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NATIONAL AFFAIRS - November 2019

Nov 2019

Nov 15, 2019

UP Govt Launches e-Ganna App, Web Portal

  •  Uttar Pradesh government has launched a dedicated web portal and a mobile application, e-Ganna App, for sugarcane farmers of the state. Cane supply slip will now be issued to the farmers by sugar mills online.
  • Launching the facilities at a function in Lucknow, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said his government is relentlessly pursuing the goal set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to double farmers' income.

Rajnath Singh To Inaugurate Sisseri River Bridge In East Siang

  •  Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is on a two-day visit to Arunachal Pradesh, will inaugurate the Sisseri River Bridge on the Pasighat-Ranaghat-Roing Road in East Siang District.
  • Mr Singh attended the Maitree Diwas celebration at strategically important Tawang District along the Indo-China Border.

Nov 14, 2019

Andhra Sand Shortage

  •  The Andhra Pradesh Cabinet decided to impose a fine of Rs 2 lakh coupled with two-year imprisonment to those found guilty of hoarding sand in the state.
  • The cabinet also approved a 'Sand Week' program which began on November 14, 2019 to ensure availability of at least two lakh tonnes of sand per day in the state.
  • Apart from this, a decision to set up ' Andhra Pradesh Environment Management Corporation' to curb pollution and to declare 2000 of the 9000 industries in the red category was also taken.

6th World Congress on Rural and Agricultural Finance held in New Delhi

  • The 6th World Congress on Rural and Agricultural Finance was held in New Delhi on November 12 and 13, 2019.
  • The Congress was jointly hosted by Asia-Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA), National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) and Ministry of Agriculture Farmers Welfare and Cooperation.
  • The headquarter of APRACA is at Manila, Philippines.

Chief Justice of India's office under RTI Act

  •  The Supreme Court has held that office of the Chief Justice of India is a public authority under the transparency law, the Right to Information Act.
  • "Transparency doesn't undermine judicial independence," the Supreme Court said in a unanimous verdict as it upheld the Delhi High Court judgment which ruled that office of the Chief Justice comes under the purview of RTI.
  • The five-judge constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi who retires on November 17, 2019, also dismissed the three appeals filed by secretary general of the SC and the Central Public Information officer of the apex court.
  • Other members of the bench included Justices NV Ramana, DY Chandrachud, Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna.

Nov 13, 2019

Agencies Bat for FEMA To Be Made Criminal Act

  •  A multi-agency group, comprising various revenue intelligence and investigative agencies and the RBI, recently met in Delhi and deliberated on the feasibility of making violations under Foreign Exchange Management act (Fema) a criminal offence in view of huge trade-based money laundering, hawala transactions (illegal remittances) and smuggling of foreign currency out of the country.
  • Currently, Fema violation is a compoundable offence where an accused can get away on payment of penalty. The agencies are in favour of making it a criminal offence like the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and allowing them to prosecute offenders.

SC to Pronounce Verdict on Pleas Seeking Rafale Judgment

  •  he Supreme Court is scheduled to pronounce on November 14, 2019 its verdict on petitions seeking a review of its judgment giving a clean chit to the Modi government in the Rafale fighter jet deal with French firm Dassault Aviation.
  • On May 10, 2019, the apex court had reserved the decision on the pleas, including one filed by former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
  • A Bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph is likely to pronounce verdicts on three review petitions filed by the trio, lawyer Vineet Dhandha and Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker Sanjay Singh.

Prez Rule Imposed in Maharashtra

  •  In a notso-unexpected development, Maharashtra was placed under central rule after governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari made a recommendation to the effect, citing the inability of political parties to form a government. Koshyari's recommendation came after the NCP, which had been asked to produce proof of having the requisite numbers.
  • While it was the third time President's rule was imposed in the state, it was the first time it was done because of the inability of political parties to form a government after an election.
  • The newly elected legislative assembly will be kept under suspended animation for now. The assembly may be revived and President's rule lifted as and when some party works out a combination that is able to offer a stable government.

President's Rule Should Be Based Only On 'Objective Material'

  •  Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari's recommendation for President's rule in the State under Article 356 (1) of the Constitution should have been based on "objective material" and not on a political whim or fancy, if one goes by the Supreme Court verdict in the 1994 S.R. Bommai case.
  • A nine-judge Constitution Bench of the court in the Bommai case, which is the reigning authority on the use and misuse of Article 356, had held that political whim or fancy cannot form the basis for the President to proclaim central rule in a State.
  • Such objective material may be available in the report sent to the President by the Governor or otherwise or both from the report and other sources. Once such material is shown to exist, the satisfaction of the President based on the material is not open to question.
  • Article 356 (1) has been deliberately drafted in a narrow language by the Founding Fathers so that political parties in the Centre does not misuse it to subvert federalism, it had noted.

Ayodhya Land Exempted in Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act

  •  The Supreme Court has made it clear that its Ayodhya judgment will not act as a precedent to justify communal mobilisations against places of worship of other faiths.
  • The Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has dealt with this apprehension by referring to Section 5 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act of 1991.
  • Section 5 had uniquely exempted the "place of worship — commonly known as Ram Janma Bhumi-Babri Masjid" from the ambit of the 1991 Act, which prohibits the conversion of any place of worship.
  • The 1991 Act bans conversion of religious places of worship and further provides "for the maintenance of the religious character of any place of worship as it existed on August 15, 1947, and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto".
  • The court highlighted that the express prohibition on conversion in the Places of Worship Act "speaks to the future by mandating that the character of a place of public worship shall not be altered".

Speaker's Disqualification Of 17 Karnataka MLAs Upheld

  •  The Supreme Court upheld the disqualification of 17 dissident Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) legislators by then Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law), but held their ouster is no bar from contesting re-polls.
  • The court said Section 36 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 does not contemplate such disqualification. It further referred to the provisions introduced in the 91st Constitutional Amendment.
  •  The court said they were brought in specifically to ensure that a legislator disqualified for defection is not appointed as a government Minister or to any remunerative post from the date of his disqualification either till the expiry of his term of office or till he is re-elected to the legislature, "whichever is earlier".
  • In short, the Supreme Court has, with this judgment, paved the way for the ousted legislators to contest the coming by-polls in December 2019 and face their electorate with the "taint" of disqualification on them.
  • The judgment was based on separate petitions filed by the disqualified legislators against their ouster by Mr. Kumar.

Higher Penalty for Misuse of PM, Prez pic

  •  Improper or unauthorised use of photograph of Prime Minister or President for promotion of trade and business may soon attract fine of Rs 1 lakh and repeat offence Rs 5 lakh and up to six months jail. Currently, the penalty for such offences including the improper use of national emblems such as the National Flag, Ashok Chakra, official seal of Parliament, Supreme Court etc is merely Rs 500 and there is no provision for higher fine for repeat offence.
  • The consumer affairs ministry proposed these changes in the Emblem and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act. The current provision of meagre penalties for misuse of the emblems and names had hit the headlines after Paytm and Reliance Jio had used PM Modi's photograph in their advertisements.
  • The proposed changes also put the onus on the defendant to prove that any contravention or alteration was authorised by a competent authority. The changes will be made through rules after considering suggestions and objections.

Progressive Electoral Trust is Top BJP Donor In 2018-19

  •  The Tatas-controlled Progressive Electoral Trust contributed ₹356 crore to the BJP in the financial year leading up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, making it the top donor to the party in 2018-19 among those listed as having contributed more than ₹20,000 that the BJP had submitted to the Election Commission of India. The BJP's contribution report, submitted on October 31, 2019 and made public by the ECI shows the ruling party received a cheque of ₹356,53,55,172 from the Mumbai-based trust.
  • Prudent Electoral Trust, which includes contributions from DLF Limited, Bharti Airtel, GMR Airports, DCM Shriram Ltd. and Jubilant Foodworks Limited, gave the BJP a total of ₹54.25 crore in nine cheques over the financial year. 

Haryana Sets Up Economic Advisory Council For 5 Years To Promote Industries

  •  Haryana government led by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has constituted an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to promote industries in the state and address issues related to various issues and policies of economic development.
  • EAC will comprise membership-based advisory panel and will be headed by the Chief Minister, while various representatives of the government, industry and academia sector have also been included in the panel.

Nov 12, 2019

MoEFCC To Conduct Mass Cleaning Drive At 10 Indian Beaches

  •  The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) plans to organize a mass cleanliness-cum-awareness drive in 50 identified beaches under the Swachh-Nirmal Tat Abhiyaan.
  • The Ministry will award the best three beaches along with a Certificate of Appreciation for all the participating Eco-clubs.
  • The campaign will be held from 11-17 November 2019. The aim is to clean the beaches and creates awareness amongst citizens about the importance of coastal ecosystems.
  • MOEFCC has identified a few beaches that are in 10 coastal States/Union Territories (UTs) for the cleaning. 
  • The beaches are from Gujarat, Daman & Diu, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha. The beaches were selected after the consultation with the States/UTs.

Haryana Police Launches Month-Long Drive Against e-Cigarettes

  •  The Haryana Police launched a month-long special drive to keep a check on the availability and usage of e-cigarettes and all other forms of electronic nicotine delivery systems across the state.
  • He said that all Commissioners of Police and District Superintendents of Police have been directed to ensure enforcement of provisions of the Centre's recent ordinance prohibiting e-cigarettes in their respective jurisdictions.
  • The drive will last up to December 10, 2019.

Nov 11, 2019

Govt to Merge LS, RS TV

  •  Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has constituted a six-member committee for the merger of Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV in order to pool resources, rationalise costs and also cut extra spending on the coverage of parliamentary proceedings.
  • The six-member committee will examine issues relevant to the merger and propose an appropriate name for the integrated channel. The order, issued by the RS secretariat on November 7, 2019, has notified a panel.
  • The panel in its first meeting is expected to discuss the 14 broad tasks assigned to it. The panel will also review existing content on LSTV and RSTV, firm up editorial hierarchies for the new channel, assess budgetary provisions and fix up finer details like where studios and newsrooms should be located.

BJP Asks Sena to Form Government in Maharashtra

  •  In a swift response to the Maharashtra governor's request to express his "willingness and ability" to form government, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis informed him that BJP—the single largest party in the new assembly with 105 MLAs—did not have the numbers to prove a majority, putting the ball back in the Shiv Sena's court.Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari called upon the Sena—the second largest party with 56 winning candidates—to apprise him if it was in a position to form a government.
  • The two developments, back-to-back, now put the onus on Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray to cobble together the numbers needed to reach the half-way mark in the assembly.
  • Congress and NCP, with 44 and 54 MLAs, have said they do not have the mandate and are ready to sit in the opposition. And Thackeray's insistence on a Sena CM is a pre-condition that has so far prevented negotiations with BJP from making headway. But NCP has conditionally agreed to back Sena, provided it withdraws its ministers from the NDA government at the Centre and agrees to a "common" programme for the state. A section of Congress MLAs, too, is keen to back a Sena-NCP front, though this is yet to find acceptance from the top leadership.

Database to Help Identify Needs of Special Children before Adoption

  •  With around 1,300 special children awaiting adoption as per the government's database, Central Adoption Resource Authority (Cara) has prepared a module to classify disabilities, health conditions and associated needs of each of these children across 14 sub-categories to enable prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) to understand their needs better and enhance chances of adoption.
  • There are children with special needs in the adoption pool who came in as babies but have now crossed the age (up to six years) that a child can be kept in a specialised adoption agency. Hence the sub-categorisation is an attempt to bolster the confidence of parents keen to adopt special children.
  • As of September 2019, there were about 2,290 children available for adoption— a 20% rise over the same period last year. Children with special needs rose from 951 in June 2018 to 1,354 in September 2019 (42%). In contrast, the number of the most sought after group of under 2-year-old healthy children was 75 in September 2019.

Sunni Board to Take Call on 5-acre Plot by Nov 26

  •  A day after Supreme Court's verdict in the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case, UP Sunni Central Waqf Board said it will decide by November 26, 2019 whether to accept the five-acre land for construction of a mosque in Ayodhya allocated by the apex court.
  • Board chairperson Zufar Faruqi said that if it decides to take the offer, the Board will also take a call on the location where it wants the land to be allocated. 
  • The Board's general body meeting was initially scheduled on November 13 but it was postponed to November 26 in view of the Supreme Court verdict.
  • The Board, which was an appellant in the Ayodhya title suit, had welcomed the SC verdict and announced that it will not file a review or curative petition against the order.
  • Faruqi said the Board is getting numerous suggestions and propositions from across the country on the SC order on the alternate land for the mosque. 
  • Some have suggested that a hospital be built on the land where everyone gets free treatment, while some suggested that an educational institute be constructed on the plot. There is also a view that Muslims should not accept the land.

Arvind Sawant to Resign from Modi Cabinet

  •  Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises and Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant  announced on microblogging site Twitter that he would be resigning from the Union Cabinet.
  • He made it clear in his tweets, however, that he was quitting the government, where he had been Minister since 2019, due to the end of the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra. Mr. Sawant said that there were certain promises that had been made as terms of the alliance and those had not only not been fulfilled but also denied as having made. He, therefore, decided to exit the government.

Ram Temple Construction May Start Early in 2020

  •  The construction of Ram Mandir is likely to start from Makar Sankranti next year and is unlikely to involve a fresh 'shilanyas' (ground-breaking ceremony).
  • The government is likely to move fast to comply with the Supreme Court's directives for setting up a trust, and will coordinate with all the stakeholders to speed up construction of what has been promised to be a "grand Ram Mandir. 
  • UP CM Yogi Adityanath is sure to pull out all stops for the Mandir project which has been a key objective of the Goraksh Peeth he heads.
  • Renowned temple architect Sompura was asked to prepare the design in 1989 by then VHP chief Ashok Singhal and it was circulated among devotees across the country.
  • While Adityanath will be in the forefront of overseeing construction work as CM, he was a frequent visitor to Ayodhya after taking over. Yogi visited the holy town 18 times in two-and-a-half years.
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