Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 20 February 2020

Current Affairs for IAS Exams - 20 February 2020


Centre gives approval for 22nd law commission

  • The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval to set up the 22nd Law Commission.The Law Commission advises the government on complex legal issues. The term of the previous law panel ended last August.The Law Ministry will now notify the new panel, which will have a three-year term.

  • Apart from a full-time chairperson, the commission will have four full-time members, including a member-secretary.The Law and Legislative Secretaries in the Law Ministry will be ex-officio members of the commission.

  • “It will also have not more than five part-time members,” an official statement said.A retired Supreme Court judge or Chief Justice of a High Court will head the commission.

  • Originally formed in 1955, the commission is reconstituted every three years and so far, 277 reports have been submitted to the government.

  • The previous Law Commission, under Justice B.S. Chauhan (retd.), had submitted reports and working papers on key issues such as simultaneous elections to the LokSabha and the Assemblies and a uniform civil code.

  • While it supported simultaneous elections, the commission had said the time for a common code was not yet ripe. In 2015, a proposal was mooted to make the law panel into a permanent body either through an Act of Parliament or an executive order (resolution of the Union Cabinet).

  • The move was shelved after the Prime Minister’s Office preferred the existing system to continue. In 2010, the then UPA government had prepared a draft Cabinet note to give statutory status to the commission but the idea did not take off.

Second phase of swachhbharat mission gets nod

  • The Centre will begin implementing the second phase of its Swachh Bharat mission in rural areas from April, focusing on solid and liquid waste management and the sustainability of the abolition of open defecation.

  • On Wednesday, the Union Cabinet approved an allocation of ₹52,497 crore for the scheme from the budget of the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation over the next four years, according to an official statement.

  • The remaining outlay of ₹88,384 crore until 2024-25 will come via a convergence model, depending on funds released under the 15th Finance Commission and money allocated to the rural jobs guarantee scheme, as well as a revenue generation model being developed for solid and liquid waste management.

  • The Union Budget for 2020-21 had allocated ₹9,994 crore for the first year of the mission’s Phase-II.

  • The scheme will be implemented by the States, with a fund sharing pattern of 60:40 between the Centre and the States.In the northeastern and Himalayan states, the Central share will be 90%.


Government to set up central consumer protection authority soon

  • Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan has said the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) will be set up by the first week of April this year.

  • The CCPA to be set up under Consumer Protection Act 2019, will address issues related to consumer rights, unfair trade practices, misleading advertisements and impose penalties for selling spurious and adulterated products.

  • Briefing reporters in New Delhi after interaction with industry bodies on the roles and functions of CCPA, Mr Paswan said, an investigative wing will be formed under the aegis of the authority and it will carry out inquiries in matters related to unfair trade practices and misleading advertisements. He also said the rules related to Consumer Protection Act will be finalized within one and half months.

  • The Minister asserted that protecting the interest of consumers is paramount for the government. During the meeting with industry bodies, Mr.Paswan also stressed on the need to regulate e-commerce and direct selling as there is no regulatory body for these sectors right now.

Centre cuts contribution by half in crop insurance schemes

  • The Centre has almost halved its contribution to its own flagship crop insurance schemes, slashing its share of the premium subsidy from the current 50% to just 25% in irrigated areas and 30% for unirrigated areas from the kharif season of 2020.

  • The Union Cabinet approved the revamp of the PradhanMantriFasalBimaYojana (PMFBY) and the Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme at its meeting on Wednesday.

  • In another significant step, enrolment in the two schemes has also been made voluntary for all farmers, including those with existing crop loans. When the PMFBY was launched in 2016, it was made mandatory for all farmers with crop loans to enrol for insurance cover under the scheme.

  • PMFBY has come in from flak from a wide variety of stakeholders. Farmers groups and opposition politicians have claimed that private insurance companies have made windfall gains on the scheme.

  • Several major insurers, including ICICI Lombard and Tata AIG, have opted out of the scheme in 2019-20, reportedly due to losses because of high claims ratios. Several States, including Punjab and West Bengal, have refused to participate in the scheme as well.

  • Farmers pay a fixed share of the premium: 2% of the sum insured for kharif crops, 1.5% for rabi crops and 5% for cash crops. Currently, the Centre and State split the balance of the premium equally. However, the revamp now reduces the burden on the Centre and increases the share of States.

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Indian high commission in Dhaka holds seminar on defence equipments

  • High Commission of India in Bangladesh organised a seminar on Indian Defence Equipment in Dhaka on Wednesday. According to a press release issued by the High Commission of India in Bangladesh, 12 Indian firms participated in the event.

  • Speaking on the occasion, India's High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das said that India and Bangladesh have close cooperation in many diverse areas and it was natural for them to pursue further cooperation in the field of defence technologies.

  • Bangladesh Minister for Industries, NurulMajid Mahmud Humayun was the chief guest. Paying tribute to Sheikh MujiburRahman he said that Bangbandhu had emphasized on building disciplined and professional Armed Forces in the country.

  • The Minister said that Bangladesh's Security Forces have earned a name for themselves as disciplined and professional force.He said the seminar provided an opportunity for defence manufacturers from India in developing fruitful partnerships with Bangladesh.

  • Earlier, High Commissioner Riva Ganguly Das met the representatives of Indian Defence manufacturing industry on Tuesday and briefed them about the various avenues of defence cooperation between India and Bangladesh.

Srilanka considering withdrawal form sponsorship of UN war probe resolution

  • Sri Lankan Prime Minister MahindaRajapaksa on Wednesday said that his government will withdraw from co-sponsoring a UN Human Rights Council resolution on accountability for war crimes.

  • His statement came days after the U.S. imposed travel restrictions on Army chief Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva and his immediate family members over alleged gross violations of human rights during the final phase of the island nation’s Civil War in 2009.

  • “Our government has decided to withdraw from the process of co-sponsorship in relation to resolution 30-/1,” Mr.Rajapaksa said in a statement. The resolution 30/1 on promotion on reconciliation in Sri Lanka was co-sponsored in 2015 by the then Sri Lankan government.

  • The resolution also called for an independent investigation with foreign judges and prosecutors to probe war crimes allegation.Mr. Rajapaksa accused his predecessor of betraying the island’s security forces by co-sponsoring the resolution.

  • The 2015 resolution was based on the UNHRC report, which had accused the Lankan troops of violating human rights, Mr.Rajapaksa’s statement said.

  • Sri Lanka’s ruling and opposition parties have strongly opposed the U.S. move to impose the travel ban on Lt. Gen. Silva, saying America’s decision was based on independently unverified information.

  • Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena last week said that Lt. Gen. Silva was only conducting a war against a designated terrorist group which was the LTTE.


Kerala opposes Karnataka’s plan to provide alternate route for Bandipur highway

  • The Kerala government has opposed in the Supreme Court an alternative route proposed by Karnataka to bypass the night-time traffic ban on the National Highway 212 through the Bandipur National Park.

  • In an affidavit, Kerala submitted that the alternative route goes through the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka and Tholpetty wildlife sanctuary in Kerala “where wild animals are wandering freely in heavy numbers and it will take more time for the land acquisition for developing the route.” Further, clearance from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is mandatory.

  • “The ban on night traffic through NH 212 issued by the District Magistrate was without any study or preparation. Mudumalai, Bandipur Tiger Reserves and Wayanad Wildlife sanctuary make one contiguous tiger territory and tigers move freely within this area. It is illogical and inappropriate to impose enhanced level of restriction only in one part of this tiger territory to protect tigers. It will not yield the desired result,” Kerala argued in the Supreme Court.

  • On the other hand, the highway is the arterial road connecting the metro city of Kozhikode and Wayanad with Mysuru and Bengaluru.

  • The State dismissed the argument raised in the apex court that “by now the wildlife has adapted itself to the night-time restriction on traffic.” It said the argument owes itself more to a reluctance withdraw the ban.

  • “If at all any restrictions of vehicular movement is to be done in wildlife areas, it should be done uniformly across the country under the relevant laws such as the Wildlife Protection Act and not under the Motor Vehicles Act. Otherwise it amounts to colourable exercise of power. There is no provision under the MV Act to protect wildlife,” the State argued.


India to host AFC women’s Asia cup in 2022

  • India will host the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup. The Women's Committee of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced this in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, yesterday.

  • Besides India, Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan were the other competing candidates. But It was felt that India was best placed among the three bidders.

  • AFC Women's Committee Chairperson MahfuzaAkhterKiron said India offers the best opportunities to build the event commercially as well as increasing the value.

  • India is also committed to developing the women's game. Besides, India will have the experience of hosting the FIFA Women's Under-17 World Cup later this year. Hence India stands out.

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