ASPIRANTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 02 FEB 2022

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

World heritage nomination 2022-2023

GS Paper 2:

  • Dilution of lokayukta powers in kerala
  • Contempt of court:

GS Paper 3:

GS Paper 1

World heritage nomination 2022-2023:

Why in News?

Recently, the Union Ministry of Culture has nominated Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysalas temples for consideration as a World Heritage site for the year 2022-2023.

  • The sacred ensembles of the Hoysalas,built in the 12th-13th centuries and represented by the three components of Belur, Halebid and Somnathapura in Karnataka. All these three Hoysala temples are protected monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • The ‘Sacred Ensembles of the Hoysala’have been on UNESCO’s Tentative list since 15th April, 2014 and stand testimony to the rich historical and cultural heritage of India.
  • Earlier, the UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre (WHC)had agreed to publish Hindi descriptions of India’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the WHC website.

What are the Features of Belur, Halebid, and Somnathapura temples?

  • Chennakeshava Temple, Belur:
    • Construction of the temple commenced in 1117 AD and took 103 years to complete.
  • The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu known as Chennakesava, which means beautiful (chenna) Vishnu (Keshava).
  • The richly sculptured exterior of the temple narrates scenes from the life of Vishnu and his reincarnations and the epics, Ramayana, and Mahabharata.
  • However, some of the representations of Shiva are also included.
  • Hoysaleshwara Temple, Halebidu:
    • The Hoysaleshwara temple at Halebidu is the most exemplary architectural ensemble of the Hoysalas extant today.
    • Built in 1121CE during the reign of the Hoysala King, Vishnuvardhana Hoysaleshwara.
    • The temple, dedicated to Shiva, was sponsored and built by wealthy citizens and merchants of Dorasamudra.
    • The temple is most well-known for the more than 240 wall sculpturesthat run all along the outer wall.
    • Halebid has a walled complex containing three Jaina basadi (temples)of the Hoysala period as well as a stepped well.
  • Keshava Temple, Somanathapura:
    • The Keshava temple at Somanathapura is another magnificent Hoysala monument, perhaps the last.
    • This is a breathtakingly beautiful Trikuta Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna in three forms – Janardhana, Keshava and Venugopala.
    • Unfortunately, the main Keshava idol is missing, and the Janardhana and Venugopala idols are damaged.

What are the Characteristics of Hoysala Architecture?

  • Hoysala architecture is the buildingstyle developed under the rule of the Hoysala Empire between the 11th and 14th centuries, mostly concentrated in southern Karnataka.
  • Hoysala temples are sometimes called hybrid or vesara as their unique styleseems neither completely Dravida nor Nagara, but somewhere in between.
    • The Hoysala temples have a basic Darvidian morphologybut show strong influences of the Bhumija mode widely used in Central India, the Nagara traditions of northern and western India, and the Karntata Dravida modes favoured by the Kalyani Chalukyas.
    • Therefore, the Hoysala architects made considered and informed eclectic selectionsof features from other temple typologies which they further modified and then complemented with their own particular innovations.
    • The result was the birth of a completely novel ‘Hoysala Temple’
  • The Hoysala temples, instead of consisting of a simple inner chamberwith its pillared hall, contain multiple shrines grouped around a central pillared hall and laid out in the shape of an intricately-designed star (stellate-plan).
  • Since they are made out of soapstone which is a relatively soft stone,the artists were able to carve their sculptures intricately. This can be seen particularly in the jewellery of the gods that adorn their temple walls.

What is a World Heritage Site?

        About: Any of various areas or objects inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.

  • The sites are designated as having “outstanding universal value” under the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage 1972.
    • The World Heritage Centre is the Secretariat to the 1972 Convention.
  • It provides a framework for international cooperation in preserving and protecting cultural treasures and natural areas throughout the world.
  • There are three types of sites: Cultural, Natural, and Mixed.
    • Cultural heritage sites include hundreds of historic buildings and town sites, important archaeological sites, and works of monumental sculpture or painting. Example: Dholavira: a Harappan City.
    • Natural heritage sites are restricted to those natural areas that have excellent ecological and evolutionary processes, unique natural phenomena, habitats of rare or endangered species etc. Example: Great Himalayan National Park Conservation Area.
    • Mixed heritage sites contain elements of both natural and cultural significance. Example: Khangchendzonga National Park.
    • No of World Heritage Sites in India: India has 40 world heritage sites, including 32 cultural properties, 7 natural properties and 1 mixed site. Dholavira: a Harappan City is the recent addition.
    • Nomination Process: As per Operational Guidelines, 2019 of UNESCO, it is mandatory to put any monument/site on the Tentative List (TL) for one year before it is considered for the final nomination dossier.
    • Once the nomination is done, it is sent to the World Heritage Centre (WHC), which will do the technical scrutiny of the same.
    • Once the submission is made, UNESCO will communicate back by early March. After that the site evaluation will happen in September /October 2022 and the dossier will be taken up for consideration in July /August 2023.

GS Paper - 2

Dilution of lokayukta powers in kerala:

Why in News?

Recently, the Kerala government has proposed to amend the Kerala Lokayukta Act, 1999 with an ordinance, a move that has drawn criticism from the opposition.

  • The proposed ordinance envisages to limit the powers of the anti-corruption watchdog.

What are the Proposed Changes?

  • The Kerala cabinet has recommended to the Governor that he promulgates the ordinance.
  • The proposal sought to give the government powers to “either accept or reject the verdict of the Lokayukta, after giving an opportunity of being heard”.
  • By this ordinance, the quasi-judicial institution will turn into a toothless advisory body, whose orders will no longer be binding on the government.

What is the Concept of Lokpal and Lokayuktas?

  • The Lokpal and Lokayukta Act, 2013 provided for the establishment of Lokpal for the Union and Lokayukta for States.
  • These institutions are statutory bodies without any constitutional status.
  • They perform the function of an “ombudsman” and inquire into allegations of corruption against certain public functionaries and for related matters.
  • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 provides for establishing a Lokpal headed by a Chairperson, who is or has been a Chief Justice of India, or is or has been a judge of the Supreme Court, or an eminent person who fulfills eligibility criteria as specified.
    • Of its other members, not exceeding eight, 50% are to be judicial members, provided that not less than 50% belong to the SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, or are women.
  • The Lokpal was appointed in March 2019and it started functioning since March 2020 when its rules were framed. The Lokpal is at present headed by former Supreme Court Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose.
  • The Lokpal has jurisdiction to inquire into allegations of corruption against anyone who is or has been Prime Minister, or a Minister in the Union government, or a Member of Parliament, as well as officials of the Union government under Groups A, B, C and D.
  • Also covered are chairpersons, members, officers and directors of any board, corporation, society, trust or autonomous body either established by an Act of Parliament or wholly or partly funded by the Centre.
  • It also covers any society or trust or body that receives foreign contributions above Rs. 10 lakh.

What is the Historical Background of Ombudsman in India?

  • In 1809, the institution of ombudsman was inaugurated officially in Sweden.
  • In the 20thcentury, the Ombudsman as an institution developed and grew most significantly after the Second World War (1939-45).
  • In 1967, on the recommendations of the Whyatt Report of 1961,Great Britain adopted the institution of the ombudsman and became the first large nation in the democratic world to have such a system.
  • In India,the concept of constitutional ombudsman was first proposed by the then law minister Ashok Kumar Sen in parliament in the early 1960s.
  • The terms Lokpal and Lokayukta were coined by Dr. L. M. Singhvi.
  • In 1966, the First Administrative Reforms Commissionrecommended the setting up of two independent authorities- at the central and state level, to look into complaints against public functionaries, including MPs.
  • In 1968, Lokpal bill was passed in Lok Sabhabut lapsed with the dissolution of Lok Sabha and since then it lapsed in the Lok Sabha many times.
  • In 2002, the Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution headed by N. Venkatachaliahrecommended the appointment of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas; also recommended that the PM be kept out of the ambit of the authority.
  • In 2005, the Second Administrative Reforms Commissionchaired by Veerappa Moily recommended that the office of Lokpal should be established without delay.
  • In 2011, social movement “India Against Corruption movement” led by Anna Hazare put pressure on the government at the Centre and resulted in the passing of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill, 2013.

How does Lokayukta Work in the States?

  • Section 63of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 states: “Every state shall establish a body to be known as the Lokayukta for the State, if not so established, constituted or appointed, by a law made by the State Legislature”.
  • It will be created to deal with complaints relating to corruption against certain public functionaries, within a period of one year from the date of commencement of this Act.
    • However, the law is a mere framework, leaving it to the states to decide the specifics.
    • Given that states have autonomy to frame their own laws, theLokayukta’s powers vary from state to state on various aspects, such as tenure, and need of sanction to prosecute officials.
  • When the 2013 Act was passed, Lokayuktas were already functioning in some states – including in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka where they were very active.
    • Following the Act and the intervention of the Supreme Court, most states have now set up a Lokayukta.

Way Forward

  • Battle against corruption, in order to be effective today, can be achieved only through a comprehensive reform of our political, legal, administrative and judicial systems and not through one-off or piece-meal measures.
  • The establishment of an effective Lokpal institution is one such measure.
  • Thus, Lokayuktas should be set up in the states“on the lines of the Lokpal” with “all state government employees, local bodies and the state corporations under their purview”.

Contempt of court:

Context:

          Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana has agreed to immediately list for hearing a petition to initiate contempt action against Haryana authorities for not reining in ‘hooligans’ who have created an ‘atmosphere of communal hatred and terror’ for worshippers offering Friday prayers in Gurugram.

 What’s the issue?

         The petition condemned the inaction of the Haryana officials in violation of a Supreme Court judgment of 2018, which mandated that authorities should not be either silent spectators or tolerate communal violence and should use the law against hate crimes.

 What is Contempt?

 While the basic idea of a contempt law is to punish those who do not respect the orders of the courts, in the Indian context, contempt is also used to punish speech that lowers the dignity of the court and interferes with the administration of justice.

 Contempt of court can be of two kinds:

  1. Civil, that is the willful disobedience of a court order or judgment or willful breach of an undertaking given to a court.
  2. Criminal, that is written or spoken words or any act that scandalises the court or lowers its authority or prejudices or interferes with the due course of a judicial proceeding or interferes/obstructs the administration of justice.

Relevant provisions:

  • Article 129 and 215 of the Constitution of India empowers the Supreme Court and High Court respectively to punish people for their respective contempt.
  • Section 10 of The Contempt of Courts Act of 1971 defines the power of the High Court to punish contempts of its subordinate courts.
  • The Constitution also includes contempt of court as a reasonable restriction to the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19, along with elements like public order and defamation.

GS Paper 3

Highlights of the union budget 2022

Context:

 Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1 presented a budget worth Rs 39.45 lakh crore with massive push to infrastructure spending.

Note: Know about budget, what it means, related constitutional provisions and presentation stages here.

 Now, highlights of the 2022 budget:

 Total spending and Focus:

  • To enhance job creation and boost economic activity.
  • Total government spending will be 4.6 per cent more than the current year and additional support of Rs 1 lakh crore to states has been announced.
  • The total expenditure in 2022-23 is estimated at Rs 39.45 lakh crore, while the total receipts other than borrowings are estimated at Rs 22.84 lakh crore.
  • The outlay for capital expenditure is once again being stepped up sharply by 35.4 per cent from Rs 5.54 lakh crore in the current year to Rs 7.50 lakh crore in 2022-23.

Few observations about the State of the economy:

  • The government projects India’s economy to grow by 9.2 per cent in the current fiscal year.
  • India’s gross domestic product (GDP) in dollar terms has already crossed $3 trillion.
  • Fiscal deficit is projected to be higher at 6.9 per cent this fiscal as against 6.8 per cent estimated earlier. The fiscal deficit of the government for 2022-23 is estimated to be Rs 16,61,196 crore.
  • Soaring inflation levels continue to be a cause of concern for the economy.
  • Foreign exchange reserves stood at $634.287 billion on January 21, providing a cover equivalent to 13 months of imports projected for 2021-22.

 What’s in the budget for infrastructure development?

  • PM GatiShakti National Master Plan will encompass the seven engines for economic transformation, seamless multimodal connectivity and logistics efficiency.
    • The seven engines include roads, railways, airports, ports, mass transport, waterways, and logistics infrastructure. All seven engines will pull forward the economy in unison.
  • 400 new Vande Bharat trains will be introduced and the Railways will also develop new products for small farmers and MSMEs.
  • Integration of postal and railways network facilitating parcel movement was announced.

  • Master plan has been formulated for highways, targets to complete 25,000 km national highways in 2022-23.
  • Sovereign Green Bonds to be issued for mobilizing resources for green infrastructure.
  • Data Centres and Energy Storage Systems to be given infrastructure status.

Agriculture and food processing:

  • Budget allocation for the ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare: Rs 1,32,513 crore for 2022-23 fiscal.
  • ‘Kisan Drones’ to be promoted for crop assessment, digitisation of land records and spraying of insecticides.
  • A fund with blended capital raised under the co-investment model through Nabard will be set up to finance startups and rural enterprises working in agri-space.
  • Zero-budget natural farming: The agriculture universities in the country will be encouraged to include these areas in their syllabus.

 Education:

  • A Digital University would be established to provide access to students across the country for world-class quality universal education.
  • One class one TV channel programme to be expanded to 200 TV channels.
  • Virtual labs and skilling e-labs will be established to promote critical thinking skills and simulated learning environment.
  • The Digital Ecosystem for Skilling and Livelihood – the DESH-Stack e-portal would be launched.

 Healthcare:

  • The health sector has been allocated Rs 86,200.65 crore in the Union Budget.
  • National Tele Mental Health Programme will be launched to improve access to quality mental health counselling and care services.
  • An open platform for National Digital Health Ecosystem will also be rolled out.
  • For the National Health Mission, the budget allocation increased from Rs 36,576 crore in 2021-22 to Rs 37,000 crore in 2022-23.

 Tax proposals:

  • Taxpayers have been allowed a one-time window to correct omissions in income tax returns (ITR). They can file the updated returns within 2 years from the assessment year.
  • 30 per cent tax on income from transfer of virtual digital assets has been proposed.
  • One per cent tax deducted at source (TDS) on transfer of virtual assets above a threshold, gifts would be taxed.

  • Government will soon roll out digital rupee based on blockchain technology.

 Boost for MSMEs:

  • Raising and Accelerating MSME Performance (RAMP) programme will be rolled out with a Rs 6,000 crore outlay spread over 5 years for MSMEs.
  • The Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) that provided much needed additional credit to over 1.3 crore MSMEs will be extended till March 2023 with its guarantee cover expanded by Rs 50,000 crore to Rs 5 lakh crore.

 Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North-East (PM-DevINE):

      New scheme PM-DevINE launched to fund infrastructure and social development projects in the North-East.

  • An initial allocation of Rs. 1,500 crore made to enable livelihood activities for youth and women under the scheme.

Indian Coast Guard (ICG)

Why in News

On 1st February 2022, Indian Coast Guard (ICG) celebrated its 46th Raising Day.

  • ICG was established in August 1978 by the Coast Guard Act, 1978as an independent Armed force of India.
  • As the fourth largest Coast Guard in the world, it has played a significant role in securing the Indian coasts and enforcing regulations in the maritime zones of India.

What are the Functions of ICG?

  • Background:
    • It is an Armed Force, Search and Rescue and Maritime Law Enforcement agency under the Ministry of Defence.
    • It is headquartered in New Delhi.
    • The concept of forming ICG came into being after the 1971 war.
    • The blueprint for a multidimensional Coast Guard was conceived by the visionary Rustamji Committee.
    • For effective command and control, the Maritime Zones of India are divided into five Coast Guard Regions, namely, North-West, West, East, North-East and Andaman & Nicobar, with the respective Regional Headquarters located at Gandhinagar, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Port Blair. .
  • Functions:
    • Preventing Smuggling: One of the primary duties of the ICG is prevention of smuggling through maritime routes.
  • It has jurisdiction over the territorial waters of India including contiguous zone and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
  • It is responsible for marine environment protection in maritime zones of India and is coordinating authority for response to oil spills in Indian waters.
  • Aid to Civil Authority: It has also rescued approximately 13,000 personnel till date during various ‘Aid to Civil Authority’ operations viz. assistance provided to civil authorities during floods, cyclones and other natural calamities; most recently during the recent floods in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa.
    • It is also working in close coordination with Central and State agencies to put in place a robust coastal security mechanism.
  • Maritime Security: It is also collaborating with littoral countries to combat transnational maritime crimes and enhance maritime safety in its area of responsibility and in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • Role in Disaster Management: The ICG has successfully averted major ecological disasters and emerged as the ‘First Responder’ in the region.
  • For example, by undertaking a major fire-fighting and pollution response operation off the Sri Lanka coast, the most recent being ‘Sagar Aaraksha-II’ onboard Chemical carrier MV X-Press Pearl

What is the digital rupee announced by sitharaman in budget

Context:

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced the launch of the Digital Rupee — a central bank digital currency (CBDC) — 2022-23 onwards.

  • The Reserve Bank of India will launch the CBDC from the upcoming financial year.

 What is the CBDC or National Digital currency?

A Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), or national digital currency, is simply the digital form of a country’s fiat currency. Instead of printing paper currency or minting coins, the central bank issues electronic tokens. This token value is backed by the full faith and credit of the government.

 Four major use cases of CBDC in the Indian context:

  1. ‘Fit-for-purpose’ money used for social benefits and other targeted payments in a country. For such cases, the central bank can pay intended beneficiaries pre-programmed CBDC, which could be accepted only for a specific purpose.

 

 

  1. CBDCs could be used for faster cross-border remittance payments. International collaboration among the major economies of the world, including India, could help create the necessary infrastructure and arrangements for CBDC transfer and conversion.
  2. Payment instruments could be made available for payment transactions to be made via CBDC. Furthermore, universal access attributes of a CBDC could also include an offline payment functionality.
  3. Instant lending to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in India can be possible with the help of CBDC.

 Need for CBDC:

  1. An official digital currency would reduce the cost of currency management while enabling real-time payments without any inter-bank settlement.
  2. India’s fairly high currency-to-GDP ratio holds out another benefit of CBDC — to the extent large cash usage can be replaced by CBDC, the cost of printing, transporting and storing paper currency can be substantially reduced.
  3. The need for inter-bank settlement would disappear as it would be a central bank liability handed over from one person to another.

Challenges in rolling out National Digital Currency:

  1. Potential cyber security threat.

 

  1. Lack of digital literacy of population.
  2. Introduction of digital currency also creates various associated challenges in regulation, tracking investment and purchase, taxing individuals, etc.
  3. Threat to Privacy: The digital currency must collect certain basic information of an individual so that the person can prove that he’s the holder of that digital currency.

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