Sarat Chandra IAS Academy

Current Affairs – 1st July 2023



Today Topics List:

  1. Amarnath Yatra

  2. Status of EL Nino and rainfall for July: IMD

  3. N Governor – state Cabinet tussle:

  4. Twitter’s petition on Centre’s blocking orders:

  5. Solicitor general

  6. India urges adherence to 2016 ruling favouring Philippines in the South China Sea

  7. Pakistan – IMF

  8. Curb Tomato Inflation

  9. Tur Dal, Stock limits & Inflation

  10. Dark Patterns in Online advertisements




Amarnath Yatra

    • Dedicated to Lord Shiva and situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder Valley 3,888 m, 46 km from Pahalgam and 14 kms from Baltal above seal level, Shri Amaranth Cave is one of the holiest of Shrines for Hindus.
      • It is a pilgrimage circuit, which is open for two months every year.
      • Though the original pilgrimages subscribes that the yatra (journey) be undertaken from Srinagar,
      • The more common practice is to begin journey at Chandanwari, and cover the distance to Amarnathji and back in five days.
      • Pahalgam is 96 Kms from Srinagar.
    • Multiple rings of security have been thrown around the the Amarnath Shrine in Kashmir, a day ahead of the 62 day long pilgrimage starting from twin bases of Pahalgam and Sonamarg.
    • On July 10, 2017, a group of terrorists opened fire on a bus carrying Amarnath yatra pilgrims near Batengoo in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
      • Hence, Security is most important feature of the Amarnath Yatra since then.



Status of EL Nino and rainfall for July: IMD

    • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on June 30 forecast ‘normal’ rainfall in July, which usually receives the maximum amount of rain among the monsoon months.
      • This means it will be within 6% of the 28 cm that is usual for the month.
      • Normal to above normal rainfall is most likely over most parts of central India and adjoining south peninsular and east India.
      • below normal rainfall is most likely over many parts of northwest, northeast and southeast peninsular India.
    • The forecast is significant given that this is expected to be an El Nino year, which most often leads to below normal rainfall in India.
    • July is also the month when sowing of the kharif crop, particularly rice, peaks.
      • Rainfall in this period significantly influences agricultural output.
    • This year, Cyclone Biparjoy obstructed the normal onset of the monsoon over Kerala and contributed to depressed rainfall over most parts of the country.
      • Central India has received 6% less rainfall that what is usual for the region in June and southern India close to 45% less.
      • June, overall, has witnessed 10% less rainfall than what is normal for the month.
    • Past data suggested that in most of the recent El Nino years, June rainfall was normal. In 16 of the 25 years when June rainfall was ‘below normal,’ July rainfall was ‘normal’.



N Governor – state Cabinet tussle:

Retired Judges view point:

  • Madras High court retired Judge K. Chandru :the Governor can neither dismiss the Minister unilaterally nor can he seek Attorney General’s opinion on the issue.
    • The Constitution does not empower the Governor to dismiss a Minister without a request emanating from the Chief Minister who alone could decide upon the members of his Cabinet and take a call on inclusion or exclusion. 
    • Article 164(1) of the Constitution, which states that the Governor shall appoint the Chief Minister and that other Ministers shall be appointed on the advice of the Chief Minister.
    • It was similar toArticle 75(1) that deals with the appointment of the Prime Minister by the President and other Ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister.
    • While interpreting Article 75(1), the Supreme Court in Manoj Narula versus Union of India (2014) refused to add a disqualification prohibiting legislators with “criminal antecedents” from being sworn in as Ministers. 
    • A five-judge Bench had left it to the wisdom of the Prime Minister to take a call in accordance with the constitutional expectations from him/her.
    • In that verdict, Justice Misra wrote: “At this stage, we must hasten to add what we have said for the Prime Minister is wholly applicable to the Chief Ministers too, regard being had to the language employed in Article 164(1) of the Constitution.
    • Therefore, the law as on date is that none but the Chief Minister could decide the members of his Cabinet.
  • Hariparanthaman, Former Madras High court judge: Article 191 of the Constitution provided for the disqualification of a MLA only in five contingencies, which include
    • Holding of an office of profit,
    • Being of unsound mind,
    • Becoming an undischarged insolvent,
    • Renouncing citizenship and
    • Getting disqualified under any Central law.
  • The only Central law that provides for such disqualification is the Representation of the People Act of 1951, which too insists that a legislator would suffer disqualification only if he gets convicted in a criminal case and imposed with a sentence of two years or more.
    • Apart from these instances, the Governor has no power whatsoever to remove a Minister from the Cabinet.
    • A person could not be presumed to be guilty merely because of a case having been registered against him and such a pending case could not be cited by the Governor as a reason for dismissing a Minister as long as the laws of the land were very clear and do not authorise the Governor to do so.
  • Twitter’s petition on Centre’s blocking orders:
    • The High Court of Karnataka dismissed a petition filed by Twitter, challenging several blocking orders issued by the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on the ground that it is ‘devoid of merits’.
    • Justice Krishna S. Dixit also imposed a cost of ₹50 lakh on Twitter citing its conduct of approaching the court without complying with the Central Government’s orders. 
      • The costs are to be paid within 45 days to the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority.
      • The court also said that ₹5,000 would have to be paid for every day that the payment is delayed.
    • Referring to the blocking orders issued by the Union Ministry under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, Twitter claimed, in its petition, that the orders ‘fall foul of Section 69A, both substantially and procedurally’, and that no notice was issued by the Union Ministry to these account-holders.
      • Twitter had further argued that the Central Government is not empowered to issue general orders calling for blocking of social media accounts, and that the orders must contain reasons, which should be communicated to users.
    • On the other hand, the Centre had contended that Twitter, being a foreign company, cannot invoke the fundamental rights guaranteed to Indian citizens and companies under the Constitution of India.
      • It also pointed out that Twitter cannot speak on behalf of its account-holders and, therefore, it had no locus standi to file the petition.


Solicitor general

    • The appointment committee of the Union Cabinet approved reappointment of Tushar Mehta as Solicitor General of India for three years.
      • The committee also approved the re appointment of six additional solicitor generals of India for the same period.
      • The Solicitor general and Additional Solicitor generals assist Attorney General in the fulfilment of his/her official responsibilities.
      • It should be noted here that only the office of Attorney general is mentioned in the Constitution and not Solicitor and additional solicitor generals. Their appointment is purely statutory.



India urges adherence to 2016 ruling favouring Philippines in the South China Sea

    • As negotiations continue between China and the ASEAN bloc for a code of conduct in the South China Sea — which diplomatic sources described as a “complex exercise” involving 11 countries.
      • India called for adherence to the 2016 arbitration decision in favour of the Philippines, which has been rejected by China.
      • Both underlined the need for peaceful settlement of disputes and for adherence to international law, especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea in this regard.
    • The Philippines had instituted an arbitration proceeding against China in the Permanent Court of Arbitration under UNCLOS on January 22, 2013.
      • The court ruled in favour of Manila on July 12, 2016, but this was rejected by China, which had called it “null and void.”
      • China, which claims rights to most of the resource-rich South China Sea upto the nine-dash line, has become more assertive in recent years, leading to flare-ups in the region.
    • On the ongoing negotiations on a code of conduct, the source said that it involved a lot of details and 11 countries.
      • Though it has a common agenda, ASEAN does not have a common stance on all issues, given the differing views of its member nations.
    • The 2016 arbitral ruling, the anniversary of which is in two weeks, the source noted that China does not recognise the ruling and did not participate in the deliberations at The Hague. 
      • The ruling is final but it cannot be enforced and so the only way to deal with that is to seek support for the ruling from other countries and make it clear that it is consistent with the rule of law and consistent with
      • It is also important to get a positive view on the usefulness of the arbitral ruling.
      • Manila is trying to send as many assets there as possible, to show that it is the Philippines’ Exclusive Economic Zone, even while stressing that it “doesn’t want a conflict” but only wants to “assert its rights and protect its fishermen”.
    • In November 2022, addressing the ASEAN plus defence ministers’ meeting in Cambodia, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh expressed the hope that the ongoing negotiations for a code in the South China Sea would be fully consistent with international law, in particular, UNCLOS


Pakistan – IMF

    • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has agreed to provide $3 billion to Pakistan in badly needed relief to help bail out the impoverished country’s ailing economy.
      • The nine-month agreement must be approved by the IMF’s Executive Board, which is expected to make a final decision in mid-July.
    • Pakistan’s economy has faced several heavy blows recently, such as the devastating floods last summer that killed 1,739 people, caused $30 billion in damage and impacted millions of Pakistanis.
      • The country was also hit by an international commodity price spike in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
      • Despite the authorities’ efforts to reduce imports and the trade deficit, reserves have declined to very low levels and liquidity conditions in the power sector also remain acute.
      • Given these challenges, the new arrangement would provide a policy anchor and a framework for financial support from multilateral and bilateral partners in the period ahead.
    • The proposed package is higher than what Pakistan was expecting as it awaited the release of a remaining tranche from a 2019 bailout of $6 billion that expired on Friday. 



Curb Tomato Inflation

    • The Centre on June 30 announced a ‘Tomato Grand Challenge Hackathon’ in New Delhi, requesting the public to suggest innovative ideas to reduce the tomato prices, surging over the past few weeks
      • A similar exercise was done when onion prices increased some time ago.
      • The hackathon has been formulated by the Department of Consumer Affairs in collaboration with Education Ministry’s Innovation Cell.
      • The ideas could be on tomato value chain to ensure its availability to the consumers at affordable prices and help farmers get value for the produce.
    • The cycle of planting and harvesting seasons and the variation across regions are primarily responsible for price seasonality in tomato. Apart from the normal price seasonality, temporary supply chain disruptions and crop damage due to adverse weather conditions etc. often led to sudden spike in prices

Tur Dal, Stock limits & Inflation

      • Facing a sharp rise in toor dal prices amid lower production, India will import 12 lakh tonne of the pulse in the current fiscal, up by 35% from the last year, to boost domestic availability and contain price rise.
        • The issue in toor (pigeon peas) is lower domestic production.
        • The country’s toor production remained lower at 30 lakh tonne in the 2022-23 crop year (July-June) against 39 lakh tonne last year.
        • Domestic consumptionin India is around 44-45 lakh tonnes. So, every year we have to import more
        • Imports are undertaken from Myanmar and East African countries.
        • The crop in East African countries will start arriving in August, so the domestic prices will cool down eventually.
      • To check the prices of toor, government had taken several measures.
        • The stock limit imposed on traders, millers and importers on June 2 has helped bring down the prices of toor.
        • The government has also decided to offload 50,000 tonne from the buffer stock in the market, and this will also ease pressure on the rates.


Dark Patterns in Online advertisements

    • Concerned over the increasing ‘dark patterns’ of
      • misleading advertisements,
      • creating false urgency,
      • confirm-shaming,
      • forced action,
      • subscription traps and
      • nagging on online platforms, the Union Consumer Affairs Ministry has decided to issue specific guidelines to control it.
    • Government urged consumers to flag such manipulative online practices on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH) by calling ‘1915’ or through a WhatsApp message to 8800001915.
      • Govt asked online platforms to refrain from adopting ‘dark patterns’ harming consumer interest.
      • several governments across the globe have defined ‘dark patterns’ and brought in strict laws against them. 
      • The provisions of the Consumer Protection Act are enough to curb it, but said the Centre will bring specific guidelines as the menace has increased along with the expansion of the Internet in the country.
    • Dark patterns’ distort consumer autonomy using a design architecture that tricks or influences consumers to make choices not in their best interest.
      • Secretary of the Ministry of Consumer affairs, Rohit Kumar Singh, wrote a letter to all major online platforms advising them not to engage in ‘unfair trade practices’ by incorporating ‘dark patterns’ in their online interface to manipulate consumer choice and violate consumer rights as enshrined under Section 2(9) of the Consumer Protection Act.
    • Tactics such as false urgency which creates a sense of urgency or scarcity to pressure consumers into making a purchase or taking an action and basket sneaking, the technique to add additional products or services to the shopping cart without user consent are used widely to lure customers.
    • Subscription traps, the tactic that makes it easy for consumers to sign up for a service but difficult for them to cancel it, and hiding additional costs, particularly by travel and tourism websites, have also come under the Ministry’s radar.
    • With growing penetration of Internet and rising smartphone usage in India, consumers are increasingly choosing e-commerce as the preferred mode of shopping, it is essential that online platforms do not indulge in ‘unfair trade practices’ by incorporating ‘dark patterns’ which result in a harmful or undesirable outcome for the consumer.

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