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Current Affairs 18 November 2022

Contents:

  • Weighing in on PMGKAY, the free grains Scheme
  • SC agrees to list pea for Collegium system review
  • Govt to hold “off-site on Andaman as it prepares for G-20 presidency
  • Moscow Format Calls for minority rights, ‘Political Reconciliation in Afghanistan
  • Smugglers trafficking rhino horns with impunity

Free Grains Scheme


Relevance:

  • GS 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.
  • GS 2 – Issues relating to poverty and hunger.

Context:

  • The Extension of the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana” – the latest extension made in late September 2022

Dimensions:

  • About Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana
  • Debate on the relevance of freebies.
  • About the extension and relevance of the move

In Detail:

About Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana

  • Also known as Prime Minister’s Food Security Scheme for the Poor.
  • PMGKAY is a part of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) to help the poor fight the battle against Covid-19.
  • Its nodal Ministry is the Ministry of Finance.
  • It was initially announced for 3-month (April, May, and June 2020), covering 80 crore ration cardholders.
  • Later it was extended till November 2020.
  • In April 2021, the government announced its decision to restart the PMGKAY.
  • Aim: The scheme aimed at providing each person who is covered under the National Food Security Act 2013 with an additional 5 kg of grains (wheat or rice) for free, in addition to the 5 kg of subsidized food grain already provided through the Public Distribution System (PDS).
  • The new version of the PMGKAY lacks one of its important components which was there in 2020 PMGKAY is free-of-cost 1 kg pulses per month to each household covered under the NFSA.

Extension of the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana”

  • For many reasons, the Extension of the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana”, comes as a surprise.
  • Under this PMGKAY scheme, free foodgrains are distributed to the poor, for another three months.

Debate

  • Before the latest extension made in late September 2022, there was much debate on the relevance of freebies.
  • In June there were reports that the Expenditure Department at the Centre did not favor it, citing a funds crunch.
  • It also held the view that such a scheme was no longer needed “in non-pandemic times”.
  • Because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, raging since February 2022, and its adverse impact on the world’s food and energy sectors.

SC On Collegium System Review


Relevance:

  • GS 2 – Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary and their role in the Polity.

Context:

  • Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud agreed to list in due course a writ petition to reconsider the Collegium system of judicial appointments to the Supreme Court and the High Courts.

Dimensions:

  • About Collegium System
  • Evolution of Collegium System
  • Pros and Cons of Collegium System
  • About National Judicial Appointment Commission

In Detail:

  • The petition sought the revival of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC)
  • The petition briefly gave the government an equal role with the judiciary in the appointment of judges to the constitutional courts before it was struck down in 2015 by the Supreme Court.
  • Advocate Mathews J. Nedumpara the petitioner-in-person, with other lawyers, said the Constitution Bench judgment of October 2015 had thwarted the “will of the people” by striking down the 99th Constitution Amendment Act, which introduced the NJAC mechanism.
  • On 16 October 2015, in a 4-1 majority verdict, the Supreme Court held that both the Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014, and the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act, 2014, were unconstitutional as they would undermine the independence of the judiciary.
  • The majority said the two laws affect the independence of the judiciary, and judicial appointments, among other things, should be protected from executive control.

Evolution of the System:

  • In 1981 First Judges Case:
    • It declared that the “primacy” of the Chief Justice of India’s recommendation on judicial appointments and transfers can be refused for “cogent reasons.”
    • The ruling gave the Executive primacy over the Judiciary in judicial appointments for the next 12 years
  • In 1993 Second Judges Case:
    • SC introduced the Collegium system, holding that “consultation meant “concurrence”.
    • It also mentioned that it was not the Chief Justice of India’s individual opinion, but an institutional opinion formed in consultation with the two senior-most judges in the SC.
  • In 1998 Third Judges Case:
    • Article 143 Supreme Court (SC) on the President’s reference expanded the Collegium to a 5-member body, comprising the Chief Justice of India and 4 of his senior-most colleagues.

Indian And G-20 Presidency


Relevance:

  • Prelims – Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • GS 1 – Distribution of key natural resources across the world (including South Asia and the Indian sub-continent);
  • GS 2 – Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.

Context:

  • G20 ambassadors to be flown to the Andaman & Nicobar Islands later this month for the Ministry of External Affairs and ‘Sherpa’ briefing on logistics for 2023

Dimensions:

  • About important Islands of Andaman and Nicobar, name and location.
  • About G20 and its members

In Detail:

G20 ambassadors to be flown to the Andaman & Nicobar Islands later this month for the Ministry of External Affairs and ‘Sherpa’ briefing on logistics for 2023

From November 25 to 27  the “off-site” for 30 to 40 diplomats will take place at “The Taj Exotica hotel” on Havelock Island.

Where G-20 ‘Sherpa’ Amitabh Kant, G-20 National Coordinator and Former Foreign Secretary “Harsh Shringla”, or ‘Sous Sherpa’ Abhay Thakur will give them a preview of India’s plan for the next year of its Presidency

The Ambassadors of Indonesia, Andre Aranha Correa Do Lago, Brazil, and Ina Krisnamurthi make up the troika of countries hosting the G-20 before and after India, respectively, will constitute the core group of countries involved in planning the G-20 agenda, and are expected to attend.

Key Points:

  • On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of Subhas Chandra Bose’s three islands Andaman Islands Havelock, Ross, and Neil Islands will be officially renamed.
  • The Ross Island will be called Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Island.
  • Neil island will be renamed Shaheed Dweep.
  • The Havelock Island will be renamed Swaraj Dweep.
  • On 30 December 1943 in Port Blair S.C. Bose hoisted the Indian national flag at the Gymkhana Ground (now Netaji Stadium).
  • After the Japanese defeated the British forces during World War II, the Andaman Islands were the first Indian territory to be freed from British rule.
  • At the time, Bose had named Andaman Island Shaheed and Nicobar Island Swaraj.
  • Bose had also appointed Indian National Army (INA) General AD Loganathan as its Governor.

About term Troika

  • Troika refers to the top grouping within the G20 that consists of the current previous and the upcoming presidencies (Indonesia, India and Brazil).

About G20

  • The G20 was formed in 1999 in the backdrop of financial crisis of the late 1990s that hit the East Asia in particular.
  • It aims to secure global financial stability by involving middle income countries.

G20 Members:

  • The members of the G20are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. 

Political Reconciliation in Afghanistan


Relevance:

  • GS 3 – Security challenges and their management in border areas – linkages of organized crime with terrorism.
  • GS 3 – Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  • GS 3 – Role of external state and non-state actors in creating challenges to internal security.
  • GS 2 – Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Context:

  • On 16 November 2022, The Moscow Format of Consultations on Afghanistan held in the Russian capital called for respect for all Afghan ethnic groups and minorities in a bid to create national reconciliation in the war-torn country.

Dimensions:

  • About the Moscow Format of Consultations
  • About the significance of stability in Afghanistan

In Detail:

On 16 November 2022, The Moscow Format of Consultations on Afghanistan held in the Russian capital called for respect for all Afghan ethnic groups and minorities in a bid to create national reconciliation in the war-torn country.

After the meeting stressed “A Joint Statement issued”, upon ending all terrorist infrastructure in Afghanistan and said placing of military infrastructure facilities of “third countries” in Afghanistan “and in adjacent states is unacceptable”. 

Taliban did not participate in the talks but welcomed the discussion and declared that it will not allow Afghan territory to be used against the “stability of the region”. 

The Russian hosts presented a White Book on the civilian losses in Afghanistan due to the actions of the NATO forces during the past two decades and condemned the September 5 terror attack against the Russian embassy in Kabul.

The representatives at the talks also called for the “complete unfreezing” of Afghanistan’s assets by Washington. Participating countries in the talks included Russia, India, China, Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan called upon the Taliban to “fulfill its commitments to eradicate terrorism and drug trafficking”.

About Moscow format

  • Moscow format is one of the several dialogue platforms in Afghanistan which began before the Taliban takeover of Kabul.
  • The format consists of Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and India.

Smugglers Trafficking Rhino Horns With Impunity


Relevance:

  • GS 2 – Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate.
  • Prelims – General issues on Environmental Ecology, Biodiversity, and Climate Change

Context:

  • At COP-27 India and three others oppose Carbon border tax

Dimensions:

  • Rhino species, their spread and endangered status
  • About CITES
  • About Indian Rhino

In Detail:

After 2017 despite a reduction in poaching the seizure of rhino horns by weight has increased, In Panama City, a global threat assessment report was presented at a convention of the conservation agencies.

A comprehensive analysis titled “Executive summary of the rhino horn trafficking as a form of transnational organized crime (2012-2021): 2022 global threat assessment” was presented at the meeting of the Conference of Parties organized by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

There are five rhino species: Javan, Sumatran rhinos in Asia, as well as greater one-horned, and white and black rhinos in Africa.

 Status of rhino species on the IUCN Red List:

  1. Javan: One-Horned Rhino is Vulnerable Javan is Critically Endangered.
  2. Sumatran rhinos: Sumatran Rhino is Critically Endangered, In Malaysia, it has become extinct.
  3. One-Horned Rhino: In India, only the Great One-Horned Rhino may be found.
  4. Black rhino: The black rhino is critically endangered. The African species is the smaller of the two.
  5. White Rhino: White Rhino is Near Threatened.

About Northern White Rhino or Indian Rhino

Researchers used In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to generate an embryo of a northern white rhino.

  • It is the largest of the rhino species and is also known as the Indian rhino.
  • It has a single black horn and a grey-brown hide with skin folds.
  • They primarily graze, and their diet consists almost entirely of grasses, as well as leaves, shrub and tree branches, fruit, and aquatic plants.

About CITES:

  • CITES was conceptualised in 1963 at a meeting of the (IUCN) International Union For Conservation Of Nature.
  • It came into force in 1975 and consists of 183 member-countries till date.
  • Members abide by CITES regulations by implementing legislation within their own borders to enforce those regulations.
  • Located in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • The CITES is administered by the United Nations under its UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) Wing.
  • The Convention of Parties to CITES is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention and comprises all its Parties.
  • The Conference of the Parties (CoP) is held once every three years.
  • The last Conference of the Parties (CoP 19) was held in Panama City, Panama, in 2022 and the one before it (CoP 18) was held in Geneva, Switzerland, 17–28 August 2019.
  • The location of the next CoP is chosen at the close of each CoP by a secret ballot vote.
  • India hosted CoP (3rd) in 1981.
  • Although CITES is legally binding on the Parties, it does not take the place of national laws.

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