• Current Affairs , 11 December 2019

    • December 11, 2019
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    DAILY CURRENT  AFFAIRS______________________________

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    1. The Citizenship Act, 1955
    2. First-ever Human Library event
    3. The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019
    4. 2nd startup India Global Venture Capital Summit 2019 held in Goa
    5. National Clean Air Programme
    6. Telangana CM releases book on Kaleswaram project
    7. The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019
    8. Assam govt sets up Anti-Depredation squads
    9. Rajya Sabha takes up Arms (Amendment) Bill
    • Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019 introduced in Lok Sabha
    1. 6th Indian Ocean Dialogue
    2. Ethiopia’s PM receives Nobel Peace Prize
    3. ICJ begins hearing on Rohingya atrocities case
    4. 13th South Asian Games
    5. Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju calls for rigorous campaign to bring awareness about doping

     

     

     

    NATIONAL NEWS

     

     

    1. The Citizenship Act, 1955

     

    • The Citizenship Act, 1955 regulates who may acquire Indian citizenship and on what grounds.  A person may become an Indian citizen if they are born in India or have Indian parentage or have resided in the country for a period of time, etc.  However, illegal migrants are prohibited from acquiring Indian citizenship.  An illegal migrant is a foreigner who: (i) enters the country without valid travel documents, like a passport and visa, or (ii) enters with valid documents, but stays beyond the permitted time period.
    • Illegal migrants may be imprisoned or deported under the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920.  The 1946 and the 1920 Acts empower the central government to regulate the entry, exit and residence of foreigners within India.  In 2015 and 2016, the central government issued two notifications exempting certain groups of illegal migrants from provisions of the 1946 and the 1920 Acts.[2] These groups are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014.2  This implies that these groups of illegal migrants will not be deported or imprisoned for being in India without valid documents.
    • In 2016, a Bill was introduced to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.[3] The Bill sought to make illegal migrants belonging to these six religions and three countries eligible for citizenship and made some changes in the provisions on registration of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) cardholders.  It was referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee, which submitted its report on January 7, 2019.[4]  The Bill was passed by Lok Sabha on January 8, 2019.[5]  However, it lapsed with the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha.  Subsequently, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is being introduced in Lok Sabha in December 2019.
    • The 2019 Bill seeks to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.  It exempts certain areas in the North-East from this provision.  The Bill also makes amendments to provisions related to OCI cardholders.  A foreigner may register as an OCI under the 1955 Act if they are of Indian origin (e.g., former citizen of India or their descendants) or the spouse of a person of Indian origin.  This will entitle them to benefits such as the right to travel to India, and to work and study in the country.  The Bill amends the Act to allow cancellation of OCI registration if the person has violated any law notified by the central government.
    • Table 1 below compares the provisions of the 2016 Bill (as passed by Lok Sabha) with that of the 2019 Bill.

    Table 1: Comparison of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, as passed by Lok Sabha, with the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019

    The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (as passed by Lok Sabha) Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019
    • Eligibility for citizenship for certain illegal migrants:  The Act prohibits illegal migrants from acquiring Indian citizenship. Illegal migrants are foreigners who enter India without a valid passport or travel document, or stay beyond the permitted time.
    • The Bill amended the Act to provide that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan will not be treated as illegal migrants.  In order to get this benefit, they must have also been exempted from the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 by the central government.  The 1920 Act mandates foreigners to carry passport, while the1946 Act regulates the entry and departure of foreigners in India.
    • The Bill further stated from the date of its enactment, all legal proceedings pending against such an illegal migrant will be closed.
    • The Bill adds two additional provisions on citizenship to illegal migrants belonging to these religions from the three countries.
    • Consequences of acquiring citizenship:  The Bill says that on acquiring citizenship: (i) such persons shall be deemed to be citizens of India from the date of their entry into India, and (ii) all legal proceedings against them in respect of their illegal migration or citizenship will be closed.
    • Exception:  Further, the Bill adds that the provisions on citizenship for illegal migrants will not apply to the tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, or Tripura, as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution.  These tribal areas include Karbi Anglong (in Assam), Garo Hills (in Meghalaya), Chakma District (in Mizoram), and Tripura Tribal Areas District.  It will also not apply to the areas under the Inner Line” under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.  The Inner Line Permit regulates visit of Indians to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland.
    • Citizenship by naturalisation:  The Act allows a person to apply for citizenship by naturalisation, if the person meets certain qualifications. One of the qualifications is that the person must have resided in India or been in central government service for the last 12 months and at least 11 years of the preceding 14 years.
    • The Bill created an exception for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, with regard to this qualification. For these groups of persons, the 11 years’ requirement will be reduced to six years.
    • The Bill further reduces the period of naturalisation for such group of persons from six years to five years.
    • Grounds for cancelling OCI registration:  The Act provides that the central government may cancel registration of OCIs on five grounds including registration through fraud, showing disaffection to the Constitution, engaging with the enemy during war, necessity in the interest of sovereignty of India, security of state or public interest, or if within five years of registration the OCI has been sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more. The Bill added one more ground for cancelling registration, that is, if the OCI has violated any law that is in force in the country.
    • When the Bill was passed in Lok Sabha, this was amended to limit the disqualification to violations of the Citizenship Act or of any other law so notified by the central government.  Also, the cardholder has to be given an opportunity to be heard.

     

     

    1. First-ever Human Library event

     

    • first-ever Human Library Chapter 2, a concept that seeked to replace books with humans was organised inMysuru, in Karnataka.  The event was held at Mysore Institute of Commerce and Arts (MICA), in Mysuru.
    • The aim of the human library was to create a safe framework for conversation by using a library analogy of lending people rather than books.
    • Human library is a registered international non-profit organisation headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark. It was initially launched in 2000 and currently it exists in more than 85 countries known as ‘The Human Library Organisation’

    3. The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2019

     

     

    • The Code seeks to regulate health and safety conditions of workers in establishments with 10 or more workers, and in all mines and docks.
    • It subsumes and replaces 13 labour laws relating to safety, health and working conditions. These laws include: Factories Act, 1948; Mines Act, 1952; Dock Workers Act, 1986; Contract Labour Act, 1970; and Inter-State Migrant Workers Act, 1979.
    • Establishments covered by the Code are required to register with registering officers, appointed by the central or state governments.
    • Welfare facilities, working conditions and work hours for different types of establishments and workers will be prescribed by the central or state governments through rules.
    • The Code sets up occupational safety boards at the national and state level to advise the central and state governments on the standards, rules, and regulations to be framed under the Code.
    • The Code creates special provisions for certain classes of establishments such as factories, mines, dock workers, and constructions workers. These include separate provisions on licenses, safety regulations, and duties of employers.

    Key Issues and Analysis

    • The Second National Commission on Labour (2002) had recommended consolidation and simplification of existing health and safety laws.  However, the Code continues to retain special provisions for various categories of workers such as working journalists and sales promotion employees.  The rationale for retaining such provisions is unclear.
    • The Code covers workers employed in establishments with at least 10 workers or more. It has been argued that size-based thresholds for applicability of labour laws helps in reducing compliance burden for small establishments.  On the other hand, it has been argued that occupational health and safety laws should cover all workers, to protect their basic rights.
    • The Code bars civil courts from hearing matters under the Code. Therefore, the only judicial recourse for a person aggrieved under the Code is to file a writ petition before the relevant High Court.  It can be argued that a bar on civil courts from hearing any matters under the Code may result in the denial of an opportunity to challenge issues before a lower court.

     

    1. 2nd startup India Global Venture Capital Summit 2019 held in Goa

     

    • The 2nd edition of the Startup India Global Venture Capital Summit, organised by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), in partnership with Govt of Goa, was held in Goa, from December 6-7, 2019.
    • The summit was organised for fund managers and limited partners of top global venture capital firms. The theme for the 2019 summit was “India Opportunity – Investing in tomorrow together”.
    • The focus of the Summit was to mobilize global capital for innovation in India and the key objectives of the summit were showcasing of India’s opportunity in the sectors of E-Mobility, FinTech, MedTech, Enterprise Software, EdTech, Genomics and Life sciences.
    • The 2nd edition of the summit also aimed to understand the best practices for venture capital industry, identify issues faced by them for investments in India, and evaluate ways to address them.
    • Topics on issues faced by the investor community, ways to increase the capital inflow, fostering ease of doing business were discussed in the summit.
    • Over 350 representatives of leading Global venture capital firms, family offices, high-network individuals, top Corporates, officials from govt. of India and select innovative Startups participated in the summit.
    • The 1st edition was conducted in the year 2018 in Goa.

     

    1. National Clean Air Programme

     

    • The Central Government launched the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)as a long-term, time-bound, national-level strategy to tackle the air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner.
    • The government is targeting to achieve 20 per cent to 30 per cent reduction in Particulate Matter PM10 and PM2.5 concentrationsby 2024 keeping 2017 as the base year for the comparison of concentration.
    • Under NCAP, 102 non-attainment cities have been identified based on ambient air quality data for the period 2011 – 2015 and WHO report 2014 – 2018.

     

     

    1. Telangana CM releases book on Kaleswaram project

     

    • Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Raohas released a book in Telugu on ‘Kaleswaram Project — Telangana’s chariot of Progress’ authored by Officer on Special Duty, Irrigation to the Chief Minister, Sridhar Rao Deshpande.
    • The author explained in detail the efforts of Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao right from the conception of project and research done by using Google earth software and data of water flow from Central Water Commission in his book.

    7. The Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019

     

    • Currently, domestic companies with annual turnover of up to Rs 400 crore pay income tax at the rate of 25%. For other domestic companies, the tax rate is 30%.  The Bill provides domestic companies with an option to pay tax at the rate of 22%, provided they do not claim certain deductions under the Income Tax Act.
    • The Bill provides new domestic manufacturing companies with an option to pay income tax at the rate of 15%, provided they do not claim certain deductions. These new domestic manufacturing companies must be set up and registered after September 30, 2019, and start manufacturing before April 1, 2023.
    • A company can choose to opt for the new tax rates in the financial year 2019-20 (i.e. assessment year 2020-21) or in any other financial year in the future. Once a company exercises this option, the chosen provision will apply for all subsequent years.
    • Provisions regarding payment of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) will not apply to companies opting for the new tax rates. MAT is the minimum amount of tax required to be paid by a company, in case its normal tax liability after claiming deductions falls below a certain limit.  The Bill adds that the provisions regarding MAT credit will also not apply to companies opting for the new rates.
    • The Ordinance reduces the MAT rate (applicable for companies not opting for the new tax rates) from 18.5% to 15% with effect from the financial year 2019-20. The Bill amends this provision by making it effective from the financial year 2020-21.

    Key Issues and Analysis

    • In 2017-18, 29% of the 8.4 lakh companies paid tax at an effective rate higher than 25%.  The Bill allows these companies a lower statutory tax rate option of 25.17%.  These companies contributed 69% of the total income tax paid by all companies in 2017-18.
    • In case of the manufacturing sector, the effective tax rate after deductions was 28% in 2017-18.  This is much higher than the 17.16% statutory tax rate option provided under the Bill for new domestic manufacturing companies.
    • The Ministry of Finance has estimated the revenue impact of new tax rates and other measures under the Ordinance (includes exemptions to capital gains of certain investors from increased surcharge rates) at Rs 1.45 lakh crore.  This could increase the fiscal deficit for the year 2019-20 from 3.3% of GDP to 4% of GDP.

     

     

    1. Assam govt sets up Anti-Depredation squads

     

    • The Assam governmenthas set up 15 Anti-Depredation Squads of the Forest department to deal with human-wildlife conflicts in the state.
    • The anti-depredation squads will be stationed in 15 major human-wildlife conflict districts of the state to deal with the problem and ensure the safety of both humans and animals.
    • The Forest Department has engaged specially trained 50 front line staff to handle conflict situations with 100 more staff to be trained in the coming days.
    • The anti-depredation squads will be equipped with all logistics required for mitigating the conflict.
    • The squads will have 12 bore pump action guns and rubber bullet ammunition.

     

    • Rajya Sabha takes up Arms (Amendment) Bill

     

    • The Rajya Sabha has taken up the Arms (Amendment) Bill 2019 for consideration and passing. The Bill seeks to amend the Arms Act, 1959.
    • It intends to decrease the number of license arms allowed per person and increase the quantum of penalties for violations of the law.
    • The Bill also aims to increase the duration of the validity of arms license from three years to five years.
    • Moving the Bill, Minister of State for Home, G. Kishan Reddy said, manufacturing of illegal arms and its smuggling is the cause of concern and effective regulations are needed for the safety of the people.
    • He said, strict punishment measures have been adopted in the Bill against those who are found to be involved in the manufacturing, transportation and use of the illegal arms.
    • The Minister said, this Bill is brought with the intention to curb the illegal trafficking of the arms.
    • Participating in the discussion, Hussain Dalwai of Congress said, this Bill will impose a strict ban on the illegal arms as most of the crimes are performed with the help of illegal and unlicensed arms.
    • Subhasish Chakraborty of TMC demanded that the government should take strict action for curbing the illegal arms. Sukhram Singh Yadav of Samajwadi Party said, licensing right should remain with the State government and arms license renewal process must be simplified.

     

    1. Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019 introduced in Lok Sabha

     

     

    • The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019 has been introduced in the Lok Sabha.
    • Moving the Bill, Minister for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad said the amendment seeks to extend the reservation for SCs and STs by another ten years. He said, reservation is to expire by January next year, and the Bill is intended to extend it till January 2030.
    • He however said, the Anglo-Indian community is not included in the scope of this Bill as their total population as per the Census-2011 is only 296 in the whole country.
    • Initiating discussion, Hibi Eden of Congress said, the population figure of Anglo-Indians as referred to by the Minister is grossly under-estimated and said nomination for them in legislative bodies should be extended.
    • He said a committee should be constituted to study the present socio-economic, education and job status of the Anglo-Indian community in the country.
    • Dr Heena Gavit of the BJP said, the human development index of the SCs and STs are far below as compared to the national average and said the extension of the reservation is a step in the right direction.
    • DMK member Kanimozhi said the nomination of Anglo Indians in state legislatures is being sought to be repealed without consulting the state governments concerned and charged that the powers of the states are being appropriated by the Centre.
    • Welcoming the extension of reservation for the SCs and STs, she stressed that Women’s Reservation Bill should also be passed.
    • Saugata Roy of AITC said the mosaic of Indian society consists of people of all faith and said the Anglo-Indians should not be excluded in the Bill. Sunil Kumar Pintu of the JD(U) welcomed the Bill and suggested that those from the reserved category who have been elevated to a significant level in terms of economic status and power may give up the reservation so that other deserving people in the same category could be benefitted.
    • Supriya Sule of the NCP while welcoming the extension of the reservation said all stakeholders should have been consulted before drafting the Bill. The discussion is on.

     

    INTERNATIONAL NEWS

     

    1. 6th Indian Ocean Dialogue

     

    • External Affairs Ministry will host the 6th Indian Ocean Dialogue and Delhi Dialogue XI at the Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra in New Delhi on 13th and 14th of this month.
    • For the first time, these two Track 1.5 dialogues will be held consecutively and on similar Indo-Pacific themes.
    • The Indian Ocean Dialogue will take place on 13th December and the theme is “Indo-Pacific: Re-imagining the Indian Ocean through an Expanded Geography”. Delhi Dialogue XI will start on the evening of the 13th and will run through the next day.
    • The theme for this year’s Delhi Dialogue is “Advancing Partnership in Indo-Pacific”, and is being organized with the assistance of the Research and Information System for Developing Countries.

     

     

     

    1. Ethiopia’s PM receives Nobel Peace Prize

     

    • Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has received the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to achieve international peace and co-operation.
    • After receiving the prestigious award in a formal ceremony at Oslo’s City Hall today, Mr Ahmed said, he accepted this award on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace.
    • This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was the 100th to be awarded. The Nobel Peace Prize consists of a diploma, a gold medal and a cheque for nine million Swedish kronor (850,000 euros).
    • The Nobel Committee announced in October it was honouring Abiy Ahmed for his efforts to resolve the long-running conflict with neighbouring foe Eritrea.
    • On July 9, 2018, following a historic meeting in Eritrea’s capital Asmara, Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki formally ended a 20-year-old stalemate between their countries in the wake of the 1998-2000 border conflict.

     

    1. ICJ begins hearing on Rohingya atrocities case

     

    • The International Court of Justice (ICJ) started the hearing on the case of Rohingya atrocities by Myanmar .
    • On Tuesday, Gambia will present its case at the ICJ followed by the defence presented by Myanmar on Wednesday. On the final day of the hearing on Thursday, both the sides will present their second round of observations.
    • The case has been brought to the ICJ by Gambia alleging that Myanmar has violated the 1948 Genocide Convention. Gambia is backed by 57 countries of Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC).
    • Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi in her capacity as foreign affairs minister arrived in the Hague on Sunday to lead Myanmar’s defence against the allegations over the next three days of hearing at the ICJ starting on Tuesday.
    • Myanmar has consistently denied the allegation of atrocities against the Rohingyas. It claims that the ‘clearance operations’ by the military in the Rakhine province were counter-terrorism measures against insurgents active in that area of Myanmar.
    • A Bangladesh delegation, led by Foreign Secretary M Shahidul Haque along with civil society representatives reached the Hague to witness the proceedings as observers.
    • The ICJ is not empowered to punish individuals. Gambia has requested the ICJ to impose provisional measures to protect Rohingyas from further persecution by the Myanmar military. The final ruling on the ‘genocide’ issue may take a long time to be decided by the ICJ.
    • In another development on Nov 14, the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague authorized its prosecutor office to launch an investigation into the Rohingya situation in Bangladesh/Myanmar.

     

     

     

     

    SPORTS NEWS

    1. 13th South Asian Games

     

    • On the final day of 13th South Asian Games in Nepal, India clinched 10 gold, 2 silver and one bronze.
    • India finished on top with 312 medals comprising 174 gold, 93 silver and 45 bronze.
    • Indian boxers continued their outstanding performance and won 6 gold, one silver and one bronze
    • In women’s Pinki Rani brought first gold in 51 kg category. She defeated Mala Ravi of Nepal in the final.
    • In 57 kg Sonia Lather won gold by defeating her Sri Lankan opponent. Manju Bamboriya also clinched gold in 64 kg. She beat Nepal’s Punam Rawal.
    • In men’s Sparsh Kumar brought gold. He defeated Mohd. Asif Syed of Pakistan in 52 kg. Varinder Singh lost his bout to Nepal’s Sanil Shahi in 60 kg.
    • Krishan Vikas clinched gold in 69 kg beating Gul Zaib of Pakistan. In 91 kg Narendra brought sixth Gold for the country. He defeated Ashish Duwadi in the final.
    • In Squash India won gold in women’s team event and silver in men’s.  Indian girls defeated Pakistan in the finals by 2-1, while men team lost to Pakistan by 1-2.
    • In Basketball Indian men’s and women’s teams clinched one gold each. Men team defeated Sri Lanka in the final by 101-62. In Women’s final Indian girls crushed host Nepal by 127-46.  In Judo mixed event India won gold.
    • Meanwhile, closing ceremony games is underway at Dasaratha Rangshala in Kathmandu. Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokhrael is the Chief Guest.

     

     

     

    1. Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju calls for rigorous campaign to bring awareness about doping

     

     

    • Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Kiren Rijiju has called for a rigorous campaign to bring awareness about doping. The Minister said that a sense of clean sports must be inculcated in the players from the very beginning. Mr. Rijiju was addressing a gathering after declaring actor Sunil Shetty as the Brand Ambassador of National Anti Doping Agency, NADA in New Delhi.
    • Rijiju said,  clean sports is the agenda of the government and players must adopt fair practices to achieve success and not resort to foul means like doping which brings bad name to the country. He said, it is imperative for sportspersons to stay fit in order to win and they should achieve fitness through regular exercises, yoga and by taking nutritious diet.
    • The Minister said, Fit India Movement was launched to create awareness about the importance of being fit in daily life through sports, yoga and walks or any other physical activity.
    • Actor Sunil Shetty stressed on the use of naturopathy, ayurveda and yoga to achieve fitness. He said, there is no shortcut to success. Shetty said, India is so rich that it has everything to give people a healthy life. Director General, NADA Naveen Aggarwal said that India is fast becoming a sporting nation and the agency is committed to make players aware of the menace of doping which destroys promising careers in no time.

     

     

     

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