Given below are the daily current affairs for 19th Jan 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.
- POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
- INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
Task force on marriage age submits report to PMO
The task force was set up to take a re-look at the age of marriage for women has submitted its report to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
- It was headed by Jaya Jaitley.
When was the task force set up?
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech last year proposed a panel on the “age of a girl entering motherhood” to lower maternal mortality rates and improve nutrition levels.
But when the decision to appoint a task force was announced, its terms of reference included examining “the correlation of age of marriage and motherhood” with health and nutritional status of mothers and infants.
Women’s rights activists have opposed the suggestion of raising the age of marriage from 18 to 21 for women and have cited evidence to show that such a move may be used to incarcerate young adults marrying without parents’ consent.
What the law says?
Currently, the law prescribes that the minimum age of marriage is 21 and 18 years for men and women, respectively.
The minimum age of marriage is distinct from the age of majority, which is gender-neutral.
- An individual attains the age of majority at 18 as per the Indian Majority Act, 1875.
- For Hindus, Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 sets 18 years as the minimum age for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom. Child marriages are not illegal but can be declared void at the request of the minor in the marriage.
- In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid under personal law.
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men respectively.
Why is the law being relooked at?
- From bringing in gender-neutrality to reduce the risks of early pregnancy among women, there are many arguments in favour of increasing the minimum age of marriage of women.
- Early pregnancy is associated with increased child mortality rates and affects the health of the mother.
- Despite laws mandating minimum age and criminalizing sexual intercourse with a minor, child marriages are very prevalent in the country.
- Also, according to a study, children born to adolescent mothers (10-19 years) were 5 percentage points more likely to be stunted (shorter for their age) than those born to young adults (20-24 years).
SC directive on quota in promotions
The Supreme Court has asked Attorney General K.K. Venugopal to compile the various issues being raised by States with regard to the application of a Constitution Bench judgment of 2006 in M. Nagaraj case.
- The court in M. Nagaraj case had upheld the application of creamy layer principle to members of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe communities in promotions.
- Nagaraj Case:
On June 17, 1995, Parliament, acting in its constituent capacity, adopted the seventy-seventh amendment by which clause (4A) was inserted into Article 16 to enable reservation to be made in promotion for SCs and STs.
- The validity of the seventy-seventh and eighty-fifth amendments to the Constitution and of the legislation enacted in pursuance of those amendments was challenged before the Supreme Court in the Nagaraj case.
- Upholding the validity of Article 16 (4A), the court then said that it is an enabling provision. “The State is not bound to make reservation for the SCs and STs in promotions. But, if it seeks to do so, it must collect quantifiable data on three facets — the backwardness of the class; the inadequacy of the representation of that class in public employment; and the general efficiency of service as mandated by Article 335 would not be affected”.
- The court ruled that the constitutional amendments do not abrogate the fundamentals of equality.
Constitutional basis- Article 335:
Article 335 recognises that special measures need to be adopted for considering the claims of SCs and STs in order to bring them to a level-playing field.
- Centuries of discrimination and prejudice suffered by the SCs and STs in a feudal, caste-oriented societal structure poses real barriers of access to opportunity.
- The proviso contains a realistic recognition that unless special measures are adopted for the SCs and STs, the mandate of the Constitution for the consideration of their claim to appointment will remain illusory.
The idea of setting up a bad bank to resolve the growing problem of non-performing assets (NPAs), or loans on which borrowers have defaulted, is back on the table.
Concept of Bad Bank:
- A bad bank is a bank set up to buy the bad loans and other illiquid holdings of another financial institution.
- The entity holding significant nonperforming assets will sell these holdings to the bad bank at market price.
- By transferring such assets to the bad bank, the original institution may clear its balance sheet—although it will still be forced to take write-downs.
Why be concerned about bad loans?
- Indian banks’ pile of bad loans is a huge drag on the economy.
- It’s a drain on banks’ profits. Because profits are eroded, public sector banks (PSBs), where the bulk of the bad loans reside, cannot raise enough capital to fund credit growth.
- Lack of credit growth, in turn, comes in the way of the economy’s return to an 8% growth trajectory. Therefore, the bad loan problem requires effective resolution.
- This helps banks or FIs clear-off their balance sheets by transferring the bad loans and focus on its core business lending activities.
- Large debtors have many creditors. Hence bad bank could solve the coordination problem, since debts would be centralised in one agency.
- It can effect speedier settlements with borrowers by cutting out individual banks.
- It can drive a better bargain with borrowers and take more stringent enforcement action against them.
- It can raise money from institutional investors rather than looking only to the Government.
What are the Concerns or demerits of such banks?
Suppose, say for example, a bank sells bad loans. Then, it has to take a haircut because when Rs 100 goes bad, the actual amount that can be expected is lower than Rs 100 and that leads to haircut. When it takes haircut that will impact the P&L (Profit & Loss).
So, till that particular aspect is not addressed, creating a new structure may not be as potent in addressing the problem.
The K V Kamath Committee, has said companies in sectors such as retail trade, wholesale trade, roads and textiles are facing stress.
- Sectors that have been under stress pre-Covid include NBFCs, power, steel, real estate and construction.
- Setting up a bad bank is seen as crucial against this backdrop.
China’s economy grows 2.3%, slowest pace in 44 years
What’s in News?
China’s economy expanded in 2020 by 2.3% – the slowest pace of growth since the end of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in 1976.
- However, China will likely be the only major economy to have avoided a contraction in a pandemic-hit year.
- The government’s long-term plan to rebalance growth and rely more on domestic consumption rather than state-led investment took a hit.
- Efforts to trim the ballooning national debt also took a step backwards.
- A rebound in exports along with a range of stimulus measures (largely led by spending on infrastructure projects) was the main driver of growth in 2020.
- The post-pandemic government support measures helped create 11.86 million new urban jobs.
Indian Star Tortoise
Why in News:
Recently, Indian star tortoises were seized while being smuggled from Andhra Pradesh to Odisha.
- Protection Status:
- Wild Life Protection Act 1972: Schedule IV
- Schedule IV: This list is for species that are not endangered. It includes protected species but the penalty for any violation is less compared to the Schedules I and II.
- Convention on International Trade in Species (CITES): Appendix I
- IUCN Status: Vulnerable
- Wild Life Protection Act 1972: Schedule IV
- Threat: The species faces two threats- loss of habitat to agriculture and illegal harvesting for the pet trade.
- According to the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, 90% of the trade of Star Tortoise occurs as part of the International pet market.
- If their exploitation had continued at a similar pace or had expanded, a decline of greater than 30% was predicted by 2025.
- Conservation Efforts:
- Recently India’s proposal to upgrade the protection status of Star Tortoise from Appendix II to Appendix I was approved by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Government of India strengthens cargo handling capacity of Chabahar Port, Iran.
- India has supplied a consignment of two Mobile Harbour Cranes (MHC) to Iran’s Chabahar port, with a total contract value of over USD 25 Million under a contract agreement for supply of 6 MHC.
- This is a step towards India’s commitment towards infrastructure development of ?Shahid Beheshti Port of Chabahar.
- The bilateral contract between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Republic of India was signed in 2016 with a total value of USD 85 million ?for Equipping, Mechanizing and starting Operations at Shahid Beheshti Port of Chabahar development Phase- I.
- To achieve this ambitious aim, an SPV namely India Ports Global Limited (IPGL), Mumbai was incorporated under the ambit of the Ministry of Ports, ?Shipping and Waterways.
Significance of Chabahar Port to India
- Development of Chabahar port is the anchor for the expansion of economic and mutual relations between India and Iran and it will give a further boost to the maritime trade between both the countries.
- The location of Chabahar Port has strategic advantage and high potential to provide connectivity among India, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and other CIS countries specially Eastern CIS countries to increase trade between these countries.
Imran Khan to visit Sri Lanka
What’s in News?
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka in February 2021.
- He will be the first head of government to visit Sri Lanka since the pandemic struck.
- In December 2020, Islamabad and Colombo held Foreign Secretary-level ‘Bilateral Political Consultations’ virtually.
- Sri Lanka, which has close ties with both Pakistan and India, has seldom commented on Indo-Pak tensions.
- Following the Pulwama attack in February 2019, Sri Lanka said it was deeply concerned about the developments while requesting India and Pakistan to act in a manner that ensures the security, peace and stability of the entire region.
GI tag sought for India’s costliest mushroom
A geographical indication (GI) tag has been sought for one of the costliest mushrooms in the world that grows in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district.
- Locally called Gucchi, or Morel, the mushroom, priced at over Rs 20,000 a kg, is a forest produce collected by local farmers and tribals.
- It is said to have medicinal and anti-inflammatory properties.
- It is found in the temperate forests.
- It is a bilateral Air exercise held between Indian Air Force and French Air and Space Force (Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace).
- The latest edition will be held at Air Force Station Jodhpur.
- It is a bike-based casualty transport emergency vehicle.
- Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Sciences (INMAS), Delhi based DRDO laboratory, handed over Rakshita to Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
- The bike ambulance will help in overcoming the problems faced by Indian security forces and emergency healthcare providers.
Tsari Chu river
- Satellite image shows China built new village in Arunachal.
- The settlements are situated on the banks of Tsari Chu river in Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal.
- The village lies south of the McMahon Line. The McMahon Line demarcates between Tibet and India’s Northeast, which is disputed by China.
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