12 DECEMBER 2018
|1.||GS II: POLITY – ELECTIONS||It’s advantage Congress – Setback to BJP in Hindi heartland|
|2.||GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING||Shaktikanta Das appointed RBI Governor|
|3.||GS II: SOCIAL – RIGHTS||‘Lingayat issue not sent to NCM’|
|4.||GS III: SECURITY||Militants kill 4 policemen in J&K|
|5.||GS II: SOCIAL – WOMEN & CHILDREN||Don’t reveal identity of rape victims: SC|
|6||GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY||SC directs Centre to declare 10 km area around national parks as eco-sensitive|
|7.||GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH||Long wait of J&J patients continues|
|8.||GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-USA||U.S. hearing on religious freedom in India postponed|
|9.||GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING||‘Key’ agenda left to new Governor’s understanding|
|10.||GS III: S&T – SPACE||Water traces found on asteroid Bennu|
|11.||GS III: ENVIRONMENT – CLIMATE CHANGE||A rare blitz for trees|
GS II: POLITY – ELECTIONS
It’s advantage Congress – Setback to BJP in Hindi heartland
- The counting of votes for the three States of the so-called “Hindi heartland” saw the Congress winning big in Chhattisgarh, forming the government in Rajasthan and staking claim to form the government in Madhya Pradesh, and a reversal of fortunes for the BJP that will have ramifications for national politics.
- The three States account for 65 seats in the Lok Sabha and went overwhelmingly with the BJP in the 2014 election.
- Both Dr. Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje, Chief Ministers of the BJP-led governments in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, tendered their resignations to the Governors.
- In Chhattisgarh, the Congress won a clear majority, winning 68 seats in the 90-member House, while in Rajasthan, it touched the half-way mark together with its allies.
- In Madhya Pradesh, however, a see-saw battle raged on the counting tables for most of the day with the results expected either late at night or in the early hours the next day.
- State Congress chief Kamal Nath has, however, written to Governor Anandiben Patel seeking time to stake claim to form the government as the “single largest party” as per the results. The State is seeing a gritty battle where neither the BJP nor the Congress seems to be ceding an inch.
- Riding on a slew of welfare schemes, mega irrigation projects and the charismatic leadership of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi retained power by securing a landslide victory in the election to the Telangana Legislative Assembly held on December 7.
- The Mizo National Front (MNF) wrested power from the Congress after 10 years, registering its best-ever performance.
- The MNF won 26 of Mizoram’s 40 Assembly seats.
- The Congress won five seats to lose the party’s last outpost in the northeastern region comprising eight States.
- The BJP rules six of the other States on its own or in alliance with regional parties. “
GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING
Shaktikanta Das appointed RBI Governor
- A day after the sudden resignation of Governor Urjit Patel, the Modi administration appointed former bureaucrat Shaktikanta Das as the 25th Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at a time when the government and the central bank are apparently locked in a tussle over several important issues.
- “The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Shri Shaktikanta Das, IAS Retd., former Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, as Governor, Reserve Bank of India, for a period of three years,” read the notification issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
- A veteran bureaucrat who served as Secretary Revenue and subsequently Economic Affairs in the Ministry of Finance, Das is currently a member of the Fifteenth Finance Commission and represents India at the G-20 in the role of a sherpa.
- He is a 1980 batch IAS officer of the Tamil Nadu cadre.
- Insiders in the government said there was a strong view in the PMO and the Finance Ministry to put a retired bureaucrat in charge of the central bank instead of hiring career economists like Raghuram Rajan or his successor Urjit Patel.
- Those favouring a bureaucrat cited examples of Dr. D. Subbarao and Y.V. Reddy earlier.
GS II: SOCIAL – RIGHTS
‘Lingayat issue not sent to NCM’
- The Union Government, which has said it “may not be possible” to accede to the recommendation of the Karnataka government to accord religious minority status to Lingayats and Veerashaiva Lingayats (Believers of Basava Tatva), did not recently seek the opinion of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) on the issue.
- NCM Chairman Syed Ghayorul Hazan Rizvi said the Commission had not received the State’s latest proposal of March 23, 2018.
- In the letter submitted to the Karnataka High Court, Ministry of Minority Affairs deputy secretary had mentioned that the NCM had agreed with the views of MHA, vide letter dated 14.11.2013 of the Registrar General of India, thus indicating that NCM’s opinion pertained to an earlier proposal, which was subsequently rejected by the Registrar General of India.
- “After the rejection in 2013, an expert committee was formed by the Karnataka Minorities Commission and subsequently Karnataka Government made the [March 2018] recommendation. But it seems the decision [to reject the proposal] has been taken ignoring these developments and documentary evidence,” said Channabasava Swami, who is coordinating the Lingayat convention.
GS III: SECURITY
Militants kill 4 policemen in J&K
- Four policemen were killed and as many service rifles snatched when a group of militants attacked a security picket in south Kashmir’s Shopian.
GS II: SOCIAL – WOMEN & CHILDREN
Don’t reveal identity of rape victims: SC
- The Supreme Court prohibited the media from publishing or airing the names or any material which may even remotely reveal the identity of victims of sexual crimes.
- The court held that the bar on disclosure under Section 228A(2) of the IPC was not confined to just the name of the victim but actually meant that the “identity of the victim should not be discernible from any matter published in the media.”
- The court further held that the name and identity of a victim who was either dead or of unsound mind should also not be disclosed even under the authorisation of the next of kin. Any exception to this rule should be decided by the competent authority, the sessions judge.
- The judgment came on a writ petition by advocate Nipun Saxena highlighting the need to protect the identity of adult and child victims of rape and sexual abuse so that they don’t face “ridicule, ostracisation and harassment.”
GS III: ENVIRONMENT – BIODIVERSITY
SC directs Centre to declare 10 km area around national parks as eco-sensitive
- The Supreme Court directed the Union Environment Ministry to declare 10 km area around 21 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the country as ‘eco-sensitive zones’.
- A Bench led by Justice Madan B. Lokur took the initiative after its amicus curiae informed the court that the State governments have taken no effort to protect the area around these sanctuaries and parks.
- The court recorded that the issue has been pending for the past 12 years.
- The parks and sanctuaries are the Pobitora sanctuary in Assam; Hemis and Kishtewar national parks, Changthang, Hokersar, Trikuta sanctuaries in Jammu and Kashmir; Jogimatti, Thimlapura and Yadahalli Chinkara sanctuaries in Karnataka; Deolgaon Rehekuri and Thane Creek Flamingo sanctuaries and the Malvan marine sanctuary in Maharashtra; Siroi National Park and Khongjaingamba Ching sanctuary in Manipur; Baghmara Pitcher Plant sanctuary in Meghalaya; Fakim and Puliebadze and Rangapahar sanctuaries in Nagaland; Bhimrao Ambedkar bird sanctuary and Pilibhit sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh and the Jorepokhri sanctuary in West Bengal.
- The court ordered the Centre to make the declaration “at the earliest”.
- Any plea for modification by the States concerned should be made to the Environment Ministry in two weeks.
GS II: SOCIAL – HEALTH
Long wait of J&J patients continues
- Patients fighting for compensation from pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson for their faulty artificial hip joint have a long road ahead.
- A multiple-column application form to be submitted to the State-level panel asks for documentary evidence of the hip implant, a disability certificate, among other details.
- Once the panel scrutiny is done, the patients will be directed to the Centre where a second scrutiny will be carried out and the compensation decided.
- Patients say that the process is not only tedious but also unclear.
- “There is a lot of ambiguity in the procedure drawn out by the government. For example, they are asking for disability certificates but there is no clarity on who will issue them,” said Dombivali resident Vijay Vojhala who was implanted with J&J’s Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) hip implant in 2008 and underwent a revision surgery in 2012..
- The metal-on-metal implant manufactured by J&J’s subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics was recalled worldwide in 2010 after reports surfaced of it leaching metals and thus causing severe pain, fluid accumulation, and metal poisoning.
GS II: BILATERAL – INDIA-USA
U.S. hearing on religious freedom in India postponed
- A bipartisan hearing on religious freedom in India, has been postponed due to an “overwhelming response” from stakeholders.
- The hearing, titled ‘Freedom of Religion or Belief in India: Rising Challenges & New Opportunities for U.S. Policy’, was announced on December 4 by its organisers, the S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan, independent federal government commission.
- The hearing had to be “rescheduled for May 13 due to the overwhelming response we received. We want to be able to accommodate more attendees and participants,” USCIRF said.
- The 2018 USCIRF Annual Report placed India in Tier 2, which is a list of nations “in which the violations engaged in or tolerated by the government during 2017 are serious and characterised by at least one of the elements of the ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious’ CPC [country of particular concern or a Tier 1 country] standard”.
- India has been in this category as per the Commission since 2009.
- “[I]n 2017, actors tied to Hindu extremist groups regularly harassed, intimidated, and perpetrated violence against Hindu Dalits, Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs.
- “Anti-conversion and anti-cow slaughter laws were routinely used to discriminate against religious minorities or as a pretext for extra-judicial violence… These and similar issues have continued in 2018,” USCIRF says on its website as part of the reasoning for holding a hearing.
- The commission will hear from “witnesses representing a broad array of perspectives” about India.
GS III: ECONOMY – BANKING
‘Key’ agenda left to new Governor’s understanding
- The Centre may have been quick to fill the vacuum left by the sudden exit of Dr. Urjit Patel as RBI governor, but the issues that probably led to his departure remain unresolved.
- The government’s effort to make the RBI board responsible for major decisions was the last straw in the troubled relationship.
- According to RBI sources, Dr. Patel decided to agree to some of the government’s demands such as reviewing the central bank’s capital and a scrutiny of banks under prompt corrective action, besides a debt recast scheme for micro, medium and small enterprises. In return, he seemed to have expected the government to give up its demand of making the management answerable to the board.
- So far, the board has restricted itself to providing broader vision to the central bank and refrained from getting involved in specific policy decisions.
- The government decided to invoke Section 7 [of the RBI Act], for consultation.
- The issue of governance was to be discussed in the next board meeting scheduled December 14.
- It is understood that the government has an elaborate plan to revamp the functioning of the board by setting up specific committees within the board on issues like technology, risk management, banking regulation and supervision.
- Since such committees may comprise government nominees, there is an apprehension that the government might try to influence decision-making, undermining RBI’s autonomy.
GS III: S&T – SPACE
Water traces found on asteroid Bennu
- NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft has discovered ingredients for water on a nearby skyscraper-sized asteroid, a rocky acorn-shaped object that may hold clues to the origins of life on the earth, scientists said.
- OSIRIS-REx, launched in 2016, flew within a scant 19 km of the asteroid Bennu some 2.25 million km from the earth, found traces of hydrogen and oxygen molecules — part of the recipe for water and thus the potential for life — embedded in the asteroid’s rocky surface.
- Bennu orbits the Sun at roughly the same distance as the earth.
- OSIRIS-REx will pass later in December 2018 just 1.9 km from Bennu.
- The spacecraft will later fly back to the earth, jettisoning a capsule bearing the asteroid specimen in September 2023.
GS III: ENVIRONMENT – CLIMATE CHANGE
A rare blitz for trees
- Blitzes are swift, vigorous attacks and usually part of military parlance. But there was nothing military about citizens as they looked up at trees across India on December 1 and 2: they were on a ‘bioblitz’, recording the flowering and fruiting of common trees.
- Bioblitz is a biological survey where participants try to record all the targeted species within an area.
- As many as 121 individuals and teams from 50 schools and 34 colleges from across 23 States in India participated in the bioblitz conducted by SeasonWatch (a citizen science programme of Bengaluru’s National Centre for Biological Sciences).
- Participants uploaded the data on the SeasonWatch android application and excel sheets.
- Bioblitzes are useful tools to understand how trees change across seasons.
- Conducting such bioblitzes would generate a baseline for tree phenology (periodic events such as fruiting and flowering) across India over the years, helping scientists analyse if climate change is altering tree phenology in future.