Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 16 April 2019
Relevant articles from PIB:
- Indigenization of technology.
Context: India recently successfully test-fired its first Sub-sonic cruise missile, Nirbhay.
- Nirbhay is a long range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile designed and developed in India by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
- The missile can be launched from multiple platforms and is capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads.
- It is a two-stage missile powered by Solid rocket motor booster.
- It is capable of carrying warheads of up to 300kg at a speed of 0.6 to 0.7 Mach (sub-sonic).
- It has an operational range of 1000 km (long range).
- The Nirbhay cruise missile is an Indian version of the American Tomahawk.
Relevant articles from various News Papers:
- Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Prime Minister and Sadr-e-Riyasat of Jammu & Kashmir- when they were in existence and when were they removed? Reasons for and significance of amendments leading to the abolition of these posts.
- The J&K Constituent Assembly was constituted in September 1951 and dispersed on January 25, 1957. The J&K Constitution was adopted on November 17, 1956 but came into effect only on January 26, 1957.
- The Constituent Assembly resolved that the head of state, named Sadr-e-Riyasat, would be elected by the Legislative Assembly for a term of five years and recognised by the President of India.
- New Delhi agreed to allow J&K to recognise an elected Sadr-e-Riyasat instead of an appointed Governor.
- Eligibility: Only a permanent resident of J&K could become Sadr-e-Riyasat. Once elected by the Legislative Assembly, the Sadr-e-Riyasat had to be recognised and then appointed by the President of India.
- On the recommendation of the J&K Constituent Assembly, the President issued a Constitution Order on November 17, 1952 under Article 370 saying that the state government means the elected Sadr-e-Riyasat, acting on the aid and advice of council of ministers.
- J&K had its own Prime Minister and Sadr-e-Riyasat until 1965, when the J&K Constitution was amended (Sixth Constitution of J&K Amendment Act, 1965) by the then Congress government, which replaced the two positions with Chief Minister and Governor respectively. The state had nine more Prime Ministers before Independence.
The first Prime Minister of J&K, appointed by Dogra ruler Maharaja Hari Singh, was Sir Albion Banerjee (1927-29).
When was it changed and why?
The Sixth Amendment to the J&K Constitution, carried out in 1965, made a fundamental change to its basic structure.
Under Section 147, an amendment is to be assented by the Sadr-e-Riyasat after a Bill is passed by a two-thirds majority of the House, while Section 147 itself cannot be amended by the state legislature, and neither can an amendment that changes the provisions of Constitution of India as applicable in relation to J&K.
- Sadr-e-Riyasat, however, was replaced with Governor across the J&K Constitution, except in Section 147 which could not be amended. This has led to the existence of two kinds of heads of state in the Constitution — Sadr-e-Riyasat as well as Governor. In 1975, a Presidential Order issued under Article 370 barred the J&K Legislature from making any change to the J&K Constitution regarding appointment and powers of the Governor.
- In December 2015, the J&K High Court ruled that the conversion of the post of Sadr-e-Riyasat into Governor was unconstitutional. The ‘elective’ status of Head of the State was an important attribute of Constitutional autonomy enjoyed by the State, a part of ‘Basic Framework’ of the State Constitution and therefore not within the amending power of the State legislature. In terms of aforestated amendment Governor is appointed by the President and is to be Head of the State. The office of Head of the State in wake of amendment ceases to be ‘elective’.
- The Sixth Amendment therefore did not merely change the nomenclature, but the eligibility, mode and method of appointment of Head of the State.”
J&K’s major parties have been demanding restoration of J&K’s autonomy to its original status as agreed during the 1947 negotiations. In 2000, when the NC was in power after having won with a two-thirds majority in 1996, the Legislative Assembly passed a State Autonomy Report, seeking restoration of the state’s autonomy to the 1953 position, which would have meant restoration of the Prime Minister and Sadr-e-Riyasat positions. The then Vajpayee government summarily rejected the resolution passed by the Assembly.
- Biotechnology and ethics related issues.
What to study?
For prelims and Mains: Maternal spindle transfer (MST)- features, significance, ethical and other issues involved.
Context: Fertility doctors in Greece and Spain say they have produced a baby from three people in order to overcome a woman’s infertility. Some experts in the UK say the procedure raises ethical questions and should not have taken place.
The experimental form of IVF uses an egg from the mother, sperm from the father, and another egg from a donor woman. It was developed to help families affected by deadly mitochondrial diseases which are passed down from mother to baby.
The technique was used in Mexico in 2016 to produce a baby for a family with mitochondrial disease complications. It was also used in Ukraine in 2017 to produce a baby for a 34-year-old Ukrainian mother suffering from “unexplained infertility.”
How was it done?
The team used a technique called maternal spindle transfer (MST).
All cells have mitochondria, which are like power packs for the cells and create the energy that keeps cells alive. While a child’s DNA is a mixture from both the mother and father, mitochondria are separate “packages of genetics” that come solely from the mother.
Some people have a mitochondrial disease — a problem with the genetics in their mitochondria — which can lead to severe, life-threatening conditions, although this is rare.
One treatment for a woman who might have one of these diseases is to replace the mitochondria in her eggs via IVF. This can be done via a process like the one used in Greece where the DNA is taken out of the woman’s egg and put into a donor woman’s egg once the DNA has been stripped from it, which is then fertilised with sperm to create an embryo.
Is it ethical?
With this, a woman’s inalienable right to become a mother with her own genetic material became a reality. However, some experts say the technique raises ethical questions and should be banned in cases not involving disease. The risks of the technique aren’t entirely known, though may be considered acceptable if being used to treat mitochondrial disease.
The structure of a cell:
- Nucleus: Where the majority of our DNA is held – this determines how we look and our personality.
- Mitochondria: Often described as the cell’s factories, these create the energy to make the cell function.
- Cytoplasm: The jelly like substance that contains the nucleus and mitochondria.
Sources: the hindu.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: BBIN- features, need and significance.
Context: The Bhutan government has decided to send the bill for ratification of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) initiative for road and rail connectivity to its upper senate.
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) had signed a framework MVA in June 2015 to enable movement of passenger and cargo vehicles across borders among the four countries. Bhutan has not yet ratified the pact for its entry to come into force. However, Bhutan had given its consent for the BBIN MVA to enter into force amongst the other 3 countries i.e. Bangladesh, India and Nepal, who have already ratified it.
About BBIN MVA:
What is it? The landmark MVA was signed by Transport Ministers of the BBIN countries in Thimphu, Bhutan on 15 June 2015. As per the agreement, member countries would allow vehicles registered in the other countries to enter their territory under certain terms and conditions. Customs and tariffs will be decided by the respective countries and these would be finalised at bilateral and trilateral forums.
Objective: The main objective of the agreement is to provide seamless people-to-people contact and enhance economic interaction by facilitating cross border movement of people and goods.
Benefits: It would permit unhindered movement of passenger and cargo vehicles among the four countries. Cargo vehicles do not have to be changed at the border, a practice that has prevailed until now. The BBIN agreement will promote safe, economical efficient and environmentally sound road transport in the sub-region and will further help each country in creating an institutional mechanism for regional integration.
Assistance from ADB: The Asian Development Bank(ADB) has been providing technical, advisory, and financial support to the BBIN MVA initiative as part of its assistance to the South Asia Sub regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) program, a projects-based economic cooperation initiative that brings together the BBIN countries, Maldives, Sri Lanka and more recently, Myanmar. ADB is the secretariat of SASEC.
Sources: the hindu.
- Pollution and conservation related issues.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Functions and composition of the committee constituted, river pollution- extent, challenges, concerns and measures needed.
Context: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has formed a Central Monitoring Committee to prepare and enforce a national plan to make over 350 river stretches across the country pollution free.
Composition: The committee would comprise a representative of NITI Aayog, secretaries of Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Urban Development and Ministry of Environment, the director general of National Mission for Clean Ganga and the Chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board. The Chairman of CPCB will be the nodal authority for coordination. The chief secretaries of the states will act as the nodal agency at the state level.
Objective: The committee has been composed to monitor pollution of rivers, as it has caused serious threat to the safety of water and environment. Besides checking river pollution, the central monitoring committee will coordinate with the River Rejuvenation Committees of the states and oversee the execution of the action plans, taking into account the timelines, budgetary mechanism and other factors.
Crores of rupees have been pumped in for cleaning rivers under the Centre’s National River Conservation Plan (NRCP), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), Smart Cities Mission programmes of the Ministry of Urban Development and the “Namami Gange” under Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation (MOWR).
Still pollution level in rivers of India has not shown any sign of improvement. More than 38,000 million litres of waste water goes into the major rivers, water bodies and even percolates into the ground every day. Over and above this there is industrial effluent.
Need of the hour:
- CPCB and the state pollution control boards should launch a nationwide programme on biodiversity monitoring and indexing of the rivers to assess the efficacy of river cleaning programme.
- For the safety of human health and maintaining the sanctity of the rivers, regular hygienic surveys of the rivers should be carried out with reference to fecal coliform and fecal streptococci, as indicated in the primary water quality criteria for bathing waters.
- There is also the need for a regular study of the Indian rivers with regard to biological health and its diversity.
Sources: the hindu.
Mains Question: Examine the factors behind the high levels of pollution in Indian rivers. What can be done to protect our rivers from degradation and slow death. Discuss.
Facts for Prelims:
IMD rainfall distribution categories:
Context: While releasing its monsoon forecast recently, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) expressed the projected rainfall in terms of Long Period Average (LPA), saying that it was expected to be 96% of LPA. The LPA of the monsoon season over the country is 89 cm, calculated for the period 1951-2000.
What is LPA? This is the average rainfall recorded during the months from June to September, calculated during the 50-year period, and is kept as a benchmark while forecasting the quantitative rainfall for the monsoon season every year.
How is it measured?
Like the countrywide figure, IMD maintains an independent LPA for every homogeneous region of the country, which ranges from 71.6 cm to 143.83 cm.
- The region-wise LPA figures are:83 cm for East and Northeast India, 97.55 cm for Central India, 71.61 cm for South Peninsular India, and 61.50 for Northwest India, which put together bring the all-India figure to 88.75 cm.
- The monthly LPA figures for the season are36 cm for June, 28.92 cm for July, 26.13 cm for August and 17.34 cm for September.
So, when IMD forecasts the category of rainfall, be it for country, region or month, the forecast is based on these standardised figures calculated for a period of 50 years.
As per the outputs obtained from the weather models, the rainfall is categorised as normal, below normal, or above normal. IMD maintains five rainfall distribution categories on an all-India scale. These are:
- Normal or Near Normal: When per cent departure of actual rainfall is +/-10% of LPA, that is, between 96-104% of LPA.
- Below normal: When departure of actual rainfall is less than 10% of LPA, that is 90-96% of LPA.
- Above normal: When actual rainfall is 104-110% of LPA.
- Deficient: When departure of actual rainfall is less than 90% of LPA.
- Excess: When departure of actual rainfall is more than 110% of LPA.
Context: Telugu poet K Siva Reddy has been selected for the prestigious Saraswati Samman, 2018 for his work Pakkaki Ottigilite which is a collection of poetry.
- Saraswati Samman is the annual award given to an outstanding literary work in any Indian language mentioned in Schedule VIII of the Constitution and published in 10 years preceding the specified award year.
- It is the highest recognition in the field of Indian literature in the country and carries a citation, a plaque and award money of ₹15 lakh.
- The award is presented by the KK Birla Foundation, a literary and cultural organisation that also gives the Vyas Samman for Hindi, and Bihari Puraskar for Hindi and Rajasthani writers of Rajasthan.
Coast Guard patrol ship Veera commissioned:
- Veera, third in the series of offshore patrol vessels of the Coast Guard, was built by L&T at its shipbuilding facility at Kattupalli in Chennai. A ship of this class has been designed and constructed in India for the first time as part of ‘Make in India’ concept of the Central government.
- Veera is equipped with the state-of-the-art machinery comprising an integrated bridge system, which includes advanced navigation and communication technology and integrated platform management system.
Context: The Chinese authorities are using a vast, secret system of advanced facial recognition technology to track and control the Uighurs. It is the first known example of a government intentionally using artificial intelligence for racial profiling.
Who are Uighurs?
The Uighurs are mostly Muslims, and number about 11 million in western China’s Xinjiang region. They see themselves as culturally and ethnically close to Central Asian nations, and their language is similar to Turkish.
What’s the issue?
The tension and recent violence between the Uighurs and China is mainly caused by economic and cultural factors. There’s been a mass migration of Han Chinese (China’s ethnic majority) to Xinjiang, and the Uighurs feel their culture and livelihoods are under threat. Uighurs also react vehemently to gradual curtailment of their commercial and cultural activities, restrictions on Islam, strict control over religious schools in the region by China.
Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary:
Why in News? With the number of tigers steadily on the rise at Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttarakhand, the authorities feel upgrading it to a tiger reserve is necessary for the conservation of tigers at the facility. Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary is situated close to the Nandhaur river in Kumaon region of the State.
What are Non-Core Assets?
Why in News? The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) issued guidelines for monetisation of non-core assets of CPSEs.
Non-core assets are assets that are either not essential or simply no longer used in a company’s business operations. Non-core assets are often sold when a company needs to raise cash. Some businesses sell their non-core assets in order to pay down their debt.
Composition: A non-core asset can be any kind of asset, including an entire subsidiary or a holding in another company. But often non-core assets are things such as real estate, commodities, natural resources, currencies or securities. A non-core asset might also be factory or property that is no longer being used.
Who decides? Whether an asset is considered non-core is entirely relative to the company. An asset that is non-core for one company might be core for another.
Summaries of Important Editorials:
What the Model Code of Conduct says on invoking religion during polls?
Context: The Election Commission of India has barred Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Azam Khan of the Samajwadi Party, Maneka Gandhi of the BJP and BSP chief Mayawati for few days for making “highly provocative” speeches that could “aggravate existing differences and create mutual hatred between different religious communities”.
What MCC says?
Paragraph 1 the Model Code of Conduct forbids parties and candidates from indulging in “any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic”.
What do RPA and IPC say on this?
Invoking religion to seek votes, or making statements to the effect of creating disharmony between two communities, is a violation of the poll conduct and may invite prosecution under Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (Promoting enmity between classes in connection with election), Sections 153A, 153B, l7lC, 295A and 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code and Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988.
The Election Commission’s weakening commitment to the Model Code of Conduct is cause for concern. There are now perceptions that the ECI has responded inadequately, or not at all, to violations of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC), which is in effect from March 10 to May 23.
Some examples in this election include the Prime Minister’s announcement on national television of India’s first anti-satellite weapon test, the Rajasthan Governor making statements in favour of the ruling party, leaders of the ruling party invoking the Indian Army in their election campaign, and, in a spate of dubious media initiatives, a continuous line of statements along communal lines.
- Electoral malpractice has appeared in new forms. Voter bribery and manipulation through the media have become the techniques of unethically influencing voters in place of voter intimidation and booth capturing. These malpractices are harder to stem.
- The ECI’s capacity to respond to the older types of violations of the MCC has weakened. Its response to inappropriate statements by powerful political actors has been weak, or delayed. Consequently, political actors are regaining the confidence to flout the MCC without facing the consequences.
- As the ECI’s capacity to secure a level playing field has dipped, attacks on it have increased. They now encompass its processes such as the use of electronic voting machines, which had become acceptable when the ECI was stronger. A vicious cycle has been set in motion.
Need of the hour:
The Model Code of Conduct, which evolved from a draft code voluntarily approved by representatives of leading political parties in Kerala in February 1960, has been in place since 1962, when the Election Commission circulated it to all recognised parties. But a lot of time has passed, and the nature of elections and electioneering have undergone many changes. It is time to revise it thoroughly.