IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


27th February, 2020


Panel to study Ulsoor lake pollution

Southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) observations:

-       Directed the constitution of a joint committee to take samples of water from Bengaluru’s Ulsoor Lake and neighbouring areas.

-       Needs to ascertain whether the lake is being polluted due to illegal activity

-       Tasked the panel to carry out an analysis of the water in the lake.

-       The water analysis should include not only Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) limit but also the Total Coliforms and Faecal Coliforms.

-       It must seek the presence of any heavy metals like Arsenic, Phosphorus, etc. which are likely to affect the human health.

-       Panel must suggest the remedial measures required to restore the water quality in that area.

The Hindu report over pollution:

-       Discharging untreated sewage effluents.

-       Dumping of garbage into the water body.

About NGT:

-       National Green Tribunal Act, 2010 is an Act of the Parliament of India, which enables creation of a special tribunal to handle the expeditious disposal of the cases pertaining to environmental issues.


-       The Principal Bench of the NGT is in New Delhi.

-       It has regional benches in Pune (West), Bhopal (Central), Chennai (South) and Kolkata (East).

-       Each Bench has a specified geographical jurisdiction in a region.

-       The Chairperson of the NGT is a retired Judge of the Supreme Court, head quartered in New Delhi. Other Judicial members are retired Judges of High Courts.

-       Each bench of the NGT will comprise at least one Judicial Member and one Expert Member.

-       The Tribunal has powers to review its own decisions. If this fails, the decision can be challenged before the Supreme Court within ninety days.

-       It does not take complaints pertaining to Wildlife Protection Act.


-       Effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection

-       Conservation of forests and other natural resources including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment

-       Giving relief and compensation for damages to persons and property and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

-       The Tribunal is mandated to make and endeavour for disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.

-       The Tribunal shall not be bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, but shall be guided by principles of natural justice.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/panel-to-study-ulsoor-lake-pollution/article30926931.ece


Centre to revamp IT Act

The government will soon kick-start the process of revamping the nearly 20-year old Information Technology Act, 2000, with an aim to bring it in tune with the technological advancements with a focus on stronger framework to deal with cybercrimes.

Needs to bring changes:

-       Today, in India, technology has become the centre of digital payment and delivery of services such as GST and UPI.

-       Scale of technology also raises the question of misuse [of technology].

-       The vastness of these platforms was not even contemplated when the IT Act came into being.

-       Cyber issues have not been adequately responded to in the present IT Act.

Information Technology Act, 2000:

-       The original act addressed electronic documents, e-signatures, and authentication of those records.

-       It also enacted penalties for security breach offenses including damaging computer systems or committing cyber terrorism.

-       Regulating authorities received power to monitor these situations and draft rules as situations arose.

-       In 2008, additions expanded the definition of "communication device" to include mobile devices and placed owners of given IP addresses responsible for distributed and accessed content.

-       Privacy was addressed in 2011 when stringent requirements for collecting personal information came into effect. The rules require firms to obtain written permission from customers before collecting and using their personal data. This has affected US firms which outsource to Indian companies.

-       The Section 69 allows intercepting any information and ask for information decryption. To refuse decryption is an offence.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/centre-to-revamp-it-act/article30925140.ece

When to call in the Army

The Armed Forces are called in by the civil power when public security is in “manifest danger” from an unlawful assembly, which is refusing to disperse despite the efforts of police forces.

Procedure to call army:

-       It is provided in Sections 130 to 132 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1973.

-       The Defence Service Regulations also act as an extensive guide to procedure for calling in the Armed Forces and how they should operate while on duty.

-       This provision empowers the “Executive Magistrate of the highest rank,” in situations of gravest danger to public security, to write to “any officer-in-command of any group of persons belonging to the Armed Forces to disperse the assembly with the help of the Armed Forces under his command.”

-       Rioters can also be arrested or confined in order to either disperse the mob or punish them in accordance with the law.

-       In dispersing the unlawful assembly and restoring calm, the Armed Forces should use as “little force” as possible

-       Causing as “little injury to person and property as may be consistent with dispersing the assembly and arresting and detaining such persons.

-       Section 131 considers a situation in which the Executive Magistrate is somehow incommunicado and the riot situation is full-blown.

-       Any commissioner or gazetted officer of the Armed Forces may disperse the unlawful assembly with the help of the Armed Forces under his command.

-       But the officer has to comply with the instructions of the Magistrate once communication is established with the latter.

-       Section 132 protects the officers and members of the Armed Forces from prosecution for acts done in good faith in the course of their duties to contain the riot.

-       The Defence Service Regulations specifies that requisition for help from the civilian power to the Armed Forces officer should either be in writing or by telegram.

-       The Forces should immediately come to the aid of the civil power for maintenance of law and order.

-       The strength and composition of the force, the amount of ammunition, arms and equipment to be taken and the manner of carrying out the operations are matters for the Armed Forces alone.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/when-to-call-in-the-army/article30926989.ece



Cabinet gives clearance for Technical Textiles Mission

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has approved the setting up of a National Technical Textiles Mission at a total outlay of Rs. 1,480 crores.

About the Mission:

-       The Mission will be implemented for four years from 2020-2021 and will have four components.

-       The first component will focus on research and development and innovation and will have an outlay of Rs.1, 000 crores.

-       The research will be at both, fibre level and application-based in geo, agro, medical, sports and mobile textiles and development of bio-degradable technical textiles.

-       Research activities will also focus on development of indigenous machinery and process equipment.

-       The second component will be for promotion and development of market for technical textiles.

-       The penetration level of technical textiles in India varies between 5% and 10% against the level of 30% to 70% in developed countries.

-       The Mission will aim at taking domestic market size to $40 billion to $50 billion by 2024.

-       The third component will focus on export promotion so that technical textile exports from the country reach from the Rs. 14,000 crores now to Rs. 20,000 crores by 2021-2022 and ensure 10% average growth every year till the Mission ends.

-       An export promotion council for technical textiles will be set up.

-       The last component will be on education, training and skill development.

-       The mission will promote technical education at higher engineering and technology levels related to technical textiles and its application areas.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/cabinet-gives-clearance-fortechnical-textiles-mission/article30925160.ece

Pending MSME loan revamp by March 15

Minister’s statement:

-       The restructuring of micro, small and medium enterprises’ (MSME) loans by banks will be done by March 15.

-       Out of the 5.53 lakh accounts identified as of January 6, 2020, 5.28 lakh have already been restructured.

-       Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank of India had extended the one-time loan restructuring window for such MSME accounts from March 31, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

Impact of restructuring:

-       Stressed assets of standard MSME accounts will not be downgraded and classified as non-performing assets, so long as the aggregate exposure to the borrower does not exceed Rs. 25 crores as on January 1, 2020.

-       This would help small businesses improve their balance sheets and ease the challenges of securing affordable credit.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/pending-msme-loan-revamp-by-march-15/article30925174.ece#:~:text=The%20restructuring%20of%20micro%2C%20small,to%20Finance%20Minister%20Nirmala%20Sitharaman.&text=Earlier%20this%20month%2C%20the%20Reserve,2020%20to%20December%2031%2C%202020.


COVID-19: IAF aircraft lands in Wuhan with medical supplies

India sent a heavy lift military transport aircraft to the COVID-19-hit Wuhan in China.


-       The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) C-17 Globe master III aircraft carried 15 tonnes of medical supplies.

-       The flight is also expected to bring back citizens of neighbouring countries.

-       Indian Embassy in Beijing had asked the citizens to remain ready for evacuation.

-       This is the third aircraft that India has sent for evacuation of citizens from the COVID-19-hit region.

About Coronavirus:

-       Corona viruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

-       A novel corona virus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. 

-       Corona viruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. 

-       Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans.

-       Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

-       Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

-       In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

-       Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.

-       Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/covid-19-iaf-aircraft-lands-in-wuhan-with-medical-supplies/article30926718.ece


J&K ‘was, is and shall forever’ remain its integral part: India tells Pakistan at UNHRC meeting

Indian reply to Human Rights Council:

-       Jammu and Kashmir will remain an integral part of India for ever,

-       The world should act against countries that shelter terrorists.

-       The transformative changes wrought by our Parliament last August were meant to strengthen the integration of the State, including to give fullest play to representative government from the grassroots level upward.

-       As a nation that has suffered for decades from cross-border terrorism, India calls for decisive action against those who direct, control, fund, abet or shelter terrorists.

UN Human Rights Council:

-       The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.

-       It has the ability to discuss all thematic human rights issues and situations that require its attention throughout the year.

-       The Council is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly.

-       The Human Rights Council replaced the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/jk-was-is-and-shall-forever-remain-its-integral-part-india-tells-pakistan-at-unhrc-meeting/article30922337.ece


Cabinet approves surrogacy Bill

Cabinet decisions:

-       The Union Cabinet approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2020

-       Allowed a “willing” woman to be a surrogate mother

-       Proposed that the Bill would benefit widows and divorced women besides infertile Indian couples.

-       The Cabinet approved the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill after incorporating the recommendations of a Rajya Sabha Select Committee.

Recommendation of the Rajya Sabha Select Committee on Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2019:

-       A surrogate mother need not be a “close relative”.

-       Advocated omission of the five-year time limit before seeking surrogacy.

-       Allowing single women (widow or a divorcee and Persons of Indian Origin) to avail of surrogacy.

-       Increasing insurance cover for the surrogate mother from the 16 months proposed in the Bill to 36 months.

-       Delete the definition of “infertility” as “the inability to conceive after five years of unprotected intercourse” on grounds that it was too long a period for a couple to wait for a child.

-       Assisted Reproductive Technologies (Regulation) Bill (ART), which is awaiting Cabinet approval, may be taken up before the Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill.

-       The ART Bill primarily deals with technical, scientific and medical aspects, including the storage of embryos, gametes, oocytes, etc. as contained in the Surrogacy Bill.

About the Surrogacy Regulation bill:

-       Regulation of surrogacy: The bill prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy. 

-       Altruistic surrogacy involves no monetary compensation to the surrogate mother other than the medical expenses and insurance coverage during the pregnancy. 

-       Surrogacy is permitted when it is:

-       For intending couples who suffer from proven infertility;

-       Altruistic;

-       Not for commercial purposes;

-       Not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation;

-       For any condition or disease specified through regulations.

-       The intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.

-       Surrogacy clinics cannot undertake surrogacy related procedures unless they are registered by the appropriate authority.

-       The central and the state governments shall constitute the National Surrogacy Board (NSB) and the State Surrogacy Boards (SSB), respectively.

-       Functions of the NSB include:

-       Advising the central government on policy matters relating to surrogacy;

-       Laying down the code of conduct of surrogacy clinics;

-       Supervising the functioning of SSBs.

-       A child born out of a surrogacy procedure will be deemed to be the biological child of the intending couple.

-       An abortion of the surrogate child requires the written consent of the surrogate mother and the authorisation of the appropriate authority. 

-       The offences under the Bill include:

-       Undertaking or advertising commercial surrogacy;

-       Exploiting the surrogate mother;

-       Abandoning, exploiting or disowning a surrogate child;

-       Selling or importing human embryo or gametes for surrogacy. 

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cabinet-clears-surrogacy-regulation-bill/article30921456.ece

Explained: Govt to establish Central Consumer Protection Authority; what is it?

Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan announced that a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) will be established by the first week of April.

About Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA):

-       The authority is being constituted under Section 10(1) of The Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

-       The CCPA, introduced in the new Act, aims to protect the rights of the consumer:

-       By cracking down on unfair trade practices,

-       False and misleading advertisements that is detrimental to the interests of the public and consumers.

-       The CCPA will have the powers to inquire or investigate into matters relating to violations of consumer rights or unfair trade practices suo motu, or on a complaint received, or on a direction from the central government.

Possible structure of CCPA:

-       Proposed authority will be a lean body with a Chief Commissioner as head, and only two other commissioners as members.

-       One member will deal with matters relating to goods while the other will look into cases relating to services.

-       It will be headquartered in the National Capital Region of Delhi but the central government may set up regional offices in other parts of the country.

-       The CCPA will have an Investigation Wing that will be headed by a Director General.

-       District Collectors too, will have the power to investigate complaints of violations of consumer rights, unfair trade practices, and false or misleading advertisements.

Functions of CCPA:

-       Inquiring into violations of consumer rights, investigating and launching prosecution at the appropriate forum;

-       Passing orders to recall goods or withdraw services that are hazardous, reimbursement of the price paid, and discontinuation of the unfair trade practices, as defined in the bill;

-       Issuing directions to the concerned trader/ manufacturer/ endorser/ advertiser/ publisher to either discontinue a false or misleading advertisement, or modify it;

-       Imposing penalties,

-       Issuing safety notices to consumers against unsafe goods and services.

About Consumer Protection act:

-       Rights of consumers: Six consumer rights have been defined in the Bill, including the right to:

-       Be protected against marketing of goods and services which are hazardous to life and property;

-       Be informed of the quality, quantity, potency, purity, standard and price of goods or services;

-       Be assured of access to a variety of goods or services at competitive prices;

-       Seek redressal against unfair or restrictive trade practices.

-       Definition of consumer: A consumer is defined as a person who buys any good or avails a service for a consideration.

-       The central government will set up a Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers.

-       The CCPA may impose a penalty on a manufacturer or an endorser of up to Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment for up to two years for a false or misleading advertisement.

-       Consumer Disputes Redressal Commissions (CDRCs) will be set up at the district, state, and national levels.

-       The District CDRC will entertain complaints where value of goods and services does not exceed Rs. 1 crores.

-       The State CDRC will entertain complaints when the value is more than Rs. 1 crores but does not exceed Rs 10 crores. 

-       Product liability means the liability of a product manufacturer, service provider or seller to compensate a consumer for any harm or injury caused by a defective good or deficient service. 

-       To claim compensation, a consumer has to prove any one of the conditions for defect or deficiency, as given in the Bill.

Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/ram-vilas-paswan-food-and-public-distribution-central-consumer-protection-act-6288654/