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GS 2

SC scraps NOTA option for RS polls

News:

  1. Recently, the Supreme Court scrapped the use of NOTA for Rajya Sabha polls.

Important facts:

2. The three judge Bench was led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

3. The court was hearing a batch of petitions to ban persons charged with heinous criminal charges from contesting elections.

4. The apex court has given the following arguments for the same:

  • The option NOTA is meant only for universal adult suffrage and direct elections.
  • It is not for elections held by the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote as done in the Rajya Sabha.
  • In the voting of upper house elections, there is a whip and elector is bound to obey the command of the party.

5. Arguments against NOTA:

  • The Supreme Court criticized the Election Commission for introducing NOTA in Rajya Sabha elections.
  • The court said the Election Commission could not act against the court’s judgment on a PUCL plea, which introduced the idea of NOTA.
  • NOTA harm an electoral process where open ballot is permissible and party discipline reigns.
  • NOTA will destroy the concept of value of a vote and representation and encourage defection that shall open the doors for corruption which is a malignant disorder.
  • The Petitioner had argued that the Election Commission cannot sanction the use of NOTA in Rajya Sabha elections by way of mere of circular, which have the effect of overriding the provisions of Article 80(4) .

NOTA in an indirect election would not only run counter to the discipline expected from an elector under the Tenth Schedule but also be “counterproductive to the basic grammar of the law of disqualification… on the ground of defection.”

 

SC plan to clean up politics

News:

  1. Recently, the Supreme Court proposed to make political parties accountable for criminalising politics.

Important facts:

2. The Bench was headed by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

3. The court was hearing a batch of petitions to ban persons charged with heinous criminal charges from contesting elections.

4. To make political parties accountable for criminalizing politics ,the court suggested that:

  • It could direct the Election Commission to insist that parties get new members to declare in an affidavit their criminal antecedents and publish them so that the “entire country knows how many criminals there are in a party.
  • The EC could de-register a party or withdraw its symbol if it refused to comply.
  • The suggestion was made by the Bench in a bid to prevent criminals from entering politics.
  • The suggestion from the Bench faced stiff opposition from the government.
  • The Bench, based its proposal on the power of the Election Commission to conduct an election and register/de-register political parties under Article 324 of the Constitution and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act of 1951, respectively.
  • The court invoked The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order of 1968.
  • The Bench pointed to how Section 29A requires a party to swear to uphold the principles of socialism, secularism, democracy, sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.

 

Beyond words

News:

  1. India needs to be cautious when dealing with Pakistan with courtesy.

Important facts:

2. Indian Prime minister has congratulated newly appointed PM in Pakistan to pursue “Constructive Engagement” to foster the relation and shared the vision on peace and development.

3. Pakistan’s newly appointed PM Imran Khan has offered “two steps for every one steps” as a part of foreign policy.

4. Bilateral cricket is on high agenda to increase people-to-people ties.

5. Indian high commissioner has presented a cricket bat with signature of Indian team member to Mr. Khan.

6. Mr. Khan has expressed the best way to resolve the differences and trade related issues with dialogue.

7. However the leaders of both the countries need to be little cautious in maintaining the trust in backdrop of past experiences like.

  • Attack on Pathankot airbase just a day after Indian PM Visit in Lahore
  • Criticism of Mr. Khan against his predecessor on maintaining close ties with India

8. First course of action should be on resolving the situation near line of control and restoration of ceasefire.

9. Indian Prime Minister may also need to change its orientation against SAARC processes by attending long delayed summit due in Pakistan.

Pakistan could bring economic prosperity by adhering to Financial Action Task force guidelines on ending terror financing.

 

GS 3

Centre rules out total ban on firecrackers

News:

  1. Recently, the Centre ruled out a national ban on firecrackers

Important facts:

2. The apex court was hearing applications seeking a complete nationwide ban on the use, manufacture, licensing, sale, resale, or distribution of firecrackers in bid to combat pollution.

3. The Centre suggests alternative steps to curb pollution such as:

  • Production of green crackers.
  • Crackers could even be burst in areas pre-designated by the State governments.
  • The Centre also suggested working together with institutions such as:
  1. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Reseach
  2. National Environment Engineering Research Institute
  3. Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation(PESO)
  4. Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
  • Setting up of Raw Material Characterization Facilities to check the presence of high contents of unburned material, partially combusted material or poor quality of raw material in gun powder in firecracker.
  • Use of “reduced emission firecrackers or improved firecrackers”.
  • These are “low emission sound and light emitting functional crackers with PM reduction by 30-35%.
  • It helps in significant reduction in nitrogen oxide and Sulphur dioxide due to in-situ water generation as dust suppressant and low-costdue usage of low cost oxidants.
  • PESO could be approached to ensure that fireworks with permitted chemicals and decibel levels are used.
  • PESO could run tests for banned ones like lithium, arsenic, antimony, lead, mercury.
  • CPCB and respective state pollution control boards shall carry out short-term monitoring in their cities from regulatory parameters against short term ambient air quality proposed by CPCB with regard to bursting of firecracker.

5. Arguments in favour of using firecrackers:

  • The Tamil Nadu government gave its arguments in favour of restrained use of firecrackers but not a blanket ban by submitting that whatever human beings do contributes to environmental pollution.

 

Kerala flood lesson for Assam: experts

News:

  1. ‘Flood-experienced’ Assam can learn a lesson from the Kerala deluge to avoid large-scale disaster, say water resources and ecology experts in the Northeast.

Important facts:

2. Similarity between two floods:

  • The most worrying similarity is a network of dams in the “control of other States” surrounding Kerala and Assam.
  • Assam is having Kerala-like floods albeit on a smaller scale because of hydropower projects in neighbouring States and in adjoining Bhutan.
  • A majority of dams that affected Kerala are on inter-State rivers and under the control of neighbouring States such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • The decision of how much water and when to be released is not within the purview of Kerala, which is suffering from downstream impact of those dams and the situation is similar for Assam.
  • More dams coming up in other northeastern States and in Bhutan could spell doom for Assam.

3. Assam has been rain-deficient by 30% this year, but Golaghat district experienced flash flood due to the release of excess water by the Doyang dam in Nagaland.

4. Similar was the case in Assam’s Lakhimpur district last year, because of the Ranganadi dam in Arunachal Pradesh while the Kurichu dam in Bhutan has often caused flooding in western Assam.

5. Arunachal Pradesh too is wary of the impact of big dams. “The river Siang has suffered from dams and other constructions in China upstream.

6. Kerala is reaping the consequences of neglecting, like other Western Ghats States, the recommendations of the Gadgil and Kasturirangan panels against hydro-power projects in ecologically sensitive zones.

7. According to Experts, micro-climate controlled by land use was the primary reason behind the catastrophe in Kerala though Climate Change was the overriding factor.

8. Rainfall in Kerala has been increasing after a dip in 2013, but the annual rainfall in many parts of the northeast is much higher than the southern coastal State.

9. The densely populated floodplains of Assam thus have to worry because of changes in land use that have impacted the micro-climate adversely.

10. Lessons that Assam needs to learn from Kerala:

  • The lesson that Assam needs to learn from Kerala is the effect of rampantdeforestationmining, and quarrying.
  • Kerala has allowed settlement on elephant corridor such as Thirunelli-Kadrakote and Kottiyoor-Periya, leading to felling.

 

State seeks cess on SGST, increased borrowing limit

News:

  1. The Kerala government is looking forward to imposition of a 10% cess on State GST and rise in its borrowing limit from the present 3% to 4.5% of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP).

Important facts:

2. The purpose is to raise sufficient resources for the post-floods reconstruction challenges that Kerala faces.

3. The State would also launch a special lottery scheme to raise funds for the reconstruction challenges.

4. The State government would request the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to implement long-term schemes for reconstruction of rain-battered infrastructure and revival of the agriculture and irrigation projects.

5. The Centre would also be urged to create a special Rs. 2,600-crore package under MGNREGS.

6. The State wished to submit before the Union a comprehensive rehabilitation proposal.

7. A moratorium on repayment of loans in the flood-hit areas was already in place and this was applicable to both commercial banks and cooperative banks.

8. The State also seeks to rise its borrowing limit to raise funds for post-floods reconstruction

 

ILO report flags wage inequality in India

News:

  1. According to the International LabourOrganisation, real average daily wages in India almost doubled in the first two decades after economic reforms, but low pay and wage inequality remains a major concern.

Important facts:

2. Key highlights of the International LabourOrganisation:

  • In 2009-10, a third of all of wage workers were paid less than the national minimum wage.That includes 41% of all casual workers and 15% of salaried workers.
  • In 2011-12, the average wage in India was about ₹247 rupees a day, almost double the 1993-94 figure of ₹
  • However, averagelabour productivity (as measured by GDP per worker) increased more rapidly than real average wages.
  • India’s labour share — or the proportion of national income which goes into labour compensation, as opposed to capital or landowners — has declined.
  • The rise in average wages was more rapid in rural areas, and for casual workers.
  • The average wage of casual workers — who make 62% of the earning population — was only ₹143 a day.
  • Daily wages in urban areas (₹384) also remain more than twice as high as those in rural areas (₹175).
  • Regional disparities in average wages have actually increased over time, with wages rising more rapidly in high-wage States than in low-wage ones.
  • The gender wage gap decreased from 48% in 1993-94 to 34% in 2011-12, but still remains high by international standards.
  • For all worker groups, the average wages of casual rural female workers was the lowest, at just ₹104 a day.
  • State-specific and comparative studies on wages are needed, said the ILO, urging collaborative work between government agencies, academic institutions and expert organisations

3. Suggestions:

  • Stronger implementation of minimum wage laws.
  • Strengthening of the framework for collective bargaining by workers.
  • This is essential to combat persistent low pay in some sectors and to bridge the wage gaps between rural and urban, male and female, and regular and casual workers.
  • State-specific and comparative studies on wages are needed.

 

Centre moots overseas UDAN

News:

  1. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has prepared a draft scheme document for “UDAN International”.

Important facts:

2. Benefits of the scheme:

  • Scheme will enable States to choose routes, provide subsidy to airlines.
  • State governments will be able to encourage tourism on preferred international air routes by offering subsidy to domestic airlines for a period of three years.
  • The scheme is designed for State governments to promote air connectivity on international routes.

3. The State will indentify international routes for which the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will determine a subsidy amount per seat and invite bids from domestic carriers.

4. The government will grant financial aid only for the actual number of passengers seat that are unsold, even if the airline had sought subsidy for a higher percentage of seating capacity at the time of bidding.

5. An airline that is awarded a particular route will have exclusive rights to a subsidy on that route for a period of three years.

6. The key difference between this scheme and the regional connectivity scheme (RCS) for domestic routes is that there is no capping of fares.

7. The RCS, makes air travel affordable, that is why the scheme was called UdeDesh Ka AamNagrik (UDAN).

8. The financial assistance to an airline will be offered from the International Air Connectivity Fund (IACF), which will be created through the contributions made by the State government.

9. Airlines will have to conduct a minimum of three and a maximum of seven departures on a given route on three days in a week.

10. The Centre has allowed airlines to enter into a code-sharing arrangement with international and domestic airlines for UDAN international.

11. At present, the low-cost carrier AirAsia operates daily flights to Kuala Lumpur from Bhubaneshwar with a subsidy from the State government on a per-flight basis.

 

IITs to cast net for foreign faculty

News:

  1. The HRD Ministrywill facilitate the recruitment of permanent foreign faculty in the IITs.

Important facts:

2. The Ministry will take up the matter with the Ministries of Home and External Affairs.

3. The move was applicable only to the IITs.

4. IITs are demanding that they be allowed to hire regular foreign faculty to get a wider talent.

5. Till now, the IITs can hire foreign faculty only on a contract basis for five years.

6. This will also enable them to climb in global rankings, as the faculty-student ratio and foreign faculty are two of the parameters used in top global rankings.

7. As many as 300 faculty positions are vacant in the IIT-Delhi alone, which is about 40% of its faculty strength.

8. This directly affects three or four parameters in the QS global ranking and ends up pushing the IITs’ ranks down.

9. Contractual appointments do not really help, as the contractual teacher cannot take Ph.D. students from the second year of the contract, since it is not known whether the contract will be renewed or not.

10. One reason for the vacancies in the IITs is that they do not get good candidates.

 

High science with low development

Article:

  1. Professor Pulapre Balakrishnan has observed that development in science ignores human development.

Important Analysis:

2. Rapid development in science and technology in India has left the basic necessity unattended.

3. There are major concern India need to focus on while emphasizing on the space program.

4. Concerns:

  • Flood issues
  • Mob Lynching in part of North and South India due to cattle trade
  • Middle-aged women accused of performing black magic
  • Children trafficking by migrant labor
  • Lack of clean energy
  • Availability of food at affordable price.

5. Objective of the Government Policy should focus on

  • Promoting individual rights and Liberty
  • Provide basic necessary things e.g. education and health services, public infrastructure and public institutions.

6. Political parties pursue projects in technology development to raise the country prestige to mask their primary responsibility towards fulfilling basic requirements.

7. For example, Nuclear energy program commenced soon after the independence instead it proved to be a costly venture.

8. In his point of view, India needed focus on solar and wind energy rather than Nuclear and Coal.

9. Nuclear energy is costly and burning of coal not only cause pollution but contributes to global warming.

10. Cost of solar energy reducing rapidly due to advancement in storage technology.

11. However a strong political will is required to bring a science policy which will focus on exploiting these natural resources.

12. In his finding the early policies related to science and development has involved economic exploitation and was against the necessity of masses.

13. Now India need to formulate science and technology policies in such a way that it favor the lives of masses.

14. For example Green revolution that has transformed India into self-sufficient in food.

15. It was achieved with bare involvement of technology and scientific leadership.

16. The performance of Indian agriculture has worsen despite having agriculture research institute and advanced technology

17. Food problem doesn’t cease to exist until produced food reaching masses at affordable price.

18. Farm productivity need to be increased.

19. As Mob lynching is mostly connected with Rural India, India need to reorient its advancement in science and technology which will help the masses in rural India who are vulnerable and been victim of Mob attack.

 

Defining the Holocene

News:

  1. Holocene Epoch named after Meghalaya.

Important facts:

2. International commission on Stratigraphy (ICS) has divided geological ages of Holocene Epoch into 3 designated name.

  • Greenlandian – Began 11,700 years ago
  • The Northgrippian – Began 82,00 years ago
  • Meghalayan Ages – Began 42,000 years ago

3. Holocene Epoch: The Holocene (meaning ‘recent whole’) marks the period since the last ice age. It includes the current period of human expansion, agricultural advances, and more recently some major changes to the earth’s surface, biota and climate

4. Initially, there were debate on how the division will take place between Holocene and Anthropocene Epoch.

5. But after a long decade of debate ICS were able to designate geological ages of Holocene Epoch.

6. Why Anthropocene Epoch division couldn’t formalized:

  • Some argued 8,000 year ago was a better starting point when agriculture began.
  • Another group suggested 1610 AD when European colonization started in America.
  • Last date was proposed when concrete, plastic and aluminum were disseminated across the planet

7. Due to disagreement over the starting date the Epoch has not been formalized.

8. Way to establishment of Holocene Epoch

  • Unlike Anthropocene, Holocene period was clearly demarcated
  • Initially there divided into early, middle and late Holocene
  • Finally it was divided into 2 division. The first, 8,200 years ago, was a catastrophic melting of glacial lakes resulting in a global drop in temperatures. The second, 42,000 years ago, was a massive drought.

9. Point Leading to controversies

  • Northgrippian period was coinciding with Anthropocene.
  • Drought which took place 4200 years ago was not global on which Holocene epoch division took place.
  • Drawing up Holocene epoch division on arbitrary lines.

 

Clearing the path

News:

  1. Supreme Court has taken initiative to protect elephant corridor.

Important facts:

  1. To restore ecology, Supreme Court has directed to close 27 resorts operating in elephant corridor in Nilgiri to allow hassle free movement to elephants.
  2. Elephant movement is essential for survival and it also helps to regenerate forest on which other species are dependent.
  3. Challenges impacting Elephant migratory Corridor
  • Weak regulation of ecotourism
  • Fragmentation of forest
  • Structures like hotels and homes
  • Human-Elephant conflict due to which Elephant looks for alternate path
  1. Measurements Needs to be taken
  • Expansion of Elephant migratory corridor is required by acquiring more land to provide free movement to Elephants.
  • End Human-Elephant conflict by protecting elephant corridor.
  • Initiate investigation against any illegal construction in forest area.
  • Most importantly, providing legal status of protected park or sanctuaries to 40 % Elephant reserves which are vulnerable and
  • Illegal structure should be removed immediately.
  1. Wildlife Trust of India and Elephant Project reports finding says:
  • There are 101 elephant corridors and 70 % of them are being used on a regular basis.
  • Report says, three-quarters of corridors are evenly divided between southern, central and north-eastern region. Rest are in north-west Bengal and other region.
  • Some passages are very narrow of 100 meters wide.
  • Estimation of 6500 elephants just in Brahmagiri-Nilgiri-Eastern Ghats.
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