Daily Current Affairs for 28th October 2020

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Now, outsiders can buy land in J&K


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

People as well as investors outside Jammu and Kashmir can now purchase land in the Union Territory (UT) as the Centre notified new land laws for the region, ending the exclusive rights of locals over the land granted under now abrogated Article 370.

Key details

  • Under the newly introduced J&K Development Act, the term “being permanent resident of the State” as a criterion has been “omitted”, paving the way for investors outside J&K to invest in the UT.
  • The Centre has been arguing that Article 370 hampered development in the U.T. as investors were unable to purchase land prior to August 5, 2019.

Laws for Ladakh soon

  • The Centre is likely to notify separate land laws for the UT of Ladakh soon.
  • Under the ‘transfer of land for the purpose of promotion of healthcare or education’, the government may now allow transfer of land “in favour of a person or an institution for the purpose of promotion of healthcare or senior secondary or higher or specialized education in J&K”.

The Jammu & Kashmir Land Revenue Act, Samvat, 1996

  • According to amendments made to “The Jammu & Kashmir Land Revenue Act, Samvat, 1996”, only agriculturists of J&K can purchase agricultural land.
  • No sale, gift, exchange, or mortgage of the land shall be valid in favour of a person who is not an agriculturist.
  • The Restriction on Conversion of Agricultural Land and Process for Permission of Non-Agriculture clause, however, puts conditions on the use of agricultural land.
  • No land used for agriculture purposes shall be used for any non-agricultural purposes except with the permission of the district collector.
  • Under a new provision, an Army officer not below the rank of Corps Commander can declare an area as “Strategic Area” within a local area, only for direct operational and training requirements of the armed forces.
  • The introduction of the UT of J&K Reorganisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third Order, 2020 by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has resulted in the repeal of at least 11 land laws in vogue in J&K earlier, including the J&K Big Landed Estates Abolition Act that had resulted in famous ‘Land to tiller’ rights.


  • President Ram Nath Kovind promulgated Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019, which states that provisions of the Indian Constitution are applicable in the State. This effectively takes away the autonomy of the State.
  • However, Article 370 is still in force. In fact, the Presidential Order exercises the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 370 of the Constitution.
  • So far, the Parliament had only residuary powers of legislation in J&K such as enacting laws related to anti-terror, taxation on foreign and inland travel, and communication.
  • Now every law enacted by Parliament is applicable in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh as well.

Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019

  • The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019 is an act of the Parliament of India containing provisions to reconstitute the State of Jammu and Kashmir, a part of the larger region of Kashmir which has been the subject of dispute among India, Pakistan, and China since 1947, into two union territories called Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, on 31 October 2019.
  • A bill for the act was introduced by the Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah, in the Rajya Sabha on 5 August 2019 and was passed on the same day.
  • It was then passed by the Lok Sabha on 6 August 2019 and it received the President’s assent on 9 August 2019

Big task ahead for DG as paroled inmates set to return


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

With over 6,800 inmates, who were released on interim bail or parole, set to surrender again following a Delhi High Court’s decision last week, the total population of the prisons is likely to reach an unprecedented 22,000, which may become unmanageable owing to the present COVID-19 situation.

Key details

  • Director General (Prisons) Sandeep Goel has informed a high-powered committee (HPC) set up to look into decongesting jails pursuant to the COVID-19 outbreak, that till date only on one occasion the maximum population of Delhi prisons has touched 18,000.
  • The development came following an HC decision on October 23 to end its blanket order extending all interim stays and bails granted during the lockdown as the situation has improved.

Significant number

  • The DG (Prison) told the committee that at present, the total population of inmates inside the jails was around 15,800. He informed that owing to the High Court order, over 2,300 under trial prisoners (UTPs) or convicts will surrender by November 13, raising the population of inmates significantly.

Constitutional angle

  • ‘Prisons’/’persons detained therein’ is a State subject under Entry 4 of List II of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India.
  • Administration and management of prisons is the responsibility of respective State Governments. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs provides regular guidance and advice to States and UTs on various issues concerning prisons and prison inmates.

Justice Amitava Roy Committee

  • The apex court, on September 25, 2018, directed to constituted a three-member committee headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice Amitava Roy to look into issues of reforms in prison administration and management.
  • The court also set the “Terms of Reference” of the committee and asked it to submit its recommendation on priority on three issues:
  1. Implementation of the Guidelines contained in the Model Prison Manual 2016;
  2. Implementation of the Parliamentary Committee report ‘Women in Detention and Access to Justice’ and
  • advisory issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs; and Review of two training manuals for prison personnel prepared by Bureau of Police Research & Development.

Prison conditions in India

  • The India Justice Report 2019 highlighted the grim data on the prison conditions in India.
  • As per the report, prisons in India are overcrowded with a 114 per cent occupancy rate where 17 out of 36 state and union territories have prison occupancy of 100 per cent. As per the data, Delhi prisons are most occupied with 180 per cent occupancy rate.
  • The report found vacancies to be a major challenge in the three institutions of the criminal justice system, namely police, prisons and the judiciary.
  • The report said that there are only 621 correctional staff across India’s 1421 prisons with the lowest in Uttar Pradesh with only one sanctioned correctional staff for 95,366 inmates.
  • The report stated India ranked 15th out of 217 countries in under-trial incarceration.
  • Despite several judgements and directions of the Supreme Court and numerous recommendations of the various Committees on prison reform, the conditions in prisons in India continue to deteriorate.
  • State of prisons also reflects the paradox exists in the Indian criminal justice system. The key to prison reforms lies in the parallel reforms in the two other pillars of the criminal justice system, i.e. the judiciary and police.

Elephant skeleton, Chinese pots foundation temple cellar


Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

A recent attempt to restore the Thiruvayamkudy Mahadeva temple, near Kaduthuruthy, Kottayam, appears to have brought to light an interesting facet of history associated with the centuries-old structure.

Key details

  • The temple authorities have unearthed several objects, including the skeleton of an elephant, its chain and other wooden articles from a basement in the temple complex here.
  • The articles were found hidden underneath the vegetative growth inside the cellar, which is about 5-ft deep from the ground and can hold only one person at a time.
  • Several wooden articles, Chinese pots of different sizes and lamps made of bell metal too have been recovered from the vault.
  • A team of forest officials visited the location and commenced efforts to conduct radiocarbon dating of the animal’s remnants.
  • The elders have passed on information about a mozha (Makhna) elephant that died here over a century ago. The animal is believed to have been cremated in a property just outside the temple complex and some of its bones and chain might have made their way into the vault

Thiruvayamkudy Mahadeva Temple

  • The history of the temple or its origin could be dated back as early as 1000 AD.
  • The main idol is a Shivalingam, supposed to have appeared on its own in the homagni (sacred fire) in a Brahmin’s house at Ayamkudy.
  • This Brahmin (Namboothiri) was an ardent devotee of Vaikathappan (Lord Shiva), the main deity of the famous temple at Vaikom.
  • There seem to have been seven Ooranma families (owners) of the temple; however, only five still have living members.
  • The temple houses a Rahasya Ara (secret cabin) where the divine power is located. This is considered a reservoir for the power of the idol.
  • The cabin is well protected with granite stones.
  • There is also a water well, with a perennial spring of cool water. This believed to have a connection with the Ganges, originating from the divine head of Lord Shiva.
  • The Ayamkudy village has been a center for learning Rig Veda, with many experts resident in the village. Education in the Rig Veda takes nearly seven years; the coaching was always associated with the temple.
  • Until recently, the temple has also been known for its assets in the form of land.

PM lauds beneficiaries of scheme for street vendors


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in news?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted via video-conferencing with street vendors from Uttar Pradesh who had availed of loans under the PM Street Vendors Atmanirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi)

PM Street Vendors Atmanirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi)

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) announced Pradhan Mantri Street Vendor’s Atma Nirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi), for providing affordable loans to street vendors.
  • This is a Central Sector Scheme to facilitate street vendors to access affordable working capital loan for resuming their livelihoods activities, after easing of lockdown.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdowns have adversely impacted the livelihoods of street vendors. They usually work with a small capital base, which they might have consumed during the lockdown. Therefore, credit for working capital to street vendors will be helpful to resume their livelihoods.

objectives of the Scheme

(i) To facilitate working capital loan up to 10,000 at subsidized rate of interest;

(ii) To incentivize regular repayment of loan; and

(iii) To reward digital transactions.

  • The scheme, which provides vendors collateral-free working capital loans of ₹10,000, was announced on June 1 as a part of the government’s Atmanirbhar Bharat package in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis.
  • So far, 24.76 lakh applications have been received, of which 12.37 lakh have been sanctioned and over 5 lakh loans have been disbursed, according to the PM SVANidhi portal.

Lending institutions

  • Lending Institutions that will provide credit Scheduled Commercial Banks, Regional Rural Banks, Small Finance Banks, Cooperative Banks, Non-Banking Financial Companies, Micro-Finance Institutions and SHG Banks.


  • Vendors can avail a working capital loan of up to Rs. 10,000, which is repayable in monthly instalments in the tenure of one year.
  • On timely/ early repayment of the loan, an interest subsidy @ 7% per annum will be credited to the bank accounts of beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer on quarterly basis.
  • There will be no penalty on early repayment of loan.
  • The scheme promotes digital transactions through cash back incentives up to an amount of Rs. 100 per month.
  • The vendors can avail the facility of escalation of the credit limit on timely/ early repayment of loan.

Negative or zero growth, but firm recovery


Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in news?

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that India’s GDP could see zero or negative growth, somewhat close to the International Monetary Fund’s projection of -10.3% for 2020-21.

Key details

  • The Minister, however, exuded confidence that a steady and sustainable recovery was already underway, adding India would emerge as one of the fastest growing economies next year.
  • The IMF, in its World Economic Outlook released earlier this month, forecast India’s GDP would shrink 10.3% in 2020-21, and likely rebound to grow at 8.8% in the next financial year.

‘Agri doing well’

  • The indicators show that the primary sector and related sectors of agriculture and rural India are doing very well.
  • As a result, the demand for durables, agriculture equipment, tractors, vehicles are all going up. The festival season has commenced in India, as a result of which I expect the demand to go up and therefore, be sustainable also.

‘Build assets’

  • To revive the economy, the government is eyeing sectors that can help build assets and generate employment, public spending on infrastructure and boosting agriculture and easing farm produce exports, were part of that plan.

Key findings of World Economic outlook report

  • Global growth is projected at –4.9 percent in 2020, 1.9 percentage points below the April 2020 World Economic Outlook (WEO) forecast.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had a more negative impact on activity in the first half of 2020 than anticipated, and the recovery is projected to be more gradual than previously forecast.
  • In 2021 global growth is projected at 5.4 percent. Overall, this would leave 2021 GDP some 6½ percentage points lower than in the pre-COVID-19 projections of January 2020.
  • The adverse impact on low-income households is particularly acute, imperiling the significant progress made in reducing extreme poverty in the world since the 1990s.

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