Polity and Governance
SC AND ST (PREVENTION OF ATROCITIES) ACT | AMENDMENTS
Why in News?
The Rajya Sabha unanimously cleared the amendments to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, overturning a March 2018 Supreme Court judgment pertaining to safeguard against the arrests under the Act.
- It provide that no preliminary enquiry will be required for registration of an FIR against any person under the Act.
- The investigating officer will not require approval for arrests, if necessary.
- The provision of anticipatory bail as allowed by the Supreme Court has also been done away
- It provides for Special courts in States.
- The amendments include a timeline of two months for completing the investigations and filing a chargesheet after registering the FIR.
- The cases are to be disposed of within two months of filing the chargesheet.
- However, the law is not brought under the 9th schedule of the Constitution (for protection against judicial review), or else the amendments would be challenged in the court again.
What is Judicial Review?
- Judicial review is the doctrine in democratic theory under which legislative and executive action is subject to invalidation by the judiciary.
- In the Indian constitution, Judicial Review is dealt with, under Article 13.
- Judicial Review implies that the Constitution is the supreme power of the nation and all laws are under its supremacy.
The Ninth Schedule
- It was introduced by the Nehru Government, on 10 May 1951 to address judicial decisions and pronouncements especially about the chapter on fundamental rights.
- The first amendment to the Indian Constitution added the Ninth Schedule to it.
- The state wanted to pursue nationalisation, take away lands from the zamindars, re-distribute them, and make special provisions for the socially and economically backward.
- The First Amendment that brought in Articles 31A and 31B conferring upon the state the right to make laws to acquire private property and to deem such laws as not being discriminatory.
- It further protect all such laws from any judicial review by creating something called the Ninth Schedule.
- In a landmark ruling on 11 January 2007, the Supreme Court of India ruled that all laws (including those in the Ninth Schedule) would be open to Judicial Review if they violated the basic structure of the constitution.
SWAYAM | HRD MINISTRY
The Ministry of HRD embarked on a major and new initiative Project called 'Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds' (SWAYAM).
- SWAYAM is an instrument for self-actualisationproviding opportunities for a life-long learning.
- The objective is to ensure that the every student in our country has access to the best quality higher education at the affordable cost.
- Project “SWAYAM” provides one integrated platform and portal for online courses.
- It covers all higher education subjects and skill sector courses.
- Academicians are involved in developing & delivering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) through SWAYAM in almost all disciplines from senior schooling to Post Graduation wherein it is intended to develop world class content.
- It is intended to host about 2000 courses and 80000 hours of learning material, within two years covering school, under-graduate, post-graduate, engineering, law and other professional courses.
- It is expected to support 3 Crores users in the next few years.
UNNAT BHARAT PROGRAMME 2.0
Why in News?
The Government has launched Unnat Bharat Abhiyan 2.0, which is the phase-2 of scheme. It covers 750 Higher Educational Institutes.
- Unnat Bharat Abhiyan aims to link the Higher Education Institutions with atleast five villages.
- Ministry of Human Resource Development is the sponsoring Ministry.
- These institutions can contribute to the economic and social betterment of these village communities using their knowledge base.
- It is inspired by the vision of transformational change in rural development processes by leveraging knowledge institutions to help build the architecture of an Inclusive India.
- It also aims to create a virtuous cycle between the society and an inclusive university system, with the latter providing knowledge base; practices for emerging livelihoods and to upgrade the capabilities of both the public and private sectors.
- Objective of the scheme are
- To engage the faculty and students of Higher Educational Institutions in understanding rural realities.
- Identify and select existing innovative technologies, enable customization of technologies, or devise implementation methods for innovative solutions, as required by people.
- To allow Higher Educational Institutions to contribute to devising systems for smooth implementation of various Government Programs.
Science and Technology
Why in News?
About ESA’s GAIA
- Gaia is a space observatory of the European Space Agency (ESA) designed for astrometry.
- It is a space telescope, or rather, two space telescopes.
- Its telescopes involve ten mirrors of different shapes and sizes to collect, focus and direct light into Gaia’s science instruments for detection.
- It measures the positions and distances of stars with unprecedented precision.
- Gaia is ESA's second space mission dedicated to astrometry.
- It builds on the legacy of the successful Hipparcos mission (1989-1993).
- The telescope is part of ESA's Horizon 2000+ long-term scientific program launched on 19 December 2013.
- The name "Gaia" was originally derived as an acronym for Global Astrometric Interferometer for Astrophysics.
- The primary mission objectives are:
- Measure the positions and velocity of approximately one billion stars in our Galaxy.
- Determine their brightness, temperature, composition and motion through space.
- Create a three-dimensional map of the Galaxy.
GIANT METREWAVE RADIO TELESCOPE | INDIA
Why in news?
Astronomers have used Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope to discover the most distant radio galaxy ever known, located at a distance of 12 billion light-years.
- GMRT is an array of thirty fully steerable parabolic radio telescopes of 45-metre diameter.
- It observes at metre wavelengths.
- It is operated by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, a part of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
- It was one of the world's largest interferometric array offering a baseline of up to 25 kilometres.
- Its Astrophysical objectives are:
- Detect the highly red shifted spectral line of neutral Hydrogen expected from protoclusters or protogalaxies before they condensed to form galaxies in the early phase of the Universe.
- Search for and study rapidly-rotating Pulsars in our galaxy.
INWARD REMITTANCES | UAE |KERALA | RDA | MTSS
Why in News?
Reserve Bank of India’s survey of inward remittances for 2016-17.
- Remittances essentially represent household income from foreign economies arising mainly from the temporary or permanent movement of workers to source economies.
- The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has emerged as the top source of inward remittances.
- UAE’s share in total remittances was 26.9%, followed by the United States (22.9%), Saudi Arabia (11.6%), Qatar (6.5%) and Kuwait (5.5%).
- According to the survey, 82% of the total remittances received by India originated from eight countries — UAE, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, the United Kingdom and Malaysia.
- Kerala has received the maximum funds sent from abroad.
- Kerala has the highest share with 19%, followed by Maharashtra (16.7%), Karnataka (15%), Tamil Nadu (8%) and Delhi (5.9%).
- More than half of remittances received by Indian residents were used for family maintenance.
- The rupee drawing arrangement (RDA) is the most popular channel of remittances which accounts for 2% of remittances, followed by SWIFT (19.5%), direct transfers (3.4%) and cheques and drafts (1.9%).
- Private Banks got the lions share in total remittances with 74.1%, while public sector banks share was 17.3% and the remaining with foreign banks.
- Size-wise analysis shows that 3% of all reported transactions were of more than $500 and only 2.7% were of less than $200.
Rupee Drawing Arrangement (RDA)
- Rupee Drawing Arrangement (RDA) is a channel to receive cross-border remittances from overseas jurisdictions.
- Under this arrangement, the Authorised Category I banks enter into tie-ups with the non-resident Exchange Houses in the FATF compliant countries to open and maintain their Vostro Account.
- It is a channel/method to obtain money from overseas in the form of remittance (gifts).
- It is usually limited to individuals only, but a certain limit of money exchange for trade purposes can be done via RDA as well.
- The money to be remitted is sent to the bank account of the receiver, and no cash remittance is allowed under RDA.
- There is no limit over the amount of money transferred to an individual’s account.
- There is an upper limit of Rs 15 Lakh of on any trade-related exchange.
Money Transfer Service Scheme (MTSS)
- Money Transfer Service Scheme (MTSS) is a way of transferring personal remittances from abroad to beneficiaries in India.
- Only cross-border personal remittances, such as, remittances towards family maintenance and remittances favouring foreign tourists visiting India are allowed under this arrangement.
- Donations/contributions to charitable institutions/trusts, trade related remittances, remittance towards purchase of property, investments or credit to NRE Accounts are not allowed through this arrangement.
- A cap of USD 2,500 has been placed on individual remittances under the scheme.
- Amounts up to INR 50,000/- may be paid in cash to a beneficiary in India.
- Any amount exceeding this limit shall be paid by means of account payee cheque/ demand draft/ payment order, etc., or credited directly to the beneficiary's bank account
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
Why in news?
International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s latest projection about India’s gross domestic product (GDP).
About the news
- The near-term macroeconomic outlook for India is “broadly favourable.”
- Growth is forecast to rise to 7.3% in fiscal year 2018/19 and 7.5% in 2019/20 on strengthening investment and robust private consumption.
- The current account deficit is projected to widen further to 2.6% of the GDP on rising oil prices and strong demand for imports.
- Headline inflation is projected to rise to 5.2% in fiscal year 2018/19, as demand conditions tighten, along with the recent depreciation of the rupee and higher oil prices, housing rent allowances and agricultural minimum support prices.
- The IMF, also known as the “Fund,” was conceived at a United Nations conference convened in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, in July 1944.
- It sought to build a framework for economic cooperation that would avoid a repetition of the Great Depression of the 1930s.
- It is a specialized agency of the United Nations.
- Membership is open to any country that conducts foreign policy and accepts the organization's statutes.
- The IMF’s responsibilities:
- The IMF's primary purpose is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system—the system of exchange rates and international payments that enables countries (and their citizens) to transact with each other.
- The Fund’s mandate was updated in 2012 to include all macroeconomic and financial sector issues that bear on global stability.
- It provides regular assessment of
- Global prospects in its World Economic Outlook
- Financial markets in its Global Financial Stability Report
- Public finance developments in its Fiscal Monitor
- Series of regional economic outlooks.
- The IMF provides technical assistance and training to help member countries strengthen their capacity to design and implement effective policies.
- The IMF issues an international reserve asset known as Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) that can supplement the official reserves of member countries.
- The primary source of the IMF's financial resources is its members’ quotas, which broadly reflect members’ relative position in the world economy.
- Membership: 189 countries
- Headquarters: Washington, D.C