9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – January 6, 2021

9 PM DAILY BRIEF

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GS-Paper 1

Laws against Inter-faith marriage and Fundamental rights

GS-Paper 2

Why central deputation to 3 Bengal police officers not right?

India-U.K. relations after Brexit

GS-Paper 3

Digital technology worsen financial exclusion in rural India

Why lightning kills so many Indians?

Issue of single law for different regions of agriculture


Laws against Inter-faith marriage and Fundamental rights 

Source- The Hindu 

Syllabus- GS 1 – Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Synopsis– Uttar Pradesh recently passed an ordinance which criminalizes inter­faith marriages, which is against the exercise of the free will of individual citizens in India. 

Introduction-  

  • UP ordinance which criminalizes inter-faith marriages has set an extreme example, being followed by other states like MP.  
  • In these states’ other laws on slaughter of cattle, marriage, and religious conversions have been enacted targeted at minorities of the state.  
  • In Uttarakhand, a recent divergent view attracted an enquiry over a press release by district social welfare department that highlighted a scheme incentivizing  inter-faith and inter-caste marriages. 

How interfaith marriages were seen in the past  

  • First, Nehru’s view– Chaudhary charan singh in 1994, Sends a proposal to Prime Minister Nehru to pass a law that would ensure only those youth who married outside, or were prepared to marry outside, their caste be recruited in gazetted government services. 
  • Charan singh believed the intractable issue of caste required drastic measures to start the process of its disintegration.  
      • But Nehru disagrees with his proposal on account of freedom of choice of individuals to choose their life partner. 
  • Second, Kusubh Chandra sen’s view– The very first debate for legal marriage in India dates back to the 1860s, when the colonial State received a petition signed by Keshub Chandra Sen of Brahmo Samaj, to legitimise marriages amongst the members of Brahmo Samaj. The motive was to provide the Samaj the right to freely marry as per their ‘rites of conscience’. 
  • Third, Special Marriage Act, 1954– SMA is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to provide a special form of marriage for the people of India and all Indian nationals in foreign countries, irrespective of the religion or faith followed by either party. 

However, States such as Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh framing laws that target inter-faith marriage. 

The procedural requirements of the SMA such as the need to give prior notice, and allowance for objections, seem to be undermining its original intent by opening the doors to violent moral policing by vigilante groups. 

What are the issues related to these new laws? 

Interference by the State in an adult’s right to love and marry has a ‘chilling effect’ on freedoms

  • First, against personal liberty- These new laws intervene in the citizens’ personal liberty by interfering with the choice of their spouse.  
  • Second, Against the Right to Privacy– The level of state interference in a civil union, which is a solemnization of a relationship between two individuals, breaches the basic structure of the Constitution.  
  • Third, Hinder the individual’s Right to choose faith– According to Articles 25 to 28, an Indian citizen is guaranteed the freedom to practice any religion of his or her choice. The ordinance is a conflict with these rights as it limits the choice of the religion of a prospective spouse. 
  • Lastly, Patriarchal Roots- This shows the law has deep-seated patriarchal roots, wherein women are infantilized, placed under parental and community control, and denied the right to take life decisions, should those decisions not be agreeable to their guardians.

Constitution of India offers high principles for citizens to aspire for. Citizens may not have been lived up to these principles but it was the intent that individual try to achieve those principles by doing better to the society. Laws in questions are doing exact opposite by going against these principles.

Way forward-

Based on the judicial pronouncements it is clear that the Right to marry a person belongs to another faith is a Fundamental Right 

  • It is for the court to suo motu strike these laws down if it wants to preserve the basic structure of the constitutional edifice.

Why central deputation to 3 Bengal police officers not right?  

Source- The Hindu 

Syllabus- GS 2 – Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Synopsis- Central orders, three IPS officer from Bengal to serve central deputation to as part of an exercise to fix responsibility for the alleged lapses.

Central Deputation  

Officers on deputation serve as substitute for regular duty posts in the event of service officers holding duty posts being temporarily away from their cadreOfficers perform regular functions of the posts against which they are posted as substitutes. 

Background-

  • The Centre has asked for the three IPS officers to be sent on deputation with the Government of India following an attack on BJP president J P Nadda’s motorcade outside Kolkata, these officers were in charge of security. 
  • But Bengal government refused to send three IPS officers on central deputationThe state government in its refusal has cited a shortage of IPS officers.  

Why Centre’s decision is not legitimate? 

The Centre’s decision not only reeks of vengeance but goes against the norms governing deputation of officers to the Centre. 

  • First, putting blame on the three IPS officers for the attack without even a perfunctory inquiry goes against the norms of justice.
      • A formal enquiry should have taken place, then the penal actions.
  • Second, forcibly deputed to central organization- The concerned IPS officers have been assigned new responsibilities at Centre: Bholanath Pandey has been deputed as SP, Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), Praveen Tripathi as DIG, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and Rajeev Mishra as IG, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).
      • The forceful deputation can demoralize the serving office which eventually affects their service performance as they go with the perception that they have been deputed on grounds of inefficiency or as a punishment.

What is the process of deputation in India? 

The movement of officers from the state to the Centre and back is of mutual benefit to the states and the government of India on the one hand and to the officers concerned, on the other. 

  • First, in normal case, officers willing to be deputed to the Centre are asked to apply through the States.  
      • A panel of selected officers is prepared after which they are deputed to various Central Armed Police Forces [CRPF, ITBP, SSB etc.]  and Centre police organization on the basis of merit.
  • Second, in case of disagreement between Centre and StateRule 6(1) of the Indian Police Service (Cadre) Rules, 1954 says about deputationIn case of disagreement between Centre and state over deputation of an IPS officer, the Centre’s will shall prevail.

Why government reducing the CDR of IPS officers? 

Central government proposes 50 percent cut in the IPS central deputation quota because 

  • First, the state governments do not spare their IPS officers for central deputation and more than 60 per cent posts remain vacant. 
      • It is observed that at present only 428 IPS officers are working on Central Deputation against the authorized strength of 1075 officers.
  • Second, most officers avoid Central deputation as they enjoy better perks and powers in the States. 
  • Third, Central deputation could mean a posting in the Northeast or in a Left-Wing Extremism-affected State. 

Thus, Centre decision to call West Bengal IPS officer to serve in central deputation seems absurd and such arbitrary decision must be avoided.


India-U.K. relations after Brexit 

Source: click here 

Syllabus: GS 2– International Relations

Synopsis: India and UK have shared a past and they need to plan a different future together. 

Introduction  

PM Modi invited the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the chief guest for India’s Republic Day parade this month. However, British PM has expressed his inability to attend the ceremony due to COVID-19 mutations in the UK. In Britain’s opinion, the invite from India was quite casual and unplanned. 

  • It is the prime minister’s decision to choose the chief guest for the Republic Day parade and he or she does not have to consult others in or outside the Cabinet.  
  • PM Modi selected the following guests:  
      • U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015. 
      • French President Francois Hollande in 2016. 
      • The Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates in 2017. 
      • The ASEAN leaders in 2018. 
      • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2019. 
      • Mr. Bolsonaro in 2020, and Mr. Johnson for 2021. 
  • The PM has mostly chosen the leaders from the west out of the 193 countries in the United Nations. Britain is invited for the 6th time.  

Discuss India-Britain relationship in the context of Free Trade Agreements. 

  • India has been unsuccessful in negotiating a trade agreement with the European Union since 2007 and Britain was considered the reason behind this failure.  
  • Now due to Brexit, UK might make every effort to pursue commercial gain in Asian countries with high growth rates.  
  • However, India might face similar hurdles as faced with the EU during FTA negotiations i.e.
      • Both UK and India’s export profile is primarily focused on services. 
      • Britain will mention its new points-based system for immigrants for free movement of professionals. While India, after withdrawing out of RCEP, is wary about discussing any new trade agreement, and will place greater pressure on aspects related to country of origin and percentage of value addition in exports.  
      • Both the countries may settle for a limited agreement covering pharmaceuticals, financial technology, chemicals, defence production, petroleum and food products. 

Why close relations with UK are important? 

Ties between India and U.K. are considerably important because of following reasons: 

  • Firstly, 1.5 million people from Indian origin live in Britain which also includes 15 Members of Parliament, three members in Cabinet and two in high office as Finance and Home Ministers.
      • Before the pandemic hit the world, there were half a million tourists from India to Britain annually and twice that figure from Britain to India.
  • Secondly, approximately 30,000 Indians study in Britain regardless of limited opportunities for post-graduation employment.  
  • Thirdly, Britain is among the top investors in India and India is the second-biggest investor and a major job creator in Britain.

Digital technology worsen financial exclusion in rural India 

Source- Indian Express 

Syllabus- GS Paper III – Economy – Financial Inclusion 

Synopsis- Internet Services base payment system is worsening the financial exclusion prevalent in rural India. 

Introduction 

Internet services have provided much comfort to the user. But for the majority of the rural population digital technology has become troublesome due to lack of technical knowledge and nexus of service providers, middleman, government officials and others.  

We need to find solutions so that the fruits of digital technology will be borne by all the rural population. 

Introduction of the digital payment based solution in rural India 

  • Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) was launched with an aim of improving financial inclusion in 2011. Since 2015, it has become synonymous with the Aadhaar Payments Bridge Systems (APBS). 
  • Money is transferred to the various beneficiaries of programs under DBT such as maternity entitlements, student scholarships, and wages for MGNREGA 
  • To deal with the “last mile challenges” facing beneficiaries in accessing their money, banking kiosks known as Customer Service Points (CSP) and Banking Correspondents (BC) were promoted. 
    • These are private individuals who offer banking services through the Aadhaar Enabled Payment Systems (AePS).  
    • At these kiosks, beneficiaries can perform basic banking transactions such as small deposits and withdrawals 

However, it doesn’t solve the basic issues that are being faced by the lower strata of the rural areas in receiving their own money from their bank accounts.  

What are the issues faced by rural population? 

The process of transition from older payment systems and the APBS technology needs to be scrutinised which impact all DBT programmes. 

  • Lack of technical knowledge– Workers have little clue about where their wages have been credited and what to do when their payments get rejected, often due to technical reasons such as incorrect account numbers and incorrect Aadhaar mapping with bank accounts. 
  • Lack of accountability– State governments have not set any accountability for APBS and AePS/payment intermediaries and there is no grievance redressal mechanism for the same.  
  • Lack of consultation– The workers/beneficiaries have rarely been consulted regarding their preferred mode of transacting. 
  • Creation of new forms of corruption  All the above factors have resulted into new form of corruption. For Example; Massive scholarship scam took place in Jharkhand, where many poor students were deprived of their scholarships owing to a nexus of middlemen, government officials, banking correspondents and others.  

Findings of the new report by LibTech India  

LibTech India recently released a research report based on a survey of nearly 2,000 MGNREGA workers across Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan. The survey explains the experiences of workers in obtaining wages in hand after they were credited to their bank accounts.  

  • Access to wages from banks becomes arduous– Rural banks are short-staffed and tend to get overcrowded. Hence, it requires more hours and multiple visits to access wages from banks 
  • Technical issues CSP/BCs appeared to be a convenient alternative to banks due to their proximity. However, an estimated 40 per cent of them had to make multiple visits to withdraw from CSPs/BCs due to biometric failures. 
  • Too much travel cost is involved – To get their DBT share, MGNREGA workers need to spend too much on travel leading in addition to the loss of their daily wage on the day of travel. E.g. the average travel cost for one visit to a bank in Jharkhand is Rs 50 which becomes Rs 100 for two bank visits.  
  • Passbook related issues– The only way for rural bank users to keep track of their finances is through their bank passbooks. However, more than two-thirds of time workers were denied the facility to update their passbooks at banks, some workers are even charged (45 per cent in Jharkhand) for this free service by CSPs/BCs. 

Way forward

The right to access your own money in a timely and transparent manner is a basic right of every individual that must be protected by government at any cost. 

  • There are just 14.6 bank branches per 1 lakh adults in India. This is sparser in rural India. Despite hardships of access, most workers preferred to transact at the banks. Hence Branch expansion into rural unbanked locations will significantly reduce poverty. 
  • The technological solutions must be coupled with a governance structure, in which protection of rights and choices of individuals must be fundamental.

     

Why lightning kills so many Indians?

Source: Click Here

Syllabus: GS3: Disaster and disaster management.

News: According to a report, Lightning strikes have caused 1,771 deaths between April 1,2019 and March 31,2020 in India.

Facts:

  • The report has been prepared by Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council(CROPC), a non-profit organisation that works with India Meteorological Department(IMD), Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology(IITM), India Meteorological Society(IMS) and World Vision India to disseminate early lightning forecasts.

Key Takeaways:

  • State Wise Deaths due to Lightning Strikes: Uttar Pradesh with 293 deaths, Madhya Pradesh 248, Bihar 221, Odisha 200 and Jharkhand 172 deaths together accounted for more than 60% of the numbers which are 33% of total fatalities from all natural disasters during the time period.
  • Highest Lightning Strikes State: Odisha had 11.20 lakh plus lightning strikes—the highest in the country—with 200 casualties. During Cyclone Fani, the state saw more than one lakh intense lightning strikes in 2019.
  • Deaths due to Lightning: The reason for death due to Lightning is because people are unaware and about 78% deaths took place due to people standing under isolated tall trees.About 22% of the people were struck in the open.
  • Why are lightning strikes increasing? The report mentions that the lightning is direct promulgation of climatic extremities like global warming, deforestation, depletion of water bodies, concretisations, rising pollution and aerosol levels have cumulatively pushed the environment to extremes.

Recommendations:

  • Lightning needs to be listed as a notified disaster by the Ministry of Home to get required attention in national policy directives and developmental programmes.
  • Implement a local lightning safety action plan like installing Lightning Protection Devices.
  • Need of Scientific and Community Centric approach: National Disaster Management Authority(NDMA) has issued guidelines for preparations of Lightning action plans to states.But the large number of fatalities show the implementation also needs a more ‘scientific and focused community centric approach’ as well as convergence of various departments.
  • A National Lightning Resilience Programme is needed to identify the precise risk in terms of lightning frequency, current intensity, energy content, high temperature and other adverse impacts.
  • Early lightning warning to farmers, cattle grazers, children and people in open areas.

Additional Facts:

  • What is Lightning: Lightning is the process of occurrence of a natural electrical discharge of very short duration and high voltage between a cloud and the ground or within a cloud accompanied by a bright flash and sound and sometimes thunderstorms.
  • Types: Inter cloud or intra cloud(IC) lightning which are visible and are harmless. It is cloud to ground (CG) lightning which is harmful as the ‘high electric voltage and electric current’ leads to electrocution.
  • Technology: CROPC has a MOU with the India Met Department (IMD), Ministry of Earth Science(MoES) to disseminate early lightning forecasts which uses satellite observations, inputs from ‘network of Doppler and other radars’, ‘lightning detection Sensors’ among others.
  • Origin of Lightning: Most Lightning strikes originate from Chotanagpur Plateau – the confluence of Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand—and extended to Bangladesh to Patkai plateau of Meghalaya affecting other North eastern states.

Issue of single law for different regions of agriculture  

Source: click here 

Syllabus: GS 3

Synopsis: Present agriculture reforms have not considered the ground level issues faced on the regional level and vertical level. 

Introduction  

Recently, the current government has opened up the output market with the purpose to let market forces improve effectiveness and create more value for farmers and the economy.  

  • New farm laws state that farmers are now free to sell all their products anywhere and to anyone beyond the APMC markets.  
  • The laws also promote contract farming by creating partnerships between farmers and food-processing companies and license unlimited notice of food except in special conditions. 

However, reforms cannot be forceful and should be implemented as per the requirement of farmers. 

What do the farmers want? 

The farmers gave 3 main suggestions in the enquiries held with them: 

  • Firstly, the selling price of their produce should include the cost of production and reasonable profit margin. 
  • Secondly, rise and fall in prices should be nominal. 
  • Thirdly, Farmers are not comfortable in dealing with legal or administrative officials, so there should be little or no interface between them.  

What are the issues with new laws? 

There will be no control over the new markets by anyone which creates a lot of uncertainty.

  • First, concerns related to Mandi-market system: 
      • Farmers could go to local leaders in case of malpractices in Mandis but there is no authority to report to in the new system. 
      • There is no certainty over the continuation of the mandi-MSP system as if the alternative traders offer better prices, farmers will go there and not to the mandis.
  • Second, Issues related to contract farming:
      • There is an advantage to the corporate-buyers as they can choose to not buy the full quantity and delay payments. The corporates have access to several lawyers, so the poor farmers can’t complain or compete against them.
      • This is a contract between unequal and will result in unequal outcomes. Farmers do not have the resources or are not educated enough to deal with traders or corporates. 
  • Third, Issues related to similar solution for different problem  
      • The conditions of different regions are not similar as country is diverse with some 15 agroclimatic zones and has over 50 crops grown.  
      • It is also the reason behind farmers from outside the wheat-rice belts in northern India are not protesting.  
      • Thus, a comprehensive law for all the regions with different cropping patterns and climatic conditions might create troubles for farmers later. 

What are the steps should be taken? 

  • The problem of lack of progress and high input prices in agriculture can be resolved through an efficient approach suggested in the M.S. Swaminathan Commission and/or the Ashok Dalwai Committee.
      • For example, a solution should be worked out for farmers to switch from water-soaking paddy crops to other crops in Punjab and Haryana in the next five years. 
      • They would reduce the area under paddy by 25-30%, and the loss they suffer in the short run, will be compensated for by the government. This could also be done for sugarcane in western Maharashtra.

Factly :-News Articles For UPSC Prelims| Jan 06,2021

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