Table of Contents:
GS Paper 2:
GS Paper 3:
GS Paper : 2
Topics Covered: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
What to study?
For Prelims: Procedure, eligibility and voting.
For Mains: Significance of upper house, criticisms and reforms necessary.
Context: The biennial elections for 55 Rajya Sabha seats will take place on March 26, 2020. The announcement was made by the Election Commission recently.
The Constitution provides that the Rajya Sabha shall consist of 250 members, of which 12 members shall be nominated by the President from amongst persons having special knowledge or practical experience in respect of such matters as literature, science, art and social service; and not more than 238 representatives of the States and of the Union Territories.
How are the members elected?
Elections to the Rajya Sabha are indirect.
- Members representing States are elected by elected members of legislative assemblies of the States in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
- Members representing Union Territories are chosen in such manner as Parliament may by law prescribe.
- The Rajya Sabha is not subject to dissolution; one-third of its members retire every second year.
- According to Section 154 of the Representation of the People Act 1951, a member chosen to fill a casual vacancy will serve for the remainder of his predecessor’s term of office.
- Members of a state’s Legislative Assembly vote in the Rajya Sabha elections in what is called proportional representation with the single transferable vote (STV) system. Each MLA’s vote is counted only once.
Topics Covered: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Composition, mandate, functions and significance of CWMA.
Context: Tamil Nadu and Puducherry have strongly objected to Karnataka’s bid to seek approval for the Mekedatu dam project at the fifth Cauvery Water Management Authority (CWMA) meeting in New Delhi. Following the objections, the CWMA dropped the discussion on Karnataka’s application.
What is Mekedatu Project?
A multi-purpose balancing reservoir project over Mekedatu, built at a cost of Rs 5,912, was aimed at solving the drinking water problems of Bengaluru and Ramnagar district. This project was also touted as one that could generate hydroelectricity to meet the power demand in the state.
Why does Tamil Nadu object?
- The state contended that “the proposed reservoir would affect the natural flows of the river Cauvery.
- It argued that Cauvery was already a deficit basin and the construction of the project, or any other project “would drastically affect the lower riparian State in getting their due share of waters.
It has been created as per the Cauvery Management Scheme earlier framed by Centre and approved by Supreme Court.
Composition and Powers of CMA:
- The authority will comprise a chairman, a secretary and eight members.
- Out of the eight members, two will be full time, while two will be part time members from centre’s side.
- Rest four will be part time members from states.
- The main mandate of the CMA will be to secure implementation and compliance of the Supreme Court’s order in relation to “storage, apportionment, regulation and control of Cauvery waters”.
- CMA will also advise the states to take suitable measures to improve water use efficiency.
- It will do so by promoting use of micro-irrigation, change in cropping patterns, improved farm practices and development of command areas.
- The CMA will also prepare an annual report covering its activities during the preceding year.
Role of Central Government:
The central government will provide help in implementation of the modified award in case of any of the state /UT parties (Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Puducherry) do not cooperate in implementing the decision or direction of the tribunal. Initially, centre will contribute Rs. 2 crore for the functioning of the authority.
Sources: the Hindu.
Topics Covered: Issues related to health.
What to study?
For Prelims: Infection, symptoms and effects of H1N1.
For Mains: Spread and ways to prevent it.
Context: Five judges of the Supreme Court of India have been affected by Swine Flu which is caused by the H1N1 virus.
What is Swine flu (H1N1)?
Also called as pig influenza, swine flu, hog flu and pig flu. It is an infection caused by any one of several types of swine influenza viruses. Swine influenza virus is any strain of the influenza family of viruses that is endemic in pigs. Influenza A (H1N1) virus is the subtype of influenza A virus that is the most common cause of human influenza. It is an orthomyxovirus that contains the glycoproteins haemagglutinin and neuraminidase.
- Haemagglutinin causes red blood cells to clump together and binds the virus to the infected cell.
- Neuraminidase is a type of glycoside hydrolase enzyme which helps to move the virus particles through the infected cell and assist in budding from the host cells.
Spread and Effects:
- H1N1 influenza (or swine flu) is a highly contagious acute respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza virus that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza in pigs.
- Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with swine flu have occurred.
- Most commonly, these cases occur in people with direct exposure to pigs (e.g., children near pigs at a fair or workers in the swine industry).
- However, there have been cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu.
Treatment consists of antivirals:
Typical treatment includes rest, pain relievers and fluids. In some cases antiviral medication and IV fluids may be required.
Sources: the Hindu.
GS Paper : 3
Topics Covered: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
What to study?
For Prelims and Mains: Features and significance of Masala Bonds.
Context: Asian Development Bank (ADB) has listed its 10-year masala bonds worth Rs 850 crore on the global debt listing platform of India INX. The proceeds would be used to support local currency lending and investment in India.
India INX is the country’s first international exchange, located at International Financial Services Centre, GIFT City in Gujarat. ADB’s masala bonds are listed on both Luxembourg exchange and India INX.
What are Masala Bonds?
They are bonds issued outside India by an Indian entity or corporate. These bonds are issued in Indian currency than local currency. Indian corporates usually issue Masala Bonds to raise funds from foreign investors. As it is pegged into Indian currency, if the rupee rates fall, investors bear the risk. The first Masala bond was issued in 2014 by IFC for the infrastructure projects in India.
How does Masala Bonds help bond issuer?
As Masala bonds are issued directly in Indian rupees, the investor needs to bear the exchange rate risks. Rupee rate falls will not affect the issuer of Masala Bonds. In simpler words, as Masala Bonds are rupee-denominated bonds, the risk goes directly to the investor.
Who is eligible to invest in Masala bonds?
Investors from outside of India who would like to invest in Indian assets can invest in Masala bonds. Indian entities like HDFC, NTPC and Indiabulls Housing have raised funds via Masala Bonds.
Sources: the Hindu.
Note: The topic was covered recently. Please go through https://www.insightsonindia.com/2020/02/05/blue-dot-network/.
Topics Covered: Conservation and pollution related issues.
What to study?
For Prelims: About the report and key findings.
For Mains: Concerns and challenges and ways to address them.
Context: World Air Quality Report 2019 was released by the pollution tracker IQAir and Greenpeace. The ranking is based on a comparison of PM 2.5 levels. Bangladesh emerged as the most polluted country for PM 2.5. Pakistan, Mongolia, Afghanistan and India followed behind respectively.
PM 2.5 includes pollutants such as sulfate, nitrates and black carbon. Exposure to such particles has been linked to lung and heart disorders and can impair cognitive and immune functions.
Performance of India:
- Twenty-one of the world’s 30 cities with the worst air pollution are in India.
- Six cities from India are in the top ten.
- Ghaziabad, an area close to New Delhiin northern Uttar Pradesh state, is ranked as the world’s most polluted city, with an average PM 2.5 concentration measurement of 110.2 in 2019.
- National air pollution in India decreased by 20% from 2018 to 2019, with 98% of cities experiencing of varying levels of improvement.
- The report points to economic slowdown, favorable weather conditions, and efforts towards cleaning the air as reasons behind the decrease.
- The report also points India’s launch of the country’s first National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) which aims to reduce PM 2.5 and the bigger particulate PM 10 air pollution in 102 cities by 20-30% by 2024 compared to 2017 levels.
- South Asia continues to be of particular concern, with 27 of the 30 most polluted cities in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.
- However, South Asia has seen improvements from the previous year.
- Chinese cities have overall seen marked improvements in recent years, with average concentrations of pollutants falling 9% from 2018 to 2019, according to the report.
Climate crisis and urbanization:
There are clear indications that climate change can directly increase the risk of exposure to air pollution.
- It impacts air quality in many cities through desertification and increased frequency of forest fires and sandstorms.
- Greenhouse gas emissions, with the burning of fossil fuel a key driver of the climate crisis, is also a major cause of dirty air.
- Many countries are still dependent on coal for their energy production, the biggest contributor to PM 2.5 emissions.
- Exacerbating the problem is rapid urbanization in industrializing Southeast Asian cities, which is also a major cause of air pollution and poses severe challenges to managing PM 2.5 levels.
Effects of air pollution:
- According to the World Health Organization, air pollution causes an estimated 7 million premature deaths a year globally, mainly as a result of increased mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancers and respiratory infections.
- It is estimated that more than 80% living in urban areas which monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO guideline limits, with low- and middle-income countries most at risk.
Sources: Indian Express.