Daily Current Affairs

Prelims Prominence - August 2, 2018

Parliament/Amendments/bills

Cabinet clears Bill to restore the provisions of SC/ST Act Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

WHAT

  • Facing pressure from Dalit leaders within the ruling alliance as well as from the Opposition, the Centre has decided to introduce a Bill to restore the original provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, which the Supreme Court had struck down in a March ruling.
  • The Union Cabinet had given its nod to the Amendment Bill and the government would try to introduce it in Parliament

Enlighten about the amendment

  • The Amendment Bill seeks to insert three new clauses after Section 18 of the original Act.
  • The first stipulates that for the purposes of the Act, “preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of a First Information Report against any person.”
  • The second stipulates that the arrest of a person accused of having committed an offence under the Act would not require any approval, while the third says that the provisions of Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure — which deals with anticipatory bail — shall not apply to a case under this Act, “notwithstanding any judgment or order of any Court.”

Enlighten about the earlier SC decision

  • On March 20, the Supreme Court issued a slew of guidelines to protect people against arbitrary arrests under the Act, directing that public servants could be arrested only with the written permission of their appointing authority, while in the case of private employees, the Senior Superintendent of Police concerned should allow it.
  • A preliminary inquiry should be conducted before the FIR was registered to check if the case fell within the ambit of the Act, and whether it was frivolous or motivated, the court ruled.
  • The ruling was greeted by a storm of protest from Dalit groups, which said the order diluted the law.
  • However, the court refused to stay its ruling, leading to the demand from Dalit groups that the government introduce an ordinance or an Amendment Bill to restore the provisions.
  • Protests intensified when the government appointed Justice A.K. Goel, who authored the March 20 verdict, as the Chairman of the National Green Tribunal on his retirement.

Information and Communication

TRAI’s nod for sale of 5G spectrum Trai recommends sale of airwaves of over Rs 5 trn for 5G auction If it happens, this would mean the largest spectrum auction in terms of amount with over 7,000 Mhz going up for sale across eight bands

What

  • Signalling a quantum leap in mobile technology, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) gave its recommendations for the auction of eight bands, including the fifth generation (5G) ultra high speed telephony.

Enlighten about the auction

  • 5G auction, a first for India, is expected to be a catalyst for internet of things (IoT) innovations that would speed up machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • Airwaves worth around Rs 5.06 trillion will be on offer for telecom operators in the next round of auction.
  • If accepted and implemented by the government, this would mean the largest spectrum auction in terms of amount with over 7,000 Mhz going up for sale across eight bands.
  • This would range from the premium 700 Mhz to 3,300-3,600 Mhz.
  • In terms of value, the previous auction in 2016 was at a slightly higher level with airwaves amounting to Rs 5.63 trillion up on sale.
  • The cost of 700 Mhz airwaves alone was Rs 4 trillion. However, the government could sell airwaves worth around Rs 657 billion only, as telcos decided to ignore the high-end 700 MHz band completely.
  • The timing of the auction will be decided by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) after gauging the interest of the industry, which is already divided on the subject of 5G auction.
  • The telecom industry has been in the midst of financial stress, resulting in significant consolidation in the sector.
  • In the last auction, around 60 per cent spectrum remained unsold. Also, much of the airwave acquired by telecom operators at that point is yet to be deployed.
  • For the 5G airwaves (spectrum in the 3300-3600 MHz band it should be put to auction in the block size of 20 MHz.
  • The last auction for spectrum was held in October 2016, wherein around 60% spectrum remained unsold, with the government garnering over 65,000 crore.
  • Since then, the industry has witnessed a strong consolidation, with only three main players — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Idea and Reliance Jio — left in the field.

International

UAE launches amnesty scheme for overstayers

  • The UAE launched a landmark three-month visa amnesty programme that will benefit hundreds of illegal foreign workers, including Indians, who are overstaying their permits.
  • The programme allows the workers to leave the country without paying penalty and also gives them six months to find a job.
  • The UAE is home to 2.8 million Indian expatriates, the largest expatriate community in the country.
  • Thousands of people, primarily labourers from countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and the Philippines, will benefit from the the amnesty scheme.
  • The entity responsible for entry and residence of foreigners in the UAE, visa violators before August 1, 2018 will be able to rectify their status legally during the amnesty period, which will end on October 31.
  • This is the third such amnesty announced by the UAE government in just over a decade

Ministry of Power

Nationwide ‘State Energy Efficiency Preparedness Index’ released Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Rajasthan emerge as ‘Front Runner’ states

What

  • Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE), today released the ‘State Energy Efficiency Preparedness Index’, which assesses state policies and programmes aimed at improving energy efficiency across various sectors.
  • The nationwide Index, which is a joint effort of the NITI Aayog and BEE, was launched
  • The dignitaries also released a set of Energy Conversation Guidelines for energy intensive industries that are covered under the Government’s Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme.
  • Developed by the BEE, these will serve as a standard reference document for energy intensive industries and help them achieve high operational efficiency of energy consuming utilities thereby improving their energy performance.

Enlighten about the Index

  • The State Energy Efficiency Preparedness Index will help in implementing national energy efficiency initiatives in states and meet both State as well as national goals on energy security, energy access and climate change.
  • The State Energy Efficiency Preparedness Index has 63 indicators across Building, Industry, Municipality, Transport, Agriculture and DISCOM with 4 cross-cutting indicators.
  • States are categorised based on their efforts and achievements towards energy efficiency implementation, as ‘Front Runner’, ‘Achiever’, ‘Contender’ and ‘Aspirant’.
  • The ‘Front Runner’ states in the inaugural edition of the Index are: Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, and Rajasthan based on available data.

Enlighten about Energy conservation guidelines for energy intensive industries

  • Bureau under the aegis of Ministry of Power is implementing many initiatives for energy efficiency in the energy intensive industries.
  • Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) scheme is a flagship scheme of Government of India to improve energy efficiency of large energy consuming industries.
  • As a part of Indo-Japan Energy Dialogue, Energy Conservation Centre of Japan (ECCJ) and Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE)have developed Energy Conservation Guidelines for energy intensive industries covering both large as well as MSMEs.
  • These guidelines will enable the industries to establish a systematic mechanism to improve the energy efficiency for major energy consuming utilities.
  • These guidelines would serve a ready reference of standard and target benchmarked energy performance values for major energy consuming equipment which will improve the overall energy performance of the industry.

NATIONAL

President of India Presents Outstanding Parliamentarian Award for the years 2013-2017

  • The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, presented the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award for the years 2013-2017
  • Parliamentarian conferred with the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award – Smt Najma Heptulla, Shri Hukmdev Narayan Yadav, Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad, Shri Dinesh Trivedi and Shri Bhartruhari Mahtab.

Trade Relations

Safeguard duty of 25% on import of Solar cells

What

  • Union Government has imposed safeguard duty of 25% on import of solar cells (whether or not assembled in modules or panels) from China and Malaysia.

Why

  • The move is aimed at helping domestic solar cell manufacturing sector.
  • Protection from rising cheap imports

Issues/Concerns

  • It could affect existing projects dependent on cheap imports and hike solar power tariffs in India since around 90% of panels sector uses solar cells made in China and Malaysia.

Implementing Ministry

  • The decision by Union Government follows long deliberation by Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR),

Enlighten about the Safeguard Duty

  • It is tariff barrier imposed by government on the commodities to ensure that imports in excessive quantities do not harm the domestic industry.
  • It is mainly temporary measure undertaken by government in defence of the domestic industry which is harmed or has potential threat getting hared due to sudden cheap surge in imports.

Challenges for domestic industry

  • India’s domestic industry has around half-a-dozen makers of solar cells and modules, with total capacity of around 3,000 MW.
  • This is hardly enough to meet country’s burgeoning demand.
  • The safeguard duty now puts locally made panels on par with imported ones in terms of cost.
  • Domestic sector is not being fully exploited because of obsolete technology.

Ministry of Culture

Government launches the scheme Seva Bhoj Yojna

What

  • The Ministry of Culture, Government of India has launched the new scheme namely Seva Bhoj Yojna

About the Scheme

  • The scheme envisages to reimburse the Central Government share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST)so as to lessen the financial burden of such as Religious / Charitable Institutions who provide Food/Prasad/Langar (Community Kitchen)/Bhandara free of cost without any discrimination to Public/Devotees.
  • The Religious / Charitable Institutions such as Temples, Gurudwara, Mosque, Church, Dharmik Ashram, Dargah, Matth, Monasteries etc. which have been in existence for at least Three years before applying for financial assistance/grant and who serve free food to at least 5000 people in a month
  • Religious / Charitable Institution shall first register with Darpan Portal of NITI Aayog and get Unique ID generated by Darpan Portal

Enlighten about Seva Bhoj Yojna

  • It is a Central Sector Scheme of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
  • It envisages to reimburse the Central Government share of Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Integrated Goods and Service Tax (IGST)so as to lessen the financial burden of such Charitable Religious Institutions who provide Food/Prasad/Langar (Community Kitchen)/Bhandara free of cost without any discrimination to Public/Devotees.
  • The scheme is being implemented with a total outlay of Rs. 325.00 Crores for Financial Years 2018-19 and 2019-20.
  • Under the Scheme of ‘Seva Bhoj Yojna’ Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and Central Government’s share of Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) paid on purchase of specific raw food items by Charitable Religious Institutions for distributing free food to public shall be reimbursed as Financial Assistance by the Government of India.
  • Free ‘prasad’ or free food or free ‘langar’ / ‘bhandara’ (community kitchen) offered by charitable religious institutions like Gurudwara, Temples, Dharmik Ashram, Mosques, Dargah, Church, Mutt, Monasteries etc.
  • Financial Assistance will be provided on First-cum-First Serve basis of registration linked to fund available for the purpose in a Financial Year.

Sources – PIB , The Hindu , Indian Express , Vikaspedia