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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 25 July 2020

Contents

  1. U.S. against China Developments
  2. HC keeps status quo: Decoding the decision
  3. India and China Developments
  4. India, Sri Lanka seek to reset ties, RBI Currency swap
  5. IRDAI nod for Arogya Sanjeevani group variant

U.S. AGAINST CHINA DEVELOPMENTS

Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology, Prelims

Why in news?

  • The US government launched one of its most strident attacks on China yet with secretary of state asking allies and world powers to use “more creative and assertive ways” to press Beijing to change its ways.
  • This comes after China retaliated to U.S. demanding the closure of consulate in Houston by ordering US consulate in Sichuan province to shut its operation as a tit-for-tat move.

Details

China asking closure of Consulate

  • The Ministry also made specific requirements on the ceasing of all operations and events by the Consulate General.
  • The US’s Chengdu consulate is located close to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
  • The shutting of it would make it more difficult for the US to monitor the situation in TAR.
  • The US launched a unilateral provocation by abruptly demanding that China close its Consulate General in Houston, said Beijing as it blamed Washington for making the move.

US ups ante against China

  • The U.S. Secretary of State drew on a significant cold war terminology and said China’s military had became “stronger and more menacing” and the approach to Beijing should be “distrust and verify”.
  • The comments come at a time when Beijing’s ties with Washington, as well as New Delhi, are at their worst in decades, and other countries – such as the UK and Australia – have expressed new concerns over threats emanating from China.
  • The concerns are particularly those relating to how Chinese companies may be helping the government spy on people around the world and the way Beijing may be flexing its muscles in territorial disputes.
  • It was Nixon’s visit to China in 1970s, the first by an American president since the Communists took power, that upended a Cold War paradigm and paved the way for the normalisation of relations.
  • The thaw was precipitated by a deterioration in China’s ties with the Soviet Union.
  • The U.S. secretary of state mentioned “a new grouping of like-minded nations – a new alliance of democracies” to change the way they deal with China, while he did not specify which these nations were (implying India could be included in the list).

-Source: Hindustan Times, The Hindu


HC KEEPS STATUS QUO: DECODING THE DECISION

Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

The Rajasthan high court deferred its final verdict on the plea challenging the state assembly speaker’s notices of disqualification.

What are the implications of the order?

The speaker cannot decide on disqualification notices for the time being.

When can the speaker act?

  • If the Supreme Court stays the high court order, the speaker can act.
  • The Supreme Court is slated to take up the matter for hearing on the larger legal question of the high court’s jurisdiction to interfere with the speaker’s proceedings.
  • If the Supreme Court does not stay the matter, then the speaker cannot act until the high court pronounces its verdict one way or the other.

What are the issues the Supreme Court is examining?

The SC is examining the limited legal question: whether a high court can interfere with the disqualification proceedings initiated before the speaker decides on them.

Past Judgements

  • The Supreme Court, in its 1992 judgment in the Kihoto Hollohan v. Zachillu case, had held that judicial review should not cover any stage prior to the making of a decision by the speaker/chairman.
  • No interference would be permissible at an interlocutory stage of the proceedings, the court had said.
  • The court is proposing to re-examine this legal principle.

What are the issues the high court is hearing?

  • The high court will examine the Constitutional validity of clause 2(1)(a) of the Constitution’s Tenth Schedule that contains provisions related to the disqualification of lawmakers for defection.
  • Clause 2(1)(a) is about voluntarily giving up membership of a political party on whose ticket a lawmaker is elected on.

The Contention by those facing Defection charges:

Merely voicing opinion against party leadership does not amount to “voluntarily giving up membership” and clause 2(1)(a), to the extent it prohibits the expression of opinion, violates the basic structure of the Constitution and the freedom of speech under Article 19.

What is Defection (Aaya Ram Gaya Ram)?

  • Aaya Ram Gaya Ram (English: Ram has come, Ram has gone) expression in politics of India means the frequent floor-crossing, turncoating, switching parties and political horse trading in the legislature by the elected politicians and political parties.
  • A legislator is deemed to have defected if he either voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or disobeys the directives of the party leadership on a vote. This implies that a legislator defying (abstaining or voting against) the party whip on any issue can lose his membership of the House.
  • The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.
  • The anti-defection law sought to prevent such political defections which may be due to reward of office or other similar considerations.

Anti-Defection Law

  • 1985 Anti-defection Act was passed in 1985 to prevent such defections.
  • It was included in constitution by Rajiv Gandhi government as the tenth schedule of Indian constitution.
  • The Anti-defection Act, applicable to both Parliament and state assemblies, specifies the process for the Presiding Officer of a legislature (Speaker) to disqualify a legislators on grounds of defection based on a petition by any other member of the House.
  • Legislators can change their party without the risk of disqualification to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of the legislators are in favour of the merger, neither the members who decide to merge, nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.
  • The Supreme Court mandated that in the absence of a formal resignation, the giving up of membership can be determined by the conduct of a legislator, such as publicly expressing opposition to their party or support for another party, engaging in anti-party activities, criticizing the party on public forums on multiple occasions, and attending rallies organised by opposition parties.
  • The Presiding Officer has NO time limit to make his decision

-Source: Hindustan Times


INDIA AND CHINA DEVELOPMENTS

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • India and China have agreed to hold another round of high-level military talks to take forward the slow-moving disengagement process along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which remains only partially complete after four rounds of talks between Corps Commanders.
  • India has made it clear to China that it will not be business as usual until there is a complete disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), Indian envoy in Moscow has said.

Details

Another round of talks

  • The agreement to hold another round of high-level military talks comes after a third convening of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC).
  • The disengagement process along the LAC is still facing many hurdles.
  • A statement from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said both sides agreed it was necessary “to sincerely implement the understandings reached” at the four rounds of Corps Commander-level talks.
  • At the last round talks went on for 15 hours, but appeared unable to break the impasse.
  • Both sides have only disengaged “partially” at Hot Springs and Pangong Tso, where Chinese troops pulled back from the base of Finger 4 but moved to Finger 5, well within India’s side of the LAC at Finger 8.

How India takes it ahead?

  • India seeks to resolve these problems through dialogue and we have made it clear that we will not do business with China as usual until there is a complete disengagement of military forces along the Line of Actual Control and de-escalation in the border areas in accordance with bilateral agreements and protocols.
  • India’s engagement with China on multilateral fora like Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS), Russia-India-China (RIC) and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) are expected to continue.
  • India takes independent decisions regarding defence procurement, and there is no contradiction between further development of India’s defence relations with Russia and those with the United States.

-Source: The Hindu, Times of India


INDIA, SRI LANKA SEEK TO RESET TIES, RBI CURRENCY SWAP

Focus: GS-II International Relations, GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

  • India was holding “close and constructive” discussions with Sri Lanka, on Colombo’s pending request for a ($960 million) debt freeze and for swapping currency under bilateral and SAARC arrangements.
  • The Reserve Bank of India has agreed to a $400 million currency swap facility for Sri Lanka.

Details

India – Sri Lanka and debt

  • Sri Lankan Prime Minister has told that there was no final decision on the East Container Terminal (ECT) project at the Colombo Port, which Sri Lanka, India and Japan in 2019 agreed to jointly develop.
  • The Sri Lanka government was accused of “giving away national assets” to India, though Sri Lanka’s Port Authority was to retain 100% ownership of the facility, as per the 2019 tripartite Memorandum of Cooperation.
  • South Asia watchers often resort to the India-China geopolitical lens, while analysing Sri Lanka’s international relations in the neighbourhood and beyond.
  • The examples of Singapore-Malaysia and New Zealand-Australia indicate that a smaller country’s economic success is tied to having a strong or at least stable relationship with its larger neighbour.
  • Both India and Sri Lanka should focus on increasing the volume and quality of people-to-people links.

RBI move to Swap Currency with Sri Lanka

  • Currency swaps are used to obtain foreign currency loans at a better interest rate than could be got by borrowing directly in a foreign market.
  • The RBI’s action follows a recent bilateral ‘technical discussion’ on rescheduling Colombo’s outstanding debt repayment to India.
  • Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in the region, India had proposed a virtual meeting to discuss the request by Sri Lanka, that owes $960 million to India, to freeze the loan.

-Source: The Hindu


IRDAI NOD FOR AROGYA SANJEEVANI GROUP VARIANT

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

  • Insurance regulator IRDAI said it was permitting insurers to offer standard health insurance cover Arogya Sanjeevani as a group policy.
  • This version will be introduced under the same name — Arogya Sanjeevani — and terms and conditions of the standard policy retained.
  • Insurers, however, get the freedom to fix the premium.

Advantages

  • Private and public establishments are expected to benefit from the Arogya Sanjeevani group policy, in terms of covering the medical needs of their employees.
  • Also, be it in individual or group form, the Arogya Sanjeevani policy covers COVID-19.
  • Under the group policy, insurers will be allowed to set their own minimum and maximum sum limits, subject to their board approved underwriting policy.
  • Following its decision permitting launch of standard individual health insurance cover, all insurers dealing in health insurance are offering the product, IRDAI said.
  • The permission for Arogya Sanjeevani group policy follows close on the heel of the regulator’s decision allowing insurers to group version of the Covid-specific, short term, standard health policy Corona Kavach.

About IRDAI:

  • The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India or the IRDAI is the apex body responsible for regulating and developing the insurance industry in India.
  • It is an autonomous body. It was established by an act of Parliament known as the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act, 1999. Hence, it is a statutory body.
  • The IRDAI is headquartered in Hyderabad in Telangana. Prior to 2001, it was headquartered in New Delhi.

Functions of IRDA

  1. Its primary purpose is to protect the rights of the policyholders in India.
  2. It gives the registration certificate to insurance companies in the country.
  3. It also engages in the renewal, modification, cancellation, etc. of this registration.
  4. It also creates regulations to protect policyholders’ interests in India.

Composition of IRDA

The Section 4 of the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority (IRDA) Act, 1999 specifies the composition of authority which consists of 10-member team appointed by the government of India which includes:

  1. One chairman
  2. Five whole time members
  3. Four part time members

-Source: The Hindu

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