Today’s Current Affairs Diary 17-05-2022
Today’s Important Prelims Bits
In News: PM to address programme marking silver jubilee celebrations of TRAI on 17th May
- TRAI was established in 1997 through the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997.
- TRAI’s mission is to create and nurture conditions for growth of telecommunications in the country in a manner and at a pace which will enable India to play a leading role in emerging global information society.
- One of the main objectives of TRAI is to provide a fair and transparent policy environment which promotes a level playing field and facilitates fair competition.
- The TRAI Act was amended by an ordinance, effective from 24 January 2000, establishing a Telecommunications Dispute Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) to take over the adjudicatory and disputes functions from TRAI.
The Places Of Worship Act
In News: Today, the Supreme court will hear a petition on Gyanwapi Issue.
What is the Places of Worship Act, and what are its provisions?
- The Places Of Worship Act, 1991, seeks to prohibit the conversion of a place of worship and maintain its religious character as was at the time of India’s Independence on August 15, 1947.
- Section 4 (1) of the Act states: “The religious character of a place of worship existing on the 15th day of August, 1947 shall continue to be the same as it existed on that day.”
- The Act was brought about by a Bill introduced by the erstwhile Union Home Minister in the PV Narasimha Rao Cabinet, Shankarrao Bhavrao Chavan.
- The Act has been in force since July 11, 1991.
- Section 5 of the Act states that its provisions shall not apply to the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case.
- The Places of Worship Act, 1991, was challenged last year in the Supreme Court arguing that the law was a contravention of the principle of secularism as laid down by the Constitution of India.
What is Gyanwapi Masjid Row?
- In 1991, a group of priests in Varanasi petitioned in court, seeking permission to worship on the Gyanvapi premises.
- The Allahabad High Court in 2019 ordered a stay on an ASI survey that was requested by the petitioners.
- Last month, a Varanasi court ordered a videographed survey of the Gyanvapi Masjid complex after the five Hindu women filed pleas, seeking to worship behind the western wall of the premises.
In News: Repo rate is likely to reach the pre-pandemic level of 5.15% from the existing 4.4% by August, says an SBI report.
What is the repo rate?
- The repo rate is one of several direct and indirect instruments that are used by the RBI for implementing monetary policy.
- RBI defines the repo rate as the fixed interest rate at which it provides overnight liquidity to banks against the collateral of government and other approved securities under the liquidity adjustment facility (LAF).
- In other words, when banks have short-term requirements for funds, they can place government securities that they hold with the central bank and borrow money against these securities at the repo rate.
- Since this is the rate of interest that the RBI charges commercial banks such as State Bank of India and ICICI Bank when it lends them money, it serves as a key benchmark for the lenders to in turn price the loans they offer to their borrowers.
A crucial monetary tool
- The repo rate system allows central banks to control the money supply within economies by increasing or decreasing the availability of funds.
- Besides the direct loan pricing relationship, the repo rate also functions as a monetary tool by helping to regulate the availability of liquidity or funds in the banking system. For instance, when the repo rate is decreased, banks may find an incentive to sell securities back to the government in return for cash. This increases the money supply available to the general economy.
- Conversely, when the repo rate is increased, lenders would end up thinking twice before borrowing from the central bank at the repo window thus, reducing the availability of money supply in the economy.
- Since inflation is, in large measure, caused by more money chasing the same quantity of goods and services available in an economy, central banks tend to target regulation of money supply as a means to slow inflation.
Repo rate and inflation
- Inflation can broadly be: mainly demand driven price gains, or a result of supply side factors that in turn push up the costs of inputs used by producers of goods and providers of services, thus spurring inflation, or most often caused by a combination of both demand and supply side pressures.
- Changes to the repo rate to influence interest rates and the availability of money supply primarily work only on the demand side by making credit more expensive and savings more attractive and therefore dissuading consumption.
- However, they do little to address the supply side factors, be it the high price of commodities such as crude oil or metals or imported food items such as edible oils.
Gati Shakti Sanchar Portal
- GS 2: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential.
- Recently, Department of Telecommunication of Ministry of Communications has launched the “GatiShakti Sanchar” portal for Centralised Right of Way (RoW) approvals.
Gati Shakti Sanchar Portal: Key points
- It has been launched in line with the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan.
- The portal has been developed keeping in view the vision areas of the National Broadband Mission, which is majorly about providing broadband infrastructure to every citizen.
What is Gati Shakti Sanchar Portal?
- National Broadband Mission (NBM) was set up by the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) in 2019 to facilitate universal and equitable access to broadband services across the country, especially in rural and remote areas.
- To fulfil this vision, it is imperative that a backbone of infrastructure is created by facilitating smooth and efficient deployment of Digital Communications Infrastructure across the country.
- To ensure that, DoT, is launching the “GatiShakti Sanchar” portal, which will provide a robust mechanism to achieve the goal of “Broadband for All” as envisaged in the National Digital Communication Policy-2.
- The portal shall act as an enabler to the objective of “Ease of doing business” for telecommunications infrastructure works.
- The timely disposal of RoW applications of various Service and Infrastructure providers shall enable speedy infrastructure creation which would be an enabler for timely rollout of 5G Network also.
What is Right of Way permissions?
- The portal will enable applicants form various Telecom Service providers (TSPs) as well as Infrastructure providers (IPs) to apply at a common single portal for Right of Way permissions to lay down Optical Fibre Cable and for erecting mobile towers to State/UT Governments and local bodies.
- For effective monitoring of RoW applications across the country, the portal even comes fitted with a potent dashboard showing State and District wise pendency status.
- The portal will smoothen the RoW approval process, which will lead to:
- Fast laying of more Optical Fiber Cable and thus will accelerate fiberization
- Increased tower density which will enhance connectivity and improve the quality of various telecom services
- Increased fiberization of telecom towers, thus ensuring better Broadband speed, across the country.
Solid Rocket Booster
- GS 3: Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Gaganyaan Programme: Context
- Recently, ISRO has successfully tested HS200(human-rated solid rocket booster) , bringing us one more step closer to the Gaganyaan human spaceflight mission.
Solid Rocket Booster ISRO: Key points
- The test was held at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
- HS200 booster was designed and developed by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram over two years.
- It is rocket boosters used on the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk-III (GSLV Mk-III), also called the LVM3.
- Out of the three propulsion stages of LVM3, the human-rated versions of the second stage known as L110-G loaded with liquid propellant and the third stage C25-G with cryogenic propellant are in the final phase of qualification including tests with static firing.
What is rocket booster?
- The GSLV Mk-III rocket, which will be used for the Gaganyaan mission will have two HS200 boosters which will supply the thrust for lift-off.
- The HS200 is a 20-metre-long booster with a diameter of 3.2 metres and is the world’s second largest operational booster using solid propellants.
- Since Gaganyaan is a crewed mission, the GSLV Mk-III will have improvements to increase reliability and safety to meet the requirements of ‘human rating.’
About GSLV rockets
- About GSLV rockets: It is a three-stage heavy-lift launch vehicle developed by ISRO. They are the largest launch vehicle developed by India.
- Development for the GSLV rockets began in the early 2000s, with the first launch planned for 2009-2010.
- A Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket consists of three stages.
- First stage: consists of a solid rocket motor and four liquid strap-ons.
- Second stage: consists of Vikas engine/engines (a family of liquid-fueled rocket engines conceptualized and designed by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre in the 1970s).
- Third stage: consists of an indigenously developed (by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre) cryogenic engine.
- GSLV Mark-II rockets: It is a fourth-generation launch vehicle.
- Payload carrying capacity: It can place 2500 kg satellite in Geo-synchronous orbit and 5000 kgs satellite into low earth orbit.
- First successful launch: GSLV-D5 (launched in 2014) was the first successful flight of the GSLV Mark-II using the indigenously developed cryogenic engine.
- GSLV Mark-III Rockets: It is the most capable launch vehicle India has. Its three stages consist of solid boosters, liquid motor, and cryogenic upper stage.
- Payload Carrying Capacity: It is capable of putting a communication satellite of 4 tonnes into Geo-synchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) and 10 tonnes satellite into Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
- First successful flight: taken in December 2014 when it successfully carried a crew module to a height of 120km.
- Some of the successful flights by GSLV Mark-III:
- CARE (Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Mission), Dec 2014.
- GSAT – 19 Mission, launched in June 2017.
- GSAT – 29 Mission, launched in November 2018.
- Chandrayaan 2 Mission, 2019.
About Gaganyaan Mission
- The Gaganyaan Programme envisages undertaking the demonstration of human spaceflight to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in the short-term and will lay the foundation for a sustained Indian human space exploration programme in the long run.
- The objective of Gaganyaan programme is to demonstrate indigenous capability to undertake human space flight mission to LEO.
- As part of this programme, two unmanned missions and one manned mission are approved by Government of India (GoI).
- The total cost of Gaganyaan Programme is around 9023 crores.
Marital Rape Explained
- GS Paper 2: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes;
- Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
Marital Rape in News
- Recently, a two-judge Bench of the Delhi High Court has delivered a split verdict in a batch of petitions challenging the exception provided to marital rape in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
- A split verdict in the Delhi High Court on the question of criminalising marital rape has reignited the controversy over legal protection for disregard of consent for sex within marriage.
What is Marital Rape Exception?
- Legal Provision for Rape: Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) defines rape and lists seven notions of consent which, if vitiated, would constitute the offence of rape by a man.
- Exceptions to Provision of Rape: Section 375 of IPC contains a crucial exemption: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape.”
- Exception to section 375 of IPC essentially allows a marital right to a husband who can with legal sanction exercise his right to consensual or non-consensual sex with his wife.
Government’s Stand on Marital Rape Exception Explained
- In Supreme Court: In an ongoing Case in Supreme Court, Centre initially defended the rape exception and later changed its stand and told the court that it was reviewing the law, and that “wider deliberations are required on the issue”.
- The Delhi government argued in favour of retaining the marital rape exception.
- Ministry of Home Affairs set up a committee to review criminal laws in the country including exceptions to Section 375 of IPC.
- Government’s Reasoning: The government’s arguments spanned from protecting men from possible misuse of the law by wives, to protecting the institution of marriage.
Judiciary on Marital Rape Exception
- Delhi High Court: Two Judges bench of Delhi High Court delivered a split verdict on the marital rape exception.
- The larger Bench to which a split verdict goes can be a three-judge Bench of the High Court, or an appeal can be preferred before the Supreme Court.
- The Delhi High Court has already granted a certificate of appeal to move the Supreme Court since the case involves substantial questions of law.
- Karnataka High Court: While the High Court did not explicitly strike down the marital rape exception, it allowed the married man to be put on trial on rape charges brought by his wife.
- The husband had moved the High Court after the trial court took cognizance of the offence under Section 376 (punishment for rape).
- Supreme Court: Supreme Court refused to stay the Karnataka High Court order that for the first time put a man on trial for marital rape.
- The SC’s refusal to stay the order indicates that the higher judiciary is willing to carry out a serious examination of the colonial-era provision.
Marital Rape Exception in Other Countries
- The marital rape immunity was abolished in post-colonial common law countries like Australia (1981), Canada (1983), and South Africa (1993). These countries have enacted laws that criminalise marital rape.
- United Kingdom: In 1991, in their landmark decision in the case known as R v R, the Lords took the view that the time had “arrived when the law should declare that a rapist remains a rapist subject to the criminal law, irrespective of his relationship with his victim”.
- The European Court of Justice reviewed the ruling and upheld the decision of the Lords as a “foreseeable evolution” of the law.
- Subsequently, in 2003 marital rape was outlawed by legislation in the UK.
Iran Nuclear Deal
- GS 2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
JCPOA UPSC: Context
- Recently, Iran has said that it is awaiting US response to “solutions” discussed with the EU envoy for breaking a stalemate in talks aimed at restoring the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran nuclear deal news: Key points
- Iran has been engaged in direct negotiations with France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China to revive the nuclear deal. The US has participated indirectly.
- Talks, however, remains stalled for two months due to some sticky points discussed later in this article.
Iran nuclear agreement: Sticky issues
- One of the major stumbling blocks is Tehran’s demand that the US State Department removes Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its list of foreign terrorist organisations.
- Washington has so far resisted, claiming that the issue falls outside the scope of the nucleal deal and should not be linked to the discussions.
What is Iran nuclear deal?
- In 2015, P5+1 countries-– the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany—signed a nuclear deal with Iran, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that was acclaimed as the biggest diplomatic achievement of the then US government.
- The original agreement required Iran to send abroad about 98 percent of its enriched uranium and it limited its nuclear capacity, with independent observers monitoring its progress.
- In return, the US removed sanctions that opened Iran up to the world economy.
- The JCPOA, according to international monitors, achieved its goal of curtailing Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran nuclear talks: Annulment of the nuclear deal
- In 2018, Trump administration unilaterally pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018 and imposed a “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign.
- Those sanctions continue to be punishing for Iranians, especially throughout the pandemic, and have severely limited access to medicine and food.
- In 2019, Iran started breaching its side of the agreement.
- Subsequently, its nuclear program has reached more advanced stages. Iran’s stockpile of uranium has expanded, with levels of enrichment much higher than permitted under the 2015 deal.
- At this point, Iran may be able to produce the material for a weapon in less than six weeks. (The JCPOA had put that time at about a year.)
India WTO relations
- GS 2: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
India WTO UPSC: Context
- Recently, India has formally proposed at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to allow members to sell food grains from their public stockholdings to weather the ongoing food crisis that has led to sky-rocketing inflation.
India WTO agriculture: Key points
- The existing Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) prohibits member countries to export their public stockholding food grains to the world market because it could distort global food prices.
Agreement on Agriculture
- The WTO Agreement on Agriculture contains provisions in 3 broad areas of agriculture and trade policy: market access, domestic support and export subsidies.
- This includes tariffication, tariff reduction and access opportunities.
- Tariffication: It means that all non-tariff barriers such as quotas, variable levies, minimum import prices, etc. need to be abolished and converted into an equivalent tariff.
- Ordinary tariffs including those resulting from their tariffication were to be reduced by an average of 36% with minimum rate of reduction of 15% for each tariff item over a 6-year period.
- Developing countries were required to reduce tariffs by 24% in 10 years.
- Special safeguard provision allows the imposition of additional duties when there are either import surges above a particular level or particularly low import prices as compared to 1986-88 levels.
- For domestic support policies, measured by the Total Aggregate Measure of Support (total AMS), should be reduced by 20% in developed countries (13.3% in developing countries).
- Reduction commitments refer to total levels of support and not to individual commodities.
- De-minimum level: Policies which amount to domestic support at less than 5% of the value of production for developed countries and less than 10% for developing countries also excluded from any reduction commitments.
- The Agreement contains provisions regarding members commitment to reduce Export Subsidies.
- Developed countries are required to reduce their export subsidy expenditure by 36% and volume by 21% in 6 years, in equal installment (from 1986 –1990 levels).
- For developing countries, the percentage cuts are 24% and 14% respectively in equal annual installment over 10 years.
What is de minimus level in WTO?
- In WTO, minimal amounts of domestic support that are allowed even though they distort trade are set as:
- up to 5% of the value of production for developed countries,
- up to 10% of the value of production for developing countries.
What is peace clause?
- Developed and developing clashed over the issue of domestic support to farmers, even for domestic food security.
- In Bali Ministerial Conference 2013, a temporary peace clause was inserted which said that that no country would be legally barred from food security programmes even if the subsidy breached the limits specified in the WTO agreement on agriculture.
- This ‘peace clause’ was expected to be in force for four years until 2017, by which time the protagonists hoped to find a permanent solution to the problem.
- India worries because if the clause expires before a permanent solution is in place, food security programmes and policies to protect farmers, such as Minimum Support Prices, would siege to exist.
NFHS-5 Report on Alcohol Consumption
- GS Paper 2: Governance, Administration and Challenges- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
NFHS-5 Report on Alcohol Consumption in News
- The National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5), 2019-21 report was recently released. NFHS-5 report on alcohol consumption found interesting insights about alcohol consumption across different states and among different age group.
NFHS-5 Report on Alcohol Consumption
- Across Geographical divide: NFHS-5 found that Alcohol consumption among both men and women is higher in rural India than in urban India.
- Across Gender: Overall, 1% of women aged 15 and over drink alcohol, compared to 19% of men in the same age group.
- This breaks up into 1.6% (rural) and 0.6% (urban) among women, and 19.9% and 16.5% respectively among men.
Alcohol Consumption Across States- NFHS-5
- Highest Alcohol Consumption: Of all states, Arunachal Pradesh has the highest proportion of both men (53%) and women (24%) who drink alcohol.
- Among women, Arunachal Pradesh is followed by Sikkim (16%); among men, it is followed by Telangana (43%).
- Besides Arunachal and Telangana, alcohol consumption among men is higher (40% and above) in upper Brahmaputra region of Assam, districts in Jharkhand and Bastar region of Chhattisgarh.
- Lowest Alcohol Consumption: Lakshadweep 4%, Gujarat 5.8%,, J&K 8.7%, Rajasthan 11.0%, Maharashtra 13.9%, UP 14.5% are the lowest alcohol consuming states/UTs in India.
- Alcohol Consumption among men is the lowest in Lakshadweep (0.4%).
Alcohol Consumption among Socially Disadvantaged Groups- NFHS-5
- Alcohol consumption is more common among those from the Scheduled Tribes than from any other caste/tribe groups.
- This Alcohol Consumption Trend is true of both women (6% consumption among STs) and men (33%).
Alcohol Consumption among different Religious Groups- NFHS-5
- Among religious groups, the proportion of men who drink alcohol is higher among those belonging to “other religions” (47%) than among those belonging to other religions.
- Among Various Religious Groups: Christian (28%), followed by Buddhist/Neo-Buddhist (24.5%) are the largest drinking religious groups as per the NFHS-5. Percentage of people from each religion who drinks alcohol are listed below-
- Hindu (20%), Muslim (5%), Christian (28%), Sikh (23.5%), Buddhist/Neo-Buddhist (24.5%) and Jain (5.9%) religions.
Report of NFHS 5: Key points
- The report comprises of detailed information on key domains of population, health and family welfare and associated domains.
- The information includes: characteristics of the population; fertility; family planning; infant and child mortality; maternal and child health; nutrition and anaemia; morbidity and healthcare; women’s empowerment etc.
- The main objective of successive rounds of the NFHS has been to provide reliable and comparable data relating to health and family welfare and other emerging areas in India.
Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA)
- GS Paper 2: International Relations- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA) in news
- Recently, India has been unanimously elected as the new Chair of the Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA) for 2022-2024.
- India elected as chair of the AAEA at the recently held meeting of the Executive board and General Assembly at Manila, Philippines.
- Commission on Elections, Manila was the current chair of AAEA.
- The new member in the Executive Board of AAEA now includes Russia, Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Taiwan and Philippines.
Key facts about Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA)
- About: AAEA was established in 1998 in pursuance of the resolution passed by participants of the Symposium on Asian Elections in the Twenty First Century held in 1997 in Manila, Philippines.
- AAEA Members: Currently 20 Asian EMBs are members of Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA).
- AAEA Mission: the mission of AAEA is
- To provide a non-partisan forum in the Asian region for sharing experiences and best practices among election authorities &
- To discuss and act upon ways to promote open and transparent elections with the objective of supporting good governance and democracy.
- India at AAEA: ECI is a founder member EMB of the AAEA and also served on the Executive Board of the AAEA as the Vice Chair during 2011-13 and Chair during 2014-16.
- AAEA at other Institutions:
- Delegates from AAEA have also been regularly participating in the International Election Visitors Programme organised by Election Commission of India.
- 62 officials from 12 AAEA members participated in the 3rd International Virtual Election Visitors Programme (IEVP) hosted by ECI during Assembly Elections in 2022.
- AAEA is also an Associate Member of the 118 members Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB).
About Election Commission of India (ECI)
- About: The ECI is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
- The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
Constitutional provisions related to ECI
- Part XV of the Indian constitution: deals with elections, and establishes a commission for these matters.
- Article 324 to 329 of the constitution: deals with powers, function, tenure, eligibility, etc. of the commission and the member.
|Articles related to Elections|
|324||Superintendence, direction, and control of elections to be vested in an Election Commission.|
|325||No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste, or sex.|
|326||Elections to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assemblies of States to be on the basis of adult suffrage.|
|327||Power of Parliament to make provision with respect to elections to Legislatures.|
|328||Power of Legislature of a State to make provision with respect to elections to such Legislature.|
|329||Bar to interference by courts in electoral matters.|