shishu’, ‘Kishor’ and ‘Tarun’.These categories are based on the stage of growth or development and funding needs of the beneficiary.
  • Sishu covers loans up to Rs. 50,000.Kishore covers loans above Rs. 50,000- and up to 5 lakh and Tarun covers loans above Rs. 5 lakh and up to Rs.10 lakh.

About Non Performing Asset(NPA):

  • A non performing asset (NPA) is a loan or advance for which the principal or interest payment remains overdue for a period of 90 days.
  • The banks are required to classify NPAs further into Substandard, Doubtful and Loss assets.
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