In today’s daily current affairs briefing for UPSC aspirants, we explore the latest developments that hold relevance for the upcoming civil services examination. Our focus today includes a critical analysis of recent policy changes, international affairs, and national developments, all of which play a pivotal role in shaping the socio-political and economic landscape of India. Stay informed and stay ahead in your UPSC preparations with our daily current affairs updates, as we provide you with concise, well-researched insights to help you connect the dots between contemporary events and the broader canvas of the civil services syllabus.
The Ethics Committee: Guardians of Integrity in Action!
Tag: GS-2 Polity GS-4
Recently, the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee embraced a report suggesting the removal of Trinamool Congress MP from the Lower House due to an accusation related to “cash-for-query.”
- “Cash-for-query” refers to a scandalous practice in parliamentary or legislative settings where members or lawmakers are alleged to have accepted monetary compensation or other inducements in exchange for raising specific questions or discussing particular issues during sessions.
- Essentially, it involves the misuse of the legislative process for personal gain, undermining the integrity and purpose of parliamentary proceedings.
About Lok Sabha Ethics Committee and its role in “cash-for-query” cases
Establishment and Purpose
- The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee is a parliamentary committee established to oversee and ensure the ethical conduct of Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of India’s Parliament.
- Each of the two Houses of Parliament has an ethics committee.
- The ethics committee in Lok Sabha has 15 members.
- The ethics committee in Rajya Sabha has 10 members.
- The members of the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee are appointed by the Speaker for a period of one year.
- The Ethics Committee is responsible for examining complaints related to the unethical conduct of MPs and recommending appropriate actions.
- It may also take Suo-motu cognizance of matters related to the ethical behaviour of MPs.
- The committee can recommend penalties, including expulsion or suspension, for MPs found guilty of unethical behaviour.
- The proceedings and deliberations of the Ethics Committee are typically conducted confidentially to ensure a fair and impartial examination of complaints.
Reports and Recommendations
- The committee prepares reports based on its investigations and submits recommendations to the Lok Sabha Speaker.
- The Lok Sabha may consider and act upon the recommendations made by the Ethics Committee.
Role in “Cash-for-Query” Cases
- The Ethics Committee often deals with cases related to “cash-for-query,” where MPs are accused of accepting bribes or inducements in exchange for raising specific issues or questions in Parliament.
How a complaint is handled by Ethics Committee
- Complaint against a Lok Sabha MP can be initiated by another Lok Sabha MP or any person.
- Non-MP complainants require a Lok Sabha MP to submit the complaint with evidence and an affidavit affirming its authenticity.
- The Speaker can refer complaints of unethical behaviour against an MP to the Ethics Committee.
- Complaints based solely on media reports or sub-judice matters are not entertained.
Prima Facie Inquiry and Report
- The Committee conducts a Prima Facie inquiry to determine whether to examine a complaint.
- Recommendations are made after evaluating the complaint.
- The Committee presents its report to the Speaker, who seeks the House’s decision on consideration, allowing a half-hour discussion on the report.
Potential actions that committee can take
Committee’s Actions if Complaint is Valid
- The Ethics Committee, if it agrees with the complaint, can suggest what should happen next.
- The possible punishment it might suggest is suspending the MP for a certain time.
Final Decision by the House
- All the members of the House, which includes every MP, get to decide if they agree with the committee’s suggestion.
- They also decide what kind of punishment, if any, should be given.
Issues with Ethics Committee
Undefined ‘Unethical Conduct
- Lack of a clear definition for ‘unethical conduct’ leaves it entirely to the Ethics Committee’s discretion to determine what qualifies as ethical or unethical.
Rigid Ethical Standards
- The Ethics Committee’s inflexible approach to ethical standards may hinder MPs’ ability to adapt to evolving norms and expectations over time.
Misplacement of Graft Cases
- Typically, cases involving MPs accepting money for parliamentary work go to the privileges committee or special committees.
The committee plays a vital role in interpreting and applying evolving ethical standards in parliamentary proceedings. Using techniques like seminars, it strives to enhance MPs’ understanding of moral principles and promote ethical behaviour, safeguarding the integrity of parliamentary conduct.
GRAP (Graded Response Action Plan)
Tag: GS-3 Environmental Pollution & Degradation GS Paper – 2 Health, Government Policies & Interventions.
The Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas has implemented an 8-point action plan under Stage-IV of the GRAP across the entire NCR, effective immediately.
- Set of emergency measures triggered to prevent air quality deterioration in Delhi-NCR.
- Approved by Supreme Court in 2016 after M. C. Mehta vs. Union of India (2016), notified in 2017.
- Till 2020, It was enforced by Supreme Court-appointed EPCA (Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority)
- However, CAQM (Commission for Air Quality Management) took over in 2021, which relies on IITM and IMD forecasts.
Stage I (AQI 201-300)
- Enforce NGT/SC’s order on over-aged vehicles.
Stage II (AQI 301-400)
- Targeted actions at pollution hotspots.
- Regulate DG operations across all NCR sectors.
Stage III (AQI 401-450)
- Strict restrictions on BS III petrol and BS IV diesel vehicles.
- Potential suspension of primary grade classes.
Stage IV (AQI >450)
- Entry restriction for non-essential vehicles outside Delhi.
- Exemptions for electric, CNG, and BS-VI diesel vehicles, and those carrying essential commodities.
All about CAQM (Commission for Air Quality Management)
Establishment of CAQM
- Statutory mechanism formed under Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas, Act 2021, for coordination and oversight in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and UP to improve air quality.
- Recognizes the need for a comprehensive remedial approach to address air pollution.
Significance of the New Commission
- Replaces the Supreme Court-mandated EPCA.
- EPCA criticized for not exercising statutory powers; CAQM to regulate by coordinating between Central Government and states.
- Aims for a consolidated approach to monitoring, eliminating pollution sources, and enforcement.
- Commission empowered to coordinate with state and central governments across various sectors.
- Operates under the oversight of elected representatives, providing regular reports to Parliament.
- Aims for effective enforcement through the highest degree of democratic oversight.
Removal of Ad-Hocism
- Seeks to replace temporary committees and groups with a structured commission under the overall supervision of the Central government.
- Aims to synergize efforts of different stakeholders.
- Commission endowed with increased powers, both constitutionally and in scope.
- Introduces punitive provisions, including a Rs 1 crore fine or five years’ imprisonment for violators of pollution control norms.
- Commission’s power overlaps with state bodies, requiring dependency on states for enforcement.
- Political differences among the administered states could impact outcomes.
Dilution of Judicial Oversight
- Supreme Court’s intervention in environmental matters led to the establishment of EPCA.
- Dissolution of other committees raises concerns about limiting the judiciary’s role in air-quality management.
- Air pollution affects health and agriculture.
- Lack of representation from farmers’ bodies, while associations or industry representatives can be co-opted as members.
Unrealistic Punitive Measures
- Imposing a fixed Rs 1 crore fine regardless of environmental damage deviates from the polluter pays principle.
- Raises concerns about the practicality and fairness of punitive measures.
What is AQI?
- AQI, utilized by government bodies, is a numerical indicator to gauge air pollution levels and convey them to the public.
- An escalating AQI signifies a higher likelihood of severe adverse health effects for a significant portion of the population.
Government initiatives to combat air pollution
- National Clean Air Program (NCAP)
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
- FAME India (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles in India)
- Swachh Bharat Mission
- Green India Mission
- Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)
- Smart Cities Mission
- National Solar Mission (NSM)
- Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
- National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE)
Tag: GS-3 Environment
Recently in a meeting chaired by the Union Cabinet Secretary, it was concluded that the current air pollution crisis in Delhi is primarily due to stubble burning.
About Stubble Burning
- It is a removal method of paddy crop residues for wheat sowing, occurring from late September to November.
- Commonly practiced in areas with combined harvesting, leaving behind straw stubble.
- It is predominantly observed in October and November, especially in North West India, with a focus on Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
Effects of Stubble Burning
- Releases significant quantities of toxic pollutants into the atmosphere, including methane, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
- Dispersed pollutants contribute to the formation of smog, adversely impacting human health.
- Burning husk on the ground diminishes soil nutrients, reducing fertility.
- Generated heat penetrates the soil, leading to moisture loss and a decline in beneficial microbes.
Alternatives to Stubble Burning
- Adoption of technologies like the Turbo Happy Seeder (THS) machine.
- THS can uproot stubble and sow seeds, utilizing cleared stubble as mulch for the field.
The Path Ahead-Possible Solutions
There is an urgent need to repurpose stubble constructively, utilize technology alternatives like Turbo-Happy Seeder Machine and Bio-Decomposer. Stubble can also be repurposed as animal feed, recycling for paper and cardboard production, or can be used as organic manure, as seen in Palla village near Delhi.
|UPSC Previous Year Questions |
Q. Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are the three mega cities of the country but the air pollution is much more serious problem in Delhi as compared to the other two. Why is this so?
Tag: GS-3 IT & Computers, Cyber Security GS-2 Government Policies & Interventions, Judgements & Cases
Recently, the Madras High Court declined to invalidate the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022 entirely. However, the court specified that the prohibition would be applicable exclusively to games of chance, excluding games of skill such as rummy and poker.
About Online Gambling
- Participating in gambling activities over the internet, known as online gambling, entails placing bets or wagers on games and events to potentially win money or prizes.
- This form of gambling is accessible through various devices and often utilizes virtual chips or digital currencies instead of physical cash.
- As of 2022, the global online gambling market reached a value of USD 63.53 billion, and it is projected to experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.7% from 2023 to 2030.
- The Asia-Pacific region stands out as the largest market for online gambling.
- Its regulation is widespread and varies across countries, including India, where different degrees of restrictions and laws govern this burgeoning industry.
Pros and Cons of Online Gambling
Advantages of Online Gambling:
- Online gambling offers the convenience of access from the comfort of one’s home or any location with an internet connection
- It is often more accessible for individuals with disabilities or those facing challenges leaving their homes.
- The online gambling industry presents the potential for substantial revenue generation for the Indian government through taxation and regulation.
- Additionally, this sector can contribute to job creation, offering opportunities for Indian entrepreneurs.
Concerns Related to Online Gambling
Financial and Social Issues
- Online gambling poses the risk of addiction, potentially resulting in severe financial and social consequences.
- The lack of consistent regulation in online gambling creates an environment where fraudulent activities can thrive.
Legal Complexity in India
- India has intricate gambling laws that vary by state, leading to a lack of uniformity and clarity. Each state holds jurisdiction over gambling, contributing to a complex legal landscape.
Potential for Money Laundering
- Online gambling platforms may serve as conduits for money laundering, allowing players to deposit significant amounts of cash into online accounts and subsequently withdraw funds in a seemingly legitimate manner.
Vulnerability to Cyber-Attacks
- Online gambling sites are susceptible to cyber-attacks, exposing players to the risk of having their sensitive personal and financial information compromised.
- Excessive engagement in online gambling can lead to social isolation.
Indian Laws on Online Gambling
Public Gambling Act, 1867
- Currently, India relies on the Public Gambling Act, 1867, as the primary central law governing all forms of gambling.
- However, this law, enacted long ago, is considered outdated and inadequately equipped to address the complexities of digital casinos and online gambling.
- States such as Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh have incorporated the Public Gambling Act with certain amendments to suit their local contexts.
- On the other hand, regions like Goa, Sikkim, Daman, Meghalaya, and Nagaland have introduced specific laws tailored to regulate public gambling within their jurisdictions.
- This diversity reflects the decentralized nature of gambling regulations across different states in India.
Addressing challenges posed by online gambling requires the concerted efforts of regulators and policymakers to establish fair and responsible gambling practices. Given the intricate and varied legal landscape in India, individuals must be cognizant of the laws specific to their state and engage only in licensed online gambling activities.
Tag: GS-1 Art and Culture
The JNU administration denied permission for the “Onam of Solidarity” event, possibly due to a poster depicting King Mahabali adorned in Palestinian flag colours.
About Onam Festival
- The Festival of Onam holds significance in Kerala as a major harvest celebration, commemorating the return of Asura King Mahabali, known for bringing peace and prosperity to the region.
- Taking place in the month of Chingam, the first month of the Malayalam calendar, Kollavarsham,
- Onam is one of the three major festivals in Kerala, alongside Vishu and Thiruvathira.
- This 10-day harvest festival kicks off on Atham (the first day of Onam) and concludes on Thiruvonam (the last day).
- Festivities include the creation of Pook kalam (flower rangolis) and various rituals, such as Vallam Kali (boat races), Pulikali (tiger dances), Kummattikali (mask dances), and Onathallu (martial arts).
- A key highlight is the traditional Onam sadhya (grand feast).
- The unique aspect of Onam lies in the story of the battle between Mahabali (the Asura or demon) and Vamana (an avatar of Vishnu).
- Unlike typical narratives where gods triumph over demons, Mahabali is revered as the undisputed King of Malayali’s.
- Interestingly, there are isolated areas in India, like parts of Bihar and Bengal, where demons, such as Mahishasur, are worshiped.
- Historically, scholars interpret these god-demon battles as reflections of past conflicts between Brahmins and non-Brahmins, as well as tribals.
Tag: GS-1 Art and Culture
The All-India Veera Shaiva Mahasabha, has raised objections to the caste census. They are urging the State government not to accept the report and are calling for a complete redo of the entire exercise.
Who are Lingayats and Veeshaivas?
- Lingayats are individuals who wear a personal Linga, an iconic representation of the god Shiva, received during their initiation ceremony.
- Followers of the 12th-century social reformer, philosopher, and poet Basaveshwara,
- Lingayats reject the caste system and Vedic rituals.
- Basaveshwara’s teachings influenced Lingayats to be strict monotheists, worshiping only one God, the Linga (Shiva).
- Traditionally, Lingayats were categorized as a Hindu subcaste known as “Veerashaiva Lingayats,” aligning them with Shaivites.
- A significant development in the history of Lingayats is their distancing from Hindu Veerashaivas due to differences in following the Vedas and supporting the caste system, both of which Basaveshwara opposed.
- Lingayats, as a result, have sought recognition as a separate religion.
- Veerashaivas, on the other hand, adhere to the five religious centres known as Pancha Peethas, modelled after the four peethas established by Adi Shankara.
|UPSC Previous Year Questions |
Q. Do government’s schemes for up-lifting vulnerable and backward communities by protecting required social resources for them, lead to their exclusion in establishing businesses in urban economies?
Q. Discuss the role of the National Commission for Backward Classes in the wake of its transformation from a statutory body to a constitutional body.
Bicchu Buti Fabrics
Tag: GS-3 Environment
The Geographical Indications Registry has bestowed the highly coveted GI tag upon over 15 products originating from Uttarakhand, spanning from indigenous brick-tea to textiles crafted from Himalayan plants
About Bicchu Buti and Bicchu Buti Fabrics
- Bichu Buti, also known as stinging nettle or Urtica dioica, is a plant that has been used for centuries for its medicinal and culinary properties.
- The leaves and stems of the plant are covered in tiny hairs that contain formic acid, which can cause a stinging sensation when touched.
- However, once the leaves are cooked, the formic acid breaks down and they become safe to eat.
- Bichu Buti is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and calcium.
- It is also a diuretic, which means that it helps to remove excess fluid from the body.
- Bichu Buti has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including arthritis, rheumatism, gout, urinary tract infections, and skin problems.
- Bichu Buti is not only used for its medicinal and culinary properties, but it is also used to make fabric.
- The fibres of the plant can be spun into yarn and then woven into cloth.
- Bichu Buti fabric is strong and durable, and it is often used to make clothing, bags, and other accessories.
- In India, bicchu Buti fabric is particularly popular in the state of Uttarakhand.
- The fabric is known as “stinging nettle fabric” or “sisnu fabric.”
- It is used to make a variety of traditional clothing items, including kurtas, pyjamas, and shawls.
- Bichu Buti fabric is also used to make bags, purses, and other accessories.
- Bichu Buti fabric is a sustainable and eco-friendly choice.
Agartala-Akhaura Rail Link
Tag: GS-2 IR
The inauguration of the rail link between Agartala and Akhaura (in Bangladesh) was conducted through a virtual ceremony, with the leaders from India and Bangladesh participating.
What is Agartala-Akhaura Rail Link?
- The establishment of the rail line between Agartala in Tripura and Akhaura in Bangladesh marks a historic milestone, facilitating the inaugural train journey from the northeastern region to Bangladesh.
- The railway connection spans from Gangasagar in Bangladesh to Nischintapur in India, extending further to the Agartala railway station.
- The Ministry for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) is responsible for financing the 5.46 km track on the Indian side, while the Ministry of External Affairs is funding the 10.6 km track on the Bangladesh side.
Tag: GS Paper – 2Government Policies & Interventions
The Central Government asserts that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) operates independently and is not under the control of the Union government in the registration, investigation, and prosecution of cases.
- The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was established through a resolution of the Ministry of Home Affairs and later shifted to the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions, currently operating as an attached office.
- Its formation was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption.
- The CBI functions under the DSPE Act, 1946, and is neither a constitutional nor a statutory body.
- It investigates a range of cases, including bribery, governmental corruption, central law violations, multi-state organized crime, and multi-agency or international cases.
Functioning of the CBI in India
Provision of Prior Permission
- The CBI must seek prior approval from the Central Government before initiating an inquiry or investigation into offences committed by officials holding the rank of joint secretary and above in the Central Government and its authorities.
- In 2014, the Supreme Court declared Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, which provided protection to these officers from facing even a preliminary inquiry by the CBI in corruption cases, as invalid and violative of Article 14.
General Consent Principle for CBI
- States can grant consent to the CBI either on a case-specific or “general” basis.
- General consent, often given by states, allows the CBI to seamlessly investigate cases of corruption against central government employees in those states.
- This implies that the CBI may commence investigations, assuming consent has already been given.
- Without general consent, the CBI would need to apply to the state government for consent in each individual case, even for minor actions.
|UPSC Previous Year Questions |
Q. The jurisdiction of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) regarding lodging an FIR and conducting a probe within a particular state is being questioned by various States. However, the power of the States to withhold consent to the CBI is not absolute. Explain with special reference to the federal character of India.
Tag: GS-3 Economy
While the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has projected CPI inflation to be 5.4% for 2023-24, showing a decline from 6.7% in 2022-23, the vulnerability of headline inflation persists due to recurrent and overlapping food price shocks, as highlighted by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor.
What is Headline Inflation?
- Headline inflation represents the overall inflation rate, considering the entire basket of goods and services that consumers typically purchase.
- It includes all items in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or Producer Price Index (PPI), without excluding any specific category.
- Headline inflation often includes volatile elements such as food and energy prices, which can experience significant short-term fluctuations.
- Headline inflation gives a comprehensive view of the overall cost of living for consumers, but it can be influenced by short-term factors.
How is it different from core inflation?
- Core inflation is a more focused measure that excludes certain volatile components to provide a smoother and more stable indication of underlying inflation trends.
- It typically excludes items like food and energy, which are known for their price volatility.
- Core inflation helps economists and policymakers identify the sustained, long-term inflationary trends in the economy, filtering out temporary fluctuations caused by factors like weather events or geopolitical events.
- Core inflation, by excluding volatile elements, provides a more persistent measure of inflation, making it useful for long-term economic analysis and monetary policy decisions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What are daily current affairs?
A: Daily current affairs refer to the most recent and relevant events, developments, and news stories that are happening around the world on a day-to-day basis. These can encompass a wide range of topics, including politics, economics, science, technology, sports, and more.
Q: Why is it important to stay updated with daily current affairs?
A: Staying updated with daily current affairs is crucial because it helps individuals make informed decisions in their personal and professional lives. It enables people to understand the world around them, stay aware of significant events, and engage in informed discussions about important issues.
Q: Where can I access daily current affairs information?
A: There are various sources for daily current affairs, including newspapers, news websites, television news broadcasts, radio programs, and dedicated apps or newsletters. Social media platforms are also widely used to share and access current affairs information.
Q: How can I effectively incorporate daily current affairs into my routine?
A: To incorporate daily current affairs into your routine, consider setting aside specific times each day to read or watch news updates. You can also subscribe to newsletters or follow news apps to receive curated content. Engaging in discussions with peers or participating in online forums can further enhance your understanding of current events.
Q: What are some tips for critical analysis of daily current affairs?
A: When analyzing daily current affairs, it’s essential to cross-reference information from multiple sources to ensure accuracy. Additionally, consider the source’s credibility and bias, if any. Develop the ability to identify the main points and implications of news stories, and critically evaluate the significance and impact of the events reported.
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