Insights Daily Current Events, 15 March 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.
ACB by Karnataka
The Karnataka government has set up an Anti-Corruption Bureau to provide a transparent and efficient administration.
The ACB will be a statutory authority to investigate graft offences. It has been placed under the direct supervision of the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms (DPAR) where a vigilance wing, headed by a secretary-level officer will be in charge of the new body and will report to the chief minister through the chief secretary.
- However, the ACB will have no power to initiate a probe on decisions taken or recommendations made by public servants, without prior permission from the appointing authority.
- An Inspector General of Police (IGP) rank officer will head the vigilance cell within ACB and will report to the newly created Vigilance Advisory Board, headed by the chief secretary.
- ACB will be headed by an Additional Director General of Police-rank officer. It will have an IGP rank officer, 10 superintendents of police and a 322-member force.
Though Karnataka was the first state to set up an anti-corruption watchdog – the Lokayukta (ombudsman) in 1984 under the Karnataka Lokayukta Act (KLA), there is also the Prevention of Corruption Act empowers police to investigate graft charge against officials.
- The KLA and PC Act are different legislations, as the former empowers the quasi-judicial Lokayukta to only inquire into complaints against public servants but does not allow criminal investigation against them and others accused of seeking or taking bribe.
- Though the state government entrusted the investigation powers into corruption charges to the police wing of the state Lokayukta, the Supreme Court in the Rangaswamaiah versus Karnataka Lokayukta case in 1988 held that police officers probing cases under the PC Act were autonomous.
- The Karnataka High Court had also held that the Lokayukta did not have the jurisdiction to supervise criminal investigation under the PC Act through its police wing on the basis of the top court’s Rangaswamaiah judgement.
- The state government has therefore decided to separate the two roles by forming the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) on the lines of the central government.
The creation of new body, however, is not free from criticisms. Activists argue that the effectiveness of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), now invested with powers to probe corruption cases against public servants, will eventually depend on the whims and fancies of the State government, which will be directly overseeing these probes.
- The agency can also be selectively used to target or safeguard those accused of corruption, they argue.
- Not just that. All the cases registered by the Lokayukta police under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 will now be transferred to the ACB.
- The Lokayukta police wing will now be reduced to assisting the Lokayukta in their probes, under the Karnataka Lokayukta Act, 1988, which even the former Lokayuktas agree is toothless in fighting corruption.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 1 Topic: art and culture.
Tales decoded from mediaeval copper plates
Researchers from the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI), which houses South Asia’s largest collection of manuscripts and rare texts, have decoded three copper plates belonging to rulers from mediaeval South Indian dynasties.
The oldest plate, which has inscriptions in Sanskrit and Kannada, dates back to the 7 Century A.D. It records an anecdote about Vinayaditya, who ruled the Badami Chalukyan dynasty from 680 A.D. to 696 A.D.
- Vinayaditya gifted the village of Telgi in Karnataka to a scholar of the Gautam Gotra in 683 A.D. The village is on the northern banks of the Krishna river in Bijapur district in Karnataka.
- The Chalukya plate, which is divided into three iron strips, consists of 33 lines of text spread across it. The strips are made into a ring and contain the king’s seal depicting a boar.
The second plate dates back to the time of the Yadava dynasty of Devagiri. It records King Kanhardev Yadav giving a strip of land near Saundatti in Karnataka to some beneficiaries on April 29, 1254.
- Kanhardev ruled the Yadavas before the dynasty was subjugated by Ala-ud-Khilji and incorporated into the Delhi Sultanate in 1294 A.D.
- This plate too bears three strips and consists of 104 lines in Sanskrit and Kannada. It also has a seal in the shape of an eagle.
The third plate, dated January 7, 1606, belongs to King Venkatapati Raya of the Aravidu dynasty, which was the fourth and the last Hindu clan to hold sway over the once-powerful Vijayanagara Empire.
- The plate dates back to a time when the empire’s grandeur had all but faded after Rama Raya, the powerful regent of the Vijayanagara empire, suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Bahamani kings in the battle of Talikota in 1565 A.D.
- The Aravidu plate bears five strips and 160 lines of text. It talks about a land grant in the villages of Puliyendal and Randal in Karnataka.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: space.
Europe and Russia recently launched a spacecraft in a joint mission to sniff out signs of life on Mars and bring humans a step closer to flying to the red planet themselves.
- The craft, part of the ExoMars program, blasted off from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan on board a Proton rocket, starting a seven-month journey through space.
- It carries an atmospheric probe that is to study trace gases such as methane.
Why study Methane?
Methane is a chemical that on Earth is strongly tied to life. Besides, previous Mars missions have detected traces of methane in the planet’s atmosphere.
- Scientists believe the methane could stem from micro-organisms, called methanogenes, that either became extinct millions of years ago and left gas frozen below the planet’s surface, or that some methane-producing organisms still survive.
- Another explanation for the methane in Mars’s atmosphere could be that it is produced by geological phenomena, such as the oxidation of iron.
The ExoMars 2016 mission, a collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and its Russian equivalent Roscosmos, is the first part of a two-phase exploration aiming to answer questions about the existence of life on Earth’s neighbour.
- The ExoMars mission will complement the work of Nasa’s Curiosity rover which has spent more than three years on Mars as part of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission.
- The second part of the ExoMars mission in 2018 will deliver a European rover to the surface of Mars. It will be the first with the ability to both move across the planet’s surface and drill into the ground to collect and analyze samples.
- The cost of the ExoMars mission to the European Space Agency, including the second part due in 2018, is expected to be about 1.3 billion euros ($1.4 billion). Russia’s contribution comes on top of that.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
February broke global temperature records
According to the recently released NASA data, February broke 100 year old temperature records by a ‘shocking’ amount.
- The data shows the average global surface temperature in February was 1.35C warmer than the average temperature for the month between 1951-1980, a far bigger margin than ever seen before.
- This has led scientists to declare a ‘climate emergency‘.
Factors responsible for this:
Scientists believe that a combination of strong El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean and human-caused warming drove temperatures to such high levels. Another important factor is a ‘superheated Arctic‘. Arctic sea ice is at a satellite-record low for the second month in a row. Arctic sea ice extent for February averaged 14.22 million square kilometers (5.48 million square miles), the lowest February extent in the satellite record.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 2 Topic: Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States.
Supreme Court asks Centre to frame rules for child adoption
The Supreme Court has directed the Centre to frame effective regulations within three months for making inter-country adoptions foolproof and transparent.
- It has also asked the centre to put in place a “credible mechanism” for intra and inter-country adoption of children.
- The court also observed that the new mechanism should lay down rules and regulations similar to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
The order came on a PIL filed by an NGO, seeking a regulatory mechanism to deal with adoption in the country, alleging it had become a major illegal commercial activity.
- According to the new law, online registration of prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) is compulsory, including uploading all documents related to the process. Home study of PAPs will be completed within a month of registration on the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) website. The new rules stipulate increase in the age of PAPs from 45 to 55 years.
What is ‘adoption’?
The new juvenile law defines “adoption” as the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from his biological parents and becomes the lawful child of his adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities that are attached to a biological child.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
More than 50 animal species critically endangered: Govt
The Rajya Sabha was recently informed that out of 96,000 animal species in India, 50 have been labeled as “critically endangered”.
- Studies conducted by Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have recorded 96,000 species of animals from India.
- Among these, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has assessed 18 species of amphibians, 14 varieties of fish, 13 birds and 10 mammals as critically endangered and 310 species as endangered, including 69 fish, 38 mammals and 32 amphibians.
- Besides, as per the data available with Botanical Survey of India (BSI), out of 19,156 species of vascular plants, 1,236 species belong to different threatened categories like critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable.
Towards conservation of threatened species, the government has established 730 Protected Areas, including 103 national parks, 535 wildlife sanctuaries, 26 community reserves and 66 conservation reserves, which primarily cover habitats of threatened megafauna such as tiger, rhino, elephant and others.
- Also, nine of the 18 biosphere reserves in India are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO.
- The National CAMPA Advisory Council has also approved the funding for recovery programme of various endangered species. These include Dugong with a budget of Rs 23.58 crore, Gangetic River Dolphin with Rs 23 crore, Great Indian Bustard with Rs 108.25 crore, Manipur Brow Antlered deer with budgetary support of Rs 99.95 crore and wild Buffalo with Rs 2 crore.
Sources: the hindu.