Insights Daily Current Events, 02 June 2016
Paper 2 Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
Government firm on its rules for judges’ selection
The government has decided to confront the higher judiciary by sticking to its proposed Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) that will guide the Supreme Court collegium on the appointment of judges to the apex court and high courts, notwithstanding the top judiciary rejecting almost all major suggestions made by the Centre.
Chief Justice of India (CJI) T S Thakur had sent back the MoP recently with a point-by-point rejection of the Centre’s proposals. The government has referred the matter to attorney general (AG) Mukul Rohatgi and asked him to prepare a point-by-point rebuttal and give reasons why the collegium’s rejection is not acceptable.
The SC had, after striking down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act last year, agreed on framing of the MoP by the Centre in consultation with the collegium.
Proposed contentious rules in MoC:
- Government’s right to reject a recommendation on concerns of national interest.
- Involvement of the AG in suggesting a list of suitable candidates.
- Names for judges’ appointments could be suggested by all judges of the bench as well as by the AG and the bar.
- The list of candidates brought before the collegium will first be vetted by a committee of two retired judges and an eminent person.
Presently, the government is bound to comply if the Supreme Court collegium chooses to override its disapproval of a person recommended for judicial appointment. If the government returns the candidate’s file to the collegium, and the latter reiterates its recommendation, the government has no choice but to comply.
The government should send a response to the apex court as early as possible to avoid any further delay in filling vacancies in HCs. There are over 40% judges’ positions lying vacant in HCs.
Paper 3 Topic: awareness in space.
Scientists have discovered an unusual astronomical object: an Einstein ring. These phenomena, predicted by Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, are quite rare but scientifically interesting.
- The interest is sufficiently strong that this object has been given its own name: the “The Canarias Einstein ring”.
What is it?
An Einstein ring is a distorted image of a very distant galaxy, which is termed “the source”. The distortion is produced by the bending of the light rays from the source due to a massive galaxy, termed “the lens”, lying between it and the observer. The strong gravitational field produced by the lens galaxy distorts the structure of space-time in its neighbourhood, and this does not only attract objects which have a mass, but also bends the paths of light. When the two galaxies are exactly aligned, the image of the more distant galaxy is converted into an almost perfect circle which surrounds the lens galaxy. The irregularities in the circle are due to asymmetries in the source galaxy.
Theory of relativity explained:
Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT and Computers.
India’s NIIT to train 50,000 China students on ‘Big Data’
The National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) located in new industrial park in southwest China is gearing up to train 50,000 Chinese students over the next five years on Big Data.
The training contract was signed on the sidelines of China’s ‘Big Data’ conference and exhibition at Guiyang recently. An agreement was also sealed with the provincial government to establish a Big Data Talent Research Centre in Guiyang “to enhance innovation and research”.
What is Big Data?
‘Big Data’ refers to a massive accumulation of information, siphoned from multiple sources and domains, which can then be analysed to make informed decisions.
- It is an all-encompassing term for any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using traditional data processing applications. Big data “size” is a constantly moving target.
- It requires exceptional technologies to efficiently process large quantities of data within tolerable elapsed times.
- The use and adoption of Big Data within governmental processes is beneficial and allows efficiencies in terms of cost, productivity, and innovation.
Sources: the hindu.
Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
Proposal to hire private sector talent in PSUs wins approval
The Cabinet has given an ‘ex-post facto’ approval for amending public sector recruitment rules to allow the selection of candidates from the private sector and state public sector enterprises.
The nod is for the selection of candidates from state public sector enterprises and the private sector as “non-internal candidates for a period of five years for appointment in Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).”
Who will benefit?
The good talent at the top of the private sector will not migrate. Those not in the top rungs may see an advantage in PSUs.
The move is expected to bring in greater efficiency but there are some concerns that need to be addressed. There must be careful selection so that those who have not been able to make it in the private sector don’t opt for a government job just because of higher job security. The selection process must be shielded from politics which is something difficult to do in India.
Sources: the hindu.
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.
Govt. mulls ‘outcome-linked’ incentive for NIIF chief
The government is considering an ‘outcome-linked’ payment package as part of incentives for the recruitment of a chief executive of India’s first sovereign wealth fund, the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).
- However, negotiations on the incentive payment, which will be paid for every $10 billion the fund succeeds in raising, are still on.
The Cabinet had given its approval in July for setting up NIIF. The Finance Ministry, in October 2015, constituted a search-cum-selection committee for selecting a chief executive. The governing council of the fund, chaired by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, had decided to complete the selection process by January-end.
National Infrastructure and Investment Fund (NIIF) was set up as a trust with a corpus of Rs 20,000 crore.
- The Fund aims to attract investment from both domestic and international sources.
- The government’s contribution would be limited to 49% of the subscribed capital.
- The government will seek participation from strategic investors such as sovereign fund, quasi sovereign funds and multilateral or bilateral investors, which can help leverage this fund to many times.
- Cash-rich PSUs, pension funds, provident funds, National Small Saving Fund will be able to pick up stake in the fund.
- The objective of NIIF is to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects, NIIF would solicit equity participation from strategic anchor partners.
- Sovereign funds and pension funds from a number of countries, including the U.K., UAE, Russia and Singapore, have already expressed interest in investing in NIIF. India and the UAE signed a pact to mobilise up to $75 billion long-term investment.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
- The Supreme Court, in its recent verdict, has observed that mere possession of assets disproportionate to known sources of income is not an offence and a person can be held guilty only if it is proved that the assets were acquired through illegal means.
- The world’s longest tunnel has officially been opened. The 57-kilometre (35-mile) Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) is longest tunnel now. It runs from Erstfeld in the central canton of Uri, to Bodio in the southern Ticino canton. With its official opening, the GBT has surpassed Japan’s 53.9-kilometre Seikan tunnel as the world’s longest train tunnel. The 50.5-kilometre Channel Tunnel that links England and France has been bumped into third place.
- The government has set up the Financial Sector Search and Recruitment Committee headed by cabinet secretary P K Sinha to decide on members and heads of financial regulatory agencies. The head of the regulatory body, whose members are to be selected, will be a special invitee to the panel.
- The Cabinet has approved the decision that the chairperson and members of the public enterprises selection board (PESB) should hold office for a period of three years from the assumption of charge or until they turn 65 years of age, whichever is earlier.
- The Cabinet has approved the signing of three memoranda of understanding (MoU) between India and Qatar for cooperation in skill development and ‘recognition of qualifications.’ It will strengthen ties in the field of tourism, and provide cooperation and mutual assistance in matters related to customs.
- Cabinet has approved the MoU between the United States of America and India to enhance cooperation in wildlife conservation and combating wildlife trafficking. The pact seeks cooperation in various areas including wildlife forensics and conservation genetics which is useful in species conservation efforts and better scientific evidence collection in wildlife crimes leading to better enforcement. Both the countries, under the pact, will also cooperate in the area of natural world heritage conservation which includes facilitating the institutional capacity of the existing UNESCO Category -2 centre at Wildlife Institute of India. The pact also seeks cooperation in nature interpretation and conservation awareness which involves use of information technology in strengthening interface of forest managers with the people to sensitise people.
- The Union Cabinet has approved the setting up of India Post’s payments bank at a total project cost of Rs 800 crore. The India Post Payment Bank (IPPB), which will generate employment opportunities for about 3,500 skilled banking professionals, will set up 650 branches and 5,000 ATMs across the country. The total fund requirement for the proposal is Rs 800 crore, which will be split up as Rs 400 crore equity and Rs 400 crore as grant. IPPB will start operations in March 2017 in about 50 districts and will cover the entire country by the end of FY 2018-19.