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Daily current affairs for IAS upsc

Stricter anti-racism law

  • The Home Ministry’s proposal to amend the law to insert two stricter anti-racial discrimination provisions in the Indian Penal Code has got a lukewarm response from the States.

What next? 

  • Only four — Uttar Pradesh, apart from Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram in the northeast — have given their assent to the proposed law.
  • Three Union Territories — Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Lakshwadeep — have also agreed to the Centre’s proposal.
  • Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju informed the Rajya Sabha that the Ministry proposed to amend the IPC “to deal with the racially motivated crimes.”

anti racial laws

List of anti-discrimination acts in india.

  • Article 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 of Constitution of India
  • Caste Disabilities Removal Act, 1850
  • Hindu Succession Act, 1956 – Abolished the “limited owner” status of women who owned property, amended in 2004 to give daughters equal inheritance rights with sons.
  • Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

Letting go of instant triple talaq

  • All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), through its counsel Kapil Sibal, informed the Supreme Court that it was considering reforms and the gradual giving up of instant talaq but wanted time for it.

What next?

  • One of the “reforms” mentioned was a circular from the board asking all qazis to advise the husbands, while finalizing the marriage contract, not to resort to instant divorce (talaq-e-bid’a) unless under compelling circumstances.
  • The “compelling circumstances”, however, were not defined.
  • This is not the first time the AIMPLB has tried to illude Muslim women with the talk of reforms.
  • In July 2004, in its executive committee meeting in Kanpur, the board was widely expected to outlaw instant talaq. But nothing came of it.
  • Muslim women were let down once again in May 2005 when the board’s much-hyped ‘model nikahnama’ released in Bhopal turned out to be a damp squib.

{Op-Ed}A gathering crisis[ the need for groundwater regulation ]

This deal with increasing water crisis & Groundwater (Sustainable Management) Bill, 2017 and its provisions.

Key points:

  • The water crisis India faces is of such a magnitude that urgent measures are necessary to address it.
  • Yet, while the crisis is often discussed, law and policy measures to address it remain insufficient.
  • This is partly due to the fact that the primary source of domestic water and irrigation is groundwater but the media and policymakers still and often focus on surface water.
  • This needs to change as water tables have been falling rapidly in many parts of the country, indicating that use generally exceeds replenishment.

Reasons:

  • One of the underlying reasons for excessive use of groundwater is the legal framework governing access to the resource.
  • This was first introduced in the mid-19th century when judges decided that the easiest way to regulate this ‘invisible’ substance was to give landowners what amounts to a right to access groundwater found under their land, even if in the process they also used water found under their neighbors land.
  • Over the following decades, this led to a framework whereby landowners see groundwater as their own and as a resource they can exploit without considering the need to protect and replenish it since there are no immediate consequences for over-exploiting it.
  • Access to a source of groundwater has progressively become a source of power and economic gain. The latter has become increasingly visible in recent decades with the propagation of mechanical pumps, which allows big landowners to sell water to others.

Groundwater (Sustainable Management) Bill, 2017

  1. Builds on the decentralization mandate that is already enshrined in general legislation but has not been implemented effectively as far as groundwater is concerned.
  2. Seeks to give regulatory control over groundwater to local users.
  3. Recognition that water is a public trust (groundwater is a common pool resource), the recognition of the fundamental right to water and the introduction of protection principles, including the precautionary principle, that are currently absent from water legislation.

Profit petroleum may be exempt from levy of GST

  • The oil and gas exploration and production business is likely to get a boost following a proposal to exempt the profit petroleum paid to the Centre from the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
  • The production sharing contracts (PSCs) signed for exploration and development of oil fields require operators to pay a pre-determined share of the surplus petroleum output to the Centre as a form of royalty.
  • Currently, such profit petroleum is subject to GST as it has been construed as a payment made by firms for a service.
  • Though profit petroleum is legally taxable, the levy of GST doesn’t appear to be in sync with the PSCs signed under the New Exploration Licensing Policy or NELP.

Raging rupee

Background: 

  • The Indian rupee has turned out to be one of the best-performing currencies in the world with a gain of well over 6% against the U.S. dollar this year to date.
  • In fact, the currency hit a two-year high of 63.60 last Wednesday, supported by strong inflows of foreign capital.

What next?

  • Around the beginning of 2017, analysts were bearish on the rupee, predicting that it would breach the 70-mark by the end of the year.But strong capital inflow has managed to turn the tide.
  • According to the Reserve Bank of India, foreign portfolio investors invested $15.2 billion in India’s equity and debt markets this year until the end of July.
  • Another major contributor to the rupee’s strength is the RBI’s hawkish stance, which has pushed down domestic retail inflation to a record low of just around 2%.
  • This has spilled over to influence the external value of the rupee as well. Oil prices remaining stable at around the $50 mark too has helped as Indians have had to shell out fewer rupees on oil imports.
  • This is reflected in the improved current account deficit, which stood at 0.7% of GDP in 2016-17 compared to almost 4.8% in 2012-13.

ASEAN, 50 years on

Background:

50th anniversary of ASEAN’s founding day.

What next?

  • The realistic move away from the original policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states. Such caution may have been the pragmatic course to adopt during the 1960s, with a view to advance the larger common interest.
  • Founder members Singapore and Malaysia had just concluded the former’s independence agreement. Similarly, the conflict between Thailand and the Philippines had been barely resolved.
  • But over the years, there has been growing appreciation that non-interference, if perceived as indifference, entails political cost, impeding more substantial engagement.
  • There has been recognition that the bloc’s expansion to cover ten countries, with highly diverse economic, political and cultural moorings, calls for a greater convergence of policies and more coordinated action.
  • China and India’s emergence as major economic powers has lent greater urgency to trade liberalisation.

WHAT IS ASEAN?

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional grouping that promotes economic, political, and security cooperation among its ten members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam

Why was the ASEAN created?
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional groupingfounded on 8 August 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines to promote economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the Southeast Asian region through multilateral cooperation.
Where is the Asean Secretariat?
The ASEAN Secretariat was set up in February 1976 by the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN. It was then housed at the Department of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia inJakarta. The existing ASEAN Secretariat at 70A Jalan SisingamangarajaJakartawas established and officiated in 1981 by the then President of Indonesia.

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