Current Affairs for today- 21st November 2019
GS Paper II
Centre plans NRC exercise all over the country: Amit Shah
According to the statement given by the Home Minister of India, the process of creating a National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be undertaken across India and whenever that is done, the exercise will be repeated for Assam as well.
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019:
- The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.
- Under the Act that was currently in the norm, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalization is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years.
Now, the Bill relaxes this 11-year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries.
- The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.
Key Issues and Analysis
- The Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to equality.
- The Bill allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences (eg. parking in a no-parking zone).
What is National Register of Citizens?
- The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is meant to identify a bona fide citizen by the order of the Supreme Court of India. NRC has been exercised with many hurdles and false exclusions results in Assam to detect Bangladeshi nationals who might have entered the State illegally after the midnight of March 24, 1971.
- The date was decided in the 1985 Assam Accord, which was signed between the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU).
The NRC was first published after the 1951 Census in independent India when parts of Assam went to the East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
But as per the Assam Accord, any person who came to the state after the midnight of March 24, 1971, will be identified as a foreigner. So the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is seen to violate the Assam Accord by differentiating between migrants on the basis of religion against the Muslims.
34 years since the signing of the agreement between the Centre and the Assam Government, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) is still upset that the major issues remain unresolved.
The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.
The accord brought an end to the Assam Agitation and paved the way for the leaders of the agitation to form a political party and form a government in the state of Assam soon after.
- Some of the key demands were – All those Bangladeshi foreigners who had entered Assam between 1951 and 1961 were to be given full citizenship, including the right to vote.
- Those who entered after 1971 were to be deported by mentioning the sealing of all the international borders; the entrants between 1961 and 1971 were to be denied voting rights for ten years but would enjoy all other rights of citizenship.
- A parallel package for the economic development of Assam, including a second oil refinery, a paper mill and an institute of technology, was also worked out.
- The central government also promised to provide ‘legislative and administrative safeguards to protect the cultural, social, and linguistic identity and heritage’ of the Assamese people.
- However, it only stood a wall to end agitation, but still has many key clauses yet to be implemented.
GS Paper III
ISRO uses satellite data to gauge N.Korea’s 2017 nuclear tests impact
Scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have used a novel mathematical technique and analysed satellite images to estimate the strength of North Korea’s underground nuclear test of September 2017. It was found that the explosive yield was about 17 times that of the Hiroshima explosion.
What’s in the news?
According to the test site analysis data, the ISRO officials confirmed that those tests are considered the most powerful thermonuclear devices to have been exploded by the country.
In the normal course, the detection and estimation of nuclear device explosions is based on the reading of earthquake monitoring sensors.
Location of the nuclear test site:
Location of the source as 129.0764°E, 41.0324°N at a depth of about 540 m below Mt. Mantap.
North Korea’s relative isolation from the nearest accessible seismic stations near the test site at Mount Mantap, Punggye-ri, to accurately gauge the intensity of the explosion, and how deep into the earth the device was detonated.
- This information is important to determine the type of bomb, and consequently, the degree of know-how the detonating country possesses.
- The ISRO officials stated that the uncertainties in the yield and source depth estimated using the Bayesian modelling of InSAR data were significantly less than that of seismic methods.
- For the purpose of analysis, the images of the location of the explosion were sourced from the ALOS-2, a Japanese satellite, and Sentinel 1B, a European radar imaging satellite.
InSAR refers to the interferometric synthetic aperture radar and is a radar technique used to generate maps of how a place would look after an earthquake or a detonation.
According to ISRO, the mathematical technique called Bayesian inversion can correct for errors (and uncertainties in the yield and depth data by 25-85% and 40-97% respectively) associated with InSAR data, though other groups have also used InSAR based approaches to estimate the impact from a detonation.
The estimates, of a yield of 250 kilotons in with the assessment held by the US scientists in June stating that the 2017 test was about 10 times more powerful than the tests first conducted by North Korea in 2016.
Through the signature of the sound waves that travel through rock at the test site from the explosion yield and how it affected the sensors around the world, the US scientists published a paper stating that North Korea had detonated a nuclear device in 2017 equivalent to about 250 kilotons of TNT, creating an explosion 16 times the size of the bomb the United States detonated over Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.
GS Paper II
Nod for Industrial Relations Code Bill
The Union Cabinet approved the Industrial Relations Code Bill, 2019 that aims to simplify and bring together provisions of three laws covering trade unions, industrial employments and disputes.
- The Bill propose to giving a legal framework for fixed-term employment through which contract workers serving a fixed-tenure will get equal statutory social security benefits as regular workers in the same unit.
- Under the present system, firms resort to hiring contract workers through contractors and they argue that it’s a resourceful exercise. Through the fixed-term employment system, companies will be able to hire contract workers directly.
- The biggest feature of this labour law amendment is that all workers, under a fixed-term contract, will be taken up on depending upon the seasonality of industry but will be treated on a par with regular workers.
- There shall also be flexibility for exit provisions related to retrenchment.
- The textile sector, for example, employs many workers to fulfil big orders and would be treated as regular workers when it comes to providing them with benefits.
- The central government has withdrawn its proposal to give flexibility to big companies, in terms of manpower, to retrench or lay off workers and shut shop without seeking official consent. However, instead of going for a change in the central law, there are provisions in the Bill which safeguards the amendments brought in by various state governments, giving flexibility to companies to “hire and fire” workers — a move that may be cheered by the industry.
- In 2015, the government had proposed allowing factories with up to 300 workers to retrench, lay off or shut shop without seeking the government’s nod in the Industrial Relations Bill proposed in 2015. At present, factories with up to 100 workers can do so.
- The Finance Minister said that there were many hurdles and opposition when the labour code was first tabled in 2015, hence, reiterated that the decision has been taken after sincere and meaningful consultations with the trade unions and other stakeholders. The State governments can take the Bill further once passed.
- Amid severe opposition from trade unions on this proposal, the government decided to shelve it and retain the present threshold. However, doing so would have led to a situation where the labour law amendments of as many as nine states would have been nullified.
- That is so because labour falls under the concurrent list of the Constitution. As a result, both the central and state governments are allowed to enact their own legislation. States can bring its amendments with a final approval from the Centre, but if the Centre amends the model Act, it takes precedence over others.
- In the past few years, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Assam have allowed factories with 300 workers to retrench without official sanction. To ensure that all such states do not have to go to their legislative Assemblies to follow the central law, the government has given safeguard measures to ensure that some provisions do not override the changes brought in by the states.
- But it’s the opposite when it comes to fixed-term employment. The central government has proposed to bring fixed-term employment as part of the labour law, instead of administrative rules, so that it comes into effect across India.
- In March 2018, the government had notified fixed-term employment rules, allowing industries to hire workers for a fixed tenure, but it was only applicable to the industry falling under the governance sphere of the Centre.
None of the states had adopted the central government’s rules and industry found it hard to benefit from the central government’s fixed-term employment rules.
(Source: Hindu and Business standard)
GS Paper II
Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill passed in Lok Sabha.
The Lok Sabha passed that seeks to regulate chit fund operations and protect the interest of the investor, especially from the economically weaker sections of the society.
The Bill seeks to amend the Chit Funds Act, 1982 that was passed by a voice vote.
The proposed changes include a rise in the maximum commission of the person who manages the fund from 5% to 7% of the chit amount.
What is a Chit fund?
The 1982 Act regulates chit funds and prohibits a fund from being created without the prior sanction of the state government. Under a chit fund, people agree to pay a certain amount from time to time into a fund. Periodically, one of the subscribers is chosen by drawing a chit to receive the prize amount from the fund.
(NOTE: Please keep tracking the PRS website for ongoing Bills and other Bills/ Laws that fall under the umbrella of the syllabus)