Prelims Booster

4th September – Prelims Booster

US-India 2020 Summit by USISPF

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi today delivered the Special Key Note Address at the US-India 2020 Summit organised by the USISPF.

What is USISPF?

  • The US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) is a non-profit organisation that works for the bilateral and strategic partnership between India and the US.
  • The Theme of the 5 day Summit that began on the 31st of August (2020) is “US-India Navigating New Challenges”.
  • The theme covers various subjects such as India’s potential in becoming a Global Manufacturing Hub, Opportunities in India’s Gas Market, Ease of Doing Business to attract FDI in India, Common Opportunities & Challenges in Tech Space, Indo-Pacific Economic issues, Innovation in Public Health and others.
  • The Executive Board came together in 2017 to establish USISPF with the purpose of enabling business and governments to collaborate and create meaningful opportunities that can positively change the lives of citizens.
  • Dedicated to strengthening economic and commercial ties, USISPF plays a significant role in fostering a robust and dynamic relationship between the two countries through policy advocacy that will lead to driving economic growth, entrepreneurship, employment-creation, and innovation to create a more inclusive society.

Question Hour and Zero Hour

Recently, the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha secretariats notified that there will be no Question Hour during the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

What is Question Hour?

  • Question Hour is the liveliest hour in Parliament. It is during this one hour that Members of Parliament ask questions of ministers and hold them accountable for the functioning of their ministries. The questions that MPs ask are designed to elicit information and trigger suitable action by ministries.
  • Over the last 70 years, MPs have successfully used this parliamentary device to shine a light on government functioning. Their questions have exposed financial irregularities and brought data and information regarding government functioning to the public domain.
  • With the broadcasting of Question Hour since 1991, Question Hour has become one the most visible aspects of parliamentary functioning.
  • Prior to Independence, the first question asked of government was in 1893. It was on the burden cast on village shopkeepers who had to provide supplies to touring government officers.

What is Zero Hour?

  • While Question Hour is strictly regulated, Zero Hour is an Indian parliamentary innovation. The phrase does not find mention in the rules of procedure.
  • The concept of Zero Hour started organically in the first decade of Indian Parliament, when MPs felt the need for raising important constituency and national issues.
  • During the initial days, Parliament used to break for lunch at 1 pm. Therefore, the opportunity for MPs to raise national issues without an advance notice became available at 12 pm and could last for an hour until the House adjourned for lunch. This led to the hour being popularly referred to as Zero Hour and the issues being raised during this time as Zero Hour submissions.

Are the questions only for ministers?

  • MPs usually ask questions to hold ministers accountable. But the rules also provide them with a mechanism for asking their colleagues a question.
  • Such a question should be limited to the role of an MP relating to a Bill or a resolution being piloted by them or any other matter connected with the functioning of the House for which they are responsible.
  • Should the presiding officer so allow, MPs can also ask a question to a minister at a notice period shorter than 15 days.

Official languages in Jammu and Kashmir

The Union Cabinet has approved a Bill to include Kashmiri, Dogri and Hindi as official languages in the newly-created Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

Background –

  • Only English and Urdu were official languages in the erstwhile State.
  • The Cabinet had approved the Jammu and Kashmir Official Languages Bill to be introduced in Parliament to make Urdu, Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi and English official languages for the Union Territory.

Official Language –

  • Part XVII of the Indian constitution deals with the official languages in Articles 343 to 351.
  • The Constitutional provisions related to the Eighth Schedule are – Article 344: Article 344(1) provides for the constitution of a Commission by the President on expiration of five years from the commencement of the Constitution. Article 351: It provides for the spread of the Hindi language to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India.
  • The Eighth Schedule to the Constitution consists of the following 22 languages: (1) Assamese, (2) Bengali, (3) Gujarati, (4) Hindi, (5) Kannada, (6) Kashmiri, (7) Konkani, (8) Malayalam, (9) Manipuri, (10) Marathi, (11) Nepali, (12) Oriya, (13) Punjabi, (14) Sanskrit, (15) Sindhi, (16) Tamil, (17) Telugu, (18) Urdu (19) Bodo, (20) Santhali, (21) Maithili and (22) Dogri.
  • Originally, 14 languages were included in the Constitution. Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, and Santhali were the most recent addition to the list by 92nd Amendment Act of 2003.
  • 96th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2011 changed the name of ‘Odia’ to ‘Oriya’.

Aarey Forest

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has announced that the state government would designate a 600-acre parcel of land in the heart of urban Mumbai as a reserved forest.

Where is it located?

  • The Aarey Milk Colony, spread over 3,162 acres, was established in 1949 as a centre for processing and marketing milk for Mumbai and adjoining areas.
  • Over the last 70 years, this sprawling green area has been steadily eaten away at its edges – and 1,282 acres were acquired by the state for projects such as Film City.
  • Once located on the edge of the city, it is now part of the sprawling western suburb known as Goregaon. Only 1,800-plus acres of green space, which is home to 290 species wild of flora and fauna, remain in the last green bastion of rapidly concretising Mumbai.
  • The land falls under the eco-sensitive zone of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, and is home to around 10,000 individuals who live in 27 tribal hamlets.

How the state government notifies a reserve forest?

  • Under Section 4 of The Indian Forest Act, 1927, the state government can “constitute any land a reserved forest” by issuing a notification in the Official Gazette, “declaring that it has been decided to constitute such land a reserved forest”, and “specifying, as nearly as possible, the situation and limits of such land”.
  • Under the law, the government must also appoint a Forest Settlement Officer (FSO) “to inquire into and determine the existence, nature and extent of any rights alleged to exist in favour of any person in or over any land comprised within such limits or in or over any forest-produce, and to deal with the same”.
  • The FSO will seek suggestions and objections from residents and others within 45 days of initiating the process. After taking into account the suggestions and objections, the process of turning the land into a reserved forest will be completed. Thereafter, the area will be protected from any construction.

Background –

Aarey has been at the centre of a storm since October 2019, after the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) decided to construct a car shed for the Rs 32,000 crore underground Colaba-Bandra-Seepz Metro corridor, and cleared the site of over 2,000 trees, leading to a public outcry.

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