- A) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations
- All about the Law Commission of India (TH)
- B) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
- All about Padma Awards (TH)
- C) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
- Green Taxation in India (TH)
- D) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
- Akash-NG (New Generation) Missile (PIB)
- Joint Military Exercise in Andaman Sea (PIB)
- E) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
- 11th National Voters’ Day (NVD) (PIB)
A) Indices, Reports, Surveys, Committees and Organisations
All about the Law Commission of India (TH)
- Context: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Home and Law Ministries to explain the nearly three-year-long lapse in making appointments to the Law Commission.
- The posts of Chairperson and Members have been vacant ever since the 21st Law Commission under the former Supreme Court judge, Justice B.S. Chauhan, completed its tenure on August 31, 2018.
- The Law Commission of India is a non-statutory body constituted by the order of the Government of lndia from time to time.
- Though law commission is appointed by the President, it’s under administrative control of Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice.
- The Government of India established the First Law Commission of Independent India in 1955 with the then Attorney-General of India, Mr. M. C. Setalvad, as its Chairman.
- Since then, twenty more Law Commissions have been appointed, each with a three-year term and with different terms of reference.
- None of these recommendations is binding upon the Government.
- It is usually headed by a former Supreme Court judge or a former Chief Justice of a High Court.
- The 21st commission, under Justice B.S. Chauhan (retd), had submitted reports and working papers on key issues such as simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies and a uniform civil code.
- While the Law Commission had supported simultaneous polls, it had said that the time was not ripe for a common code.
- In the pre-independence era, India’s first Law Commission was established in 1834 via Charter Act of 1833 under the Chairmanship of Lord Macaulay.
- This law commission had recommended codification of the Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code and a few other matters.
- After that, three more law commissions were established in British Era.
- The Indian Code of Civil Procedure, the Indian Contract Act, the Indian Evidence Act, the Transfer of Property Act. etc. are products of the labour of the first four Law Commissions.
- Article 372: The continuation of pre-Constitution Laws till they are amended or repealed.
- Article 39A: It says that State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice.
Ministry of Law and Justice
- Ministry of Law and Justice is the oldest limb of the Government of India dating back to 1833 when the Charter Act 1833 enacted by the British Parliament.
- The said Act vested for the first time legislative power in a single authority, namely the Governor-General in Council.
- The Governor-General in Council enacted laws for the country from 1834 to 1920.
- After the commencement of the Government of India Act 1919 the legislative power was exercised by the Indian Legislature constituted thereunder.
- With the passing of the Indian Independence Act 1947 India became a Dominion and the Dominion Legislature made laws from 1947 to 1949 under the provisions of section 100 of the Government of India Act 1935 as adapted by the India (Provisional Constitution) Order 1947.
- Under the Constitution of India which came into force on the 26th January 1950, the legislative power is now vested in Parliament.
B) Schemes, Policies, Initiatives, Awards and Social Issues
2.All about Padma Awards (TH)
- Context: Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and late singer S.P. Balasubrahmanyam were named for the Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award in India, while singer K.S. Chithra will get the Padma Bhushan.
- No Bharat Ratna recipient was named this year.
- Bharat Ratna is the highest civilian award of the country.
- It is awarded in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order in any field of human endeavor.
- It is treated on a different footing from Padma Award.
- The recommendations for Bharat Ratna are made by the Prime Minister to the President of India.
- No formal recommendations for Bharat Ratna are necessary.
- The number of Bharat Ratna Awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year.
- The government has conferred Bharat Ratna Award on 48 persons till date.
Interesting facts about the Bharat Ratna
- First recipients of this award were Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, Sir C.V. Raman, and Chakravarti Rajagopalachari in 1954.
- Mother Teresa was the first naturalized Indian citizen who received the Bharat Ratna Award in 1980.
- Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1987) and Nelson Mandela (1990) are two non Indians who got Bharat Ratna Award.
- Sachin Tendulkar is the first sportsperson and the youngest Bharat Ratna Award Winner.
- Lal Bahadur Shastri was the first person to get this award posthumously.
- Subhash Chandra Bose was awarded with Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1992. But due to controversy (as there is no evidence of Subhash Chandra Bose’s death) his family refused to accept the award as the posthumous winner.
- This is the only incident in the history of Bharat Ratna that an award was withdrawn.
- Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru (1947-64) and Indira Gandhi (1966-77, 1980-84) have been criticised for recommending their names to the president by themselves to get the awards in 1955 and 1971 respectively.
- There is no provision that award should be given to Indians only.
- It is not mandatory that Bharat Ratna should be awarded very year.
- The award does not carry any monetary grant.
- The holders of the Bharat Ratna rank seventh in the Indian order of precedence.
- S. Subbalaxmi was the first musician who got this award.
- Padma Awards, which were instituted in the year 1954, are announced every year on the occasion of Republic Day.
- The award is given in three categories, namely,
- Padma Vibhushan for exceptional and distinguished service;
- Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of a high order; and
- Padma Shri for distinguished service.
- All persons without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex are eligible for these awards.
- However, Government servants in-service including those working with PSUs, except doctors and scientists, are not eligible for these Awards.
- The award seeks to recognize works of distinction and is given for distinguished and exceptional achievements/service in all fields of activities/disciplines.
- The nomination process is open to the public. Even self-nomination can be made.
- The award is normally not conferred posthumously.
- However, in highly deserving cases, the Government could consider giving an award posthumously.
- A higher category of Padma award can be conferred on a person only where a period of at least five years has elapsed since conferment of the earlier Padma award.
- However, in highly deserving cases, a relaxation can be made by the Awards Committee.
- The recipients are also given a small replica of the medallion, which they can wear during any ceremonial/State functions etc., if the awardees so desire.
- The names of the awardees are published in the Gazette of India on the day of the presentation ceremony.
- The total number of awards to be given in a year (excluding posthumous awards and to NRI/foreigners/OCIs) should not be more than 120.
- The award does not amount to a title and cannot be used as a suffix or prefix to the awardees’ name
- All nominations received for Padma Awards are placed before the Padma Awards Committee, which is constituted by the Prime Minister every year.
- The Padma Awards Committee is headed by the Cabinet Secretary and includes Home Secretary, Secretary to the President and four to six eminent persons as members.
- The recommendations of the committee are submitted to the Prime Minister and the President of India for approval.
C) Agriculture, Geography, Environment and Biodiversity
3.Green Taxation in India (TH)
- Context: In a bid to curb pollution and motivate people to switch to environment-friendly alternatives, the road transport ministry has decided to impose additional taxes on old vehicles that are unfit for roads as ‘green taxes’.
- According to the ministry, the revenue collected from the green tax will be kept in a separate account and will be used for tackling pollution.
- Personal vehicles to be charged with green tax at the time of renewal of registration certification after 15 years;
- Higher green tax (50% of road tax) for vehicles being registered in highly polluted cities;
- Differential tax will also be charged depending on fuel (petrol/ diesel) and the type of vehicle;
- Vehicles like strong hybrids, electric vehicles and those running on alternate fuels like CNG, ethanol and LPG will be exempted.
- Transport vehicles older than eight years could be charged with green tax at the time of renewal of fitness certificate at the rate of 10 to 25% of road tax.
- Public transport vehicles, such as city buses, will be paying lower Green Tax, the ministry noted adding, meanwhile, vehicles used in farming, such as tractor, harvestor, tiller, etc to be exempted entirely.
- The proposal will now go to the states for consultation before it is formally notified.
- The Ministry also approved the policy of deregistration and scrapping of vehicles owned by the Government department and PSU, which plied on the road for 15 years or more. It is to be notified, and will come into effect from April 1, 2022.
- An ecotax/green tax is a tax whose tax base is defined so as to internalize the negative externality generated either from the production/consumption/ extraction behavior in an economy.
Clean Environment Cess
- India’s Clean Environment Cess or coal cess acts as a carbon tax.
- The coal cess is levied on coal, lignite and peat at the rate of ₹ 400 for every tonne of coal produced or imported, and the funds raised are managed by the National Clean Environment Fund (NCEF), which was known as the National Clean Energy Fund earlier.
Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016
- It is defined as afforestation done in lieu of the diversion of forest land for non forest use under the Forests (Conservation) Act, 1980.
- The Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016, establishes dedicated, non-lapsable interest bearing funds – the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India, and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state.
- These Funds will receive payments for:
- (i) compensatory afforestation,
- (ii) net present value of forest (NPV), and
- (iii) other project specific payments.
- The amount to be paid depends on the economic value of the goods and services that the razed forest would have provided.
- These include timber, bamboo, firewood, carbon sequestration, soil conservation, water recharge, and seed dispersal.
- The National Fund will receive 10% of these funds, and the State Funds will receive the remaining 90%.
- These Funds will be primarily spent on afforestation to compensate for loss of forest cover, regeneration of forest ecosystem, wildlife protection and infrastructure development.
- The Fund can also be used for catchment area treatment, wildlife management, forest fire prevention, soil and moisture conservation work in the forest….it cannot be used for payment of salary, travelling allowances, making buildings and buying office equipment for forest officers.
- The balance with both funds will be non-lapsable and get interest as per a rate declared by the central government on a yearly basis.
- The CAF Act 2016 also established an independent authority — the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority under the chairmanship of the Union Minister of Environment & Forests for monitoring, technical assistance and evaluation of compensatory afforestation activities — to execute the fund.
- While the government is prompt in collecting such taxes, it seems to have a lackadaisical approach in utilizing them for stated goals. Substantial resources have been diverted from the NCEF towards myriad government schemes though it was originally instituted to fund research and development in the field of clean energy technologies.
- A detailed list of projects recommended for NCEF funding available since 2011 shows that most of the money has been directed towards various government missions such as the Green India Mission, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, installation of solar photovoltaic plants or solar water heater systems, etc. A large part of the fund is also lying unutilized.
- Thus, the use of NCEF money to provide for budgetary shortfall in any environment-related programme is defeating its original purpose, which was to provide loans or viability gap funding for new renewable technologies. Even afforestation efforts seem to be suffering from a similar situation.
Forest Advisory Committee (FAC)
- Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) of Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has been constituted under the Forest (Conservation) Act 1980.
- It has both official as well as unofficial members, the Director General of Forests as the Chairman.
- The FAC is an apex body tasked with adjudicating requests by the industry to raze forest land for commercial use.
D) Science and Technology, Defence, Space
4.Akash-NG (New Generation) Missile (PIB)
- Context: DRDO conducted the successful maiden launch of Akash-NG (New Generation) Missile from Integrated Test Range off the coast of Odisha.
- The Akash-NG is a new generation Surface to Air Missile (SAM) meant for use by the Indian Air Force to intercept high-maneuvering low radar cross-section aerial threats.
- The Akash-NG system has been developed with better deployability compared to other similar systems with canisterized launcher and much smaller ground system footprint.
- The new Akash system can defend an area of at least 10 times better compared to any short range SAM and is capable of engaging up to 10 targets simultaneously.
- The earlier variant has a maximum range of 30 km, while Akash-NG can strike targets up to 70 km.
- Akash is India’s first indigenously designed, developed and produced air defence system.
- The short range multi-target engagement capable missile was developed as part of the Integrated Guided-Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) other than Nag, Agni, Trishul, and Prithvi missiles.
- The supersonic Akash missile has a range of around 25-30 km and up to the altitude of 18,000 metres.
- This missile uses high-energy solid propellant for the booster and ramjet-rocket propulsion for the sustainer phase. The missile system is highly mobile.
- Several variants of the missile — Akash MK1, Akash-MK2 — with improved accuracy and higher ranges are under development by the DRDO.
- The missile system was formally inducted into the IAF and the Army in May 2015.
Joint Military Exercise in Andaman Sea (PIB)
- Context: Indian Armed Forces conducted a large-scale conjoint military training exercise “KAVACH” along with “AMPHEX-21” in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal.
Tri service Military ‘Exercise Kavach’
- The aim of the tri-service drill is to sharpen operational synergy between the three services (Army, Navy and Air Force)
- The exercise will check the preparedness of all the agencies in dealing with an asymmetric threat.
- Asymmetrical threats are unconventional strategies and tactics adopted by a force.
Tri-service joint amphibious exercise AMPHEX – 21
- It was conducted in Andaman & Nicobar group of islands.
- The exercise involved participation of Naval ships, amphibious troops of the Army and different types of aircraft from the Air force.
- The exercise was aimed at validating India’s capabilities to safeguard the territorial integrity of its island territories.
- It also sought to enhance operational synergy and joint warfighting capabilities amongst the three Services.
E) Polity, Bills, Acts and Judgments
5.11th National Voters’ Day (NVD) (PIB)
- Context: Election Commission of India celebrated 11th National Voters Day on 25th January 2021.
- The theme for this year’s NVD, ‘Making Our Voters Empowered, Vigilant, Safe and Informed’, envisages active and participative voters during elections.
- The National Voters’ Day has been celebrated on January 25 every year since 2011, all across the country to mark the foundation day of Election Commission of India, i.e., 25th January 1950.
- The main purpose of the NVD celebration is to encourage, facilitate and maximize enrolment, especially for the new voters.
- New voters are felicitated and handed over their Elector Photo Identity Card (EPIC) in the NVD functions.
- During the event, the Honourable President of India confers the National Awards for the Best Electoral Practices on State and District level officers for their outstanding performance in the conduct of elections in different spheres.
- National Awards are also given to important stakeholders like national icons, CSOs and media groups for their valuable contribution towards voters’ awareness.
- Chalo Karen Matdaan: It is a comic book that aims at voter education in a fun and thought-provoking way. Targeting young, new and future voters, this comic contains interesting and relatable characters to educate voters at large on electoral processes.
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