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Government Suspends cross-LoC trade after misuse by smugglers
Paper : General Studies 2, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has suspended the cross-Line of Control trade in Jammu and Kashmir, citing funneling of illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency.
  • The decision will immediately impact around 300 traders and more than 1200 people indirectly.
  • An investigation by National Investigation Agency (NIA) has suggested that a significant number of concerns engaged in the trade are being operated by persons closely associated with banned terrorist organizations.

What is the Line of Control?

  • It is the military controlled line between India and Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
  • It does not constitute a legally recognized international boundary but serves as the de facto border.
  • The LOC is rooted in the ceasefire lines drawn up after the first India-Pakistan war in 1947-8. It was formally established in 1972, after a third war between India and Pakistan in 1971 following the Simla Agreement.
Line of Control

Line of Control

What has been the status of trade between India and Pakistan?

  • Pakistan Imports from India was US$1.7 Billion during 2017, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.
  • Total trade between the two nations stood at $2.4 billion in 2017-18 accounting for 0.31% of India’s global trade.
  • The main items India imports are fresh fruits, cement, petroleum products, bulk minerals and ores and finished leather.
  • The major exports to Pakistan include raw cotton, cotton yarn, chemicals, plastics, manmade yarn and dyes.
  • Two trade facilitation centres have been set up at Salamabad (Uri) and Chakkan-da-Bagh (Poonch). The trade here was based on the barter system and zero duty basis.
  • India withdrew the MFN status for Pakistan after the Pulwama Attacks in 2019. For more on MFN status see Current Affairs of April 17.

 

CSIR Plans Genome Sequencing to Map Population Diversity
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has announced that it will map the genome sequence of nearly 1000 rural youth from across the country.
  • This project is an adjunct to a much larger government-led programme, still in the works, to sequence at least 10,000 Indian genomes.

What is genome sequencing?
Genome sequencing is figuring out the order of DNA nucleotides, or bases, in a genome—the order of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts that make up an organism’s DNA. The human genome is made up of over 3 billion of these genetic letters.

What are the benefits of genome sequencing?

  • The primary purpose of sequencing the genome is to obtain information of medical value for future care.
  • It can help determine which drug can be used to treat which disease for a specific individual or a community based on the sequence of drugs.
  • It can also help in determining the probability of genetic disorders in future generations.

 

Travelling Abroad a basic right, says SC
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • Hearing an appeal filed by an IPS officer who was refused permission to take a private trip abroad to visit relatives as he had a departmental enquiry pending against him, the SC observed that the right to travel abroad is a genuine and basic human right like marriage and family.
  • According to the SC, it nourishes independent and self-determining creative character of the individual, not only by extending his freedoms of action, but also by extending the scope of his experience.
  • The SC referred to its Maneka Gandhi judgement upholding the right to travel and the US Supreme Court case of 1958 in Kent versus Dulles.

What was the Maneka Gandhi judgement?

  • Passport Act, 1967 empowers the authorities to impound the passport of certain individual if such action is necessary in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of India, friendly relations of India with any foreign country, or general public.
  • The reasons of such impoundment are also to be communicated the affected party however in the interests of the general public these reasons can be withheld.
  • In the immediate case the authorities on July 4,1977 issued a notice of impoundment of the passport of Petitioner (Maneka Gandhi) who was a known journalist citing reasons as in the interest of general public.
  • As soon as the petitioner got the notice of such impound she reverted back to the authorities asking for specific detailed reasons as to why her passport shall be impounded.
  • The authorities however, answered that the reasons are not to be specified in the interest of the general public.
  • Therefore, the petitioner approached Supreme Court u/a 32 for the enforcement of Fundamental Right mentioned u/a 14 against the arbitrary action of the authorities.
  • The petition was further amended and enforcement of Article 21 i.e. Protection of Life & Personal Liberty, Article 19(1)(a) i.e. Right to freedom of speech & Article 19(1)(g) i.e. Right to freedom of Movement

Though the judgement is quite extensive, the major points pertaining to the present discussion are as follows:

  • The right to travel abroad as held in Satwant Singh is within the scope of guarantees mentioned under Article 21.
  • The rights discussed under 19(1)(a) – Right to Freedom of Speech & 19(1)(g) – Right to Freedom of Movement are not confined to the territorial limits of India.

 

Control Samples for Imported Drugs may be made mandatory
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • The Drug Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) has recommended amendment to Rule 26 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 which deals with conditions under import licences.
  • The proposed change is that the licensee shall maintain reference samples from each batch of the drugs imported by him in a quantity which is at least twice the quantity required to conduct all the tests performed in the batch.

Why is it needed?

  • Such rules only exist for domestic drug producers and not for imported drugs.
  • So, if there is any spurious, misbranded or sub-standard drugu found in the market, it becomes very difficult to verify the authenticity of such drugs as the control samples are not available with the license holder.
  • This action was recommended after Johnson and Johnson was found supplying faulty hip implants in India.

 

Plea in SC on voting rights of undertrials and convicts
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?
SC is hearing a plea questioning a section of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 which denies undertrials and convicts the right to vote. The petition has been moved under Article 32 of the Constitution.

What is the issue?

  • Section 62(5) of the RPA, 1951 mandates that no person shall vote at any election if he is confined in a prison, whether under a sentence of imprisonment or transportation or otherwise, or is in the lawful custody of police
  • Thus, the section does not make any difference between a convict and an undertrial and runs contrary to the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty by law.
  • However, if a person is out on bail, he/she can cast a vote.
  • Also, a person under preventive detention is allowed to vote.
  • Right to vote in not a fundamental right.

 

 

Helpline to curb mob violence and noise pollution introduced
Paper : General Studies 2

Why in news?

  • Delhi Police have launched two helpline numbers – 155270, 155271 for mob violence and noise pollution related complaints.
  • These will be available 24 x 7.

Why were they introduced?

  • SC had directed that a response system be introduced to prevent instances of loss of life as well as public and private property during incidents of mob violence.
  • The NGT had given a similar directive regarding noise pollution following which 155271 helpline number was introduced.

 

 

Before ‘Oumuamua visit, another interstellar object hit Earth
Paper : Prelims Specific, General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • Oumuamua was the first known object from outside the Solar System to do a fly-by of Earth. It was discovered in late 2017 by the PAN-STARSS telescope at the Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii.
  • Harvard University astronomer Abraham Loeb made headlines recently by suggesting that ‘Oumuamua might have been part of an alien spacecraft.
  • Now, Loeb and a colleague, Amir Siraj, have proposed that before ‘Oumuamua, there may have been another recent interstellar visitor — a meteor from another solar system may have actually hit Earth in 2014. It burned up in the atmosphere and fell into the South Pacific

Why is this significant?

The extent of the solar system makes it quite rare that interstellar objects are detected. Almost all the observed asteroids have their origin within the solar system. So, the detection of Oumuamua was a rare find.

 

IT Department proposes new norms for taxing MNCs with Permanent Indian Base
Paper : General Studies 3

Why in news?

  • The income tax department proposed change in the methodology for taxing multinational companies, including digital firms, having permanent establishment in India.
  • The CBDT Committee on ‘Profit Attribution to Permanent Establishment (PE) in India’ also said MNCs that are incurring global losses or a global profit margin of less than 2 per cent and have operations in India will be deemed to have made a profit of 2 percent of Indian revenue or turnover and will be taxed accordingly.
  • The CBDT committee report has proposed that sales, employees (manpower and wages) and assets in India of a multinational corporations (MNCs) should be taken into account for determining domestic tax liability.

Why was this done?

  • The committee noted the need to protect India’s revenue interests in cases where an enterprise having global losses or a global profit margin of less than 2 per cent, continues with the Indian operations, which could be more profitable than its operations elsewhere.
  • The continuation of Indian operations justifies the presumption of higher profitability of Indian operations, and in such cases, a deeming provision that deems profits of Indian operations at 2 percent of revenue or turnover derived from India should be introduced.

What is the CBDT?

  • The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is a part of Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance.
  • The CBDT provides inputs for policy and planning of direct taxes in India, and is also responsible for administration of direct tax laws through the IT Department.
  • The CBDT is a statutory authority functioning under the Central Board of Revenue Act, 1963.
  • The officials of the Board in their ex officio capacity also function as a division of the Ministry of Finance dealing with matters relating to levy and collection of direct taxes.
  • The CBDT is headed by Chairman and also comprises six members, all of whom are ex officio Special Secretary to the Government of India.