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.
Section 8(4) of the Representation of People Act and Lily Thomas case
Tags: GS – 2: Indian Polity (Parliament)
Why in News:
Rahul Gandhi was disqualified on being convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment in a 2019 defamation case. The disqualification was instant because of the Supreme Court of India’s judgment in Lily Thomas vs Union of India (2013).
Provisions for disqualification of a Member of Parliament:
- Article 102: It specifies that a person shall be disqualified for contesting elections and being a Member of Parliament under certain conditions mentioned as following:
- Holding an office of profit
- Being of unsound mind or insolvent
- Not being a citizen of India
- It also authorizes Parliament to make law determining conditions of disqualifications.
- The Representation of the People Act, 1951:
- It provides that a person will be disqualified if convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more.
- Section 8(1): It provides the offences punishable under the Representation of People Act, 1951.
- Section 8(2): It provides for the conviction of member in the offences related to hoarding or profiteering, adulteration of food or drugs, and any provision of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
- Section 8(3): It says that a person convicted of any offense other than those mentioned in the other two clauses, and sentenced to not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of conviction, decided by the President under Article 103. However, it doesn’t directly say they’re disqualified instantly.
- Section 8(4): It has exempted sitting members from instant disqualification for three months to enable them to appeal against the conviction. This clause was struck down as ultra vires in the Lily Thomas vs Union of India, 2013.
Lily Thomas vs Union of India, 2013:
- The Supreme Court removed Section 8(4) because Parliament can’t treat lawmakers who are found guilty differently. This is because Article 102(1) says lawmakers and candidates should be treated the same way.
- However, when it comes to treating them differently, the Constitution actually allows it. Article 103 says that for current lawmakers, the President will decide if they should be disqualified under Article 102(1).
Rahul Gandhi Case:
- The Supreme Court stayed the conviction: It did not express any opinion on the question of whether a stay of conviction is also necessary or on suspending the disqualification.
- The Court observed, if the period of imprisonment was less by one day the disqualification would not have occurred.
- Lok Sabha Secretariat cannot declare disqualified without referring the case to the President under Article 103 for a declaration. The power is vested in the President under Article 103.
- The issue of instant disqualification needs to be addressed urgently as it may affect the career of legislators.
- The judgment in Lily Thomas has not resulted in any perceptible qualitative change in the criminal proclivity of politicians. Politicians belonging to the powerful ruling dispensation at a particular time are be able to get a conviction stayed within a few hours, thus saving themselves from instant disqualification.
- Section 8(4) needs to be restored and protected constitutionally in order to protect the careers of India’s legislators from abrupt convulsions caused by court orders which are given, in the words of the Supreme Court, “without any application of mind”.
- The law on criminal defamation needs an urgent review. Countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States have scrapped it.
Source: The Hindu
Debt-Fossil Fuel Trap Report
Tags: GS – 3: Environment and Ecology
Why in News:
Recently, a new report ‘The Debt-Fossil Fuel Trap’, was published by the anti-debt campaigners Debt Justice and partners.
Key Highlights of the Report:
- Poor countries burdened with heavy debts are compelled to rely on fossil fuel revenue to repay loans borrowed from wealthier nations, multilateral creditors like the World Bank and IMF, or private lenders. Examples:
- Suriname: Creditors are entitled to 30% of oil revenue until 2050, incentivizing continued oil exploitation.
- Argentina has been supporting fracking projects in the Vaca Muerta oil and gas field in Northern Patagonia to generate revenues to ease the country’s debt crisis. IMF has also backed these projects.
- The external debt payments of Global South countries have surged by 150% between 2011 and 2023, reaching the highest levels in 25 years.
- Around 54 countries are facing a debt crisis, resulting in reduced public spending during the pandemic to meet loan repayment obligations.
- Many of these indebted countries lack adequate resources for climate adaptation, mitigation, and addressing loss and damage, forcing them to borrow more money.
- After events like natural disasters, countries can see their debt as a percentage of GDP rise significantly, such as Dominica’s experience after Hurricane Maria in 2017.
- Resource backed loans (RBLs) are a mechanism through which repayment is tied to natural resources or future income streams derived from those resources.
Recommendations of the Report:
- Implement comprehensive debt cancellation for countries in need, across all creditors, without imposing economic conditions.
- Encourage the adoption of clean and renewable energy sources to reduce dependency on fossil fuels.
- Wealthy governments and institutions should play a role in supporting countries to exit the debt-fossil fuel trap.
- Promote sustainable development strategies that prioritize environmental protection and economic stability.
- Ensure that financing and investments align with environmental and social sustainability, rather than contributing to fossil fuel dependence.
- Offer fair and just financing terms that do not exacerbate debt burdens or perpetuate reliance on fossil fuels.
Source: Indian Express
PM-DevINE and NESIDS Schemes
Tags: GS-II: Government policy
Ministry of Development of North-East Region (MDoNER) issues revised guidelines to align PM-DevINE and NESIDS Schemes with intended directives to optimize its impact.
About PM-DevINE and NESIDS Schemes:
- The Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North Eastern Region (PM-DevINE) is a fully funded government scheme to support development of North-east region.
- It was introduced in 2022-23 Union Budget to support infrastructure and social projects in the North-Eastern region of India.
- Key highlights:
- The scheme supports North-East infrastructure aligned with PM GatiShakti, generating livelihoods and addressing sector gaps.
- It covers eight North Eastern states: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura.
- It is overseen by MDoNER for project selection, approval, and monitoring with State Governments, NEC, and Central Ministries/agencies.
- It has an Empowered Inter-Ministerial Committee (EIMC) chaired by Secretary of Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region which meets at least once every three months.
- EMIC assesses initial project proposals, recommends project selection, evaluates final project proposals, monitors progress, proposes O&M mechanisms, and addresses implementation challenges.
- It also has a State Level Empowered Committee (SLEC) led by Chief Secretary, with Secretary of Planning as Convenor to review, prioritizes monitor implementation and proposes modifications.
- It has an approved outlay of 6600 crore for 2022-23 to 2025-26 with an initial allocation of Rs. 1,500 crores for FY 2022-23.
- North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme (NESIDS)
- It was launched in 2017 with an objective to develop infrastructure in North Eastern states.
- It focuses on physical infrastructure like roads, bridges, power projects and provides financial assistance for various infrastructure projects.
- It is implemented through NEC or Central Ministries/agencies while the projects are identified and prioritized by North Eastern states through Empowered Inter-Ministerial Committee (EIMC).
- Overall, these revised guidelines will go a long way to enhance development in North-East India and will align with overarching goals of the region’s sustainable growth.
Source: PIB Gov.
UK’s North Sea Drilling
Tags: GS-III: Environment
Environmentalists deliberate on drilling in the North Sea, environmental concerns, and the U.K.’s climate commitments.
About UK’s North Sea Drilling:
- The United Kingdom has recently proposed a plan for increased drilling in the North Sea for oil and natural gas off Britain’s coast.
- The North Sea Transition Authority (NTSA) oversees the 33rd offshore oil and gas licensing round is aiming to award over 100 licenses.
- However, Concerns have been raised about these plans amidst global efforts to combat irreversible climate change.
- Key highlights:
- The North Sea is located between the UK and neighbouring countries and has been a significant source of oil and gas for the UK’s energy needs.
- Exploration in the North Sea began after the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf which established country’s rights over adjacent seabeds.
- The UK’s Continental Shelf Act in 1964 awarded British Petroleum (BP) the first exploration license in 1964 which discovered natural gas in the North Sea in 1965.
- It initiated more than 15 fields in the UK North Sea during the 1970s and 1980s with other British, European, and American companies joined the exploration efforts.
- The 1980s saw over a hundred installations in the North Sea however, the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988 led to safety culture improvements and a major overhaul in offshore safety measures.
- Peak production occurred in 1999, generating substantial crude oil and natural gas liquids but the production declined over the years, reaching lower levels by 2022.
- In recent years, offshore drilling has been criticized for contributing to climate change by releasing greenhouse gases.
- Warming oceans risks marine biodiversity, coral reefs, and shellfish due to pollution and ocean acidification.
- With the UK aiming to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 drilling plans raise questions about the new drilling proposal which conflicts with the need to limit global temperature rise.
- Overall, there is need for a careful balance between energy needs and sustainable practices to mitigate environmental concerns and adhere to climate commitments.
Source: The Hindu
Environmental Challenges in Northeast India
Tag: GS-3 Infrastructure Growth & Development Inclusive Growth, Environmental Pollution and conservation.
The Meghalaya High Court while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the cleanliness of the Umiam Lake, stated that for the sake of creating employment opportunities and in the name of promoting tourism, the natural beauty of the State should not be destroyed.
About the Umiam Lake:
- Umiam Lake is one of the biggest artificial lakes in Meghalaya that is situated about 15 km from Shillong.
- A PIL was filed to raise the issue of cleanliness of Umian Lake which has been adversely affected by unregulated buildings and construction mushrooming around water bodies.
Challenges to Biodiversity in the North East:
- Northeast India is a green belt region due to its abundant natural resources such as oil, natural gas, minerals and freshwater. However indiscriminate exploitation and unassessed developmental projects harm its biodiversity.
- Despite the northeast being industrially backward, deforestation, floods, and existing industries are causing serious problems to the environment in the region
- As per the environmental assessment of the North East Rural Livelihood Project, Northeast India lies within an ecologically fragile, biologically rich region, highly prone to climatic changes.
- Both flora and fauna of the areas are under threat due to deforestation, mining, quarrying and shifting cultivation.
Environmental laws in the North East:
- Offences related to the environment dealing with pollution of land, air, and water are considered under “public nuisance” under Sections 268 to 290 of the IPC, 1860,.
- The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution which grants autonomy to District Councils, limits the authority of the State over matters pertaining to the jurisdiction of the District Councils, including land use.
- Thus in many instances, like the Umiam Lake, the District Councils do not place any regulations for the preservation and protection of land, especially those around water bodies.
- PILs and judicial activism encouraged under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution led to a wave of environmental litigation. For example, NGT’s imposed a fine of Rs100 crore on the Meghalaya government for failing to curb illegal mining in 2019.
Measures taken to promote sustainable growth in the North East:
- Development of infrastructure, revenue generation and employment creation through sustainable policies.
- The ‘Negative List’ in the North East Industrial Development Scheme (NEIDS), 2017 ensures that entities which do not comply with environment standards, not having environmental clearances and not having consent from pollution boards would not be eligible for any incentive under the NEIDS.
- The Act Fast for Northeast policy should not only include “trade and commerce” but also the preservation of “environment and ecology” in the region.
- Central and state governments should consider the case of creating a uniform and comprehensive environmental legislation, which caters to issues related to the environment at all levels of governance.
Source: The Hindu
RBI’s Public Tech Platform for Frictionless Credit
Tag: GS-3 Growth & Development, Mobilization of Resources, Issues Relating to Development, Banking Sector & NBFCs, Government Policies & Interventions
RBI has announced a pilot programme for ‘Public Tech Platform for Frictionless Credit’ which would strive to deliver frictionless credit by “facilitating seamless flow of required digital information to lenders.”
About the Public Tech Platform for Frictionless Credit:
- Digital delivery of credit is preceded by a process of scrutiny known as credit appraisal, which involves evaluation and prediction of the prospective borrowers’ ability for repay the credit/loan.
- This pre-disbursal process is important for banks since it would in turn determine their interest income and impact their balance sheet.
- RBI observed that the data required for the process rests with different entities like central and state governments, account aggregators, banks, credit information companies etc. which creates hindrances in frictionless and timely delivery of rule-based lending.
- The new platform developed by its wholly owned subsidiary, the Reserve Bank Innovation Hub (RBIH) brings all the data together in a single place.
- The platform’s scope encompasses digital loans beyond KCC (Kisan Credit Card), including dairy loans, MSME loans without collateral, personal loans, and home loans.
Benefits from the Platform:
- Improved credit risk and overall credit portfolio management: The platform’s data consolidation would improve risk assessment and lead to better credit portfolio management.
- Fact-based and quick credit assessments: It ensures that credit or other financial instruments are extended to a larger set of borrowers with good credit history.
- Lower cost of accessing capital: The borrowers would benefit by the resulting lower cost of accessing capital, which would translate into productive investment spending.
- The lending platform would bring about reduction of costs, quicker disbursement and scalability.
Source: The Hindu
Ninth Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
Tags: GS – 2 Polity
Why in news?
Recently, the Ninth Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) India Region Conference took place in Udaipur, India, and was inaugurated by Lok Sabha Speaker.
Ninth Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA):
- Theme: Strengthening Democracy and Good Governance in the Digital Age.
- The conference brought together Presiding Officers from 23 states and union territories, as well as Members of Parliament and Members of the Legislative Assembly of Rajasthan.
- The discussions focused on various aspects of parliamentary democracy and the need for the effective functioning of legislatures in addressing societal challenges and fostering democratic values.
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA): –
- Founded in 1911 as the Empire Parliamentary Association (EPA) with administration by the UK Branch, the CPA adopted its current name in 1948 to reflect its evolving ties with the Commonwealth.
- It is an association to serve the Parliamentarians of the Commonwealth Countries.
- Objective: to promote closer understanding and cooperation for common purposes between those engaged in the Parliamentary form of Countries of the Commonwealth.
- Mission: to promote knowledge of the constitutional, legislative, economic, social, and cultural aspects of parliamentary democracy, with particular reference to the countries of the Commonwealth.
- It provides the machinery for regular consultation and exchange of ideas and information among members of Commonwealth Parliaments.
- HQ: London, UK.
Source: The Hindu
Advisory board on bank frauds
Tags: GS – 3 Economy
Why in news?
Recently, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) has reconstituted the advisory board on Banking and Financial Frauds (ABBFF).
- It conducts the first level examination of bank frauds before recommendations or references are made to investigative agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
- Composition: It consists of the Chairman and four other members, and the tenure of the Chairman/ Members would be for two years.
- Functions of the board:
- The ABBFF’s authority encompasses examining the roles of officials and whole-time directors in public sector banks, insurance companies, and financial institutions when frauds amounting to ₹3 crores and above occur.
- The ABBFF is also authorized to conduct periodic fraud analysis within the financial system, providing inputs for fraud-related policy formulation to the RBI and CVC.
- CVC or CBI may also refer any case/technical matter to the ABBFF for its advice.
- The ABBFF, headquartered in New Delhi, is mandated to provide advice within a month of receiving initial references from the Ministry, Department, CVC, or investigative agencies.
- Notably, the suggestion from the Indian Banks Association (IBA) for introducing a “sunset clause” to limit actions against bankers for credit decisions after a specific period hasn’t been accepted by the CVC.
Source: Hindu Business Line
Tags: GS – 3 Economy
Why in news?
Recently, the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) has released a staff paper on implementing market coupling in India’s power sector.
- Market coupling is a process in the energy sector where bids from various power exchanges are matched to determine a uniform market clearing price for electricity trading.
- It aims to optimize transmission infrastructure use, maximize economic surplus, and create simultaneous benefits for both buyers and sellers.
- This process helps in efficient price discovery and integration of different electricity markets or geographies, promoting transparency and competition in the energy trading sector.
- The CERC (Central Electricity Regulatory Commission) has introduced provisions for market coupling among power exchanges in the country under its CERC Power Market Regulations (PRC) 2021.
- However, these provisions are yet to be officially implemented.
India has three power exchanges:
- Indian Energy Exchange (IEX) is the oldest and largest power exchange in India, with a market share of over 98% of the traded volume in power.
- Power Exchange India Limited (PXIL) is the second-largest power exchange, with a market share of about 1.5%.
- Hindustan Power Exchange (HPX) is the newest power exchange.
Source: The Hindu Business Line
Pandemic Fund for Strengthening Animal Health System of India
Tags: GS – 2 Health, Government Policies & Interventions
Why in news?
Recently, the G20 Pandemic Fund has approved a $25 million proposal from India’s Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying (DAHD).
- The proposal focuses on “Animal Health Security Strengthening in India for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.”
G20 Pandemic Fund
- The G20 Pandemic Fund was established under Indonesia’s G20 Presidency.
- Purpose: To finance critical investments to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response capacities at national, regional, and global levels, focusing on low- and middle-income countries.
The key components of the approved proposal include:
- strengthening disease surveillance and early warning systems,
- expanding the laboratory network,
- improving interoperable data systems,
- enhancing capacity for data analytics and risk communication,
- fortifying health security for transboundary animal diseases, and
- facilitating regional cooperation through cross-border collaboration.
- The Pandemic Fund will not only bring additional, dedicated resources for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. It will also incentivize increased investments, enhance coordination among partners, and serve as a platform for advocacy.
- The project’s impact aims to decrease the risk of pathogens crossing from animals (both domesticated and wildlife) to humans, thereby safeguarding the health, nutrition, and livelihoods of vulnerable populations.
- The project will be implemented in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as the lead implementing entity with the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Source: PIB Gov.
Maharashtra’s 1st elephant reserve
Tags: GS – 2 Environment, Conservation
Why in news?
In response to the frequent movement of elephants in the Gondia and Gadchiroli districts, the Maharashtra state wildlife department has proposed creating the Navegaon Elephant Reserve in an area (in Gondia and Gadchiroli districts).
- This move aims to conserve wild elephants in the region, where around 23-25 elephants have been residing.
- This initiative follows the Maharashtra government’s 2020 decision to designate nearly 3,000 hectares of forest land as an elephant reserve in the Sindhudurg district, marking the first instance of such a reserve being established in the state.
significance of this proposal
- At present, there are 33 elephant reserves in the country.
- If approved, Navegaon Elephant Reserve could become the 34th elephant reserve in India and the 5th largest in terms of area.
|Elephant Conservation in India:|
|Elephant has been recognised as a national heritage animal of India. India has the largest population of Asian elephants with nearly 30,000 wild and about 3,600 captive ones. Government of India had launched Project Elephant in 1991-92. The project was intended to provide financial and technical support to the elephant range states for the protection of elephants, their habitats, and corridors and address the issue of human-animal conflict. It also sought to promote the welfare of captive elephants. IUCN Red List: Endangered CITES: Appendix I Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule I|
Source: The Print
Tags: GS – 1 Geography
Why in news?
Recently, the African Union has suspended Niger from its institutions and activities due to the recent coup that overthrew the democratically elected president.
- Niger, officially Republic of Niger is a landlocked country in West Africa.
- It is bounded on the northwest by Algeria, on the northeast by Libya, on the east by Chad, on the south by Nigeria and Benin, and on the west by Burkina Faso and Mali.
- The capital is Niamey.
- The country takes its name from the Niger River (the third-longest river in Africa), which flows through the southwestern part of its territory.
- Niger River flows through Niger, Mali, Guinea, Benin, Nigeria, and Cameroon.
- Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara (Sahel Region).
More About the News:
- In Niger, the military coup has led to the detention of President Mohamed Bazoum. The coup plotters have named General Abdourahamane Tchiani as the new leader, citing security concerns related to jihadist violence.
- The suspension will last until the restoration of constitutional order.
|The African Union (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Founder: Muammar Gaddafi) is a continental union consisting of 55 member states located on the continent of Africa. The African Union was announced in the Sirte Declaration in Sirte, Libya, on 9 September 1999, calling for the establishment of the African Union.|
Source: The Hindu
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