20th March, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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(GS2: Statutory bodies)
Issue: In a significant move, the Congress government in Karnataka decided to recommend to the Centre to grant religious minority tag to the numerically strong Lingayat and Veerashaiva Lingayat community.
Lingayats and Veerashaivas are those who believe in the philosophy of Basaveshwara, 12th century social reformer. Karnataka State Minorities Commission had formed a seven-member committee, headed by retired high court Judge H.N. Nagamohan Das, on the issue which submitted its report on March 2.
About Karnataka State Minorities Commission
The Karnataka State Minorities Commission (KSMC) is a statutory body constituted under the Karnataka State Minorities Commission Act 1994.
The main activity of the KSMC is to examine the working of various safeguards provided in the constitution and in the Laws passed by the State Legislature for the protection of minorities and make recommendations with a view to ensuring effective implementation and enforcement of all the safeguards.
Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains are identified as Minority communities of Karnataka.
The Karnataka State Minorities Commission consists of the Chairman and six other members nominated by the Government from amongst persons of eminence, ability and integrity hailing from the minority communities. Subject to the pleasure of the government, the term of the chairman and members is for a period of three years. The Administrative head of the office is the Secretary, who is a group “A” Senior scale officer.
The Karnataka State Minorities Commission has come to be looked upon by the minorities in Karnataka as a Forum for ventilating their grievances.
- To monitor the working of the safeguards provided in the constitution, laws enacted by the State Legislature and policies and schemes of the Government for minorities.
- To conduct studies, research and analysis on the questions of avoidance of discriminations against minorities.
- To make a factual assessment of the representation on minorities in the services of the Government undertakings, Government and Quasi-Government bodies and in case representation is adequate to suggest ways and means to achieve the desired level.
- To make recommendations for ensuring, maintaining and promoting communal harmony in the State.
- To make periodical reports at periodical intervals to the Government.
- To study any other matter which, in the opinion of the commission is important from the point of view of the welfare and development of minorities and to make appropriate recommendations
- To consider the grievances of the minorities and to suggest appropriate solution from time to time.
- To look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of minorities and take up such matter with the appropriate authorities.
Basavanna was a 12th-century social reformer. The revolution that Basavanna led came years after the Buddha. It was Basavanna and his contemporary Sharanas who launched a very strong spiritual, social and religious rebellion against Brahminical hegemony. Basavanna had declared that “work is worship”. He gave women equal status in his movement through the vachanas (verses). In order to take the social movement closer to the people, Basavanna and all the other Sharanas voiced their concerns in simple Kannada vachanas so that even lay people could comprehend them.
How will the community benefit?
If notified as a religious minority, Lingayats will get additional benefits in education and employment on par with minorities. Educational institutions run by minorities get certain exemptions, which they will be eligible for, as a majority of educational institutions in North Karnataka are run by Lingayats. They will able to avail benefits under Article 25 of the Constitution. These include freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion. They will also get benefits under Article 28, which includes freedom in terms of attendance at religious instruction or religious worship in certain educational institutions. Article 29, which include protection of interests of minorities, and Article 30, which includes the right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions, will also be applicable.
However, it will be up to the Centre to decide to accept the state government’s recommendation.
(GS2: Government policies and interventions for the development of various sectors and issues arising out of its design and implementation)
Issue: The Supreme Court found that ₹28,000 crore meant for the welfare of construction workers lie stagnant in State coffers.
This is mainly because successive governments have failed to make use of this money for the health, safety or service conditions of unnamed and unsung construction workers, whom, the Supreme Court said, play a great role in “nation-building”.
It said the State governments have been collecting welfare funds for construction workers since the Parliament passed the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act and the Building and Other Construction Workers‘Welfare Cess Act, both in 1996.
A total of ₹37,400 crore was collected for the benefit of construction workers over 22 years. Only ₹9,500 crore was utilised for their benefit.
Number of construction workers in India
Government estimate shows there are over 4.5 crore building and construction workers in the country. As of now, 2.8 crore have been registered under the 1996 laws for welfare.
The purpose of the laws of 1996 was to stop the exploitation of construction and ensure that their children do not suffer in terms of education, healthy living and dignity.
Note: “This topic might not be important from prelims perspective but from mains perspective, the knowledge of this Supreme Court judgment can be quoted in topics covering migrations, socio-economic condition of construction workers and such other relevant topics”
‘Neutrino project in India’
Issue: A year after the National Green Tribunal suspended the environmental clearance granted to the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO), the Expert Appraisal Committee (Infra 2) of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has overturned the NGT verdict and granted environmental clearance for the project.
About the project:
The observatory, which is to come up in Bodi West Hills in Theni district, Tamil Nadu, is regarded as a symbol not just of India’s push for research in particle physics; it also signals the intent to nurture centres of excellence.
Some concerns on the proposed project
The project has become controversial on environmental grounds, given the proposed site’s proximity to the Mathikettan Shola National Park in Kerala’s Western Ghats, a global biodiversity hotspot. However, considering the project’s national importance, the Environment Ministry had taken up the proposal for clearance as a “special case”. The green signal is conditional on getting the consent of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board and the National Board for Wildlife.
What are Neutrinos?
Neutrinos are subatomic particles produced by the decay of radioactive elements and are elementary particles that lack an electric charge. Of all high-energy particles, only weakly interacting neutrinos can directly convey astronomical information from the edge of the universe – and from deep inside the most cataclysmic high-energy processes
Copiously produced in high-energy collisions, travelling essentially at the speed of light, and unaffected by magnetic fields, neutrinos meet the basic requirements for astronomy. Their unique advantage arises from a fundamental property: they are affected only by the weakest of nature’s forces (but for gravity) and are therefore essentially unabsorbed as they travel cosmological distances between their origin and us.
Where are they coming from?
From what we know today, a majority of the neutrinos floating around were born around 15 billion years ago, soon after the birth of the universe. Since this time, the universe has continuously expanded and cooled, and neutrinos have just kept on going. Theoretically, there are now so many neutrinos that they constitute a cosmic background radiation whose temperature is 1.9 degree Kelvin (-271.2 degree Celsius). Other neutrinos are constantly being produced from nuclear power stations, particle accelerators, nuclear bombs, general atmospheric phenomenae, and during the births, collisions, and deaths of stars, particularly the explosions of supernovae.
‘Bank Board Bureau (BBB)’
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Having begun functioning from April 1, 2016, BBB was seen as step towards governance reforms in public sector banks as recommended by the P.J. Nayak Committee. However, this reform has been not achieved in a satisfactory manner
The Banks Board Bureau has its genesis in the recommendations of The Committee to Review Governance of Boards of Banks in India, May 2014. Thereafter, on February 28, 2016, the Government of India announced the constitution and composition of the Bureau. The Bureau started functioning from April 01, 2016 as an autonomous recommendatory body.
As part of its mandate, and guided by a spirit of collaboration, the Bureau is engaging with various stakeholders. The objective of such engagement being to help prepare the banks in the public sector universe to take on the competition, have the ability to appropriately manage and price risk across business cycles, develop resilience to generate internal capital and have the capacity to generate external capital warding of the moral hazard in counting on the scarce budgetary resources of tax payers. The Bureau is also engaging with the Public Sector Banks (PSBs) to help build capacity to attract, retain and nurture both talent and technology – the two key differentiators of business competencies in the days to come. In its endeavour, the Bureau is mindful of the need to have a fully empowered board in each and every PSB. While the Bureau is working towards attracting the best personages on the boards, it is these boards which should drive the overall strategy of a bank within its risk capacity and also act as custodians who should reconcile the diverse interests of various stakeholders.
However, the BBB recommendations have not been translated into concrete actions by the Government.
‘SEBI and governance norms’
(GS3: Role of Regulatory bodies)
Issue: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) plans to introduce new corporate governance norms as proposed by the Kotak Committee, in a phased manner for listed entities, with only the bigger companies required to comply in the initial phase as opposed to all the listed companies.
The aim is to implement the new norms with minimum disruption and so the top 200 or 500 companies would be initially mandated to comply with the new rules
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is the regulator for the securities market in India. It was established in the year 1988 and given statutory powers on 30 January 1992 through the SEBI Act, 1992
The Preamble of the Securities and Exchange Board of India describes the basic functions of the Securities and Exchange Board of India as “…to protect the interests of investors in securities and to promote the development of, and to regulate the securities market and for matters connected there with or incidental there to”.
SEBI has to be responsive to the needs of three groups, which constitute the market: ● the issuers of securities ● the investor ● the market intermediaries.
SEBI has three functions rolled into one body: quasi-legislative, quasi-judicial and quasi-executive. It drafts regulations in its legislative capacity, it conducts investigation and enforcement action in its executive function and it passes rulings and orders in its judicial capacity. Though this makes it very powerful, there is an appeal process to create accountability. There is a Securities Appellate Tribunal. A second appeal lies directly to the Supreme Court. SEBI has taken a very proactive role in streamlining disclosure requirements to international standards.
For the discharge of its functions efficiently, SEBI has been vested with the following powers:
- To approve by−laws of Securities exchanges.
- To require the Securities exchange to amend their by−laws.
- Inspect the books of accounts and call for periodical returns from recognized Securities exchanges.
- Inspect the books of accounts of financial intermediaries.
- Compel certain companies to list their shares in one or more Securities exchanges.
- registration broke
There are two types of brokers:
- Discount Brokers
- Merchant Brokers
- Technical Advisory Committee
- Committee for review of structure of market infrastructure institutions
- Advisory Committee for the SEBI Investor Protection and Education Fund
- Takeover Regulations Advisory Committee
- Primary Market Advisory Committee (PMAC)
- Secondary Market Advisory Committee (SMAC)
- Mutual Fund Advisory Committee
- Corporate Bonds & Securitization Advisory Committee
(GS2: Bilateral ties)
Issue: In 2017, VARUNA was conducted in three sea areas in the European waters. This year too VARUNA-18 would be conducted in three sea areas, namely, the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and South Western Indian Ocean
History of the exercise
The Indian Navy and the French Navy have conducted bilateral maritime exercises since May 1993. Since 2001, the exercises have been named VARUNA and there have been fifteen editions of the same till date. The last edition of VARUNA was conducted off the French Coast in Apr 2017. The VARUNA series of exercises have grown in scope and complexity over the years and provide an opportunity to both Navies to increase interoperability and learn from each other’s best practices.
(GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: The Government has launched the Global Initiative for Academic Networks (GIAN) to help foreign faculty to teach some courses in the higher educational institutions. The Government has decided to allow faculty working under the Central Government or Central Autonomous Bodies, to join the newly set up Central Educational Institutions on long-term deputation, for a period of 10 years.
Objective of the scheme:
In order to garner the best international experience into our systems of education, enable interaction of students and faculty with the best academic and industry experts from all over the world and also share their experiences and expertise to motivate people to work on Indian problems
(GS2: Welfare schemes for the vulnerable sections of the population)
Issue: Saksham Scholarship Scheme was launched in 2014-15, with the objective of encouraging economically weaker differently abled students to pursue technical education at Diploma and Degree levels. Scholarship amount of Rs. 30,000 is provided towards tuition fee reimbursement and Rs. 20000 as contingency allowance.
This scheme is implemented by the Ministry of Human resources development
‘Schemes to improve education in India’
(GS2: Issues related to Education)
Issue: The Government is committed to improve the quality of education and it is a continuous ongoing process.
Steps and schemes introduced by the government
The Government is committed to provide equitable access to quality education to all sections of the society. Ministry of Human Resource Development took a leap forward in transforming education sector with the motto of “Sabko Shiksha, Achchi Shiksha” (Quality education to all). ‘Education For All & Quality Education’ guided policy actions and decisions enabling transformation have emphasized upon making education Available, Accessible, Affordable and Accountable.
‘Education for All’ has driven the expansion in education with new institutes of School (KVS, NVS), initiatives such as Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme which aim for improvement in school infrastructure and in teaching and learning, Swachh Vidyalaya and e-governance initiatives like ShaGun Portal, e-Pathshala, Shaala Siddhi, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), ICT in Schools, Centrally Sponsored Scheme on Teacher Education (CSSTE), Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan in secondary education and in Higher Education, new institutions like IITs, IIMs, IIITs, IISER etc. have been set up and Institutional capacity building initiatives like, SWAYAM PRABHA – DTH channels on 24X7 basis for educational programmes, restructuring of IIT fees to make more inclusive, Amendments in UGC Act to make more gender sensitive, SWAYAM – MOOCs etc. have been undertaken. On the other hand ‘Quality Education’ has been emphasized with the thrust on promoting research & innovation, and initiatives like Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT), Global Initiative of Academic Network (GIAN), National Digital Library, National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), Higher Educational Financing Agency (HEFA), Digital ISBN, National Academic Depository (NAD), Seema Darshan, Kala Utsav, Prashikshak Portal etc.
‘Adopt a Heritage project’
(GS1: Indian Culture)
Issue: Taj Mahal is one of the monuments under ‘Adopt a Heritage Project’, launched on the World Tourism Day, 2017.
About the project
The project plans to entrust heritage sites/monuments and other tourist sites to private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals for the development of tourist amenities. They would become ‘Monument Mitras’ and adopt the sites. The basic and advanced amenities of the tourist destinations would be provided by them. They would also look after the operations and the maintenance of the amenities.
The project would begin with 93 ASI ticketed monuments and would be expanded to other natural and cultural sites across India. The heritage sites are classified into various categories. The ‘Monument Mitras’ would take up the sites of varied visibility and footfall as a package.
The ‘Monument Mitras’ would associate pride with their CSR activities. They would also get visibility in the monument premises and in the Incredible India website.The project aims to develop synergy among all partners.
The project is implemented by Ministry of Tourism
‘Mars and Oceans’
Issue: Oceans on Mars formed several hundred million years earlier and were not as deep as once thought, according to a study. Researchers at The University of California, Berkeley in the US have linked the existence of oceans early in the history of Mars to the rise of the solar system’s largest volcanic system, Tharsis.
Mars is a cold desert world. It is half the size of Earth. Mars is sometimes called the Red Planet. It’s red because of rusty iron in the ground.
Like Earth, Mars has seasons, polar ice caps, volcanoes, canyons, and weather. It has a very thin atmosphere made of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon.
There are signs of ancient floods on Mars, but now water mostly exists in icy dirt and thin clouds. On some Martian hillsides, there is evidence of liquid salty water in the ground.
Scientists want to know if Mars may have had living things in the past. They also want to know if Mars could support life now or in the future.
Mars Orbiter Mission
The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM is a space probe orbiting Mars since 24 September 2014. It was launched on 5 November 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is India’s first interplanetary mission and ISRO has also become the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the Soviet space program, NASA, and the European Space Agency. It is the first Asian nation to reach Mars orbit, and the first nation in the world to do so in its first attempt