Current Affair – June 1, 2021

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CURRENT AFFAIRS

Time to revisit limits of sedition — Supreme Court

  • The Supreme Court said “it is time to define the limits of sedition” even as it protected two Telugu channels from any coercive action by Andhra Pradesh government for their reportage of the COVID19 pandemic in the State.
  • The court issued notice to the A.P. government and directed that “there shall be a stay on the respondents [the State] adopting coercive proceedings against the two TV channels”.

· Earlier in its April 30 order, the court had categorically told the States not to initiate penal action against the critics of COVID19 management measures in an April 30 order.

Judgement

  •  It flagged indiscriminate use of the sedition law against critics, journalists, social media users, activists and citizens for airing grievances about the governments’ COVID19 management, or even for seeking help to gain medical access equipment, drugs and oxygen cylinders.
  • “We are of the view that the ambit and parameters of the provisions of Sections 124A (sedition), 153A and 505 of the Indian Penal Code 1860 would require interpretation, particularly in the context of the right of the electronic and print media to communicate news, information and the rights, even those that may be critical of the prevailing regime in any part of the nation, “the court noted in its order.

About sedition

  • A law introduced in the Indian Penal Code in 1870.
  • Section 124A IPC states: “Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, to which a fine may be added; or, with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which a fine may be added; or, with fine.”
  • Kadar Nat Singh v. State of Bihar (1962): SC upheld the constitutional validity of sedition and noted it as being a reasonable restriction on free speech as provided in Article 19(2) of the Constitution. It made clear that a citizen has the right to say or write whatever she likes about the government, or its measures, by way of criticism or comments, as long as she does not incite people to violence against the government established by law or with the intention of creating public disorder.
  • SC’s caution in Khushboo vs. Kanniammal (2010), “It is not the task of the criminal law to punish individuals merely for expressing unpopular views” and that courts should not allow a criminal trial “triggered by false and frivolous complaints, amounting to harassment and humiliation to the accused.
Source: The Hindu

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Trends

  • Provisional National income estimates have been released by National Statistical Office.
  • In India, contributions to GDP are mainly divided into 3 broad sectors – agriculture and allied services, industry and service sector. In India, GDP is measured as market prices and the base year for computation is 2011-12. GDP at market prices = GDP at factor cost + Indirect Taxes – Subsidies

What does it say?

  • India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contracted by 7.3% in 2020-21. It is marginally better than the 8% contraction in the economy projected earlier.
  • GDP growth in 2019-20, prior to the COVID19 pandemic, was 4%.
  • The Gross Value Added (GVA) in the economy shrank 6.2% in 2020-21, compared to a 4.1% rise in the previous year.
  • Only two sectors bucked the trend of negative GVA growth — agriculture, forestry and fishing, which rose 3.6%, and electricity, gas, water supply and other utility services (up 1.9%).

Growth in Q4

  • The fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020-21showed a growth of 1.6% in GDP.
  • This marked the second quarter of positive growth after the country entered a technical recession in the first half of the year.
  • GDP had contracted 24.4% in April-June 2020, followed by a 7.4% shrinkage in the second quarter. It had returned to positive territory in the September to December quarter with a marginal 0.5% growth.
  • GVA for trade, hotels, transport, communication and broadcasting related services saw the sharpest decline of 18.2%, followed by construction (8.6%), mining and quarrying (8.5%) and manufacturing (7.2%).
  • Economists said these numbers would moderate growth prospects for 2021-22 through the base effect.

What is GDP?

  • GDP is the final value of the goods and services produced within the geographic boundaries of a country during a specified period of time, normally a year. GDP growth rate is an important indicator of the economic performance of a country. It can be measured by three methods, namely,
  1. Output Method: This measures the monetary or market value of all the goods and services produced within the borders of the country. In order to avoid a distorted measure of GDP due to price level changes, GDP at constant prices o real GDP is computed. GDP (as per output method) = Real GDP (GDP at constant prices) – Taxes + Subsidies.
  2. Expenditure Method: This measures the total expenditure incurred by all entities on goods and services within the domestic boundaries of a country. GDP (as per expenditure method) = C + I + G + (X-M) C: Consumption expenditure, I: Investment expenditure, G: Government spending and (X-IM): Exports minus imports, that is, net exports.
  3. Income Method: It measures the total income earned by the factors of production, that is, labour and capital within the domestic boundaries of a country. GDP (as per income method) = GDP at factor cost + Taxes – Subsidies.
Source: The Hindu

Positive Indigenization List

  • The Defence Ministry notified the second negative import list. It crashes consists of 108 items that can now be only purchased from indigenous sources.
  • The list, however, has been renamed as the ‘positive indigenisation list’.
  • The new list takes the total number on the list to 209. It is planned to be implemented progressively with effect from December 2021 to December 2025.

Items in list

  • The second list lays special focus on weapons and systems which are currently under development/trials and are likely to translate into firm orders in the future.
  • Like the first list, import substitution of ammunition which is a recurring requirement has been given special focus.
  • The ‘second positive indigenisation list’ comprises complex systems, sensors, simulator, weapons and am munitions like helicopters, next generation corvettes Air Borne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) systems, tank engines, medium power radar for mountains, Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) weapon systems and many more such items.

Rationale

  • The list recognize the potential of local defence industry.
  • It will also invigorate impetus to domestic Research and Development by attracting fresh investment into technology and manufacturing capabilities.
  • The list also provides an excellent opportunity for ‘startups’ as also Micro, Small and Medium Enter prices (MSMEs).
Source: The Hindu

National Human Rights Commission

Former Supreme Court Justice Arun Kumar Mishra is likely to be the new Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) after a high-powered recommendation committee proposed his name.

About National Human Rights Commission (NHRC)

  • It was established on 12th October, 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act (PHRA), 1993.
  • The Act also provides for the creation of the State Human Rights Commission.

Composition

  • The chairperson is a retired chief justice of India or a judge of the Supreme Court.
  • They are appointed by the President on the recommendations of a six-member committee consisting of:
  • Prime Minister (head)
  • Speaker of the Lok Sabha
  • Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha
  • Leaders of the Opposition in both the Houses of Parliament
  • Union Home Minister
Source: The Hindu

China’s new ‘Child Policy’

  • China will for the first time allow couples to have a third child.
  • It is a further relaxation of family planning rules five years after a “two child policy” largely failed to boost birth rates.

Recent census

  • The change comes after the release of China’s once in a decade population census that painted an alarming picture of declining births.
  • 12 million babies were born last year, the lowest number since 1961, a time when Mao’s China was in the midst of a four year famine, and down from 17.86 million in 2016.
  • The census said China’s population was 1.41 billion in 2020, a 5.38% growth from 2010.
  • Forecasts say the population could peak in the next couple of years and most likely by 2025, when India will be come the world’s most populous country.
  • The census recorded 264 million in the age group of 60 and over, up 5.44% since 2010 and accounting for 18.70% of the population
  • Those in the 15-59 age group account for 63.35% of the population.

Ageing crisis

  • China’s workforce in the 15-59 age bracket peaked in 2011
  • Ageing crisis “might be the biggest challenge the Chinese nation faces in the next century.”
  • China introduced a “two child policy” in 2016, but the wide consensus is that it failed to have the desired impact. Surveys carried out by Chinese media attributed financial pressures as one main reason.
Source: The Hindu

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