Goaltide Daily Current Afffairs 2023
Current Affair 1:
The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry received the Porter Prize 2023 recently.
Who organized Porter Prize 2023?
Porter Prize 2023 was announced at “The India Dialog”, which was jointly organized by the Institute for Competitiveness (IFC) and US Asia Technology Management Center (USATMC) at Stanford University from February 23 to 24. The theme of this conference was “The Indian Economy 2023: Innovation, Competitiveness and Social Progress”.
India- Recipient of Porter Prize in 2023
- It recognized the government's strategy in managing COVID-19, also the approach, and involvement of various stakeholders especially the involvement of ASHA workers in the industry to create PPE Kits.
- It was also noted that the idea of vaccine development and vaccine manufacturing and the scale that India achieved, was tremendous.
- They elaborated on the three cornerstones of India’s strategy – containment, relief package, and vaccine administration.
- It observes that these three measures were critical in saving lives and ensuring economic activity by containing the spread of the COVID-19, sustaining livelihoods, and developing immunity against the virus.
- India thus, balanced the social agendas along with economic outcomes in planning its response and thus, showed resilience through its healthcare system.
Current Affair 2:
Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA)
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has suspended the FCRA registration of Think tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR).
About Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA):
- The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) was enacted during the Emergency in 1976 amid apprehensions that foreign powers were interfering in India’s affairs.
- The law sought to regulate foreign donations to individuals and associations so that they functioned “in a manner consistent with the values of a sovereign democratic republic”.
- The FCRA was amended in 2010 and 2020 by the government to give tighter control and scrutiny over the receipt and utilization of foreign funds by NGOs.
What is the FCRA?
- Background: The FCRA was enacted during the Emergency in 1976 amid apprehensions that foreign powers were interfering in India’s affairs by pumping money into the country through independent organisations.
- These concerns were, in fact, even older; they had been expressed in Parliament as early as in 1969.
- Aim: The law sought to regulate foreign donations to individuals and associations so that they functioned in a manner consistent with the values of a sovereign democratic republic.
- The Act prohibits the receipt of foreign funds by candidates for elections, journalists or newspaper and media broadcast companies, judges and government servants, members of legislature and political parties or their office-bearers, and organisations of a political nature.
How is FCRA registration granted?
- FCRA registrations are granted to individuals or associations that have definite cultural, economic, educational, religious, and social programmes.
- NGOs that want to receive foreign funds must apply online with the required documentation.
- Authority- The Ministry of Home Affairs makes inquiries through the Intelligence Bureau into the antecedents of the applicant and approves or rejects the application within 90 days.
- In case of failure to process the application in the given time, the MHA is expected to inform the NGO of the reasons for the same.
- Eligibility- Under the FCRA, the applicant
- should not be fictitious or benami
- should not have been prosecuted or convicted for indulging in activities aimed at conversion through inducement or force, either directly or indirectly, from one religious faith to another
- should not have been prosecuted for or convicted of creating communal tension or disharmony
- should not have been found guilty of diversion or misutilisation of funds.
- In case of failure to apply for renewal, the registration is deemed to have expired.
Current Affair 3:
Recently, the Centre unveiled the ‘VAIBHAV Fellowship’ for NRI researchers.
Fostering Academic and Research Collaborations
The VAIBHAV Fellowship scheme will facilitate academic and research collaborations between Indian higher education institutions and leading institutions abroad. This will help to boost India’s research capabilities, leading to innovative and impactful research in various fields.
The scheme will promote the mobility of faculties or researchers from overseas institutions to India, allowing them to share their knowledge and expertise with Indian researchers. The exchange will facilitate the transfer of knowledge, skills, and technology, helping to build a stronger and more vibrant research community in India.
Eligibility Criteria for VAIBHAV Fellowship
To be eligible for the VAIBHAV Fellowship scheme, applicants must be non-resident Indians (NRIs), Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs), or Overseas Citizens of India (OCIs). They must have obtained a Ph.D./M.D./M.S. degree from a recognized university and be currently engaged in an overseas academic, research, or industrial organization with a proven R&D track record.
Applicants must also plan to work for at least one month, up to a maximum of two months, each year at an Indian research/academic institution. This commitment will allow them to contribute their expertise to Indian research and academic institutions, promoting collaboration and knowledge-sharing.
Significance of the fellowship
- The fellowship provides a platform for Indian scientists and researchers to collaborate with their counterparts abroad, which can help in the exchange of ideas and knowledge.
- It also provides an opportunity for the Indian diaspora to contribute to the development of their home country.
- By engaging with the Indian institutions and universities, the diaspora can bring in new ideas, technologies, and expertise that can help in the country’s development.
Non Resident Indian
- A Non-Resident Indian (NRI) means a person resident outside India who is a citizen of India or is a person of Indian origin.
- An Indian citizen residing outside India for a combined total of at least 183 days in a financial year is considered to be an NRI.
- NRIs enjoy voting rights and are required to pay and file the income tax return on their Indian income like resident Indians.
- NRI is more of a technical classification for taxation purposes and investment purposes.
- However, in case an NRI wishes to take up foreign citizenship, he/she will have to give up Indian citizenship as the Indian constitution does not allow dual citizenship.
- A person cannot hold Indian as well as foreign citizenship simultaneously
What is the Significance of the Indian Diaspora?
Enhancing India’s Soft Power: Indian diaspora is one of the richest minorities in many developed countries. Their advantage is evident in “diaspora diplomacy”, whereby they act as “bridge-builders” between their home and adopted countries.
- The Indian diaspora is not just a part of India’s soft power, but a fully transferable political vote bank as well.
- Also, many people of Indian origin hold top political positions in many countries, which enhances India’s political clout at multilateral institutions like the United Nations.
- Economic Contribution: Remittances sent by the Indian diaspora have positive systemic effects on the Balance of Payments (BOP), which help to bridge a wider trade deficit.
- The migration of less-skilled labor (especially to West Asia) has helped in bringing down disguised unemployment in India.
- Further, the migrant workers facilitated the flow of tacit information, commercial and business ideas, and technologies into India.
Current Affair 4:
Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (AMASR) (Amendment) Bill :
- It is an Act to provide for the preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance, for the regulation of archaeological excavations, and for the protection of sculptures, carvings, and other like objects.
- It extends to the whole of India.
- The AMASR Act, of 1958, was amended in 2010 to declare the 100-meter radius of protected monuments as prohibited areas and the next 300-meter radius as regulated areas.
Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958
- The AMASR Act provides for preservation of ancient and historical monuments and archaeological sites and remains of national importance.
- It provides for the regulation of archaeological excavations and for protection of sculptures, carvings and other like objects.
- It was passed in 1958.
- The Archaeological Survey of India functions under the provisions of this act.
- The Act prohibits construction in ‘prohibited area’, an area of 100 meters around protected monument.
- It does not permit construction in such prohibited areas even if it is for public purposes, except under certain conditions.
- The central government can extend the prohibited area beyond 100 meters.
- The iconic monuments in India, Taj Mahal, Ajanta Caves, The Great Stupa at Sanchi and the Sun Temple of Konark, among others are designated as “ancient monuments of national importance” and protected under the AMASR Act.
- The Archaeological Survey of India is the custodian of these monuments.
Key Features of the Act
The following are the important provisions included in the act
Construction in Prohibited Areas
According to the act, the prohibited areas are defined as those areas that are within 100 metres of the protected monument. The act gives powers to the central government to extend this area
The act introduces the term called “Public Works”. This includes the construction of infrastructure as planned by the Government of India. The infrastructure should be in such a way that, it is essential to public safety and security.
The National Monument Authority should do an impact assessment before executing the public works. The authority shall conduct three types of impact assessments namely visual impact, archaeological impact, and heritage impact.
The act was amended in 2010. It was this amendment that brought in the National Monument Authority.
Need for the amendment
The amendment to the act is being introduced because the act prohibits new construction within the monument. This is affecting the developmental works in the national monuments. The main objective is to amend Section 20A of the act that hinders development activities.
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)
- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), under the Ministry of Culture, is the premier organization for the archaeological researches and protection of the cultural heritage of the nation.
- It also regulates Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972.
Current Affair 5:
- The report was published by Access Now, a New York-based advocacy group that tracks internet freedom.
- It claims that India imposed the highest number of internet shutdowns globally in 2022.
- As per the report, this is the fifth consecutive year that the world’s largest democracy of more than 1.3 billion people has topped the list.
What is an Internet Shutdown?
- Internet shutdowns are measures taken by a government or by any entity on behalf of a government, to intentionally disrupt access to and the use of information and communications systems online.
- Shutdowns often include complete blocks of Internet connectivity or accessibility of the affected services. However, governments increasingly resort to throttling bandwidth or limiting mobile service to 2G, which, while nominally maintaining access, renders it extremely difficult to make meaningful use of the Internet.
- Governments across the world have resorted to shutting down the internet citing a range of reasons.
- Further makes it difficult to share and watch videos, live broadcasts, and other journalistic work, often ordered during civil society movements, security measures as well as electoral proceedings, and severely restricts human rights monitoring and reporting.
Provisions regarding internet shutdowns in India
- Indian telegraph act 1885: section 7 of the aforementioned act has been amended to include temporary suspension of telecom services (public emergency and public safety) rules. As per the rules, only the home secretary of the union or the state can issue such an order. it has to be reviewed by a committee within 5 days. Such an order shall not be in operation for more than 15 days.
- Powers under section 144 CrPC: In an unavoidable circumstance, the order can be issued by an officer of the rank of joint secretary or above, authorized by the union or state home secretary.
- Section 69(A) of the information technology Act 2008: It gives the government power to block particular websites and not the internet as a whole.
- The High Court of Kerala made a start to the domestic recognition of the right to Internet access with its judgment in Faheema Shirin R.K. v. State of Kerala & Others which can be replicated pan India
- In Anuradha Bhasin versus the Union of India, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that an undefined restriction of internet services would be illegal and that orders for internet shutdown must satisfy the tests of necessity and proportionality.
Who can pass the orders of Internet Shutdowns?
- The Rules, issued under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, stipulate that only the Home Secretary of the Union or a state can pass an order, and that the order must include the reasons for the decision.
- The order should be forwarded to a review committee the day after it is issued, and must be reviewed by the committee within five days to assess its compliance with Section 5(2) of The Telegraph Act.
- Under this the government has the power to block the transmission of messages during a public emergency or for public safety.
- In the case of the central government, the review committee comprises the Cabinet Secretary and the Secretaries of the Departments of Legal Affairs and Telecommunications.
- In the case of states, the committee comprises the Chief Secretary, Secretary, Law or Legal Remembrancer In-Charge, Legal Affairs, and a Secretary to the state government (other than the Home Secretary).
Who else can issue such orders?
- In “unavoidable circumstances”, the order can be issued by an officer of the rank of Joint Secretary or above, authorised by the Centre or the state Home Secretary.
- Telecom service providers must designate nodal officers to handle such requests.
Current Affair 6:
Recently, the debate has surrounded whether disqualification for conviction is final or whether it can be revoked.
Membership of Parliament – Disqualification
Article 102 of the Constitution establishes conditions for a member of either House of Parliament to be disqualified. If the member fails to comply with the rules, he or she will be disqualified.
- He holds a profit-making office (within the Government of India or any State government) that is not listed in the law of parliament.
- If he is found to be mentally ill by a competent court,
- If he is discovered to be an unsolved insolvent;
- If he is not an Indian citizen, or if he has deliberately gained the citizenship of another country, or if he has pledged allegiance or commitment to another country;
- If any law passed by Parliament disqualifies him.
- If a person is found guilty of rigging elections.
- If the person is guilty of specific crimes, such as the IPC, the Civil Rights Act of 1955, the UAPA Act of 1967, and so on.
- If the person is guilty of a crime that carries a sentence of at least two years in jail.
- If the person is fired from their government job.
- If a person is disqualified due to a violation of the tenth schedule.
- In the event of such disqualification, the President's judgment (Article 103) is final for MPs, while the Governor's decision (Article 192) is final for state legislators.
- Before making any decision in this regard, the President and Governor will seek the advice of the Indian Election Commission.
- Such disqualifications might be challenged in high courts.
- Article 101 - Provides for the following grounds for disqualification:
- If a person is elected as both a Member of Parliament and a Member of the Legislative Assembly, he must give up one of his memberships. He'd be disqualified for both seats if he didn't do so.
- If he resigns from his position by notifying the presiding officer of his decision.
- If he is absent without giving the presiding officer notice for more than 60 days.
What Can Lead to the Disqualification of a Member of Either House of Parliament?
A person shall be disqualified from being elected as a Member of Parliament if he or she:
1. If he occupies a lucrative position in the federal or state government (except that of a minister or anyother office exempted by Parliament).
2. If he is found to be mentally ill by a court of law.
3. If he is an insolvent who has not been discharged.
4. If he is not an Indian citizen, has deliberately accepted the citizenship of another country, or has pledged allegiance to another country; and
5. If he is barred from doing so by a law enacted by Parliament.
In the Representation of People Act (1951), Parliament established the following additional disqualifications:
• He must not have been convicted of any election-related offences or election-related corruption.
• He must not have been convicted of any crime that resulted in a sentence of two or more years in jail. A person's detention under a preventive detention statute, however, does not disqualify them.
• He couldn't have missed the deadline for filing an election expense report.
• He must have no financial or other vested interest in government contracts, works, or services.
• He may not serve as a director, managing agent, or in a profit-making office in a corporation in which the government owns at least a 25% stake.
• He must not have been fired from the government for corruption or state treachery.
• He must not have been convicted of inciting hatred between groups or of bribery.
• He must not have received any punishment for preaching and practising social crimes like untouchability, dowry, and sati.
The president's decision is final on whether a member is subject to any of the foregoing disqualifications. He should, however, seek the advice of the election commission and act appropriately.
Disqualification Due to Defection
A person is also prohibited from being a Member of Parliament if he is disqualified on the basis of defection under the provisions of the Tenth Schedule, according to the Constitution. Under the defection statute, a member is disqualified:
1. If he voluntarily withdraws from the political party on whose ticket he was elected to the House of Representatives;
2. If he votes or abstains from voting in the House in defiance of his political party's directives;
3. If any member of the legislature who was elected independently joins a political party; and
4. If a nominated person joins a political party after the six-month period has expired.
The Chairman of the Rajya Sabha and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha decide on the subject of disqualification under the Tenth Schedule (and not by the president of India). The Supreme Court determined in 1992 that the Chairman/decision Speaker's on this matter is amenable to judicial review.
Criteria for disqualifications under RPA, 1951:
- Is found guilty of certain election offences or corrupt practices in the elections.
- Is convicted for any offence resulting in imprisonment for two or more years (except for the detention under a preventive detention law).
- Has failed to lodge an account of his/her election expenses within the time.
- Has any interest in government contracts, works or services.
- Is a director or managing agent or holds an office of profit in a corporation in which the government has at least 25% share.
- Has been dismissed from government service for corruption or disloyalty to the State.
- Has been convicted for promoting enmity between different groups or for the offence of bribery.
- Has been punished for preaching and practising social crimes such as untouchability, dowry and sati.
Remedies against disqualification under RPA, 1951:
- An election can be called in question only by an election petition. Election petitions are to be heard in the High Court with its appeal lying at the Supreme Court. They act as a mechanism of grievance redressal for the affected parties.
- Furthermore, on the question of whether a legislator is subject to any of the disqualifications the final authority to decide rests with the President (in case of members of Parliament) and the Governor (in case of members of State legislature).
- However, the President or Governor shall act according to the advice of the Election Commission of India.
- In case of any enquiry, the Election Commission is conferred the powers of a civil court for summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person or any evidence.
- Besides, after a legislator is disqualified, the Election Commission may, on certain grounds, remove any disqualification or reduce the period of any disqualification.