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GS-2


India pulls off a diplomatic coup, wins prized ICJ seat(TH)

India pulls off a diplomatic coup, wins prized ICJ seat(TH)

Context

With Justice Dalveer Bhandari’s re-election, this will be the first time in the 70-year history of the U.N.that the U.K. will not be on the world judicial body.

Multiple firsts

This is the first time in the 70-year history of the United Nations that

  • The U.K. will not be on the ICJ
  • One of the five permanent members of the UNSC lost out to an ordinary member in a race
  • One sitting member of the ICJ lost to another sitting member
  • Rest of the article, like the previous one, provides a sneak peek into the efforts put in by India in the re-election of Justice Dalveer Bhandari to ICJ.

Give it a go through

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Supreme court hearing: Constitution gives Delhi govt no executive powers, says Centre

Supreme court hearing: Constitution gives Delhi govt no executive powers, says Centre

What has happened?

Centre has told the Supreme Court that Delhi isnot a state and Article 239 AA (4) of the Constitution has not vested any exclusive executive powers on the National Capital Territory government

Background

A five-judge Constitution Bench SC was hearing the AAP government’s appeal challenging the Delhi High Court judgment, which upheld the administrative powers of the Lieutenant Governor

Centre’s stand

Centre argued that,

  • The Constitution-makers never intended to give full statehood to Delhi. The Constitution clearly defines both Union Territory and State and if UT had to be read as state, then it would expressly state so
  • The executive power is vested in the President for the Union and Governor for state
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Be intolerant of intolerance(IE Ed)

Be intolerant of intolerance(IE Ed)

Context

Author justifiesrecent SC judgement on petition urging for a ban on the movie ‘An insignificant man’ & criticizes the spate of violent outbursts against ‘Padmavati’ maker Sanjay Bhansali& actress DeepikaPadukone

Right to free speech & expression

  • Article 19 (1)(a) of the constitution guarantees freedom of speech and expression to the citizens of India
  • Restrictions: Fundamental right to speech & expression is not an absolute one. Article 19 (2) allows for reasonable restrictions to be imposed on all fundamental rights, including that of freedom to speech and expression
  • It can be restricted on the grounds of decency, public order or defamation. However, the restriction imposed should not be excessive or arbitrary

Whose hurt sentiments are to be considered?

As per judicial decisions, in such petitions, sentiments are to be considered of level-headed reasonable persons and not of fanatics who sense insult in everything

Petition against An insignificant man

Petitioner had urged SC to stay the nation-wide screening of the film as it portrayed him in a negative light and he had the right of not being portrayed in a derogatory manner.

SC’s reply:

  • Bench stated that freedom of speech and expression is sacrosanct and the said right should not be ordinarily interfered with. The freedom of expression should not be restrained except in a manner which is already prescribed in the law.
  • Courts should allow for creative liberty in such cases

Padmavati controversy

Padmavati maker Sanjay Bhansali& actress DeepikaPadukone have been a target of a slew of violent threats by an organisation called KarniSena. The organisation has justified such conduct stating that Padmavati who is a devi to the Rajput community has been depicted in a false and objectionable light

Three major observations

Author makes 3 major observations regarding this whole situation

  1. A majority of the people who are bursting with anger have not seen the film
  2. The objected scenes are imaginary, not factual
  3. A democratic way: Aggrieved sections of society can certainly approach the appropriate authorities (CBFC) or the courts to restrain exhibition of the movie after submitting credible evidence about alleged distortion of history. They can write and publish articles or even produce a documentary against the movie and urge people not to see it and boycott the cinema halls. But the right to protest cannot descend to vandalising cinema halls and assaulting Bhansali

Conclusion

Author concludes by stating that as the 4th pillar of democracy media owes a responsibility towards the people of India to highlight this SC judgement

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No need for privacy in court, says SC(TH)

No need for privacy in court, says SC(TH)

Context

SC has given a thumbs-up for audio and video recording of court proceedings

Background

In August 2017, the Supreme Court Bench of Justices Goel and U.U. Lalit had, suggested possibilities of having audio and video recordings of proceedings in the constitutional courts the Supreme Court and the high courts

  • Rationale:  Judges had stated that other countries do not consider recording of proceedings as a violation of privacy of court.
  • Global example:U.S. Supreme Court has video and audio recordings of its proceedings

Previous order

  • Installation of CCTVs: In Mar 17, SC had ordered that CCTVs (without audio recording) should be installed inside courtrooms and at vantage points within court complexes in at least two districts across States and Union Territories
  • Location of monitor:In the chamber of the District and Session Judge concerned
  • Not under the ambit of RTI: The footage of the CCTV camera will not be available under the RTI and will not be supplied to anyone without permission of the High Court concerned

Will it help?

Court proceedings have been a secret affair until now. Audio & Video recording of the proceedings is a step in the right direction to ensure transparency in the judiciary.

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Penal law soon on triple talaq(TH)

Penal law soon on triple talaq(TH)

Context

A new legislation wrt Triple Talaq is on its way

What has been done?

  • A new committee has been set up by the Union Government to frame a new law under which the use of triple talaq or talaq-e-biddat for divorce between Muslim couples would attract punitive measures

SC’s judgement

It should be noted that a SC judgement in August 2017 had made the practice of talaq-e-biddat illegal in India but despite it the practice was going on in some places, hence the need for a new law.

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Rohingya diplomacy (IE Ed)

Rohingya diplomacy (IE Ed)

Context

As per the author India should learn from the way China has handled the Rohingya issue

Stage Chinese plan

China recently issued a statement stating that both Myanmar & Bangladesh are its friends and Beijing is willing to play a constructive role to sort out the Rakhine state issue. It further outlined a 3-stage plan,

  • Ceasefire: A ceasefire on the ground
  • Bilateral talks b/w Myanmar & Bangladesh: Once this is seen as working and people are no longer fleeing, talks between Myanmar and Bangladesh to work out the modalities of return of the Rohingya from their camps in Bangladesh to their homes in Rakhine
  • Long-term solution: Poverty alleviation

Actual Motive

  • China wants to portray itself in a positive light by showing that its interests in the region are beyond that of economic and strategic plane.
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 GS-3


Oldest stars in our galaxy discovered(TH)

Oldest stars in our galaxy discovered(TH)

Context

Article talks about the discovery of some of the oldest stars in our Milky Way galaxy by the astronomers

Cool subdwarfs

Scientists, in their study, focussed on old or “senior citizen” stars, also known as cool subdwarfs that are much older and cooler in temperature than the Sun

Census of solar neighbourhood

In a study, astronomers conducted a census of our solar neighbourhood to identify how many young, adult and old stars are present. They targeted stars out to a distance of 200 light yearswhich is relatively nearby considering the galaxy is more than 1,00,000 light years across

Solar neighbourhood

It is about 80 light years in radius

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India calls for stronger treaties to protect space assets(TH)

India calls for stronger treaties to protect space assets(TH)

Context

Stressing international cooperation in space as in all domains of global commons, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar called for strengthening global treaties to protect space-based assets and prevent militarisation of outer space

What are global commons?

The ‘Global Commons’ refers to resource domains or areas that lie outside of the political reach of any one nation State. Thus international law identifies four global commons namely:

  1. The High Seas
  2. The Atmosphere
  3. Antarctica
  4. Outer Space

India’s successful international space collaboration

India has more than 200 international cooperation agreements with more than 40 countries and international organisations. Also, India is party to all the legally binding instruments on outer space

Examples:-

  • Chandrayaan-1: The maiden moon mission, Chandrayaan-I, a “successful example of international cooperation with international payloads. It signifies the importance India lays on its ‘neighbourhood first policy’
  • SAARC satellite: In May, ISRO launched the communications satellite GSAT-9, also called SAARC satellite, meant to provide connectivity and disaster support to countries in South Asia
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Rafale questions(IE)

Rafale questions(IE)

Context

Government’s reluctance to share data on the price of the aircraft has raised several scenarios, none of them flattering to it

Background of Rafale deal

  • IAF raised a requirement: In August 2007, after the Indian Air Force (IAF) raised the requirement for a Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), a request for proposal (RFP) for procuring 126 Medium Role Combat Aircraft for the airforce was issued
  • Cost: Projected to cost $12 billion (Rs 42,000 crore)
  • Transfer of technology:18 of these aircraft were to come in a flyaway condition while there was to be a technology transfer (ToT) for 108 aircraft to be made in India by HAL, Bengaluru. The IAF conducted extensive testing and evaluation and Rafalewas announced as the lowest bidder in 2012
  • In November 2014, Dassault Aviation CEO Eric Trappier said that he expected the final contract would be signed by March 2015

Change of plans

In April 2015, Prime Minister of India announced in Paris that India was going to purchase a mere 36 Rafale fighters from France in a government-to-government deal

  • The MMRCA tender was withdrawn by July and in September 2016, the government signed a $8.7 billion (over Rs 56,000 crore) deal, with no transfer of technology to India

Plethora of questions

Author has raised multiple questions vis-à-vis this deal.

  • What is the price being paid per aircraft?
  • Is it comparable or even close to the price being offered to India under the previous government?
  • How steep, exactly, are these renegotiated prices given that the government had to drop the technology transfer component for the 36-fighter deal?
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Low tariffs slowing new bid for winds, solar energy projects:ICRA(TH)

Low tariffs slowing new bid for winds, solar energy projects:ICRA(TH)

Context

The bidding for wind and solar energy projects is seeing a short-term slowdown, said rating agency ICRA

Except few terms that need an explanation article makes a reference to the ICRA report which indicates a slowdown in capacity addition in the solar and wind energy sector

Feed-in tariff (FiT): Boosting the solar capability

FiT enables anyone who generates electricity from renewable energy source – be it a home owner, small business or a large electricity utility – to sell it to the grid and receive guaranteed long-term payments at a predetermined rate for energy transferred.

  • According to the International Energy Agency, as much as 70 per cent of global solar generation in 2013 was realised through FiT
  • Global example: Germany has applied FiT in its solar energy harvesting to great effect. Generation took off from almost nil in 1990 to 38 GW in 2015, more than 60 per cent of which is from rooftop segment

What is ICRA?

ICRA Limited (formerly Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency of India Limited) was set up in 1991 by leading financial/investment institutions, commercial banks and financial services companies as an independent and professional investment Information and Credit Rating Agency

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WTO: India resolute on food security(TH)

WTO: India resolute on food security(TH)

Context

Article throws light on the stand that India is likely to take at the upcoming ministerial conference of WTO at Buenos Aires, Argentina in December

India’s stand

  • No to restrictions on subsidies: India is not going to agree to severe restrictions on its right to give price subsidies to farmers through the Minimum Support Price (MSP) to procure grains from them for food security purposes
  • Peace clause be made permanent: India, at the minimum, would push for the peace clause being made a permanent solution

Current arrangement: Peace Clause

  • Currently an interim mechanism that goes by the name of ‘peace clause’ is in place as per which
  • WTO members had agreed not to challenge developing nations at the WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism if they breached the cap of the product-specific domestic support (which is 10% of the value of production)

Until when this mechanism of peace clause will be in place?

The ‘Peace Clause’ is available to developing nations, including India, till a permanent solution is found to public stockholding for food security purposes

Are there any preconditions to invoking peace clause?

Yes.

  1. Admission of Breach: The country concerned will have to first admit that it ‘is breaching’ or ‘is about to breach’ the ceiling entitlement to give product-specific domestic support
  2. Only be used for Public stockholding programs: The ‘Peace Clause’ can be used only for public stockholding programmes that have been in existence on the date at which it was agreed upon at the Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013, and not for new programmes on public stockholding for food security purposes

A permanent solution is highly unlikely. Why?

Due to following reasons,

  • Absence of active engagement by US: The U.S. has not been engaging actively on the matter till recently, and if the U.S. does not give its nod, it will be difficult to arrive at a decision
  • EU in favor of checks: The EU also seems to be in favor of stringent checks on domestic support (subsidies) as a part of a permanent solution to this problem
  • Prohibition on trade distorting exports: Most WTO members are of the opinion that there should be a commitment on prohibition of exports from public stockholding saying such exports would be trade-distorting
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