Daily Current Affairs 15-12-2023

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    Suspension of Members of Parliament (MPs)

    Syllabus: GS2/Indian Polity

    In Context

    • Fourteen opposition MPs were suspended from the Lok Sabha for the remainder of the Winter session of the parliament for disregarding the chair’s direction and disrupting the house proceedings.

    Who can suspend MPs, and for How Long?

    • The suspension of Members of Parliament (MPs) is a disciplinary action taken against members who violate the rules and decorum of the Parliament. 
    • Who: The Speaker of the Lok Sabha or the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha has the authority to suspend members.
    • The rules and procedures regarding the suspension of MPs are outlined in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. 
    • Grounds: The grounds for suspension can include unruly behavior, disregard for the rules of the house, or any other actions deemed to be a breach of parliamentary etiquette.

    Rules in Lok Sabha

    • Rule 374: The Speaker may name a Member if deems it necessary, who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof.
    • Rule 374A: In 2001, Rule 374A was incorporated within the Rule Book. The purpose was to avoid the necessity of moving and adopting a motion for suspension.
      • A Member abusing the Rules of the House persistently and wilfully obstructing its business by shouting slogans or otherwise, such Member on being named by the Speaker, stand automatically suspended from the service of the House for five consecutive sittings or the rest of the session, whichever is less.

    Rules in Rajya Sabha

    • Rule 255: Like the Speaker in Lok Sabha, the Chairman of Rajya Sabha is empowered to direct any Member whose conduct is in his opinion grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the House.
    • Under Rule 256: The Chairman may name a Member who abuses the rules of the house.
      • The House may adopt a motion suspending the Member from the service of the House for a period not exceeding the remainder of the session.

    Can Courts Intervene in a matter of Suspension of MPs?

    • Article 122 of the Constitution says parliamentary proceedings cannot be questioned before a court.
    • In some cases, however, courts have intervened in the procedural functioning of legislatures.

    Restrictions on MPs After Suspension

    • Suspended MPs are prohibited from entering the premises of the House during the period of suspension. This means they cannot participate in debates, discussions, or voting.
    • Suspended MPs may lose certain parliamentary privileges during the suspension, such as the right to attend committee meetings or participate in other parliamentary activities.
    • He will not be eligible to give notice for discussion or submission.
    • He loses the right to get a reply to his questions.

    Source: BS

    Special Provisions for States in India

    Syllabus: GS2/Indian Polity

    In Context

    • The Indian Constitution creates special provisions for nine states under the Article 371A-I.

    About

    • Jammu and Kashmir State enjoyed a special status under Article 370 of the Constitution but there are several other states that enjoy varying degrees of autonomy.
    • The Constitution creates special provisions for at least nine states, from Article 371A-I.
      • All these exceptions are under a Section of the Constitution titled “Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions”.
    • Reason: These special provisions are intended to address the unique circumstances and historical backgrounds of specific states.
      • The states that enjoy special status often have distinct rights, privileges, and autonomy in certain matters. 

    States That Enjoy the Special Provisions Under the Constitution

    • Article 371A: Special provisions for Nagaland
      • The state can have its own administrative and legal mechanisms based on the Naga customary laws, and the right to carry on religious and local social practices. 
      • Special powers to the governor to overrule the decision of the chief minister on a law and order situation.
    • Article 371B: Special provisions for Assam
      • The State’s governor set up a committee of the legislative assembly consisting of members of the house elected from the tribal areas of the state.
    • Article 371C: Special provisions for Manipur
      • The president has the right to form a committee of tribal MLAs through the governor. 
    • Article 371D: Special provisions for Andhra Pradesh
      • Grants the president certain special powers over the state government, including ensuring reservation in employment and education. 
    • Article 371F: Special provisions for Sikkim
      • The members of the Legislative Assembly of Sikkim shall elect the representative of Sikkim in the House of the People.
    • Article 371G: Special provisions for Mizoram
      • Provides the people rights over their customary laws, religious freedom, land rights, etc. 
    • Article 371H: Special provisions for Arunachal Pradesh
      • Grants special powers to the governor to overrule the decision of the chief minister on a law and order situation.
    • Article 371I: Special provisions for Goa
      •  Goa state assembly has special powers to make laws on sale of land, ownership of property.
    • Article 371J: Special provisions for Karnataka.
      • Special powers to six backward districts under which they can establish special development boards, reservation in jobs and education institutions, etc.
    Difference between Special Category Status and Special Status:
    – The constitution provides special status through an Act that has to be passed by 2/3rds majority in both the houses of Parliament whereas the special category status is granted by the National Development Council, which is an administrative body of the government.
    – Special status empowers legislative and political rights while special category status deals only with economic, administrative and financial aspects.

    Arguments in Favour of Special Provisions for States Under the Constitution

    • Addressing Historical Injustices: Many of these provisions were included in the Constitution to recognize and rectify the historical marginalization and neglect of certain regions and communities.
    • Preserving Cultural and Regional Identity: Special provisions are seen as a means of preserving the cultural, linguistic, and regional identity of specific states or communities. 
    • Promoting Regional Development: Provisions such as reserved seats in educational institutions, job quotas, and financial incentives to boost economic growth and infrastructure development.
    • Ensuring Local Autonomy: Supporters argue that special provisions grant a degree of local autonomy, allowing states to address their unique challenges with a more tailored approach. 
    • Facilitating Integration: In cases where states joined the Indian Union through specific agreements, special provisions are seen as facilitating a smoother integration process. 
    • Preventing Disintegration: Some argue that special provisions contribute to the overall stability of the country by addressing regional grievances and preventing potential disintegration.

    Arguments Against Special Provisions for States Under the Constitution

    • Erosion of National Unity: Uniform laws and regulations are essential for fostering a sense of national unity and integration.
    • Administrative Complexity: Special provisions result in administrative complexities, as different states have different rules and regulations. 
    • Inequality Among States: All states should be subject to the same laws and regulations to ensure fairness and eliminate perceptions of preferential treatment.
    • Potential for Regionalism: Critics express concerns that special provisions may fuel regionalism, fostering a sense of separateness and identity among certain states. 
    • Misuse for Political Gains: Critics argue that politicians may use these provisions to secure votes or engage in identity politics, potentially at the expense of broader national interests.
    • Impediment to Economic Development: The divergence in regulations and policies may create barriers to investment and economic growth.

    Way Ahead

    • It’s important to recognize that the debate over special provisions is complex and multifaceted. 
    • Different stakeholders may have varying opinions on the impact and necessity of such provisions. 
    • Policymakers must carefully consider these arguments while balancing the need to address the unique circumstances of certain states with the goal of promoting national unity and development.

    Source: IE

    India – U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Dialogue

    Syllabus:GS3/Security

    Context

    • Recently India and the U S co-chaired the India-U.S. Anti-Money Laundering/ Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Dialogue in New Delhi.

    About

    • India-US AML/CFT Dialogue reaffirms the commitment of India and the US to work jointly to address illicit finance risk in the international financial system.
    • It also aims to improve cooperation and information sharing to better combat sanctions evasion and terrorist financing in the region and globally.

    What are Financial crimes?

    • Financial Crimes are criminal activities carried out by individuals or criminal organizations to provide economic benefits through illegal methods such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, or terrorism. 
    • Examples: Terrorist financing, money laundering, corruption etc.

    What is Money Laundering?

    • Money laundering is the illegal process of making large amounts of money generated by criminal activity, such as drug trafficking or terrorist funding, appear to have come from a legitimate source. 
    • The money from the criminal activity is considered dirty, and the process “launders” it to make it look clean.

    Consequences of Money Laundering

    • Undermining Financial Systems: Illicit funds injected into the financial system can distort economic activities, create unfair competition, and erode trust in financial institutions.
    • Social Consequences:  Illicit funds may be used to fuel conflicts, sponsor terrorism, or fund other activities that harm societies.
    • Loss of Control over Monetary Policy: Illicit funds flowing through the financial system can distort economic indicators, making it challenging for policymakers to make informed decisions.
    • Threat to Global Security:  Terrorist financing and proliferation financing (the provision of funds or financial services for the acquisition of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons), poses threat to security of countries.

    Global measures against Money laundering

    • The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF): It is a 39-member inter-governmental body established by the 1989 G7 Summit in Paris, has primary responsibility for developing the worldwide standards for Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism. 
    • United Nations Global Program against Money Laundering  (GPML): GPML was established in 1997.  The objective is to strengthen the ability of Member States to fight money laundering and to assist them in depriving persons of the proceeds of their criminal activity.

    India measures against Money laundering

    • Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) 2002: The PML Act seeks to combat money laundering in India and has three main objectives:
      • To prevent and control money laundering
      • To confiscate and seize the property obtained from the laundered money; and
      • To deal with any other issue connected with money laundering in India.
    • Financial Intelligence Unit-India (FIU-IND): The FIU-IND is the central national agency responsible for receiving, processing, analyzing, and disseminating information relating to suspicious financial transactions. It serves as the nodal agency for coordinating action against money laundering and related offenses.

    Way Ahead

    • Technology and Data Analytics: The use of advanced technology, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, can enhance the ability to detect patterns and anomalies in financial transactions.
    • International Collaboration: Strengthening collaboration between countries, law enforcement agencies, and financial institutions can enhance the ability to track and prosecute money launderers globally.

    Source: TH

    WHO Report on Road Safety

    Syllabus: GS3/Infrastructure 

    Context

    • The World Health Organisation (WHO) released ‘Global Status Report on Road Safety 2023’ recently.
    About the Report
    – It is the fifth in a series measuring progress in reducing road traffic deaths.
    – It covers progress between 2010 and 2021 and sets a baseline for efforts to meet the United Nations Decade of Action 2021–2030 target to halve road traffic deaths by 2030 (Target 3.6 of Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations).

    Key Findings of the report

    • There has been a 5% reduction in global road crash deaths, dropped from 1.25 million to 1.19 million from 2011 to 2021.
      • It means that approximately 1.19 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes.
    • The report analysed that the reduction in death has come despite a doubling of the global vehicle fleet, expanding road networks, and a rising global population.
    • Fatalities by:
      • Four-wheel vehicle (30%)
      • Pedestrians (23%);
      • Two and three wheelers, (21%);
      • Cyclists (6%);
      • Micro-mobility devices, including e-scooters (3%) 
    • Road traffic crashes cost most countries 3% of their gross domestic product.

    On specific population group:

    • Children and Youth: Road crashes are the top cause of deaths for children and youth between the ages of 5-29 years and the 12th leading cause of death globally.
    • Working age: Two-thirds of deaths occur among people of a working age. 

    Region wise analysis on road accidents:

    • Low and middle income countries: They face the highest risk, with 92% of global deaths occurring in these nations.
      • These countries have around 60% of the world’s vehicles.
    • The European region reported the most significant drop in deaths since 2010, at 36%, attributed to a ‘safe system approach’.
    • The Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions reported declines of 16% and 2%, respectively.
    • As per the WHO, ten countries — Belarus, Brunei Darussalam, Denmark, Japan, Lithuania, Norway, Russian Federation, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela — successfully achieved the target reduction of at least 50% in their fatality numbers.
      • However, 66 countries, including 28 in the African region, experienced a rise in the number of deaths since 2010.

    India’s scenario:

    • India’s road safety record deteriorated, with fatalities increasing from 1.34 lakh in 2010 to 1.54 lakh in 2021.
      • India’s share in global road fatalities rose from 11% to 13%.
    • India signed the Brasilia Declaration at the 2nd High Level Global Conference on Traffic Safety in 2015.
    Additional Information:
    Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety:
    First Conference (2009): It was hosted by the Russian Federation, and it represented an historic opportunity to make progress on tackling a leading cause of death and disability.
    Second Conference  (2015): It was hosted by Brazil.
    A. It defined the urgent measures needed to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s ambitious target to halve road traffic deaths by the end of this decade.
    B. It is also referred to as the Brasilia Declaration which lays down recommendations on strengthening existing legislations, adopting sustainable transport and strengthening post-crash response.
    Third Conference (2020): It was hosted by Stockholm, Sweden for ‘Achieving Global Goals 2030’ will take place on 19–20 February 2020 in Stockholm, Sweden.
    A. It is also referred to as the ‘Stockholm Declaration’.
    Fourth Conference (scheduled in 2025): It will be hosted by Marrakech in Morocco.
    A. The purpose of this conference is to assess the progress made in implementing the Global Plan 2021-2030 during its initial five-year period, and to generate support for the new vision of safe and sustainable mobility.

    Solutions highlighted in the report

    • Effective interventions include designing safer infrastructure and incorporating road safety features into land-use and transport planning, improving the safety features of vehicles, improving post-crash care for victims of road crashes, setting and enforcing laws relating to key risks, and raising public awareness.
    • Focus on Better Infrastructure: The report emphasises the need for better infrastructure, stating that nearly 80% of all assessed roads do not meet a minimum 3-star rating for pedestrian safety.
    • Preventing road traffic injuries: Governments need to take action to address road safety in a holistic manner.
      • It requires involvement from multiple sectors such as transport, police, health, education, and actions that address the safety of roads, vehicles, and road users.

    Source: TH

    News In Short

    PACE Mission

    Syllabus:GS3/Science and Technology

    Context

    • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is going to launch the PACE mission in 2024 to boost our understanding of Earth’s atmosphere.

    About

    • Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, Ocean Ecosystem (PACE) Mission aims to enhance the understanding of Earth’s oceans and atmosphere by studying key components, like light, aerosols, and clouds. 
    • The mission will make global measurements of ocean color to improve our understanding of the carbon cycle and ocean ecosystem responses to a changing climate.

    Elements of Mission

    • Ocean Color Instrument (OCI): It will be capable of measuring the color of the ocean from ultraviolet to shortwave infrared. 
    • Advanced Polarimeters: PACE will also include two polarimeters. They are the Spectro-polarimeter for Planetary Exploration (SPEXone) and the Hyper Angular Research Polarimeter (HARP2). 
      • Together they will provide “complementary spectral and angular sampling, polarimetric accuracy, and spatial coverage”.
      • They are used to measure how the oscillation of sunlight within a geometric plane – known as its polarization – is changed by passing through clouds, aerosols, and the ocean. 
    What is Aerosol?
    – Aerosols are very small particles in the air like those of smoke, dust, sea salt and other pollutants. 
    – Aerosols absorb as well as scatter sunlight. This decides how much solar energy reaches the surface of Earth.

    Source: NASA

    Naya Savera Scheme

    Syllabus:GS1/Society, GS2/education

    Context 

    • A total of  1,19,223 Minority students/candidates have been trained under Naya Savera Scheme.

    About

    • Ministry: The Ministry of Minority Affairs launched the scheme in 2007.
    • Objective: To assist students/ candidates by way of special coaching for qualifying examinations for admission in technical/professional courses and competitive examination for recruitment to Group ‘A’, ‘B’, & ‘C’ services and other equivalent posts under the Central and State Governments including public sector undertakings, banks and railways. 
    • Criteria: The candidates must belong to the six notified minority communities namely Sikh, Jain, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Parsi.

    Source: PIB

    Indira Gandhi Prize 

    Syllabus: Miscellaneous

    In Context

    • The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2023 has been jointly awarded to Daniel Barenboim and Ali Abu Awwad for Israel-Palestine conflict resolution efforts.

    About

    • It  is an annual award established by the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust in India. 
    • The prize is named in honor of the late Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi, and it was instituted in 1986. 
    • The award is presented to individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the promotion of international understanding and peace, the development of new international economic order, and the strengthening of democracy.
    • Categories: The award is presented in three categories:
      • Peace: Recognizes efforts to promote and maintain international peace and security.
      • Disarmament: Acknowledges contributions to the reduction and elimination of weapons of mass destruction.
      • Development: Honors work in promoting economic and social development.
    • The award ceremony typically takes place on November 19th, the birth anniversary of Indira Gandhi.

    Source: TH

    Barracuda (India’s fastest solar-electric boat)

    Syllabus: GS3/Environment

    Context

    • Barracuda, the fastest solar-electric boat of India was launched at Navalt Solar and Electric Boats in Alappuzha (Kerala) to boost eco-friendly maritime transportation.

    About the Barracuda

    • It was named after the swift and long fish (Barracuda).
    • It was built in collaboration with Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd and Navalt Solar and Electric Boats.

    • Top speed: 12.5 knots (23 kmph);
    • Range: Seven hours on a single charge;
    • Power: Twin 50 kW electric motors, a marine-grade LFP battery, and 6 kW solar power;

    Significance

    • It is engineered to navigate and operate without noise, vibration and air pollution.
    • It is certified under Indian Register of Shipping (IRS), and can navigate through waves as high as 4m and can accommodate 12 passengers.
    • It marks a transformative moment in the nation’s commitment to maritime progress through green energy and sustainability
    Additional Information:
    – Navalt Solar and Electric Boats specialising in the manufacturing of solar electric vessels and decarbonising the maritime sector.
    – It was awarded the world’s best start-up under the ‘Mobility and Transportation’ category at the Berlin Start-up Energy Transition Awards 2023.

    Source: TH