Strong Women on a Global Rise: Kim Yo Jong North Korea’s Next?

With unconfirmed reports about Kim Jong Un’s health circulating the web after his disappearance in integral ceremonies recently, the dictator’s younger sister Kim Yo Jong has been pushed in the spotlight. Can she become the next leader of North Korea and the very first female dictator, in a world currently having 8% women politicians?

Crux of the Matter

Man’s World No More: North Korea’s Fourth, a Woman?
Kim family dynasty’s first prospective female leader, Yo Jung is believed to be in her mid-30s and the brain behind his brother’s carefully constructed public image. She ventured on the world stage in 2007, after being appointed as a junior cadre to the Korean Worker’ Party by her father, Kim Jong-il.

The North Korean dictators’ dynasty, starting from the father, son and grandson

Yo Jung went on to highlight her inclination towards tyranny when in 2017 the US Treasury Department blacklisted her for “severe human rights abuses”. Then representing her country at the 2018 Winter Olympics, she publicly praised Donald Trump, giving us an insight into how future international relations can be between North Korea and the US.

In a country known for Totalitarianism, an authoritarian form of government North Korea’s senior cadres are mostly male, with a few exceptions like Choe Son Hui, their vice Foreign Minister. Since Kim dynasty’s living men are either uninterested in politics or too young to play the dirty game, Yo Jung is being touted as a logical choice for being a trusted political figure from the current bloodline of dictators.

Women-in-command in Other Parts of the World

Best of Both Worlds: Angela Merkel 

Germany’s first female Chancellor, Merkel was a successful research scientist before she joined the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Appointed as a minister for women and youth & environment and nuclear safety in the past, she is known for taking a bold stance when it comes to upholding her values.

Be it making her nation a world leader in the energy reform sector after the Fukushima disaster or forming swift foreign policies during the Russia and Crimea dispute. A recipient of Doctor Honoris Causa for her accomplishments in the EU, she aced the 4 Ds in her political career: Diplomacy, Diligence, Determination, and Duty.

Goddess of Growth: Sheikh Hasina

Currently serving her fourth term, Hasina is the longest serving prime minister in the history of Bangladesh. A firm believer of democracy and development, her nation observed an unprecedented economic growth of 7% in the past decade under her able leadership.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) to Bangladesh has tripled
since she came into power in 2008

Pushing Bangladesh closer to acquiring the middle income country status, she demonstrated how it was possible to venture into the famous Padma Bridge construction without any World Bank funding. She is indeed the daughter of Father of Bangladesh and it’s first president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who freed Bangladesh from the clutches of Pakistan (then called West Pakistan).

The Woman Behind Jacindamania: Jacinda Ardern

Ardern is one of the youngest female leaders in the world at the age of 38 and New Zealand’s youngest PM in 150 years. Known for speaking out about sexism and racism since the beginning, she set a new legacy for multitasking women in politics, when she delivered a baby while expertly tackling issues like climate change and poverty. Then she went on to announce welfare reforms like a weekly stipend for new parents and an increase in paid parental leave from 18 to 22 weeks.

The lady’s insistence on disregarding the Christchurch terrorism and war rhetorics, while recognizing the enormity of the loss caused, reflected a strong vision she had for her country. Before imposing a government ban on guns, she encouraged people to surrender military style weapons, which they did, reinstating the faith in her empathetic yet effective leadership style.

Dynamic Decision-maker: Theresa May

Britain’s second-ever female Prime Minister, May is one fearless woman who speaks her mind out. Be it against injustices like wage inequality or expressing public support for same-sex marriage, she has worked in various sectors of the United Kingdom’s government.

Nicknamed as Maybot for being “emotionless for a woman” during the 2017 elections and tiring times of Brexit, she focused on the “I can see it, so I can be it” model of rising to power for young females entering politics. As the longest-serving Home Secretary in six decades, she is well known for her work on police reform and stricter drug and immigration policies.

Curiopedia
  • Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the first non-hereditary female head of government in modern history. Mrs. Bandaranaike was elected Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in 1960. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka have all had women PMs.
  • As per current stats, countries with female leadership have fared better in handling the COVID-19 pandemic:

Govt to Release Tax Refunds Immediately

In the critical time of Coronavirus, Government of India has taken a crucial step of releasing Rs.18,000 crores of pending refunds to the respective Income Tax payers.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Tax Refunds as Monetary Measure
The increasing number of Coronavirus cases in India may compel the government to extend the lockdown. In such a case, businesses across the country will be cash-strapped. Currently, almost every sector is also facing a labour shortage.

The government extended its relief by releasing pending refunds worth Rs.18,000 of Income Tax and GST returns. The Ministry of Finance said that this move will benefit 14 lakhs individual taxpayers and 1 lakh businesses. The government will soon release the pending GST refunds too, which will support and enable the small and medium businesses to pay pending wages to laborers. But the Government will only entertain pending refunds amounting up to 5 lakh rupees. Besides financial aid, the Government also gave permission to companies to hold meetings on virtual platforms and to continue operations.

MPs Pay Cut
Looking at the severity of the matter, Ordinance has been passed by the members of Union cabinets, which will allow the government to implement pay-cuts in the allowance and pension of members of parliament by 30% for 1 year. Union Minister Prakash Javadekar declared that MPLADs (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) fund has been discontinued till 2022. Further, he informed that this fund of Rs.7,900 crore (Rs 5 crore per annum per MP, for 2 years) will go into the welfare of the nation during the coronavirus crisis.

Curiopedia
  • A tax refund is a reimbursement to a taxpayer of any excess amount paid to the tax collecting authority. Taxpayers tend to look at a refund as a bonus or a stroke of luck, but it really represents an interest-free loan that a taxpayer makes to the government.
  • In the budget presented on Feb 1st, 2018 by Arun Jaitley, salaries of the MPs witnessed a hike of as much as 25%, which might be brought back down after recent pay cut.

Suspicion Mounts over China’s Counting of COVID-19 Cases

COVID-19 counting in China

Though China has declared that it has taken control over all the major hotspots of the coronavirus; health authorities are now reporting asymptomatic cases of COVID-19. This comes during growing speculations of higher number of deaths and increased political suspicion of a conspiracy behind the coronavirus.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

COVID-19 has crossed 1 million figure with almost 70,000 deaths. The USA is now the most affected country with more than 300,000 cases followed by Spain, Italy, and Germany.

People in China still fear that as the lockdown is lifted they might get infected without knowing if they carry the virus as they show no symptoms and thus have not been tested. The chances of the spread of a 2nd wave are also possible which can be more dangerous.

The National Health Commission in China has always maintained that asymptomatic cases should not be counted in its confirmed case total. The Chinese government has now ordered health authorities to find these asymptomatic cases. Following which the Liaoning province was the first to report 52 such cases as on March 31. Hunan province reported 4 such cases which are all claimed to be from abroad on their website.

The number of such cases has been kept classified by the Chinese Health authorities and it hasn’t been included in the official data. The local media reports of more than 40,000 such cases.

Ban on Wet Markets
The Chinese government had announced a permanent ban on the sale and consumption of wild animals in February; however, according to some news reports the wet animal markets are now reopening in Wuhan and other parts of China.

The city of Shenzhen became the first city in China to ban the consumption and trade of dogs and cats under its new legislation Shenzhen Special Economic Zone Regulations on the Comprehensive Ban on Wild Animals. This new law also prohibits the breeding, sale, and consumption of protected wildlife species, including snakes and lizards.

Chinese Telecom Sector
China’s telecom operators have reported a major drop in the number of users. The world’s largest carrier China Mobile Ltd. reported its first net decline since 2000. China Telecom Corp. and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd have lost 5.6 million and 1.2 million users respectively.

A partial reason for the drop is assumed to be caused by migrant workers who have one subscription for where they work and another for their home region.

Long Queues to collect Urns
China has officially reported 81,708 cases of the coronavirus and 3,331 deaths. There are several doubts now being raised over the transparency on the asymptomatic cases being hidden by the Chinese government. The death toll in China doesn’t seem to match up in terms of fatality rates. Public-health experts have repeatedly said that the actual number of COVID-19 cases is much higher than the reported case count.

Photos and videos through local media sources show long queues outside funeral homes to collect the remains of their family members. According to the reports, 7 funeral homes in Wuhan have disposed of an estimated 42,000 corpses and are handing out 3000 urns per day.

There are many such calculations being made to find out the actual number of deaths. A report by Caixin Media investigated new asymptomatic cases in Wuhan province and questioned a truck driver who confessed to delivering 5000 urns in 2 days. They also published photos of more than 3000 stacked urns. Another calculation on the basis of the number of furnaces and their running assumes the death toll to be nearly 46800.

Due to the censorship laws prevalent in China, the government has taken down photos and videos showcasing long queues and stacked urns from social media and the internet. Also, the Chinese Communist government is seen to propagate biased news highlighting their efforts and helps offered to different countries to establish themselves as a global leader.

Global Criticism and Pressure
Questions are being raised over WHO Director-General Tedros not taking steps in time to control the outbreak and biased towards China. Tedros has time and again defended and praised China for its efforts and portrayed them as a global leader. Many countries see him unfit to lead the WHO and manage any crisis.

When the US had taken a firm step to close its borders on Jan 31, he had criticised it by saying “widespread travel bans and restrictions were not needed to stop the outbreak and could have the effect of increasing fear and stigma.” He had also advised other countries not to follow the U.S.

US President Donald Trump from the beginning has been terming the coronavirus as ‘Chinese Virus’ and now also has doubted the accuracy of the official figures in China. In a recent press conference, he said, “How do we know if they are accurate. Their numbers seem to be a little bit on the light side.”

The UK government has accused China of mismanagement and spreading disinformation about the severity of the COVID-19. PM Boris Johnson, who has himself been hospitalised with COVID-19, is furious and is also reconsidering the decision to allow Huawei to manage UK’s 5G network. As China announced an aid of $20 million for helping poor countries it is seen to be using the outbreak to boost its reputation for “global cooperation”.

Curiopedia

Censorship in the People’s Republic of China is implemented or mandated by the PRC’s ruling party, the Communist Party of China (CPC). The government censors content for mainly political reasons, but also to maintain its control over the populace. The Chinese government asserts that it has the legal right to control the Internet’s content within their territory and that their censorship rules do not infringe on the citizen’s right to free speech. The government maintains censorship over all media capable of reaching a wide audience. This includes television, print media, radio, film, theatre, text messaging, instant messaging, video games, literature, and the Internet. Chinese officials have access to uncensored information via an internal document system. More Info

Budget Session Phase 2 Clocks 80% Productivity; Curtailed due to Coronavirus

The Parliament met on 2nd March 2020 for the phase 2 of the budget session after a short break. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha clocked 86% and 74% productivity respectively until the budget session was called off on March 23, 12 days before schedule due to the growing fears of Coronavirus pandemic.
Complete Coverage: Coronavirus

Crux of the Matter

Complete Coverage: Parliament Budget Session 1st Innings Plays Out With Bouquets And Brickbats

Day 10
On 2nd March, Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which proposes to increase the time period for termination from 12 to 20 weeks and the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 which seeks to regulate the mining sector in India was introduced in Lok Sabha as the Budget Session 2.0 began.

Rajya Sabha began discussions on the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020  and the Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2019.

Day 11
On March 3, The Banking Regulation Amendment Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha. The Bill would keep certain types of agricultural credit societies outside the ambit of the 1949 Banking Regulation Act and strengthen cooperative banks. Clause-by-clause voting on the Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020 was taken up in Lok Sabha but the house was adjourned without passage of the bill due to repeated disruptions.

Day 12
On March 4, the Direct Tax Vivad Se Vishwas Bill, 2020 was passed with amendments in the Budget Session. The Indian Institutes of Information Technology Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was also introduced in the Lok Sabha.

The Standing Committee on Finance presented its report on Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill 2019 in both the houses. It recommended using the process of delegated legislation through the formulation of rules by the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India.

3 members expressed their dissent for the provision that homebuyers could initiate insolvency proceedings against builders only if the resolution application is jointly filed by at least 10% of homebuyers on the same project.

Day 13
On March 5, Health Minister Dr. Harshvardhan informed both the houses of the government’s steps for universal screening of all international passengers entering India to tackle the Coronavirus. Many MPs highlighted the issue of fake news being circulated over social media and also overpricing of masks and hand sanitizers.

Under Rule 374, the Lok Sabha suspended 7 Congress MPs for the remaining Budget session for their unruly behaviour and misconduct of snatching papers from the Speaker’s table. The 7 MPs are namely Gaurav Gogoi, T N Prathapan, Dean Kuriakose, Manicka Tagore, Rajmohan Unnithan, Benny Behanan and Gurjeet Singh Aujla.

While the BJP welcomed the decision, INC leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged the government of revenge politics and termed the decision as ‘dictatorial’.

“Our members had done nothing wrong. The decision was motivated by revenge politics and what happened today is a tale of embarrassment in the history of Parliament.”

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, INC Leader

Day 14
On March 6, the Lok Sabha passed the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019 without any discussion.

The Mineral Laws Bill will remove the restrictions for certain coal mines and will further allow the transfer of statutory clearances from previous lessees to successful bidders for two years. The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code will allow certain financial creditors to initiate an insolvency process in the event of default.

“This Bill will transform the mining sector in the country by boosting coal production and reducing dependence on imports and in turn also promote Ease of Doing Business.”

– Prahlad Joshi, Union Coal & Mines Minister.

Day 15
On 11th March, Minister of External Affairs, Dr. S.Jaishankar addressed the Rajya Sabha over the growing concerns of 6000 Indians stranded in Iran due to Coronavirus. He also informed that the Cabinet Secretary is following up with all states to set up isolation wards.

The Lok Sabha speaker Om Birla reconsidered the decision of the chair and revoked the suspension of the 7 MPs. As the Lok Sabha took up the discussion of the riots in Delhi, fierce disruption was seen from the opposition. AIMIM MP Owaisi, BJP MP Tejasvi Surya put out strong opposing views. Later Home Minister Amit Shah also replied to the debate by stating the facts and figures of the riot and also promised strict and swift action against those behind the riots.

Day 16
On March 12, the Rajya Sabha passed the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (Amendment Bill), 2020 but without the incorporation of the Standing Committee recommendations and the Mineral Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was also passed.

In the second half, the government faced a lot of heat from the opposition in the Rajya sabha over the discussion of Delhi Riots wherein the opposition accused the Home Minister of failing to control the riots and also demanded clarification on CAA-NPR-NRC. Replying to the debate, the Home Minister gave point to point reply informing measures taken by the Delhi Police to investigate the riots and also criticized the Shaheen Bagh protest and clarified that no one’s citizenship would be taken away due to CAA or NPR.

Complete Coverage: Chronology of Delhi Riots

The Major Ports Authorities Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha; this bill would replace the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 and set up a Board of Major Port Authority for each Major Port in the country. The Demand for Grants by the Ministry of Railways was also discussed in the Lok Sabha which highlighted the declining business of passenger and freight trains due to other modes of transport.

Day 17
On 15th March, the Lok Sabha passed the Demand for Grants for the Ministry of Railways. The Direct Tax Vivad se Vishwas Bill, 2020 was taken up in Rajya Sabha where the MPs expressed their concerns over not addressing the root causes of high pendency of tax disputes. The House passed the motion to return the bill to the Lok Sabha as it can only send recommendations in case of a money bill.

Day 18
On March 16, the Rajya Sabha gave its assent to the Central Sanskrit Universities Bill, 2019 which will convert Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha into Central Sanskrit Universities.

The Standing Committee report on the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was tabled in Lok Sabha. It seeks to prohibit unauthorized recording and broadcasting of a film and make provision for a prison term of up to 3 years, or a fine of up to Rs.10 lakh.

The Lok Sabha passed the Demand for Grants of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Ministry of Tourism. The Appropriation Bill, 2020 was introduced by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and also subsequently passed.

Day 19
The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in Lok Sabha which seeks to decriminalize technical lapses under the 2013 Companies Act. Some Members opposed the bill and demanded to send it to a Standing Committee. This demand was put down by the Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur stating that the Bill only covered technical and procedural defaults.

The Lok Sabha then took up the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 that proposes to recognize the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and the Aircraft Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB) as statutory bodies. One of the MPs asked the Civil Aviation Minister to pass the benefit of low rates of crude oil to aircraft operators; to which Minister Hardeep Singh Puri asked for aviation fuel to be brought under the GST regime.

The Rajya Sabha also took up The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 for discussion which aims to repeal the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970 and set up a National Commission for Indian System of Medicine (NCISM). The house also discussed The National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019 which proposes to set up the National Commission for Homoeopathy(NCH).

Day 20
The Rajya Sabha passed both The National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2019 and The National Commission for Homoeopathy Bill, 2019.

In the Zero Hour of Lok Sabha, an MP raised a demand to expand the list of Scheduled Languages to recognize Rajasthani, Bhoti, and Bhojpuri. The Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs assured that the government is considering this demand to be added to the 8th Schedule.

Day 21
On March 19, the Lok Sabha passed the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda Bill, 2020 to merge 3 Ayurveda institutes into one which will now be called the Institute of Teaching and Research in Ayurveda and will be designated as an institution of National Importance. Rajya Sabha discussed the Working of the Ministry of MSME; Nitin Gadkari, Minister for MSME said, “the sector contributes 29% of the GDP growth and 33% of manufacturing and has created about 11 crore jobs.”

Day 22
On March 23, The Finance Bill, 2020 was passed in the Lok Sabha and The National Forensic Sciences University Bill, 2020 and the Rashtriya Raksha University Bill, 2020 were introduced.

The house also gave an extension for the submission of the Joint Committee Report on The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019. In Rajya Sabha, the Pesticide Management Bill, 2020 was introduced. Later, the house took up clause by clause consideration of the Jammu and Kashmir Appropriation Bills for 2020. After growing pressure from the opposition to curtail the ongoing Budget Session, both the Houses were adjourned sine die 12 days ahead of schedule due to the growing cases of coronavirus.

Curiopedia

Zero Hour – The time immediately following the Question Hour has come to be known as “Zero Hour”. It starts at around 12 noon (hence the name) and members can, with prior notice to the Speaker, raise issues of importance during this time. Typically, discussions on important Bills, the Budget, and other issues of national importance take place from 2 p.m. onwards. More Info

Money Bill – In the Westminster system a money bill or supply bill is a bill that solely concerns taxation or government spending as opposed to changes in public law. It can be introduced only in Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha may not amend money bills but can recommend amendments. The Speaker of the Lok Sabha certifies the bill as a money bill before sending it to the upper house, and the decision of the Speaker is binding on both the Houses. A money bill must be returned to the Lok Sabha within 14 days, or the bill is deemed be passed in both houses in the form it was originally passed by the Lok Sabha. More Info

Venezuela President Charged with Drug Trafficking by US

Maduro

The USA has declared a bounty of $55 million for information on connections of the President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro and his associates in drug trafficking and narco-terrorism.

Crux of the Matter

Maduro has had topsy-turvy relations with the US since his re-election in the 2018 elections. The US accused Maduro of occupying the Presidential post unconstitutionally in the country. But Maduro, backed by Russia and China, continued serving as the President.

The US declared charges against Maduro after an investigation by US Federal services. The US said that strict steps are necessary to remove deeply rooted corruption in Venezuela that has resulted in the crippling of its democracy and democratic values. Allegations on Maduro are that he helped the Colombian revolutionary group, the FARC for drug trafficking and flooding the United States with Cocaine. He is also accused of facilitating drug trafficking routes through air and water via Venezuela along with running a drug cartel even though he is occupying a government office.

Thus amid escalating tension, US and US allies evacuated their embassies from Venezuela. Besides Maduro, the US has filed charges against more than a dozen others that include Venezuelan government and intelligence officials and members of the Colombian rebel group FARC.

Maduro defended himself by saying that Donald Trump is politically motivated to remove him from the office. He added that before the US Presidential election, such a move might give Donald Trump fame, and thus he is trying hard to make it more political. He further said that by hook or crook the US wants him to vacate his post.

Curiopedia

Nicolás Maduro Moros is a Venezuelan politician serving as president of Venezuela since 2013. His presidency has been disputed by Juan Guaidó since January 2019. Beginning his working life as a bus driver, Maduro rose to become a trade union leader before being elected to the National Assembly in 2000. He was appointed to a number of positions under President Hugo Chávez and was described in 2012 by the Wall Street Journal as the “most capable administrator and politician of Chávez’s inner circle”. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2013 and as vice president of Venezuela from 2012 to 2013 under Chávez. After Chávez’s death was announced on 5 March 2013, Maduro assumed the presidency.

Shortages in Venezuela and decreased living standards led to protests beginning in 2014 that escalated into daily marches nationwide, repression of dissent and a decline in Maduro’s popularity. According to The New York Times, Maduro’s administration was held “responsible for grossly mismanaging the economy and plunging the country into a deep humanitarian crisis” and attempting to “crush the opposition by jailing or exiling critics, and using lethal force against anti-government protesters”. An opposition-led National Assembly was elected in 2015 and a movement toward recalling Maduro began in 2016. Maduro called for a rewrite of the constitution, and the Constituent Assembly of Venezuela was elected in 2017, under what many—including Venezuela’s chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega and Smartmatic, the company that ran the voting machines—considered irregular voting conditions; the majority of its members were pro-Maduro. On 20 May 2018, presidential elections were called prematurely, opposition leaders had been jailed, exiled or forbidden to run, there was no international observation, and tactics to suggest voters could lose their jobs or social welfare if they did not vote for Maduro were used. Multiple nations did not recognize the Constituent Assembly election or the validity of Maduro’s 2018 reelection;the Canadian, Panamanian, and the United States governments sanctioned Maduro. More Info