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14 March 2024 Daily Current Affairs

1. Ram Nath Kovind-led panel may submit report on simultaneous polls on March 14

One Nation, One Election Committee Report Expected

A high-level committee, led by former President Ram Nath Kovind, is anticipated to submit its report on the concept of "one nation, one election" on March 14. This report holds significance in potentially reshaping India's electoral landscape.

Recommendations to Amend Constitution for Simultaneous Polls

The report is expected to recommend amendments to relevant articles of the Constitution or the addition of new sections to facilitate simultaneous elections across the country. This proposal, however, has sparked debates regarding its implications for federalism.

Unified Electoral Roll Proposal

One of the key recommendations likely to emerge from the committee is the proposal for a unified electoral roll, streamlining the electoral process for Lok Sabha, State Assembly, and local body polls.

Composition of the Kovind Panel

The committee, formed in September 2023, comprises notable figures such as Home Minister Amit Shah, former opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, among others. This diverse composition brings together different perspectives on the issue.

Criticism and Concerns

Despite the committee's efforts, criticism has arisen, particularly from Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who has denounced the process as biased. Concerns have been raised regarding the perceived lack of neutrality in the committee's approach.

Law Commission's Input

The 22nd Law Commission has also examined the issue extensively and suggested implementing simultaneous polls starting from the 2029 general election. Its recommendations have been submitted to the Kovind panel and are expected to be considered in the final report.

Implications for India's Electoral Future

The submission of the committee's report marks a crucial step in the ongoing discourse surrounding simultaneous elections in India. The recommendations it puts forth may shape the future of electoral processes in the country, impacting both federalism and democratic principles.


Background:

  • India used to hold simultaneous elections for Lok Sabha (national parliament) and state assemblies in the 1950s.

  • India started its journey with simultaneous elections in 1951. But, as states were formed or reorganised, or assemblies were dissolved before their scheduled terms, that practice started being challenged. Still, simultaneous elections were held in 76% of states in 1957, and 67% of states in both 1962 and 1967 (Graph 1). By 1972, however, the simultaneous election cycle stood disrupted: voting for not a single state was held with that for the national elections.

  • This practice stopped due to frequent dissolutions of both houses.

Case for Simultaneous Elections:

  • Lower costs: Running multiple elections is expensive for the government and political parties.

  • Better governance: Frequent elections can disrupt policymaking and administration.

  • Social cohesion: Reduces divisive campaigning that happens during frequent elections.

Challenges:

  • National issues overshadowing regional concerns in national campaigns.

  • Weakening regional parties against national parties.

  • Difficulty in amending the constitution to fix election terms.


2. Prasar Bharati Launches News Sharing Service and Revamps Digital Platforms

Prasar Bharati Shares News Wealth

  • Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Singh Thakur launched "PB-SHABD," a news sharing service from Prasar Bharati.

  • This initiative aims to share Prasar Bharati's vast news gathering network with other media organizations.

Free Service to Empower Smaller Media

  • News outlets will receive clean feeds (without Doordarshan branding) in various languages and across 50 categories.

  • PB-SHABD is offered free for the first year, potentially revolutionizing the news industry by supporting smaller media.

Revamped DD News, Akashvani News Websites and NewsOnAIR App

  • Revamped websites and a new mobile app aim to enhance user experience.

  • Features include personalized news feeds, breaking news alerts, multimedia content, and offline reading.

  • Live streaming, social sharing, location-based news, bookmarking, and powerful search functionalities are also included.

PB-SHABD: A One-Stop Shop for Diverse News Content

  • The PB-SHABD platform provides daily news feeds in various formats (video, audio, text, photos).

  • Media subscribers can leverage these feeds for customized storytelling across different platforms.


3. On judges and bureaucrats joining politics | Explained


The Issue: Recent resignations of a judge and an IPS officer in West Bengal to join politics raise questions about propriety.

Constitutional Safeguards:

  • Checks and balances: Judiciary and independent bodies keep the executive accountable.

  • Fixed tenure, financial independence, and stringent removal procedures ensure independence.

  • The CAG and the chairman/members of the Public Service Commission cannot take up any other employment with Central or State governments after demitting office.

  • A judge of a Supreme Court after ceasing to hold office cannot appear as a lawyer before any court or authority in India.

Political Participation:

  • No restrictions on joining parties, contesting elections, or holding nominated posts.

  • Examples: Judges, Chief Election Commissioner, retired CAGs becoming politicians or Governors.

Cooling-off Period Debate:

  • Election Commission (2012) recommended a cooling-off period for bureaucrats before joining politics.

  • Government rejected it due to potential violation of democratic rights.

  • Supreme Court (2022) left the decision to the legislature.

Arguments Against Cooling-off:

  • Right to contest elections is a fundamental right.

  • Existing restrictions on private jobs after retirement address conflict of interest.

  • Banning political participation might not be legally sound.

Arguments For Cooling-off:

  • Public perception of neutrality is crucial for independent institutions.

  • A cooling-off period (e.g., 2 years) could maintain public trust and prevent "quid pro quo" allegations.

The Way Forward:

  • Balancing democratic rights with maintaining public trust in independent institutions is key.

  • A well-defined cooling-off period could be a solution.


4. India's Research and Development Landscape: A Look at Funding, Innovation, and the Road Ahead


India's Growing R&D Investment

  • Government announced a ₹1 lakh crore fund to boost research and innovation.

  • India's R&D spending is increasing, but still lags behind major economies as a percentage of GDP (0.64% compared to China's 2.4%).

Impressive Research Output

  • India ranks 3rd globally in PhD graduates (40,813 annually) and research publications (over 300,000 in 2022).

  • India also holds the 6th position in patent grants (30,490 in 2022).

Funding Breakdown

  • Government sector is the primary contributor (74.8%), with significant portions from central government and public sector industries.

  • Private sector contribution (36.4%) is lower than desired.

The Need for Increased Private Sector Involvement

  • Leading economies see a much higher private sector contribution to R&D (over 65%).

  • Increased private involvement would strengthen industry-academia collaboration and fuel innovation.

Government Initiatives

  • National Deep Tech Startup Policy and Anusandhan National Research Foundation Act aim to boost private sector engagement and research culture within universities.

The Road Ahead

  • India needs a multi-pronged approach to increase private sector contribution and fortify academic research infrastructure.

  • Balancing government guidance with private sector incentives can optimize India's R&D landscape.

  • Initiatives like NDTSP and ANRF Act show promise for propelling India's technological advancements.

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5. Nobel Laureate Mo Yan Sued for 'Unpatriotic' Writing in China

A lawsuit against Mo Yan, China's first Nobel laureate in literature, has sparked debate about nationalism. Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2012.

  • The Claim: Patriotic blogger Wu Wanzheng accuses Mo Yan's books of defaming China and its heroes.

  • The Lawsuit: Wu demands an apology, $209 million, and Mo Yan's books to be pulled from circulation.

  • Background: This lawsuit aligns with President Xi Jinping's push for "historical nihilism," which restricts interpretations of history that differ from the official narrative.

Mo Yan's Response:

  • Mo Yan has not directly addressed the lawsuit.

  • Historically, he has avoided conflict with the government.

Government's Stance:

  • The government hasn't commented officially, but state media has indirectly shown support for Mo Yan.

Public Opinion:

  • The case is trending on Chinese social media, with divided opinions.

  • Some view it as a worrying trend of rising nationalism.

  • Others criticize the accusations against Mo Yan.

Expert's View:

  • Murong Xuecun, a Chinese writer in exile, believes the government encourages such attacks despite not directly backing them.

The Case's Significance:

  • This lawsuit highlights the tension between artistic expression and nationalistic sentiment in China.

  • It raises concerns about the shrinking space for free speech and critical thought.


6.Tagged Great White Shark LeeBeth Makes Record-Breaking Journey

  • A 14-foot great white shark named LeeBeth has been tracked swimming over 2,000 miles into the Gulf of Mexico.

  • This is further west than any great white shark ever tracked before.

  • Scientists are excited to learn more about white shark migration patterns from LeeBeth's movements.

  • LeeBeth's journey highlights the importance of international cooperation in protecting white sharks, a recovering species.

7. Uttarakhand Becomes First State in India to Implement Uniform Civil Code

Uttarakhand has passed a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) Act, making it the first state in India to do so.

  • The UCC applies to all citizens except tribals.

  • Bill has a complete ban on polygamy, polyandry, halala, iddat, and talaq as both men and women will have same rights in matters related to marriage and divorce.

Key Provisions:

  • Polygamy, polyandry, halala, iddat, and unilateral talaq are prohibited.

  • Minimum marriage age is 21 for men and 18 for women.

  • Marriage and divorce registration is mandatory.

  • Live-in relationships require registration, with penalties for non-compliance.

  • Children from live-in relationships are considered legitimate.

  • Equal property rights for sons and daughters, and no distinction between legitimate/illegitimate children.

  • Spouse and children get equal inheritance rights with parents.

Next Steps:

  • The state will notify the Bill and print it.

  • A committee will be formed to make rules for UCC implementation.


8. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has proposed a framework for banks and other financial institutions to address climate-related financial risks.

  • Why it matters: Climate change can cause financial losses through extreme weather events, policy changes, and public pressure for sustainable practices.

  • Types of risks:

  • Physical risks: damage from floods, storms, and rising sea levels.

  • Transitional risks: costs associated with shifting to a low-carbon economy.

  • How it affects financial institutions:

  • Credit risk: borrowers defaulting on loans due to climate impacts.

  • Liquidity risk: difficulty raising funds due to climate concerns.

  • Market risk: changes in investor preferences due to climate change.

  • The new framework:

  • Requires disclosure of climate risks and strategies for managing them.

  • Covers governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics/targets.

  • Disclosures on greenhouse gas emissions (Scopes 1, 2 & 3).

  • Benefits:

  • Improved understanding of climate risks for stakeholders (investors, regulators).

  • Better risk management and capital allocation by financial institutions.

  • Early identification of opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Current status: The draft framework is open for comments until April 30, 2024.


14 March 2024 Daily Current Affairs


14 March 2024 Daily Current Affairs



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