The Rajya Sabha Chairman, M. Venkaiah Naidu, recently warned MPs against using the mobile phones to record the proceedings of the House.
The chairman said that. unauthorised recordings and its circulation on social media are a breach of Parliamentary privilege and it will be considered as contempt of the House. He also asked the media who started telecasting the clips to stop doing the same since “it is not authorised”. He further said that the media could be “liable for consequences”.
What is the issue?
Recently, in the Rajya Sabha, Some Opposition MPs used their mobile phones to record the disruption in proceedings. There was disruption in the house proceedings over the farmer’s protest and the farm bills. These videos then shared on social media and it was telecasted on television channels as well.
What does the rule say?
The Parliamentary rules does not allow the usage of mobile phones within Rajya Sabha chambers”.
Rajya Sabha or Council of States
It is the upper house of the Parliament of India. The house has a maximum membership of 245. Out of them, 233 are elected by the legislatures of the states and union territories through the single transferable votes while 12 members are appointed by the President. The 12 members are nominated for their contributions in literature, art, science, and social services. The Rajya Sabha is the continuing chamber and is not subjected to dissolution. However, one-third of its member are retired every second year. The Vice-chairman of India is the ex-officio chairman of the upper house. Allocation of seats in Rajya Sabha is done in accordance with the fourth schedule of the Indian constitution.
How Members are elected in RS?
The members are elected using the method of proportional representation by the elected members of state legislative assemblies.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) recently released its report titled “Democracy in sickness and in health?” and also published the Democracy Index 2020.
The Democracy Index report 2020 by the covers the 167 countries.
It has classified the economies in categories such as flawed democracies, full democracies, hybrid regimes, and authoritarian regimes.
The report highlights that, 23 countries are full democracies, 52 are flawed democracies, 35 countries are hybrid regimes while 57 countries are authoritarian regimes out of total 167 countries.
In the Democracy Index, Norway has topped.
The 2nd 3rd 4th and the 5th ranks have been secured by Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand and Canada respectively in the index.
India’s rank has degraded by two places from the previous year ranking. This year India has been ranked at 53rd place.
Sri Lanka was placed at 68th position. It is also classified as a flawed democracy.
Pakistan was ranked at 105th position. It has been classified as a ‘hybrid regime’.
Other Hybrid regime countries include Bangladesh which has been ranked at 76th position and Bhutan which has been ranked at 84th
Afghanistan has been ranked at 139th position and it has been classified as an ‘authoritarian regime’.
Why India’s rank has declined?
The report highlights that, multiple instances of “crackdowns” on civil liberties and the “democratic backsliding” by authorities has degraded the India’s ranking. However, India was ranked higher than most of its neighbouring nations. In the index, India has been classified as a ‘flawed democracy’. The other flawed democracies include U.S., France, Brazil and Belgium.
Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)
The EIU has been headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the leading resource that provides the forecasting and advisory services through the economic and business research across the world.
The Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers’ Conclave was hosted by India on February 4, 2021. The event took place in the backdrop of Aero India 2021 which is the largest Aero show of Asia.
The Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers’ Conclave was organised under the theme: ‘‘Enhanced Peace, Security, and Cooperation in the Indian Ocean’’.
The event was started with the welcome address of the Defence Secretary and the Defence Ministers of various Indian Ocean Region Countries.
The concluding remarks was given by the Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Indian Ocean Region Conclave
The Conclave is an initiative that seeks to promote the dialogue in the institutional, economic and cooperative environment.
This conclave helps the countries in Indian Ocean region to foster the development of peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region.
This conclave is organised with the objective of addressing the issues related to:
Defence Industry co-operation among the IOR countries.
Maritime surveillance and cooperation
Sharing the resources that are available in the Indian Defence Shipyards. Resources that will be utilized for the purpose of designing and shipbuilding.
Sharing the Indian ports with friendly nations.
Sharing of the Information to increase the awareness in maritime domain.
Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
Development of technologies and capabilities to harness the marine resources.
Marine Pollution Response Activities.
The conclave was attended by 18 countries. Among them, the Defence Ministers of 4 countries Comoros, Maldives, Madagascar, and Iran took part in the conclave. From six countries namely Australia, Kenya, Myanmar, Kuwait, Mauritius and Seychelles, six High Commissioners or Ambassadors participated. From 10 countries, the service Chief participated besides, the Defence Secretary of Sudan.
Recently, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) stated that a panel of Ministers would take final decision regarding the number of public sector companies that will be retained in each of the strategic sectors. The panel of ministers will comprise of Nirmala Sitharaman, the Finance Minister and Nitin Gadkari, the Road Transport Minister.
The finance minister recently, while presenting budget 2021, unveiled the government’s plan of the Disinvestment or the Strategic Disinvestment Policy.
The government also identified four strategic sectors, namely:
Transport and Telecommunications;
Power, Petroleum, Coal and other minerals;
Atomic energy, Space and Defence; and
Banking, Insurance and financial services.
In these sectors, bare minimum Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) would be maintained.
The government also highlighted that the CPSEs in other sectors would be privatised.
What is the Plan?
NITI Aayog will work on preparing the preliminary list of CPSEs. These lists could be taken up for strategic disinvestment. The strategic sectors list will be prepared on the basis of four groups:
Energy and minerals and
The government has targeted to conclude the strategic sale of Air India, BPCL, Container Corporation of India, IDBI Bank, Shipping Corporation of India, Neelachal Ispat Nigam Ltd, Pawan Hans and BEML in the next fiscal.
The Initial Public Offering of LIC would also be launched.
It means transfer of the ownership and control of the public sector entity to other entity. Usually, the ownership is transferred to a private sector entity. It is a king of privatization unlike the simple disinvestment where the government sale of assets to raise money.
The Central Government has confirmed in a written reply to Lok Sabha about the presence of 1600 tonnes of lithium deposits in Mandya district of Karnataka. However, the significance and the quantity of the lithium in the region can only be confirmed after exploring the entire area. Further, commercial exploitation for the deposits can start only after the technical, social and economic feasibility studies are done.
The survey was done on the surface and limited subsurface in the pegmatites of Marlagalla – Allapatna area.
Survey was done by the Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research (AMD).
AMD is a constituent unit under the Department of Atomic Energy.
Lithium is a significant element for new technologies.
It is useful in ceramics, telecommunication, glass and aerospace industries.
Other known uses of lithium are in optical modulators for mobile phones, lithium-ion batteries, high energy additives to rocket propellants and lubricating grease.
It is also used as a converter to tritium and used as a raw material in fusion reaction.
Thus, as the demand for lithium-ion batteries has increased, the requirement of lithium has also increased over time.
The demand has also increased in the light of Indian government’s call of becoming one of the largest electric vehicle market in the world.
Because of increasing demand, India is spending a considerable amount on Lithium import. The huge import of lithium has increased the import bill of Lithium by three-fold in between 2017 to 2020.
India is relying heavily Japan, China, and Taiwan for its electric battery supply and other lithium-based equipment.
Thus, the presence of lithium on Indian soil becomes important to reduce the import dependency and for the proper functioning of the India’s first lithium plant.
India’s first Lithium plant
The first Lithium plant of India has been set up at Gujarat in the year 2021. This refinery will be set up with the help of investment of Rs 1000 crore made by the Manikaran Power Limited. This refinery will make use of Lithium ore to produce the base battery material and make Gujarat a hub for Lithium-ion batteries.
India-Argentina deals on Lithium
Indian firm, Khanij Bidesh India Limited and Argentinian firm had signed an agreement in the year 2020 to jointly prospect the lithium in the South American nation. The South American nation has 17 million tonnes of lithium metal reserves.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on has introduced a risk-based internal audit (RBIA) system. It has made it mandatory for select non-banking financial companies and urban co-operative banks (UCBs).
What has changed now?
As per the norms, all the deposit-taking non-banking financial companies (NBFCs) with the asset size of Rs 5,000 crore will have to implement this system.
Also, the UCBs having asset size of Rs 500 crore will have to implement the system.
The system is required to be implemented by March 31, 2022.
The performance of the RBIA system will be looked by the board of the entity or its audit committee. The board of the entity is already responsible to look after the internal audit function of the organisation.
What is the need of new system?
Though NBFCs and UCBs already have internal audit systems. But it usually focuses to test the transaction, to check the accuracy & reliability of accounting records and to make financial reports etc. but, the risk-based internal audit system will enhance the efficacy of internal audit systems and processes which are followed by both the entities.
Further, these entities have grown in size over time and has become systemically important. So, the different audit systems for lending entities were creating inconsistencies, risks and gaps. Thus, the need of new system felt.
What is RBIA System?
It is an audit methodology that links the overall risk management framework of an organisation. It also provides an assurance to the board of directors and the senior management regarding the quality and effectiveness of risk management, internal controls and systems & processes related to the governance.
RBI had also introduced the RBIA system for the scheduled commercial banks (SCBs) in the year 2002.
How the RBIA system will work?
RBIA system will evaluate the internal risk management systems and control procedures in various aspects of operations in the NBFs and UCBs. It will also test the transaction in order to anticipate risks and mitigate it.
The Rating agency Moody’s have recently forecasted that the nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of India will rise closer to 17% in the Financial Year 2021.
The US-based rating agency further forecasts that, India’s fiscal deficit projections are higher than expected.
According to it, slower consolidation will constrain the fiscal strength of India in the medium term.
The growth rate projected by Moody’s is higher than what was proposed in the Union Budget 2021. The budget projected the GDP as 14.4%.
Further, the headline deficit projections are larger than their expectation.
It further says that, the focus of budget 2021 is on higher capital spending, financial sector reform and asset sales. This will help in stimulating the growth.
India has projected fiscal deficit of 9.5% of GDP for the Fiscal year 2020 that will end in March. So, the rating agency highlighted that, the greater transparency on off-balance-sheet food subsidy expenditure and conservative revenue assumptions have increased the government’s fiscal deficit in 2020.
The rating agency has pegged the fiscal deficit at 6.8% for the financial year 2021-22 beginning on April 1.
It also says that the financial sector will undergo some credit positive reform because of announcement made under the budget.
Further, it says the Banks will benefit from the establishment of an asset reconstruction company to resolve NPAs problem.
The public sector banks will also benefit because of ₹20,000 crore capital infusion.
The rating agency further believes that the disinvestment target of ₹75 lakh crore is achievable. The statement was made keeping in mind the expectation of strengthening the economic conditions. However, it will be subject to the significant implementation risk.
Moody’s Corporation or Moody’s
It is an American business and financial services company which was founded in 1909 by John Moody. It is the holding company for Moody’s Investors Service (MIS) and Moody’s Analytics (MA).
Recently, the Villupuram district administration in Tamil Nadu has issued the first declaration under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The declaration was issued in a bid to declare Kaliveli wetlands as a bird sanctuary.
This decision is highly appreciated by the Forest Department officials and conservationists since it will boost their efforts to protect the wetland which is home for diverse flora and fauna.
The first declaration was issued under the Section 18 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
The Kaliveli wetlands
The Kaliveli Wetlands is the second-largest brackish water lake in South India. The first largest is the Pulicat lake.
The wetland is ecologically important.
It is located near to the Marakkanam on the East Coast Road of the Kaliveli Lake.
The wetland is spread over an area of 670 sq.km.
The Kaliveli lake is connected to the Bay of Bengal through the Uppukalli Creek and the Edayanthittu sanctuary.
Southern part of the wetland was declared a reserved land in the year 2001.
Why it is being converted to bird sanctuary?
As per the 2004 report by the Indian Bird Conservation Network and Bird Life International, the Kaliveli wetlands supports around 20,000 birds every year. The lake also works as a feeding ground for long-distance migrants who migrates from the cold subarctic Central Asia and Siberia. Some of the migratory birds include Black-tailed Godwits, White Stork, Eurasian Curlew, Ruff and Dublin. This is why, there is a demand to covert the wetlands into a bird sanctuary.
The declaration will ensure that no construction take place in the surroundings.
The declaration will help in maintaining the natural biosphere and biodiversity of the area.
It will also create jobs for the local residents through eco-tourism.
Further, the wetlands have large area that will help in recharging the ground water table.
What are the Challenges?
Creation of check-dam downstream could impact the water levels and salinity in the wetlands. Further, the Creation of the check-dam will have negative impact on the plan of creating a fishing harbour in the estuary of the lagoon system.
The year-long Birth Centenary celebrations of legendary classical singer Pandit Bhimsen Joshi will begin on February 04, 2020.
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The Rithwik Foundation for performing arts also organised a two-day event in Mumbai to commemorate the timeless legacy of the great musical maestro.
The event to celebrate the Birth Centenary is named as “SwarBhaskar 100”.
The event will start with Jayateerth Mevundi’s rendition of some compositions of the Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.
Apart from this event, Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal also organised a musical programme called ‘Abhivadan’. This was organised at the Ganesh Kala Krida Manch in Pune.
Who was Pandit Bhimsen Joshi?
Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi was an Indian vocalist from Karnataka.
He is famous for his known for the khayal form of singing.
He also used to sing popular renditions of devotional music.
He belongs to the Kirana gharana of Hindustani Classical Music.
In the year 1964 to 1982 he visited Afghanistan, France, Italy, USA and Canada for concerts.
His concerts were advertised by posters in New York. This happened for the first time for a musician from India.
He also organised the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival annually. This was organised as homage to his guru, Pandit Sawai Gandharva.
He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in the year 1998. It is the highest honour which is conferred by the Sangeet Natak Akademi. In the year 2009 he received, the India’s highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna.
Hindustani classical music
It is the classical music of northern regions of the India. It is also called as the North Indian classical music or the shastriya sangeet. The origin of the shastriya sangeet dates back to the 12th century CE. In the 12th century, the Hindustani Classical Music got diverged from the classical music of southern Indian regions called the Carnatic Music.
Recently, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has identified 50 religious places to carry the interventions in order to ensure zero tolerance towards child labour.
Shri Ram Janmabhoomi and Taj Mahal have also been included in the list of 50 religious places.
The NCPCR will took up the intervention to eliminate the child labour at these 50 identified religious places.
The interventions will be undertaken in a collaborative manner.
NCPCR stated that multi-stakeholders including the anti-human trafficking unit, representatives from NGOs/CSOs, child welfare police officers and religious trust & groups shall work in collaboration to undertake the interventions.
Other places that have been identified include: Bodh Gaya, Taj Mahal, Kumbh Mela, Haji Ali Dargah, Puri Jagannath Temple, Khajuraho, Rishikesh etc.
The commission notes that, several instances of child labour, child begging etc. have been found at these religious places.
How NCPCR will undertake the situation?
NCPCR will undertake the:
Preventive Measures such as linking vulnerable and deprived families with the different centre and state government schemes. This will help in the sustainable rehabilitation of the child.
Curative Measures such as penal action against the perpetrators including the organized nexus who involves the children in begging, labour, and trafficking, etc.
Child Labourers in India
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that there are around 12.9 million Indian children aged 7 to 17 years old who are engaged in work. The children are often doing unpaid work. Because of this, they are less likely to attend school or they attend the school only intermittingly. This in turn is trapping these children in the poverty cycle.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
It is the apex body operating under the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The body works for protecting the child rights in India. It was established in the year 2007. The headquarter of the NCPCR is in Delhi.
The Home Minister have recently presented the crime data in Parliament in the ongoing Budget Session.
The ministry of Home Affairs informed in the Parliament that increasing use of the internet across the country has increased the instances of the cybercrime.
It also highlighted that most of the cybercrime cases were of sexual exploitation and spread of hatred.
As per the data present in the Parliament, 93,000 cases of cybercrime related to the sexual exploitation and spread of hatred were between 2017 and 2019.
Ministry further writes that, these crimes took place with the motives of fraud, personal revenge, piracy, sexual exploitation, inciting hate and stealing information.
The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) also highlights that 21,796 cases of cybercrime were registered in the year 2017. This number rose steeply to 44,546 cybercrime cases in the year 2019.
Further, the government highlights in Rajya Sabha that crimes against members of Scheduled Castes (SCs) have increased by 7.3% while the crime against Scheduled Tribes (STs) have increased by 26.5% in 2019.
National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)
It is an Indian government agency which is responsible for collecting and analysing the crime data. The crime data are analysed in accordance with the definition of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The agency is headquartered in New Delhi. It works under the aegis of or is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Presently, the Director of NCRB is Ramphal Pawar (IPS).
NCRB was set up in the year 1986 on the recommendation of Task force (1985) and National Police Commission (1977). In order to set up the agency, Directorate of Coordination, Police Computer (DCPC) and the Inter State Criminals Data Branch & Central Finger Print Bureau of CBI were merged.
The NCRB function as a repository of information on crime and criminals. These information are used to assist the investigators to link the crime and the perpetrators.
The Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister of State for Jal Shakti Rattan Lal Kataria, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Animal Husbandry Minister Giriraj Singh have jointly launched a unified web portal. This web portal will be used for monitoring the progress of GOBARDHAN activities in India.
It is an important component of Swachh Bharat Mission Phase-2.
The mission is used for the organic solid waste management.
Open Defecation Free Plus goal that has been outlined in the Phase 2 of Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) is dependent on the performance of Gobardhan scheme.
The initiative will address the solid waste management challenge and also increase the livelihood opportunities.
Further, it seeks to increase the household earnings of farmers and people living in rural areas.
This initiative is aimed at supporting the villages effectively to manage the cattle dung and other organic waste.
This scheme was launched by the Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation GOBAR-DHAN scheme stands for Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources – DHAN scheme. This scheme is the part of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin). The scheme has its focus on keeping the villages clean, increasing the income of rural households. It also seeks to generate energy from cattle waste.
Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin)
This mission comprises of the two main components in order to create clean villages. Two components include- to create open defecation free (ODF) villages and to manage the solid & liquid waste in villages. Under the scheme, 3.5 lakh villages, 374 districts and 16 States or Union Territories of the country have been declared ODF till date. Thus, time has come to is set up the ODF-plus activities. The ODF-plus comprise of the measures so as to enhance Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM). The GOBARDHAN scheme is also an element under the ODF-plus strategy.
The 16th edition of Indo-US joint military exercise ‘Yudh Abhyas’ will begin in Rajasthan from February 8 and it will be concluded in February 21, 2021.
About Yudh Abbhyas 2021
The exercise will be held near the India-Pakistan border.
It will be held with the aim of enhancing the cooperation and interoperability between the armies of India and USA.
The exercise will also focus on the counter-terrorism operation in accordance with the mandate of United Nations.
The drill between India and USA will be held in the backdrop of the five days drill between air forces of India and France in Rajasthan in January 2021.
The bilateral training exercise of the two armies will be held at the Foreign Training Node in the Mahajan Field Firing Ranges.
Who will represent the Armies?
Indian Army will be represented by the 11th Battalion of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles which is the part of the South Western Command.
US Army will be represented by the troops of 2nd battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment. These troops belong to the 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team. Respective brigade headquarters will also represent the army along with the troops.
Yudh Abhyas between two armies is held since 2004. The exercise has been designed to promote the cooperation between both the armies. Both the sides share their training techniques, their culture and build the joint operating skills.
Significance of the exercise
The Yudh Abhyas between the Indian and the US army in significant with respect to the security challenges, like terrorism, faced by both the nations of global terrorism. This exercise will be held with the objective of enhancing the level of defence cooperation between both armies. This in turn will also boost the bilateral relations of both the nations. The exercise also signifies the key role that India plays into the Indo-Pacific region. The exercise is also significant with respect to the recent development on the northern border with China.