International Anti-Corruption Day

News: December 9 is observed as the International Anti-Corruption day

Facts:

About International Anti-Corruption Day

  •  Anti-corruption Day is celebrated annually since 2005 when the United Nations Convention against Corruption came into force. 
  • The day aims to raise awareness about corruption and of the role of Convention in fighting and preventing it.
  • The theme for 2019 Anti-Corruption Day is ‘United against Corruption’. It focuses on corruption as one of the biggest obstacles to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Further, a campaign called #YouthForJustice has been launched which focuses on mobilizing and empowering youth as a key for ensuring sustainable solutions to combating corruption.

Additional Information:

Sustainable Development Goal 16: Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies

  • SDG 16 is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all, and building accountable institutions at all levels.
  • SDG 16.5 calls to substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms.

United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC)

  1. It is the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. It was adopted in 2003 and came into force in 2005.
  2. It covers many different forms of corruption, such as bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions, and various acts of corruption in the private sector.
  3. The Convention covers five main areas: preventive measures, criminalization and law enforcement, international cooperation, asset recovery, and technical assistance and information exchange.
  4. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) serves as Secretariat for the UNCAC

·         India is a party to the Convention.

About UNDP:

  • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN’s global development network.
  • UNDP was established in 1965 by the General Assembly of the United Nations. It is headquartered in New York, US.
  • It provides expert advice, training and grants support to developing countries, with the increasing emphasis on assistance to the least developed countries.

About UNODC:

  • UNODC was established in 1997 through a merger between the United Nations Drug Control Programme and the Centre for International Crime Prevention. It is headquartered in Vienna, Austria.
  • UNODC is mandated to assist the Member States in their struggle against illicit drugs, crime and terrorism.

Opening Ceremony joint Exercise Hand-In-Hand-2019

News: The Eighth Edition of India China joint training exercise ‘Hand-in-Hand-2019’ commenced at Umroi, Meghalaya on 07 December 2019.

Facts:

About Hand-in Hand Exercise

  •  Hand in Hand exercise is an annual military exercise between India and China. 
  • The exercises are tactical-level operations that aim to build closer relations between the Indian and Chinese armies.

Additional Information:

Sino - Indian Joint Exercise:

  •  It is held between Indian and Chinese armies under the provisions of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, 2013.
  • The exercises aimed at increasing level of trust and cooperation between the two border guarding forces along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh.

2.3 million children in India unvaccinated for measles

News: US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, reported on the state of measles around the world.

Facts:

Key Takeaways

  • In 2018, measles caused an estimated 10 million cases and 1, 42,000 deaths globally.
  • There were nearly 70,000 cases of measles in India in 2018, the third-highest in the world.
  • At 2.3 million, India has the second-highest number of unvaccinated children.

Additional Information:

Measles and Rubella

  • Measles and Rubella (German measles) are contagious viral disease that is spread by contact with an infected person through coughing and sneezing. Measles is caused by Rubeola virus and Rubella is caused by Rubella virus.
  • Both of them can be entirely prevented with a two-dose of MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) vaccine.

Elimination Efforts

India:

  • India has initiated the world’s largest Measles-Rubella (MR) Campaign in 2017. It targets vaccination of 410 million children and adolescents aged between 9 months and 15 years.
  • It is also covered under Mission Indradhanaush. Launched in 2014, the mission aims to cover all those children by 2020 who are either unvaccinated or are partially vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases

Global:

  • Global Vaccine Action Plan: Under the Global Vaccine Action Plan, WHO has targeted to eliminate measles by 2020
  • ‘Measles Elimination and Rubella/CRS Control by 2020’: In 2013, WHO SEAR initiated ‘Measles Elimination and Rubella/CRS Control by 2020’. It seeks to curb and control measles and rubella through immunization, surveillance and developing and maintaining an accredited measles laboratory network. 

The seas have less oxygen now than they used to. Why, and what does this mean?

News: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has released a report titled “Ocean deoxygenation: Everyone’s problem”. It reports the scale and nature of the changes being driven by ocean deoxygenation

Facts:

Ocean Deoxygenation: It is defined as the reduction in oxygen content of the ocean due to anthropogenic effects.

Key takeaways from the report:

  • The levels of oxygen in the oceans fell by around 2% from 1960 to 2010.
  • The deoxygenation of the oceans occurred due to climate change and other human activities such as the nutrient runoff from farm fertilizers into waterways (nutrient pollution).

Impact of Ocean deoxygenation:

  • Reduction in the habitat available for pelagic, mesopelagic, and benthic organisms.
  • Reduction in the abundance of fish population
  • Expansion of the volume of anoxic zones (Waters with totally depleted oxygen levels) since 1960
  • Alteration in the balance of marine life by favouring low-oxygen tolerant species (e.g. microbes, jellyfish and some squid)

Measures to be taken:

  • Nutrient management: Reducing nutrient and carbon loads to coastal waters
  • Reducing the threat of global warming: Reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions through commitments  in four areas- policy, technology, finance and patterns of consumption
  • Adaptation in the face of oxygen decline: This should be done through ecosystem-based management of fisheries, spatial planning enhance ecosystem resilience, actions that reduce local stress on ecosystems etc.

Additional Information:

IUCN

  •  It is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It was established in 1948 and is headquartered in Gland, Switzerland.
  • IUCN has an observer and consultative status at the United Nations.
  • It is best known for compiling and publishing the IUCN Red List, which assesses the conservation status of species worldwide.

The laws on rape and sexual crimes

Facts:

Provisions under Indian Penal Code (IPC)

Section 375:

  • Under the section, the act of sex by a man with a woman if done without her consent is considered rape.
  •  Sex even with consent, when the woman is under 18 years is considered rape.
  • Note: In 2017, The Supreme Court in the case Independent Thought vs. Union of India ruled that sex with minor wife (below 18 years of age), despite consent, is rape.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013

  • The minimum punishment in case of rape of women was increased from rigorous imprisonment of 7 years to 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment.
  • It provided for the death penalty in rape cases that cause the death of the victim or leaves her in a vegetative state.

POCSO Act

  • The POCSO Act, 2012 was enacted to protect the children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography.
  •  The Act has been amended in 2019. The amendment provides for the gender-neutral application of stringent punishment, including the death penalty, for aggravated penetrative sexual assault of both girl and boy below 16 years of age.

The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013:

  •   It seeks to protect women against sexual harassment at all workplaces both in public and private sector, whether organised or unorganised

Explained: Who were the Paikas of Odisha and what will the Paika Memorial celebrate?

News:President will lay the foundation stone for a memorial to mark 200 years of the Paika Rebellion.

Facts:

Who were Paikas:

  • The Paikas were a class of military retainers who had been recruited since the 16th century by kings in Odisha from a variety of social groups to render martial services in return for hereditary rent-free land (nish-kar jagirs) and titles.

Historical Background:

  • Till 1803 Odisha was under the Maratha rule.However,after the second Anglo-Maratha War,the Marathas were forced to cede most of their territory in Odisha to the British East India Company.
  • After entering Odisha, the British introduced new revenue settlements due to which many Paika proprietors ended up losing their lands to absentee Bengali landlords.
  • The changes in the currency and revenue systems meant the Paikas had to pay taxes in silver which was more expensive for them.This resulted in further marginalisation and oppression of the Paikas.

About Paika Rebellion:

  • The Paik Rebellion was an armed rebellion against the British East India Company's rule in 1817.
  • In 1817,Several Kondhs descended from the Ghumusar area to rise in revolt against the British. 
  • Bakshi Jagabandhu, the hereditary chief of the militia army of the Gajapati King of Khurda led an army of Paikas to join the uprising of the Kondh.
  • The Paikas set fire the government buildings in Banapur and killed several British officials. 
  • Over the next few months,the Paikas fought bloody battles at several places, but the British army gradually crushed the revolt.
  • Bakshi Jagabandhu escaped to the jungles and stayed out of reach of the British until 1825, when he finally surrendered under negotiated terms.

Significance of Paika rebellion:

  • The Paika Rebellion is one among the peasant rebellions that took place in India when the British EIC was expanding its military enterprise.
  • Since these uprisings violently clashed with European colonialists and missionaries, their resistance is sometimes seen as the first war of Independence against colonial rule.Therefore,it is also considered to be nationalist in nature.

Explained: Bill to set up a unified Authority to regulate financial products

News:The International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill,2019 is likely to be tabled in the Parliament.

Facts:

About IFSC:

  • International Financial Services Centres(IFSC) is a jurisdiction that provides financial services to resident and non-resident Indians in foreign currencies. 
  • They are intended to provide Indian corporates with easier access to global financial markets, and to complement and promote the further development of financial markets in India.
  • GIFT (Gujarat International Finance Tec-City) located in Gandhinagar is India’s first International Financial Services Centre.

Why the need of the authority?

  • Currently,the banking, capital markets and insurance sectors in IFSC are regulated by multiple regulators such as RBI, SEBI and IRDAI.
  • The dynamic nature of business in the IFSCs necessitates a high degree of inter-regulatory coordination.It also requires regular clarifications and frequent amendments in the existing regulations governing financial activities in IFSCs.
  • The development of financial services and products in IFSCs would require focussed and dedicated regulatory interventions.
  • Hence,a need for a unified financial regulator for IFSCs in India to provide world class regulatory environment to financial market participants.

About International Financial Services Centres Authority Bill,2019:

  • The Bill provides for the establishment of an Authority to develop and regulate the financial services market in the International Financial Services Centres in India.
  • The Bill will be applicable to all International Financial Services Centres (IFSCs) set up under the Special Economic Zones Act, 2005.

Composition of the authority:

  • The International Financial Services Centres Authority will consist of nine members, appointed by the central government.
  • They will include the chairperson of the authority, a member each from the RBI, SEBI, IRDAI, PFRDA and two members from the Ministry of Finance. 
  • In addition,two other members will be appointed on the recommendation of a Search Committee.
  • All members of the IFSC Authority will have a term of three years, subject to reappointment.

Functions of the authority:

  • The Authority will regulate financial products such as securities, deposits or contracts of insurance, financial services, and financial institutions which have been previously approved by any appropriate regulator such as RBI or SEBI in an IFSC.
  • It will also follow all processes which are applicable to such financial products, financial services and financial institutions under their respective laws.
  • The authority will also regulate any other financial products, financial services or financial institutions in an IFSC which may be notified by the central government.

6 years on, Lokpal is yet to get prosecution wing

News:Recently,it has been revealed that almost six years after the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, was signed into law,several key provisions needed for the anti-corruption ombudsman to function have still not been operationalised.

Facts:

About Lokpal:

  • The term Lokpal was coined in 1963 but the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act came into force in 2104.However,It was more than five years later in 2019 that the first chairperson and members of the Lokpal were appointed.
  • But the institution is still functioning out of a government-owned hotel in Delhi.The Lokpal has also not yet notified a format for filing complaints. 
  • The process of constituting the Lokpal’s inquiry and prosecution wings has not yet begun and regulations for how to conduct preliminary investigations have not been made.
  • The rules for the disclosure of assets and liabilities by public servants have not been notified either.This is a key provision as the amassing of assets disproportionate to the known sources of income is often the basis for a complaint.

Additional information:

About Lokpal:

  • Lokpal is a statutory anti-corruption body responsible for enquiring into corruption charges at the national level while the Lokayukta performs the same function at the state level. The Lokpal and Lokayukta have been established under the Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013.
  • The Lokpal became functional after the appointment of its Chairman and members in March 2019.

Members of Lokpal:

  • It is a multi-member body that consists of one chairperson and a maximum of 8 members.
  • The chairperson and at least half of the members have to be current or former judges of the Supreme Court or chief justices of the high courts
  • 50% of the members of the Lokpal is from amongst the SCs, the STs, OBCs, minorities and women.

Wings of Lokpal:The Lokpal consists of various wings.

  • Inquiry wing:It is to be headed by the Director of Inquiry,for the purpose of conducting preliminary inquiry into any offence alleged to have been committed by a public servant punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • Prosecution wing: It also have a Prosecution Wing,headed by the Director of Prosecution,for the purpose of prosecution of public servants in relation to any complaint by the Lokpal under this Act.

Powers of Lokpal:

  • The jurisdiction of Lokpal includes the Prime Minister, Ministers, Members of Parliament and Groups A, B, C and D officers and officials of the Central Government.
  • Lokpal has the power of superintendence and direction over any investigating agency, including the CBI, for cases referred to them by the Lokpal.
  • The Lokpal can summon or question any public servant if there exists a prima facie case against the person, even before an investigation agency (such as vigilance or CBI) has begun the probe. 
  • Further, any officer of the CBI investigating a case referred to it by the Lokpal, shall not be transferred without the approval of the Lokpal.
  • Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 also incorporates provisions for attachment and confiscation of property acquired by corrupt means, even while the prosecution is pending.

Process of investigation:

  • The Lokpal may after receiving a complaint against any public servant, order a preliminary inquiry which should be completed within 90 days. 
  • After receiving the report of the preliminary inquiry,the Lokpal may (a)order an investigation by any agency or (b)departmental proceedings or (c)any other appropriate action against the concerned public servants by the competent authority or (d)it can order closure of the proceedings.
  • Further,the Act does not allow a Lokpal inquiry if the allegations against the Prime Minister relates to (a)international relations (b)external and internal security (c)public order (d)atomic energy and (e)space.
  • Also,complaints against the Prime Minister are not to be probed unless the full Lokpal bench considers the initiation of an inquiry and at least two-thirds of the members approve it.

Philippines likely to finalise BrahMos deal by next year

News:The Philippines is set to become the first country to buy the BrahMos cruise missile jointly developed by India and Russia.

Facts:

About Brahmos missile:

  • BrahMos is a Supersonic Cruise missile.It is a joint venture between India and Russia.It is named after Brahmaputra and Moscow rivers.
  • The missile is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and sea-based targets.
  • The missile has a strike range of 290 km.It can be fired from land as well as sea-based platforms.
  • It also features indigenous components such as propulsion system, airframe and power supply.
  • The missile operates on the Fire and Forgets principle which means that it does not require further guidance after launch.
  • Further,Brahmos is also one of the fastest cruise missiles deployed with the speed of Mach 2.8, which is 3 times more than the speed of sound.

Additional information:

About Supersonic Cruise missile:

  • A cruise missile is an unmanned self-propelled (till the time of impact) guided vehicle that sustains flight through aerodynamic lift for most of its flight path.
  • Supersonic cruise missile travels at a speed of around 2-3 Mach i.e.; it travels a kilometre approximately in a second.

Santhali used for the first time in Rajya Sabha

News:Recently, Santhali language has been spoken for the first time in the Rajya Sabha.

Facts:

About Santhali Language:

  • Santhali is the language from the North Mundari group of the Austro asiatic Munda family.
  • Santhali is written in Ol Chiki script which was created by Pt. Raghunath Murmu in 1925.
  • The language is primarily spoken in India (Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Assam), Bangladesh and Nepal.
  • By 92nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2003, Santhali along with Bodo, Maithili and Dogri were added to the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • In August 2018,Santhali language got its own Wikipedia edition in its own script.

Additional information:

About Santhal:

  • Santhals forms the third largest tribal group in India.They call themselves Hor ko(Man) or Horhopon ko(sons of Man).
  • Santhals follow the Sarna religion.Their God and Goddess are Marangburu, Jaheraera, and Manjh.
  • Sohrai is the principal festival of Santal community.Besides that Baha, Karam, Dansai, Sakrat, Mahmore, Rundo and Magsim are important festivals.
  • Chadar Badar,a form of puppetry known also as Santal puppetry is a folk show involving wooden puppets placed in a small cage which acts as the stage.

About Santhal rebellion:

  • The Santhal rebellion commonly known as Santhal Hool was a native rebellion in Jharkhand against both the British colonial authority and zamindari system.
  • The rebellion was led by the four Murmu Brothers - Sidhu, Kanhu, Chand and Bhairav.
  • The rebellion was a revolt against the oppression of the British rule propagated through a distorted revenue system, enforced by the local zamindars, the police and the courts of the legal system.
  • The rebellion was started in 1855.However,the revolt was brutally crushed when the two celebrated leaders Sidhu and Kanhu were killed by the British.

Explained:Creamy layer principle in SC, ST quota for promotion: judgments, appeals

News:Recently,the Centre has urged the Supreme Court to refer to a larger Bench its decision that had applied the creamy layer principle to promotions for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in government jobs.

Facts:

About Creamy Layer Concept for SC’s and ST’s:

  • The creamy layer concept was first applied in the Indra Sawhney case, or the Mandal case in 1992.
  • In 2006, in what is known as the Nagraj case,the court had said that the creamy layer concept would also be applied to SCs and STs as well. 
  • The concept involves application of a means test or imposition of an income limit for the purpose of excluding people whose income is above the limit from the backward class. 
  • In Jarnail Singh case, another five-judge Bench led by the then Chief Justice of India upheld the 2006 verdict’s reasoning that the creamy layer principle was based on the right to equality.
  • These judgments of the apex court had arisen out of a challenge to the validity of four Constitution amendments.

About the amendments:

77th Amendment Act,1995: It introduced Clause 4A to the Constitution empowering the state to make provisions for reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST employees if the state feels they are not adequately represented.

81st Amendment Act,2000: It introduced Clause 4B, which says unfilled SC/ST quota of a particular year, when carried forward to the next year, will be treated separately and not clubbed with the regular vacancies of that year to find out whether the total quota has breached the 50% limit set by the Supreme Court.

82nd Amendment Act,2000: It inserted a proviso at the end of Article 335 to enable the state to make any provision for SC/STs for relaxation in qualifying marks in any examination or lowering the standards of evaluation for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of services or posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State.

85th Amendment Act,2001: It said reservation in promotion can be applied with consequential seniority for the SC/ST employees.

Additional information:

About Article 335:

  • Article 335 of the Constitution relates to claims of SCs and STs to services and posts.
  • It says that the claims of the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration in the making of appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State.