21thFebruary,2022 ; Daily Current Affairs

Daily Current Affairs   Date : 21stFebruary,2022

 (30+ Questions hit in Prelims 2021 from this series)

Covers 4 Most relevant Sources

  • The Hindu
  • Indian Express
  • PIB
  • Mint

Index

  • Who are Star Campaigners? (TH, pg 9)
  • Development Coordination & Monitoring Committee (DISHA) Committee (PIB)
  • Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) (TH, pg 10)
  • Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) (TH, pg 10)
  • Green Hydrogen Policy (THBL)
  • Living With Covid Campaign (TH, pg 11)
  • What is Co-location (TH, pg 8)
  • Western Quad (TH, pg 15)
  • International Mother Language Day (PIB)
  1. Who are Star Campaigners? (TH, pg 9)

  • Context: The Election Commission of India restored the maximum limit on the number of star campaigners a party can field in the ongoing Assembly elections in five States, citing the fall in COVID-19 cases in the country.
Analysis
  • The commission had in October 2020 reduced the number of star campaigners for recognised national and State parties from 40 to 30 and unrecognised parties from 20 to 15, in order to prevent large crowds from gathering during campaigning.
  • Section 77 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which relates to a candidate’s election expenditure, does leave it to the political party itself to decide who its “leaders” are and allows every party to submit a list of such ‘star campaigners’ to the election authorities.
  • However, it should be noted that the ‘star campaigner’ status comes with a clear privilege: the expenditure incurred on the campaign done by those from the list of star campaigners is not included in the expenditure of the candidate concerned.
  • In effect, an order of the ECI revoking the star status is actually a withdrawal of the right to campaign without incurring electoral expenditure on the candidates’ account.

Guidelines to work out expenditure of star campaigners

  • As per Section 77 of the Representation of Peoples Act 1951, the expenditure incurred by leaders of a political party on account of travel by air or by any other means shall not be deemed to be poll expenditure of a candidate.
  • A recognised political party could give a list of 40 persons and a registered but unrecognised party a list of 20 persons to the Chief Electoral Officer and the Election Commission of India within seven days of the notification of the elections, and such political leaders would be known as star campaigners.
  • In the event of a public rally or meeting, if the candidate or his/her election agent shares the dais with the star campaigner, then the entire expenditure on that rally, other than the travel expenses of the star campaigner, should be added to the candidate’s expenses.
  • If the candidate is not present on the dais but banners and posters with the name of the candidate or the photographs of the candidate are displayed at the venue or the name of the candidate mentioned by the star campaigner, then the entire expenditure on the rally, other than travel expenses of the star campaigner, would be added to the candidate’s election expenses.
  • If there is more than one candidate sharing the dais or displaying banners or posters with their names at the venue, then the expenses on such a rally should be equally divided among all such candidates.
  • If the candidate or any of his representative or family member or leader of a political party other than the notified star campaigner is sharing the transport facility with the star campaigner, then 50 per cent of the expenditure would be added to the candidate’s expenses.
  • If more than one candidate is sharing the facilities then 50 per cent of the travel expenditure should be apportioned among those candidates.
  • If a star campaigner of an allied party attends the rally and takes the name of the candidate or shares the dais with the candidate, then the travel expense of that campaigner of allied party up to the constituency is not exempt and should be added to the candidate’s expenses.
  1. Development Coordination & Monitoring Committee (DISHA) Committee (PIB)

  • Context: Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Dr Jitendra Singh chaired the District Development Coordination & Monitoring Committee (DISHA) Meeting for Ramban District.
  • A key decision taken during the meeting was to commence Purple Revolutionin Ramban District by encouraging ‘Lavender Cultivation under the CSIR-IIIM’s Aroma Mission through Ministry of Science and Technology.
Analysis
  • District Development Coordination and Monitoring Committee (DISHA) is being formed with a view to fulfill the objective of ensuring a better coordination among all the elected representatives in Parliament, State Legislatures and Local Governments (Panchayati Raj Institutions/Municipal Bodies) for efficient and time-bound development of districts in our country.
  • These Committees could monitor the implementation of the programmes in accordance with prescribed procedures and guidelines and promote synergy and convergence for greater impact.
  • The DISHA supersedes the District Vigilance & Monitoring Committee currently mandated by Ministry of Rural Development.
  • The Chairperson of the DISHA Committee should be a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha) elected from the district, nominated by the Ministry of Rural Development.
  • The Member Secretary of the DISHA shourd be the District collector / District Magistrate/ Deputy Commissioner.
  • Meetings of the DISHA should be held at least once in every Quarter.
  • Action Taken on the recommendations of the previous meeting should be the first agenda item for the next meeting.

Among others the terms of Reference of the Committee are:

  • Resolve matters related to provision of land and space for faster roll out of priorities.
  • Identify issues for follow up in Parliament, state Assemblies and Local Governments for timely achievement of objectives.
  • Recommend improvements in design of approved programmes and suggest mid – course corrections to address implementation constraints.
  • Look into complaints/alleged irregularities received in respect of the implementation of the programmes’ including complaints of wrong selection of beneficiaries, mis-appropriation / diversion of funds and recommend follow-up action.
  • The Committee should have the authority to summon and inspect any record for this purpose.
  • Closely review the flow of funds including the funds allocated, funds released by both Centre and the State, utilization and unspent balances under each Scheme etc.

Powers of the Committee

  • This committee will have coordination and Monitoring powers.
  • Its role is to facilitate timely execution of approved Projects.
  • It will have powers in seeking effective follow up of issues raised during the deliberation.
  • The District Collector will be the Member Secretary responsible for the timely follow up on recommendations.
  1. Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan) (TH, pg 10)

  • Context:Almost half the government buildings in States and Union Territories identified during access audits in 2016-17 have been made accessible to people with disabilities, while only around 8% of public buses have become fully accessible under the Accessible India campaign ending in June 2022, according to government data.
  • The campaign was launched in 2015 with the goal of making selected government buildings, transportation and websites accessible for persons with disabilities by March 2018. The deadline was then extended to March 2020 and then again to June 2022.
Analysis
  • Accessible India Campaign (AIC) is the nationwide flagship campaign of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  • The aim of the Campaign is to make universal accessibility, barrier free and conducive environment for Divyangjans all over the country.
  • It was launched on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rdDecember, 2015.
  • For creating universal accessibility for Persons with Disabilities, the campaign has been divided into three components:
  • Built Environment;
  • Transport;
  • Information & Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem.
  • The Built Environment Accessibility component of Accessible India Campaign entails following targets:
  • (i)  Completing accessibility audit of at least 25-50 most important government buildings in 50 cities and making them fully accessible by the end of 2017;
  • (ii) Making 50% of all the government buildings of NCT and all the State capitals fully accessible by December 2018;
  • (iii) Completing accessibility audit of 50% of government buildings and making them fully accessible in 10 most important cities/towns of States not covered in targets (i) and (ii) by December 2019.
  • This component would include not only buildings, but also footpaths, curb cuts, and obstacles that block the flow of pedestrian traffic.
  • The Transport accessibility component of Accessible India Campaign aims
  • to make all international airports fully accessible immediately and domestic airports by March 2018.
  • all A1, A & B categories of railway stations are to be made fully accessible.
  • to make 25% of government owned public transport carriers to be made fully accessible by March 2018.
  • The Accessibility of Information and Communication System is another crucial pillar of Accessible India Campaign. The target set under this vertical is to make at least 50% of Central and State Government websites accessible by March 2017.
  • Department launched ‘Sugamya Pustakalaya’- an online library for Persons with Print Disabilities centred on achieving ‘Universal Accessibility’.

United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

  • India is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).
  • It ratified this Convention in 2007 and submitted its First Country Report on Status of Disability in India in 2015.
  • The UN Committee on CRPD in its 22ndSession took up India’s First Country Report for consideration during 2nd & 3rd September 2019 at UNHRC, Geneva.
  • Secretary, DEPwD specifically drew attention of the UN Committee on enactment of the Comprehensive RPwD Act, 2016, launch of Accessible India Campaign, establishment of National Institute of Mental Health Rehabilitation (NIMHR) to address issues concerning psycho-social disability, establishment of Centre for Disability Sports, achievements in distribution of aids and assistive devices, etc.

Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for PwDs

in Asia and Pacific

  • Governments at the High Level Inter Governmental Meeting organized by the Govt. of Republic of Korea adopted the ministerial declaration and Incheon Strategy to “Make the Right Real” for PwDs in Asia and Pacific.
  • The Incheon Strategy provides the Asian and Pacific Region, and the world the first set of regionally agreed distinct – inclusive development goals.
  1. Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) (TH, pg 10)

  • Context:A 10-member Indian delegation will visit Pakistan for the annual meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission from March 1 to 3.
Analysis
  • It was brokered by the World Bank in 1960 between India and Pakistan.
  • It lays down that Pakistan will have “unrestricted use of all waters of the Western Rivers”, namely the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab and their tributaries, while giving India the same rights over the three Eastern rivers, the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej and their tributaries.
  • However, since Indus flows from India, the country is allowed to use 20 per cent of its water for irrigation, power generation and transport purposes
  • Under the Treaty, India may also use the waters of the Western rivers — the Chenab, Jhelum and Indus —in “non-consumptive” ways.
  • That includes “run of the river” hydel projects, which do not change the course of the river and do not deplete the water level downstream.
  • The Treaty provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably.
  • A Permanent Indus Commission was set up as a bilateral commission to implement and manage the Treaty. The Commission solves disputes arising over water sharing.
  • Though Indus originates from Tibet, China has been kept out of the Treaty. If China decides to stop or change the flow of the river, it will affect both India and Pakistan.
  1. Green Hydrogen Policy (THBL)

  • Context: Ministry of Power has notified Green Hydrogen/ Green Ammonia Policy.
Analysis

What are ‘green hydrogen’ and ‘green ammonia’?

  • Green Hydrogen refers to the hydrogen produced through any process that does not emit greenhouse gases.
  • In contrast, the production of grey hydrogen results in GHG emissions, mainly carbon dioxide, because typically, hydrogen is separated from a hydrocarbon like methane (CH4), releasing the carbon.
  • ‘Blue hydrogen’ is produced through a similar process, but the emitted GHG is captured and sequestered—not let out into the atmosphere.
  • Ammonia is produced by forcing nitrogen to combine with hydrogen. Again, the hydrogen is obtained in the conventional methods by separating it from methane.
  • If ‘green hydrogen’ is used instead for making ammonia, what you get is ‘green ammonia’.
  • Truly, however, for ammonia to be labelled green, not only should the hydrogen be green, but also the electricity used in the Haber-Bosch process, in which nitrogen and hydrogen are forced to combine at very high temperatures and pressure, should also have come from renewable sources.

What are the salient features of the Green Hydrogen policy?

  • The policy has essentially made it easier and cheaper for green hydrogen (GH) manufacturers to get renewable electricity. Here are its promises:
  • if a GH manufacturer wants to put up his renewable energy plant (solar, wind), permissions will be easier to get
  • the GH manufacturer can ‘bank’ any surplus power with the utility for 30 days—that is, put the power into the utility’s grid and take it back within 30 days
  • if the manufacturer wishes to buy RE power from a third party (and not the utility, like Tata Power, BSES, Tangedco), permission for such ‘open access’ shall be given in 15 days of application
  • if the RE power supplier to the GH plant is in another state, no inter-state transmission charges shall be levied for 25 years.
  • Notably, the notification does not speak about ‘cross-subsidy charges’, which is in the states’ domain, but it is expected that the government would prevail upon the state governments to waive these charges for GH
  • if a ‘distribution licensee’ (power supplier) needs to buy RE to supply to GH manufacturers, the utility will sell the RE power at concessional rates

Why does the notification mention ‘green ammonia’ alongside ‘green hydrogen’?

  • Ammonia is a key chemical for fertiliser manufacture and a raw material for several other industries such as water purification, explosives, textiles and plastics.
  • But since India does not have much natural gas, it imports ammonia around 15-17 million tonnes a year.
  • Also, ammonia production is a significant carbon dioxide emitter, no matter where it is produced, accounting for 1.6 per cent of global GHG emissions.
  • Now, the availability of domestically produced green hydrogen provides India with an opportunity to wean itself away from imports and make its own ammonia.
  • An ammonia plant linked to a green hydrogen gives a ready market for hydrogen.
  1. Living With Covid Campaign (TH, pg 11)

  • The British government confirmed that people with COVID-19 won’t be legally required to self-isolate, as part of a plan for “living with COVID” that is also likely to see testing for the coronavirus scaled back.
  • British Prime Minister said ending all of the legal restrictions brought in to curb the spread of the virus will let people in the U.K. “protect ourselves without restricting our freedoms.”
  1. What is Co-location (TH, pg 8)

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has recorded the statement of former National Stock Exchange (NSE) Managing Director in connection with ‘co-location’ or the alleged abuse of server architecture of the exchange to provide preferential access to a private company to the data ahead of other brokers.
  1. Western Quad (TH, pg 15)

  • The western Quad consisting of Israel, India, UAE and the United States has been a regional factor ever since it was convened in October 2021 which was followed by a ministerial meeting of the four countries.
  1. International Mother Language Day (PIB)

  • International Mother Language Day is observed worldwide on 21stFebruary every year to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism.
  • The idea to celebrate International Mother Language Day first came from Bangladesh.
  • The general conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) decided to celebrate February 21 as International Mother Language Day in 2000.
  • The theme of 2022 is: “Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities.

Article 350-A in Part XVII of the Indian Constitution

  • It shall be the endeavour ofevery state and every local authority within the state toprovide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother-tongueat the primary stage of education to childrenbelonging to linguistic minority groups.

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