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Current Affairs 25 & 26 December 2020 for UPSC Exam

Contents

  1. Registrar General: Update ‘charge register’
  2. CIC on Disclosing names of electoral bond buyers
  3. Scientists identify the ‘BBX11’ gene that greens plants

REGISTRAR GENERAL: UPDATE ‘CHARGE REGISTER’

Context:

The Registrar General of India (RGI) that conducts the decennial Census exercise has written to all State coordinators to update the “charge register”, which an important census document.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a Charge Register – the census document?
  2. About Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India
  3. About the National Population Register (NPR)
  4. More About Indian Census

What is a Charge Register – the census document?

  • The “charge register” is an important census document containing details like names of an area, locality etc., which helps the enumerators to collect details during the first phase of Census-House Listing and Housing Census and the National Population Register (NPR).
  • The charge register shows the distribution of work among enumerators and marks the House Listing Blocks (HLB) to be visited by each official.
  • A House Listing Block (HLB) is a primary unit of collection of data.
  • The register will also be used for the field work relating to the updating of NPR since the same functionaries would be engaged for both the exercises.

About Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India

  • The office of Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India was founded in 1961 by Government of India under Ministry of Home Affairs, for arranging, conducting and analyzing the results of the demographic surveys of India including Census of India and Linguistic Survey of India.
  • The position of Registrar is usually held by a civil servant holding the rank of Joint Secretary.

About the National Population Register (NPR)

  • NPR or the National Population Register contains the basic demographic data of an individual residing in a particular area.
  • NPR has been termed as the register of usual residents of the country by the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner.
  • The NPR has its base in the rules framed by the central government under the Citizenship Act, 1955 and Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
  • The NPR is carried out under the supervision of the Central Government which includes house to house enumeration for collection of the specified particulars.
  • The Registrar General of Citizen Registration would be responsible for providing the notification regarding the duration of the enumeration in the Official Gazette.

Objectives of NPR

  • The demographic data is collected to assist the government to formulate policies for the future for a particular area or community. It would help the policies be more relevant as it would be based on an assessment of the needs of the people in the area.
  • The basic idea is to create a comprehensive database of the total population residing in India, as the total population includes both the citizens and the non-citizens. The category of non-citizens isn’t restricted to illegal migrants alone.
  • NPR would enable the government to get a sense of clarity on the demographic composition of the country while creating a database to help them in their future objectives.

Who is a “usual resident”?

  • A “usual resident”, for the NPR, is a person who has lived in an area for at least six months or more, or a person who intends to live in an area for the next six months or more.
  • It is mandatory for every “usual resident” of India to register in the NPR.

More About Indian Census

  • Census in India provides information on size, distribution and socio-economic, demographic and other characteristics of the country’s population.
  • The Census was first started under British Viceroy Lord Mayo in 1872.
  • Indian Census has been conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs since 1949.
  • The decennial Census of India has been conducted 15 times, as of 2011.

The Census is one of the most credible sources of information on:

  1. Demography
  2. Economic Activity
  3. Literacy and Education
  4. Housing & Household Amenities
  5. Urbanization, Fertility, and Mortality
  6. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
  7. Language

The 16th Census in India

  • The 2021 Census of India, also the 16th Indian Census, will be taken in 2021.
  • The 15th Indian Census taken in 2011, attempted to estimate the population based on Socio-Economic and Caste Status for the first time since 1931. However, as the enumeration was based on recording the respondents’ declaration, it led to creation of hundreds of thousands of caste/sub-caste categories.
  • For the 16th Indian census, the government is instead considering enumeration based on a list of OBCs notified by each state
  • The 2011 caste data, collected as part of the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC), is yet to be released by the Centre.
  • The data collected during the 2021 Census will be stored electronically and from 2021 Census it will be stored forever in electronic format, making it the First Digital Census.
  • Census 2021 is unlikely to collect “caste wise” data as a similar exercise conducted in 2011 by another ministry threw up about 40 lakh caste names that were difficult to tabulate.
  • The option of “Other” under the gender category, which roughly 5 lakh people marked in 2011, is now “Third Gender”.

-Source: The Hindu


CIC ON DISCLOSING NAMES OF ELECTORAL BOND BUYERS

Context:

  • The Central Information Commission (CIC) said that no public interest is involved in disclosing the names of buyers of electoral bonds.
  • The CIC reiterated the argument that information such as names of buyers of electoral bonds cannot be shared under the Right to Information (RTI) Act as it is held in a “fiduciary” capacity.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Understanding Electoral Bonds
  2. Details of the CIC’s view on disclosure of names of Electoral Bond buyers
  3. Arguments against not revealing the names of Electoral Bond buyers
  4. Central Information Commission (CIC)
  5. Functions of CIC

Understanding Electoral Bonds

  • In 2018, the government had notified the Electoral Bond Scheme which was claimed as an alternative to cash donations and to ensure transparency in political funding.
  • As per the provisions of the scheme, electoral bonds may be purchased by an Indian citizen or a company incorporated or established in India.
  • Only political parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1951 and has secured no less than one per cent votes in the last Lok Sabha elections are eligible to receive electoral bonds.
  • The electoral accounts are issued by the State Bank of India (SBI). The electoral bonds can be purchased in the months of January, April, July and October.
  • Political parties are allotted a verified account by the Election Commission and all the electoral bond transactions are done through this account only.
  • The donors can buy these electoral bonds and transfer them into the accounts of the political parties as a donation. The electoral bonds are available in denominations from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1 crore.
  • The bonds remain valid for 15 days and can be encashed by an eligible political party only through a bank account with the authorised bank within that period only.
  • Every donor has to provide his/her KYC detail to the banks to purchase the electoral bonds. The names of the donors are kept confidential.

What is Political Funding?

  • Political Funding implies the methods that political parties use to raise funds to finance their campaign and routine activities.
  • A political party needs money to pitch itself, its objectives, its intended actions to get votes for itself.

Statutory Provisions

  • Section 29B of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) entitles parties to accept voluntary contributions by any person or company, except a Government Company.
  • Section 29C of the RPA mandates political parties to declare donations that exceed 20,000 rupees. Such a declaration is made by making a report and submitting the same to the EC. Failure to do so on time disentitles a party from tax relief under the Income Tax Act, 1961.

Details of the CIC’s view on disclosure of names of Electoral Bond buyers

  • The CIC observed that the disclosure of names of donors and the donees may be in contravention of provisions contained in the RTI Act.
  • One of the sections in the RTI act- exempts a public authority to give a citizen information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information.
  • The information related to electoral bonds issued to political parties is held by SBI in a fiduciary capacity.

A fiduciary is a person who holds a legal or ethical relationship of trust with one or more other parties (person or group of persons).

Arguments against not revealing the names of Electoral Bond buyers

  • As neither the donor nor the political party is obligated to reveal whom the donation comes from, it undercuts a fundamental constitutional principle, the freedom of political information, which is an integral element of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution.
  • In 2019, the Supreme Court held that all political parties who had received donations through electoral bonds must submit details to the Election Commission of India.
  • It defeats the fundamental principle of transparency in political finance because it conceals from public scrutiny the identity of the corporates and moneybags.
  • Elimination of a cap of 7.5% on corporate donations, elimination of requirement to reveal political contributions in profit and loss statements and also the elimination of the provision that a corporation must be three years in existence, undercuts the intent of the scheme.
  • Any troubled, dying company can donate an unlimited amount anonymously to a political party giving them a convenient channel for business to round-trip their cash parked in tax havens for a favor or advantage granted in return for something.
  • As the government is always in a position to know who the donor is because the bonds are purchased through the SBI – it could lead to an illegal intervention in the process to favor whichever political party is ruling at the time.

Central Information Commission (CIC)

  • The Central Information Commission (CIC) is a Statutory body constituted under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
  • The jurisdiction of the Commission extends over all Central Public Authorities.
  • It was constituted to act upon complaints from those individuals who have not been able to submit information requests to a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer due to either the officer not have been appointed, or because the respective Central Assistant Public Information Officer or State Assistant Public Information Officer refused to receive the application for information under the Right to Information Act.

Functions of CIC

  1. Order enquiry into any matter on reasonable grounds only.
  2. Secure compliance of its decisions from any public authority.
  3. Receive and inquire into a complaint from any person who:
    • Has not received any response to his request for information within a specified time.
    • Deems the information given to him/her incomplete, false or misleading, and any other matter related to securing the information.
    • Has been unable to submit a request for information due to the non-appointment of an officer.
    • Considers the fees so charged unreasonable.
    • Was refused the information requested.
  4. The commission has the power to examine any record under the control of the public authority. All such records have to be given to the Commission during examination and nothing shall be withheld.
  5. During inquiries, the CIC has the powers of a civil court, such as the powers to:
    • Summon and enforce the attendance of persons, and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and produce documents or things
    • Require the discovery and inspection of documents
    • Receive evidence on affidavit
    • Requisition public records or copies from any office or court
    • Issue summons for the examination of documents or witnesses
    • Any other matter that may be prescribed
  6. The CIC also submits an annual report to the GOI on the implementations of the provisions of the Act. This report is then placed before both the Houses of Parliament.

-Source: Hindustan Times


SCIENTISTS IDENTIFY THE ‘BBX11’ GENE THAT GREENS PLANTS

Context:

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) have identified a gene ‘BBX11’ that facilitates in the greening of plants.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the ‘BBX11’ Gene and its discovery
  2. What is Chlorophyll and what is its role in photosynthesis?

About the ‘BBX11’ Gene and its discovery

  • The ‘BBX11’ gene plays a crucial role in regulating the levels of protochlorophyllide which is an intermediate in the biosynthesis of the green pigment chlorophyll.
  • This discovery has many implications within the agriculture sector in tropical nations like India and can assist present results in optimising plant progress in frequently changing weather conditions.

How does synthesis of Chlorophyll work?

  • When a seedling emerges from under the soil it must quickly synthesise chlorophyll to start supporting its own growth.
  • In order to facilitate quick synthesis of chlorophyll, plants make a precursor of chlorophyll called ‘protochlorophyllide’ in the dark, which glows red when blue light is shone on the plant.
  • As soon as the plant comes out into the light from under the soil, light-dependent enzymes convert protochlorophyllide to chlorophyll.

Regulatory role played by the BBX11 gene

  • If there is excess of free protochlorophyllide, then exposure to light converts it into molecules that cause ‘photobleaching’.
  • Thus, it is very important to regulate the amount of protochlorophyllide synthesized by the plant and here comes the vital plant played by the ‘BBX11’ gene.
  • If it is less, plants are unable to efficiently ‘green’ in order to harvest sunlight.
  • If the amount of protochlorophyllide is more, then plants bleach under the light.

What is Chlorophyll and what is its role in photosynthesis?

  • Chlorophyll is one of the green pigments found in the mesosomes of cyanobacteria and in the chloroplasts of algae and plants.
  • It is essential in photosynthesis as it is the molecule that absorbs sunlight and uses its energy to synthesize carbohydrates from CO2 and Water.
  • This process of synthesizing carbohydrates/sugars (C6H12O6) from Carbon-di-oxide (CO2) and Water (H2O) is known as photosynthesis and is the basis for sustaining the life processes of all plants.
Photosynthesis - Wikipedia

-Source: The Hindu

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