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Current Affairs 4 & 5 December 2020 for UPSC Exam

Contents

  1. Not wearing masks Violates Fundamental Rights
  2. CCTV in Police Stations: SC
  3. Lottery, gambling, betting taxable under GST Act
  4. India and Russia begin PASSEX
  5. Dhaka ships Rohingya to low-lying island
  6. China Powers up Nuclear Fusion Reactor
  7. Provisional Report on State of the Global Climate

NOT WEARING MASKS VIOLATES FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

Focus: GS-II Governance and Polity

Why in news?

  • The Supreme Court stayed the recent order passed by Gujarat high court mandating social service duty at Covid care centers for those found not wearing masks in public.
  • The Supreme Court also sought suggestions from the Centre and the State governments on ways to ensure compulsory wearing of masks and maintenance of social distancing by the public at large.

Details

  • The SC held that the state must vigorously enforce the standard operating procedure (SOP) released by the Centre for mandatory wearing of masks and keeping social distancing to contain the spread of Covid 19 disease.
  • The SC bench observed that people not wearing masks in public are violating the fundamental right (right to life and health) of other citizens.

Article 21: Right to Life and Liberty

  • According to Article 21: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to Procedure Established by Law.
  • Rights under Article 20 and 21 are never suspended and both are available to all individuals whether Indian citizens or foreigners.
  • The State must act according to a procedure while depriving an individual of his liberty.

Maneka Gandhi case (1978)

  • Supreme Court accepted that due process is inherent in procedure established by law.
  • The Supreme Court applied the American principle of “due process of law” for the first time in this case.
  • The Supreme Court held that – ‘procedure established by law’ within the meaning of Article 21 must be ‘right and just and fair’ and ‘not arbitrary, fanciful or oppressive’ otherwise, it would be no procedure at all and the requirement of Article 21 would not be satisfied.
  • In the Maneka Gandhi case, the Supreme Court also ruled that “life” under Article 21 meant more than a mere “animal existence”.
  • It would include the right to live with human dignity and all other aspects, which made life “meaningful, complete and worth living”.

Subsequent judicial interpretation has broadened the scope of Article 21 to include within it a number of rights, including:

  1. Right to Elementary Education
  2. Right to livelihood
  3. Right to life with dignity
  4. Right to water
  5. Right to speedy justice
  6. Right to information
  7. Right to privacy
  8. Right to health
  9. Right to travel abroad
  10. Right to shelter
  11. Right to free legal aid
  12. Right against bonded labor
  13. Right against inhumane treatment
  14. Right to freedom from noise pollution
  15. Right to sleep

-Source: The Hindu


CCTV IN POLICE STATIONS: SC

Focus: GS-II Governance and Polity

Why in news?

The Supreme Court has asked the States and Union Territories Governments to ensure that CCTV (Closed-Circuit Television) cameras are installed in each and every Police Station.

Details

  • States and UTs should ensure that CCTV cameras are installed at each and every police station, at all entry and exit points, main gate, lock-ups, corridors, lobby and reception as also areas outside the lock-up rooms so that no part is left uncovered.
  • CCTV systems must be equipped with night vision and have audio as well as video footage and it shall be mandatory for the Centre, states and UTs to purchase such systems which allow storage of data for maximum period possible, at least one year.
  • The Centre should install CCTV cameras and recording equipment at the offices of investigating agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and National Investigation Agency (NIA), which conduct interrogations and have the power of arrest.
  • The current directions by the SC are furtherance of the fundamental right enshrined in Article 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty) of the Indian Constitution.

History regarding the necessity of CCTV

  • In the case of D K Basu vs State of West Bengal 2015, the SC directed that CCTVs should be installed in every police station and prison to check human rights abuses.
  • In 2018 the SC had asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to set up a Central Oversight Body (COB) to implement the plan of action with respect to videography in the crime scene during investigation.
  • Recently, the SC has found that the majority of the states and UTs lack the details of installing CCTVs in police stations.

Status of Custodial Violence in India

  • According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, between 2001 and 2018, only 26 policemen were convicted of custodial violence despite 1,727 such deaths being recorded in India.
  • Only 4.3% of the 70 deaths in 2018 were attributed to injuries during custody due to physical assault by police.
  • Apart from custodial deaths, more than 2,000 human rights violation cases were also recorded against the police between 2000 and 2018. And only 344 policemen were convicted in those cases.

United Nations Convention against Torture

  • The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (commonly known as the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT)) is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the United Nations, that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.
  • The Convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction, and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.
  • India is NOT a signatory of United Nations Convention Against Torture which requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is a reason to believe they will be tortured.

-Source: The Hindu


LOTTERY, GAMBLING, BETTING TAXABLE UNDER GST ACT

Focus: GS-III Indian Economy

Why in news?

The Supreme Court held that lottery, gambling and betting are taxable under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act.

Details

  • The court held that lottery, betting and gambling are “actionable claims” and come within the definition of ‘goods’ under Section 2(52) of the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017.
  • The SC bench said that the levy of GST on lotteries does not amount to “hostile discrimination”.
  • The court said State regulation, including taxation in one or other form, on lottery, betting and gambling, has been in existence for decades.
  • Lottery, betting and gambling are well known concepts and have been in practice in this country since before Independence and were regulated and taxed by different legislations.
  • When Act, 2017 defines the ‘goods’ to include actionable claims and included only three categories of actionable claims, i.e., lottery, betting and gambling, for purposes of levy of GST, it cannot be said that there was no rationale for the Parliament in including these three actionable claims for tax purposes, and leaving others.
  • The power to make laws as conferred by Article 246A fully empowers the Parliament to make laws with respect to goods and services tax and expansive definition of goods given in Section 2(52) is fully in accordance with the constitutional provisions.

Article 246A

Article 246A was introduced in the Constitution by the 101st Constitutional Amendment Act of 2016 to facilitate providing concurrent taxing powers to the Union as well as the States so far as GST is concerned.

Article 246A: (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in articles 246 and 254, Parliament, and, subject to clause (2), the Legislature of every State, have power to make laws with respect to goods and services tax imposed by the Union or by such State.

(2) Parliament has exclusive power to make laws with respect to goods and services tax where the supply of goods, or of services, or both takes place in the course of inter-State trade or commerce.

Legislations in India to regulate Betting and related activities

  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860, has provisions for punishing anyone who to the annoyance of others does any obscene act in a public place or sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place. These provisions of the IPC may be attracted if any obscene matter is used for the purpose of advertising betting and gambling activities.
  • Prize Competitions Act, 1955, defines Prize in Competitions.
  • According to the Lotteries Regulation Act, 1998, Lottery is considered as legal in India. Lottery should be organized by the state government and the place of Draw should be in that particular state.
  • According to the Information Technology Rules, 2011, any internet service provider, network service provider or any search engine will not host any such content which directly or indirectly support Gambling.

-Source: Hindustan Times


INDIA AND RUSSIA BEGIN PASSEX

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

The navies of India and Russia began a two-day Passage Exercise (PASSEX) in the East Indian Ocean Region (IOR) coinciding with Navy Day on December 4.

Details

  • The exercise is aimed at enhancing interoperability, improving understanding and imbibing best practices between both the friendly navies, and would involve advanced surface and anti-submarine warfare exercises, weapon firings, seamanship exercises and helicopter operations.
  • Two warships from India and three ships from Russia are taking part in the PASSEX.
  • This year, the Indian Navy has so far participated in 13 bilateral and multilateral exercises.
  • In the first bilateral exercise since all such engagements were suspended due to COVID-19, India and Russia held Indra 2020 in the North Indian Ocean in September.
  • The Navy has held a series of passage exercises in the IOR with major Navies since the COVID-19 lockdown.

India-Russia Defence Cooperation

  • Defence cooperation is an important pillar of the India-Russia strategic partnership.
  • India is the second largest market for the Russian defence industry.
  • In 2017, approximately 70% of the Indian Military’s hardware import came from Russia, making Russia the chief supplier of defence equipment.
  • It is guided by the Programme for Military Technical Cooperation signed between the two countries.
  • The two sides also have periodic exchanges of armed forces personnel and military exercises.
  • India and Russia have an institutionalized structure to oversee the complete range of issues of military technical cooperation. The India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC), set up in 2000, is at the apex of this structure.
  • Joint exercises between the two Armed-Forces are held under the title “INDRA”.
  • Bilateral projects currently underway include indigenous production of T-90 tanks and Su-30-MKI aircraft, supply of MiG-29-K aircraft and Kamov-31 and Mi-17 helicopters, upgrade of MiG-29 aircraft and supply of Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher Smerch.

-Source: The Hindu


DHAKA SHIPS ROHINGYA TO LOW-LYING ISLAND

Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • Bangladesh transported more than 1,600 Rohingya refugees to a low-lying island in the first phase of a controversial planned relocation of 1,00,000 people.
  • Dhaka wants to move 1,00,000 of the refugees to Bhashan Char.
  • Almost a million Rohingya — most of whom fled a military offensive in neighbouring Myanmar three years ago — live in squalid camps in south-eastern Bangladesh. Any return to Myanmar appears unlikely for now.

Who are the Rohingya?

  • The Rohingya people are stateless, Indo-Aryan ethnic group who reside in Rakhine State, Myanmar, and the Rohingya Muslims represent the largest percentage of Muslims in Myanmar.
  • They have their own language and culture and say they are descendants of Arab traders and other groups who have been in the region for generations.
  • They are described by the United Nations (UN) as one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.
  • But the government of Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country, denies the Rohingya citizenship and even excluded them from the 2014 census, refusing to recognize them as a people. It sees them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
  • Although Rohingya history in the region can be traced back to the 8th century, Myanmar law does not recognize the ethnic minority as one of the eight national indigenous races.
  • Despite mounting evidence and international pressure, Myanmar continues to deny it all. It says, it is just countering violent insurgent groups.

How does India view the Rohingya issue?

  • India maintains that Rohingyas are a threat to its national security and have links with international terror groups.
  • India has so far refused to exert any pressure on Myanmar for taking the Rohingyas back and giving them recognition as the citizens of Myanmar.

What is the recent concern regarding the Bhashan Char island?

  • In 2015, the Bangladesh government suggested resettling Rohingya refugees on the Bhasan Char island under its Ashrayan Project, and now it has starting acting upon the idea and begun relocation of Rohingyas to the Bhashan Char island.
  • Bhasan Char (Floating Island) also known as Char Piya or Thengar Char Island, is an island in Hatiya, Bangladesh. It surfaced only 20 years ago and was never inhabited.
  • It was formed with Himalayan silt from the mouth of river Meghna in 2006 spanning 40 square kilometres.
  • It is underwater from June to September because of the monsoon.
  • The island, which was once regularly submerged by monsoon rains, now has flood protection embankments, houses, hospitals and mosques built at a cost of more than 112 million dollars by the Bangladesh navy.
  • As Bhashan Char falls in an ecologically fragile area prone to floods, erosion and cyclones, it is not considered safe for human settlements.

International Laws in relation with Rohingya Crisis and Refugee handling

  • Even though the refugees are foreigners in the country of asylum, by virtue of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966, they could enjoy the same fundamental rights and freedoms as nationals.
  • The 1951 Refugee Convention asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom, and the core principle of the convention is non-refoulement. (Refoulement means the forcible return of refugees or asylum seekers to a country where they are liable to be subjected to persecution.)

-Source: The Hindu


CHINA POWERS UP NUCLEAR FUSION REACTOR

Focus: GS-III Science and Technology

Why in news?

China successfully powered up its “artificial sun” nuclear fusion reactor for the first time marking a great advance in the country’s nuclear power research capabilities.

Details

  • The HL-2M Tokamak reactor is China’s largest and most advanced nuclear fusion experimental research device, and scientists hope that the device can potentially unlock a powerful clean energy source.
  • It uses a powerful magnetic field to fuse hot plasma and can reach temperatures of over 150 million degrees Celsius – approximately ten times hotter than the core of the sun.
  • Located in Sichuan province and completed in 2019 – the reactor is often called an “artificial sun” on account of the enormous heat and power it produces.
  • Chinese scientists have been working on developing smaller versions of the nuclear fusion reactor since 2006.

International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER)

  • International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject, which will be the world’s largest magnetic confinement plasma physics experiment.
  • It is an experimental tokamak nuclear fusion reactor that is being built next to the Cadarache facility in Saint-Paul-lès-Durance, in Provence, southern France.
  • The goal of ITER is to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy for peaceful use.
  • The machine aims to demonstrate, for the first time in a fusion reactor, the principle of producing more thermal power than is used to heat the plasma.

The project is funded and run by seven member entities—

  1. European Union,
  2. China,
  3. India,
  4. Japan,
  5. Russia,
  6. South Korea,
  7. The United States.

-Source: The Hindu


PROVISIONAL REPORT ON STATE OF THE GLOBAL CLIMATE

Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Why in news?

  • According to the latest State of the Global Climate provisional report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the year 2020 is set to be among the three warmest on record.
  • The final report will be published in March 2021.
  • Also, the decade 2011-2020 would be the warmest ever.
  • The State of the Global Climate report is published annually to keep a track of global warming – by World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which is one of the specialized agencies of the United Nations (UN).

Details

  • The global mean surface temperature for January-October 2020 was 1.2 degree Celsius higher than the pre-industrial baseline (1850-1900).
  • 2020 will be one of the three hottest, just behind 2016 and 2019.
  • 80% of ocean areas have experienced at least one marine heat wave (MHW) so far in 2020. (Heat wave is a period of prolonged abnormally high surface temperatures relative to those normally expected.)
  • Scientific evidence indicates increasing temperatures are a direct result of human-led global warming which is an impact of the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG).
  • Extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones, floods, heavy rainfall and droughts impacted many parts of the world and cases of wildfire have also increased this year.

-Source: Indian Express

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