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Daily Current Affairs

17-October-2023

1. SC refers electoral bonds case to 5-judge Constitution Bench.

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity

Context:

  • Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud has swiftly referred the challenge to the validity of the electoral bonds scheme to a Constitution Bench of five judges.
  • The move to a five-judge Bench is based on the “importance of the issue,” and the case is scheduled for listing on October 31.
  • The case, pending for over eight years in the Supreme Court, will now proceed for resolution.

Why is issue pending in Supreme Court?

The issue related to the validity of the electoral bonds scheme has been pending in the Supreme Court for several years due to various legal and procedural complexities. Some of the reasons for the prolonged delay include:

  • Complex Legal Questions: The case involves intricate legal and constitutional queries related to political funding, transparency, and their implications for democratic processes.
  • Challenges and Counterarguments: Various stakeholders, including the government, political parties, and civil society organizations, have presented multiple legal challenges and counterarguments in the case. These disputes have extended the legal process.
  • Constitutional Matters: Matters related to political funding and electoral procedures often touch upon constitutional issues, demanding in-depth scrutiny to ensure alignment with the Constitution.
  • Importance of the Issue: The electoral bonds scheme holds substantial importance as it directly influences political finance and transparency within the democratic system. Recognizing its significance, the Supreme Court has approached the case with careful consideration.

Question: Discuss the concept of electoral bonds in India, highlighting their purpose, advantages, and controversies surrounding their use in political funding.

 

2. Palliative care, a way to reduce financial distress for people with life limiting diseases

Topic: GS3 – Health sector

Context:

  • High healthcare costs in India often drive individuals into poverty, particularly for those with non-communicable diseases requiring lifelong treatment.

Individual health expenses in India:

  • With only 1.35% of the GDP allocated to government health services, patients bear most health expenses, including travel, medicines, and lost wages.
  • Continual treatment for diseases like cancer or diabetes can lead to ‘financial toxicity,’ potentially resulting in bankruptcy, decreased treatment satisfaction, and a diminished quality of life.
  • Palliative care, focusing on improving the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses, can alleviate financial burdens and reduce health expenditures by up to 25%.
  • However, awareness and access to palliative care in India remain low, and it is not widely covered by insurance schemes.
  • Integrating palliative care into the Indian healthcare system, with consistent funding and provisions in public health centers, could save money, benefit patients, and generate goodwill for healthcare providers.

3. Gaganyaan’s test flight to commence at 7 a.m. on Oct. 21

Topic: GS3 – Space exploration

Context:

  • The Gaganyaan mission’s Flight Test Vehicle Abort Mission-1 (TV-D1) is scheduled for October 21, 2023, between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
  • The TV-D1 test flight aims to demonstrate the performance of the Crew Escape System, a critical component for astronaut safety.

About Gaganyaan:

  • Gaganyaan is India’s ambitious human spaceflight program, aiming to send Indian astronauts into space.
  • The program is overseen by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
  • It aims to send three astronauts to space for a minimum of seven days.
  • Gaganyaan’s objectives include demonstrating India’s capability to send humans to space, conducting experiments in microgravity, and enhancing space technology.
  • The program includes the development of a crew module for housing astronauts and a launch vehicle for the mission.
  • Gaganyaan is expected to contribute to advancements in space medicine, life support systems, and space-related research.
  • Gaganyaan will make India the fourth country to send humans into space, after the Soviet Union, the United States, and China.

4. Enforcement Directorate Contemplates Adding AAP in Money Laundering Case

Topic: Polity

Context:

  • The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) may be held accountable in a money laundering case involving the former excise policy of the Delhi government.
  • This action has prompted inquiries concerning the legal framework that would apply to this action as well as how a political party could be charged with money laundering.

Understanding the Legal Provisions

Section 70 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA):

  • This section covers violations committed by companies.
  • It specifies that if a person in charge of and accountable for a corporation violates the terms of the PMLA, they will be found guilty of the violation and subject to punishment.
  • A critical explanation in the section defines “company” broadly to include a corporation or other group of individuals, even though a political party is not a company registered under the 2013 Companies Act.
  • This broad definition might include a political party

Definition of a Political Party:

  • A political party is defined as any association or group of Indian individuals who identify themselves as political parties under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act.

Political Parties in Money Laundering Cases:

  • While this would mark the first time a political party has been explicitly charged with money laundering under the PMLA, political parties have previously been charged with crimes and subject to investigations under the Income Tax Act.
  • Additionally, the PMLA has previously applied to trusts and NGOs.

5. Food inflation likely to remain elevated, seen above 6% in H2

Topic: Economy

Context:

  • A significant decrease in tomato prices in September caused the headline Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation to drop from 6.83 percent in August to 5.02 percent.
  • The experts warn that there are still threats to food costs, and they expect retail-food inflation to continue above the 6 percent level for the remainder of the current fiscal year.

What is Headline Inflation?

  • Headline inflation is the raw inflation figure reported through the Consumer Price Index (CPI) that is released monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • The CPI calculates the cost to purchase a fixed basket of goods to determine how much inflation is occurring in the broad economy.
  • The CPI uses a base year and indexes the current year’s prices, according to the base year’s values.
  • The headline inflation rate is not changed to exclude extremely erratic values, such as those that can change regardless of the state of the economy.
  • Changes in the cost of living are frequently strongly correlated with headline inflation, which gives customers in the market vital information.

Impact of Monsoon and Reservoir Levels

  • Low reservoir levels and the unpredictable monsoon are predicted to have a moderate impact on agricultural output, particularly paddy, pulses, oilseeds, and spices.
  • In the near future, this could lead to increased inflationary pressures.
  • East and northeast India, followed by south India, experienced particularly low rainfall during the southwest monsoon season, which ended in September.
  • Only 94.4 percent of the long-period average (LPA) of rainfall was obtained from June to September, signifying a below normal” monsoon.

6. Rupee at all-time low against dollar as oil, other currencies rise

Topic: Economy

Context:

  • The Indian rupee’s closing value against the US dollar was 83.28, an all-time low.

  • The rise in crude oil prices and the weakness seen in other Asian currencies were the main causes of this loss.

Factors Influencing the Rupee’s Performance

Crude Oil Prices: As high oil prices can affect India’s current account deficit and foreign exchange reserves, they played a role in the fall of the rupee.

Weakness in Asian Currencies: Asian currencies were under strain, with the Korean won suffering large losses. The rupee also came under pressure.

RBI’s role: Experts predict that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) may intervene and sell US dollars to limit the rupee’s appreciation past the 83.30 level. The RBI’s measures have helped to keep the rupee’s decline in check.

Impact of Geopolitical Tensions

  • Oil prices saw an increase of over 5 percent due to concerns about escalating geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

7. Telangana youth joblessness highest; Rajasthan, Mizoram over national avg

Topic: GS3-Economy

Context:

  • According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), the rate for youth unemployment in India among those aged 15 to 29 fell from 12.4% in 2021–2022 to 10% in 2022–2033.
  • This encouraging trend is not widespread, though, as the youth unemployment rate was greater in about 24 states and union territories (UTs) than it was nationwide.

State-wise Variations

  • Except for Chhattisgarh (7.1%) and Madhya Pradesh (4.4%), all of the five states that will have elections in 2022-23 had youth unemployment rates that were higher than the national average (12.5%).
  • Rajasthan had a 12.5% youth unemployment rate, Telangana had a 15.1% rate, and Mizoram had an 11.9% rate.
  • Youth unemployment rates rose in Chhattisgarh and Telangana from the previous year, reaching 6.7% and 14.2%, respectively, in 2021–22. However, the rates of youth unemployment decreased in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Mizoram.

Gender Disparities:

  • Data for 2022–23 also demonstrates gender differences in youth unemployment.
  • The youth unemployment rates for women were higher than the general unemployment rates in Telangana and Mizoram, at 16.2% and 16.4%, respectively.
  • Women saw lower unemployment rates than men in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh.

Urban Unemployment

  • The overall urban unemployment rate in India declined to 6.6%, the lowest level since the PLFS bulletin’s debut in 2018, according to the most recent PLFS bulletin for April–June 2023.
  • The national average for urban unemployment was exceeded by approximately 14 states, including Rajasthan (11.7%) and Chhattisgarh (11.2%).

Way forward:

  • The report emphasises the need for targeted employment initiatives and interventions to address this issue by highlighting differences in youth unemployment across Indian states.

 

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