5 Stories That Matter Delivered To You

    • TNN
    • Publish Date: Jan 16 2020 3:13PM
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    • Updated Date: Jan 16 2020 3:13PM
5 Stories That Matter Delivered To You

Raisina Dialogue 2020 concludes; First meeting of joint parliamentary committee on Data Protection Bill likely; Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in India; Amit Shah in Bihar to seek support for citizenship law; Special session of Punjab, Chhattisgarh and MP assemblies to ratify SC, ST legislature quota bill.

1. Can states challenge Central laws?
The challenge: The Chhattisgarh government on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court seeking to declare the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 as unconstitutional, the first state government to challenge the Act. The move came a day after Kerala became the first state to challenge the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in the apex court.
The reason: The Chhattisgarh government says that the NIA Act takes away the investigation, search and seizure powers of the police, which exclusively belong to state governments while giving “unfettered, discretionary and arbitrary powers” to the Centre. The NIA has powers to supersede state police during the investigation and trial of terror-related offences. The Kerala government, on the other hand, has termed the new citizenship law unconstitutional for violating “secularism and right to equality" as it overlooks the issues of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and Muslims in Sri Lanka and also does not consider Tamils in Sri Lanka, Hindu Madhesis in Terai of Nepal, Hazaras of Afghanistan, Christians of Bhutan and Sri Lanka, Buddhists from Nepal and ethnic Indians in Malaysia and Fiji for citizenship.
The law: The states have challenged the two laws under Article 131 of the Constitution, which gives the SC the exclusive jurisdiction to decide suits relating to Centre-state and state-state disputes and allows states to approach the apex court directly. However, there have been two differing judgments by the apex court on whether Article 131 can be used to examine the validity of central laws. The question is still pending before the Supreme Court.
The history: This is the second time in the last 60 years that state governments have moved the apex court resisting implementation of a Parliament-enacted law. In 1961, the West Bengal government had moved a suit in the court against a law that empowered the Centre to acquire land owned by the state government but had lost the case.
Meanwhile, a Delhi court granted bail to Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekar Azad on Wednesday in a case related to anti-CAA protests in Delhi but asked him to stay out of Delhi and not participate in dharnas for a month.

2. On a firefighting trip, Bezos brings sops to small sellers

What? Dressed in an ensemble in three shades of blue Jeff Bezos said Amazon will invest $1 billion to bring India’s small and medium-sized businesses online and expects to export $10 billion worth of India-made goods by 2025. The Amazon CEO is in New Delhi at a time India’s e-commerce regulations have tightened the noose around foreign companies such as Amazon and small traders are up in arms over alleged anti-competitive practices.
Why? That the highlight of Bezos’ itinerary is his New Delhi visit, as against to Bengaluru, where the company’s India headquarters is based, like last time in 2014, underlines the difference. If 2014 was about fuelling Amazon’s India strategy — he announced a $2 billion investment in its India unit then — 2020 is about fire-fighting. The Competition Commission of India this week said it has opened a probe into Amazon and Flipkart, owned by US retailer Walmart, over discounts, preferential treatment of certain sellers and exclusive tie-ups with some companies to list their products — say, a phone being sold only on Amazon, or Flipkart.
Tell me more: In India, e-commerce by law should be a marketplace, which is to say they should only list products by third-party sellers and not be the seller themselves. But e-commerce firms, not limited to Amazon and Flipkart, have long been accused of listing related sellers on their platforms. A related seller may be a company that the e-commerce platform holds a stake in. This provided them greater control of the procuring, selling and pricing. But under pressure from a trade organisation representing small sellers, India last year announced a more stringent e-commerce rule that barred such related sellers and also limited the share of sales a particular seller had on one platform. This, on paper, ensured all sellers had a level-playing field. Amazon and Flipkart responded by restructuring their businesses so that no seller was “related” to them. Then there are the matters of exclusive deals and discounts that traders allege is against marketplace rules.
Hence... Bezos is hoping the $1 billion sop to small sellers will help. Note: Making the rules unfriendly to foreign firms could attract the ire of US President Donald Trump and project the impression that India is not an easy place to do business. Hence, New Delhi has to balance that with the demands of small merchants.

3. Why J&K cop’s arrest isn’t all that surprising
The arrest: A senior police officer in Jammu & Kashmir (DSP Davinder Singh) was arrested last week along with two terrorists whom he was allegedly ferrying out of Kashmir valley for a possible terror attack. During questioning by the National Investigation Agency, he has said that he had been providing logistical support to militants for the past three years and hinted at the involvement of other police officials. Singh was dismissed from the police on Wednesday.
The history: The same officer has three FIRs filed against him in extortion cases. Singh was part of the special operations group of J&K police that was disbanded in 2003 (it was created in 1994) after complaints of misuse of power. There were 49 cases of human right abuse cases against 53 SOG officials of which 25 were subsequently dismissed. Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, who was hanged for the terror attack had alleged (in 2013) that he was asked by Singh to ferry a Pakistani terrorist to Delhi and arrange accommodation for another four. Since his claims were not investigated, Singh remained in service.
The numbers: According to the latest Bureau of Police Research and Development report, out of the 45,062 cases of departmental proceedings against police personnel pending across India in 2017, the highest — 10,200 — were in J&K. In the 47 cases registered against police personnel in J&K in 2018, there were no convictions. Last year, the CBI registered a case against unknown J&K government officials in connection with a fake arms licence racket through which nearly 40,000 gun licences were given to people from several states based on forged letters of recommendation. Former J&K governor NN Vohra had pointed out in 2018: “We need to weed out corruption from the police and judicial system… varied threats to national security also originate from corruption in the administrative systems, all over India.” A 2017 study by the Centre for Media Studies placed J&K among the most corrupt states in India.
Meanwhile, a group of Union ministers is likely to visit J&K later this month to create awareness about “the positive impact of abrogation of Article 370,” news agency PTI reported.

4. Stokes' the best!
Ben Stokes won the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy for the ICC Player of the Year on Wednesday after a red-hot 12 months. The England allrounder had smashed an unbeaten 84 during the 2019 World Cup final against New Zealand at Lord's, which ended in a tie before the hosts claimed their maiden crown on boundary countback. The 28-year-old also hit an unbeaten 135 to secure victory in the third Ashes test at Headingley. During the voting period, Stokes aggregated 719 runs and bagged 12 wickets in 20 ODIs. He also scored 821 runs and took 22 wickets in 11 Tests.
Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins and Indian opener Rohit Sharma scooped up the other top honours, winning the Test Player of the Year and ODI Player of the Year awards, respectively. Apart from match-winning five-wicket hauls against Sri Lanka and New Zealand, Cummins was central to Australia’s defence of the Ashes. The 26-year old, in fact, went wicketless in only 3 out of 23 Test innings in 2019 — taking 59 wickets in total. Rohit, on the other hand, smashed 648 runs in 9 innings at an average of 81.00 and a strike rate of 98.33 — including a record five centuries — in the World Cup.
Team-mate Deepak Chahar's 6/7 in a T20I against Bangladesh was adjudged the T20I Performance of the Year, while Marnus Labuschagne won the Emerging Player award. Richard Illingworth received the David Shepherd Trophy for Umpire of the Year and Scotland's Kyle Coetzer won Associate Player of the Year.
India captain Virat Kohli, who was named captain of both the ICC Test and ODI Teams of the Year, also won the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ award for urging the Oval crowd to stop booing Australian Steve Smith, who was returning from a ball-tampering ban, during a World Cup match.

5. ISRO's first launch of 2020
ISRO is ready with its heavy communication satellite GSAT-30, which will be launched aboard an Ariane-5 rocket belonging to the European Space Agency. It is scheduled for late night today (2:35 am IST, January 17) from the Kourou space station in the South American nation of French Guiana. Weighing 3,357 kg, GSAT-30 will act as the replacement for the INSAT-4A satellite — one of the first satellites that India ever launched — with enhanced coverage.
Its communication payload has been specially designed and is optimised to maximise the number of transponders on the spacecraft’s bus. With a mission life of more than 15 years, it will be extensively used for supporting VSAT networks, television uplinking and teleport services, digital satellite news gathering, DTH TV services, cellular backhaul connectivity and many such applications.
ISRO currently has plans to launch 25 satellites this year, including the Aditya-L1 (to study the Sun), Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (or SSLV, which will place smaller satellites in the Earth’s lower orbit), GSLV, GSAT-20 satellite, NavIC, Indian Data Relay Satellite System and Xposat. Last year, ISRO launched six launch vehicles and seven satellite missions, and also celebrated the 50th launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

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