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INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY- 27 April 2020

Table of Contents:

current affairs, current events, current gk, insights ias current affairs, upsc ias current affairs

GS Paper 1:

1. Basava Jayanti.

 

GS Paper 2:

1. Basic structure and the Kesavananda Bharati case.

2. Autonomous District Councils.

3. South China Sea dispute.

 

GS Paper 3:

1. Hydrogen Fuel.

 

Facts for Prelims:

1. Saudi Arabia abolishes flogging.

2. Unified Geologic Map of the Moon.

3. Total Nobels for the Curie family.

4. Rohtang Pass.

5. Yemen separatists declare self-rule in south.

6. Pitch Black 2020.

7. About CERT-In.

 


GS Paper  : 1


 

Topics covered: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Basava Jayanti

What to study?

For prelims and mains: contributions of basavanna to Indian Literature and philosophy.

Context: Global Basava Jayanthi – 2020 was observed on 26th April digitally.

Basava Jayanti marks the birth anniversary of Lord Basavanna, the 12th-century poet-philosopher, and the founding saint of the Lingayat faith.

Basava_Jayanti

About Basavanna, his thoughts and contributions:

  • Basavanna was a 12th-century philosopher, statesman, Kannada poet and a social reformer during the reign of the Kalachuri-dynasty king Bijjala I in Karnataka,
  • Basavanna spread social awareness through his poetry, popularly known as Vachanaas.
  • Basavanna rejected gender or social discrimination, superstitions and rituals.
  • He introduced new public institutions such as the Anubhava Mantapa (or, the “hall of spiritual experience”), which welcomed men and women from all socio-economic backgrounds to discuss spiritual and mundane questions of life, in open.
  • As a leader, he developed and inspired a new devotional movement named Virashaivas, or “ardent, heroic worshippers of Shiva”. This movement shared its roots in the ongoing Tamil Bhakti movement, particularly the Shaiva Nayanars traditions, over the 7th- to 11th-century.
  • Basava championed devotional worship that rejected temple worship and rituals led by Brahmins, and replaced it with personalized direct worship of Shiva through practices such as individually worn icons and symbols like a small linga.
  • Basaveshwara is the first Kannadiga in whose honour a commemorative coin has been minted in recognition of his social reforms.
  • In November 2015, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi inaugurated the statue of Basaveshwara along the bank of the river Thames at Lambeth in London.

Basavanna and Sharana movement:

  1. The Sharana movement he presided over attracted people from all castes, and like most strands of the Bhakti movement, produced a corpus of literature, the vachanas, that unveiled the spiritual universe of the Veerashaiva saints.
  2. The egalitarianism of Basavanna’s Sharana movement was too radical for its times.
  3. He set up the Anubhava Mandapa, where the Sharanas, drawn from different castes and communities, gathered and engaged in learning and discussions.
  4. Sharanas challenged the final bastion of the caste order: they organised a wedding where the bridegroom was from a lower caste, and the bride a Brahmin.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Shramana tradition?
  2. What are Vachanas?
  3. What is Anubhava Mantapa?
  4. Who are Kalachuris?
  5. Who are Nayanars?
  6. What is Bhakti Movement?

Mains Link:

Write a note on important contributions made by 12th Century reformer Basavanna to the society.

Sources: pib.

 


GS Paper  : 2


 

Topics Covered: Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

Basic structure and the Kesavananda Bharati case

What to study?

For Prelims: Background and highlights of the judgment.

For Mains: Significance and relevance of the judgment.

Context: Exactly forty-seven years ago, on April 24, 1973, Chief Justice Sikri and 12 judges of the Supreme Court assembled to deliver the most important judgment in its history. The case of Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala had been heard for 68 days, the arguments commencing on October 31, 1972, and ending on March 23, 1973.

By a 7-6 verdict, a 13-judge Constitution Bench ruled that the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution is inviolable, and could not be amended by Parliament. The basic structure doctrine has since been regarded as a tenet of Indian constitutional law.

 Background of the case:
All this effort was to answer just one main question: was the power of Parliament to amend the Constitution unlimited? In other words, could Parliament alter, amend, abrogate any part of the Constitution even to the extent of taking away all fundamental rights?

  • In the early 1970s, the government of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had enacted major amendments to the Constitution (the 24th, 25th, 26th and 29th) to get over the judgments of the Supreme Court in RC Cooper (1970), Madhavrao Scindia (1970) and the earlier mentioned Golaknath.
  • In RC Cooper, the court had struck down Indira Gandhi’s bank nationalisation policy, and in Madhavrao Scindia it had annulled the abolition of privy purses of former rulers.
  • All the four amendments, as well as the Golaknath judgment, came under challenge in the Kesavananda Bharati case– where relief was sought by the religious figure Swami Kesavananda Bharati against the Kerala government vis-à-vis two state land reform laws.

What constitutes the basic structure?

The Constitutional Bench ruled by a 7-6 verdict that Parliament should be restrained from altering the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.

The court held that under Article 368, which provides Parliament amending powers, something must remain of the original Constitution that the new amendment would change.

The court did not define the ‘basic structure’, and only listed a few principles — federalism, secularism, democracy — as being its part. Since then, the court has been adding new features to this concept.

‘Basic structure’ since Kesavananda:

The ‘basic structure’ doctrine has since been interpreted to include the supremacy of the Constitution, the rule of law, Independence of the judiciary, doctrine of separation of powers, federalism, secularism, sovereign democratic republic, the parliamentary system of government, the principle of free and fair elections, welfare state, etc.

What do critics say?

Critics of the doctrine have called it undemocratic, since unelected judges can strike down a constitutional amendment.

At the same time, its proponents have hailed the concept as a safety valve against majoritarianism and authoritarianism.

Outcomes and implications of the judgment:

If the majority of the Supreme Court had held (as six judges indeed did) that Parliament could alter any part of the Constitution, India would most certainly have degenerated into a totalitarian State or had one-party rule.

At any rate, the Constitution would have lost its supremacy.

  • The 39th Amendment prohibited any challenge to the election of the President, Vice-President, Speaker and Prime Minister, irrespective of the electoral malpractice. This was a clear attempt to nullify the adverse Allahabad High Court ruling against Indira Gandhi.
  • The 41st Amendment prohibited any case, civil or criminal, being filed against the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister or the Governors, not only during their term of office but forever. Thus, if a person was a governor for just one day, he acquired immunity from any legal proceedings for life.

If Parliament were indeed supreme, these shocking amendments would have become part of the Constitution.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Constitutional amendments under Article 368 and other constitutional amendments.
  2. Types of amendments.
  3. Key changes introduced by CAA 25, 26, 39 and 41.
  4. Different benches of the Supreme Court.
  5. Definition and ambit of basic structure.
  6. FRs vs DPSPs.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of Supreme Court’s verdict in Kesavanand Bharati case judgment.

Sources: Indian Express.

 

Topics Covered: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Autonomous District Councils

What to study?

For Prelims: Autonomous Councils- composition, objectives and functions.

For Mains: Their significance, challenges being faced and scope for reforms.

Context: The COVID-19 pandemic may earn Governor’s rule for the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) in Assam.

The State’s Governor is the constitutional head of the BTAD that falls under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and is administered by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC).

 Background:

Elections were scheduled to be held for the BTC on April 4 but was deferred indefinitely in view of the pandemic.  The council’s current term expires on April 27.

 What are Autonomous District Council?

As per the Sixth Schedule, the four states viz. Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram contain the Tribal Areas which are technically different from the Scheduled Areas.

Though these areas fall within the executive authority of the state, provision has been made for the creation of the District Councils and regional councils for the exercise of the certain legislative and judicial powers.

Each district is an autonomous district and Governor can modify / divide the boundaries of the said Tribal areas by notification.

 The Governor may, by public notification:

(a) Include any area.

(b) exclude any area.

(c) create a new autonomous district.

(d) increase the area of any autonomous district.

(e) diminish the area of any autonomous district.

(f) alter the name of any autonomous district.

(g) define the boundaries of any autonomous district.

Constitution of District Councils and Regional Councils:

(1) There shall be a District Council for each autonomous district consisting of not more than thirty members, of whom not more than four persons shall be nominated by the Governor and the rest shall be elected on the basis of adult suffrage.

(2) There shall be a separate Regional Council for each area constituted an autonomous region.

(3) Each District Council and each Regional Council shall be a body corporate by the name respectively of the District Council of (name of district) and the Regional Council of (name of region), shall have perpetual succession and a common seal and shall by the said name sue and be sued.

Related- 125th amendment bill:

  1. It seeks to increase the financial and executive powers of the 10 Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the northeastern region.
  2. The amendments provide for elected village municipal councils,ensuring democracy at the grassroot level.
  3. Powers: The village councils will be empowered to prepare plans for economic development and social justice including those related to agriculture, land improvement, implementation of land reforms, minor irrigation, water management, animal husbandry, rural electrification, small scale industries and social forestry.
  4. The Finance Commissionwill be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to them.
  5. Finance: The Autonomous Councils now depend on grants from Central ministries and the State government for specific projects.
  6. Reservations: At least one-third of the seats will be reserved for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura after the amendment is approved.

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is an autonomous district council?
  2. Who constitutes them?
  3. Powers and roles?
  4. What are regional councils?
  5. Composition of these councils?
  6. How many states are covered under 6th schedule of the Indian Constitution.

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

South China Sea dispute

What to study?

For Prelims: What is the dispute all about, countries involved.

For Mains: Concerns of various countries involved in the dispute, ways to address them.

Context: In the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic, China has been busy increasing its presence in the South China Sea.

If the dispute were to aggravate, Asia-Pacific researchers believe it could have serious consequences for diplomatic relations and stability in the region.

South_China_Sea

What’s the issue now?

The focus this time is on two disputed archipelagos of the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands in the middle of the South China Sea waters, between the territory of Vietnam and the Philippines.

Beijing unilaterally renamed 80 islands and other geographical features in the area, drawing criticism from neighbouring countries who have also laid claim to the same territory.

What is the Spratly Islands dispute about?

  • The ongoing territorial dispute is between China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia concerning the ownership of the Spratly Islands archipelago and nearby geographical features like corals reefs, cays etc.
  • Brunei has contained its objections to the use of its maritime waters for commercial fishing.
  • The islands may have large reserves of untapped natural resources including oil.

What is the Paracel Islands dispute about?

Located in the South China Sea, almost equidistant from China and Vietnam.

Beijing says that references to the Paracel Islands as a part of China sovereign territory can be found in 14th century writings from the Song Dynasty.

Vietnam on the other hand, says that historical texts from at least the 15th century show that the islands were a part of its territory.

With increased tensions accelerated by Colonial powers, China and Vietnam fought over their territorial disputes in January 1974 after which China took over control of the islands.

  1. In retaliation, in 1982, Vietnam said it had extended its administrative powers over these islands.
  2. In 1999, Taiwan jumped into the fray laying its claim over the entire archipelago.
  3. Since 2012, China, Taiwan and Vietnam have attempted to reinforce their claims on the territory by engaging in construction of government administrative buildings, tourism, land reclamation initiatives and by establishing and expanding military presence on the archipelago.

Understanding UNCLOS:

United Nation Convention on the Laws of the Sea defines the rights, responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, environment, and the management of marine natural resources.

Unclos

Insta Links:

Prelims Link:

  1. Countries involved in the dispute.
  2. What is nine dash line?
  3. Disputed islands and their locations?
  4. Important straits, passes and seas in the region.
  5. What is UNCLOS?

Mains Link:

Write a note on South China Sea dispute.

Sources: Indian Express.

 


GS Paper  : 3


 

Topics Covered:  Infrastructure- energy.

Hydrogen Fuel

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Hydrogen as Fuel- properties, significance, disadvantages and potential.

Context: NTPC Ltd, India’s largest power producer and a central PSU under Ministry of Power, has invited Global Expression of Interest (EoI) to provide 10 Hydrogen Fuel Cell (FC) based electric buses and an equal number of Hydrogen Fuel Cell based electric cars in Leh and Delhi.

The move to procure Hydrogen Fuel Cell based vehicles is first of its kind project in the country, wherein a complete solution from green energy to the fuel cell vehicle would be developed.

What is Hydrogen fuel?

Hydrogen is the lightest and first element on the periodic table. Since the weight of hydrogen is less than air, it rises in the atmosphere and is therefore rarely found in its pure form, H2.

At standard temperature and pressure, hydrogen is a nontoxic, nonmetallic, odorless, tasteless, colorless, and highly combustible diatomic gas.

Hydrogen fuel is a zero-emission fuel burned with oxygen. It can be used in fuel cells or internal combustion engines. It is also used as a fuel for spacecraft propulsion.

Occurrence of Hydrogen:

It is the most abundant element in the universe. The sun and other stars are composed largely of hydrogen.

Astronomers estimate that 90% of the atoms in the universe are hydrogen atoms. Hydrogen is a component of more compounds than any other element.

Water is the most abundant compound of hydrogen found on earth.

Molecular hydrogen is not available on Earth in convenient natural reservoirs. Most hydrogen on Earth is bonded to oxygen in water and to carbon in live or dead and/or fossilized biomass. It can be created by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.

Storage:

Hydrogen can be stored physically as either a gas or a liquid. Storage of hydrogen as a gas typically requires high-pressure tanks. Storage of hydrogen as a liquid requires cryogenic temperatures because the boiling point of hydrogen at one atmosphere pressure is −252.8°C. Hydrogen can also be stored on the surfaces of solids (by adsorption) or within solids (by absorption).

Potential of clean hydrogen industry in reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

  1. Hydrogen as a fuel has long been touted as an almost magical solution to air pollution crisis. The only by-product or emission that results from the usage of hydrogen fuel is water — making the fuel 100 per cent clean.
  2. Hydrogen is considered an alternative fuel. It is due to its ability to power fuel cells in zero-emission electric vehicles, its potential for domestic production, and the fuel cell’s potential for high efficiency.
  3. In fact, a fuel cell coupled with an electric motor is two to three times more efficient than an internal combustion engine running on gasoline.
  4. Hydrogen can also serve as fuel for internal combustion engines.
  5. The energy in 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of hydrogen gas contains about the same as the energy in 1 gallon (6.2 pounds, 2.8 kilograms) of gasoline.

Benefits of hydrogen as a fuel:

  1. It is readily available.
  2. It doesn’t produce harmful emissions.
  3. It is environmentally friendly and is a non-toxic substance.
  4. It can be used as fuel in rockets.
  5. Hydrogen is three times as powerful as gasoline and other fossil fuels. This means that it can accomplish more with less.
  6. It is fuel efficient. Compared to diesel or gas, it is much more fuel efficient as it can produce more energy per pound of fuel.
  7. It is renewable. It can be produced again and again, unlike other non-renewable sources of energy.

Limitations to Hydrogen production:

  1. Hydrogen does not occur in deposits or reserves like fossil fuel. It needs to be actually produced using chemical reactions.
  2. Hydrogen, using renewables, is far more expensive to produce. And hydrogen-fueled vehicles are also more expensive than even battery-electric ones.
  3. It is highly flammable. It is difficult to store.
  4. The clean hydrogen industry is small and costs are high. There is a big potential for costs to fall, but the use of hydrogen needs to be scaled up and a network of supply infrastructure created.

Sources: pib.

 


Facts for Prelims


Saudi Arabia abolishes flogging:

Saudi Arabia has abolished flogging as a punishment for crime. 

  • Now, with flogging abolished, judges will have to choose between fines, jail sentences and non-custodial alternatives such as jail sentences.
  • This reform was made in order to “bring the kingdom into line with international human rights norms against corporal punishment”.
  • In 2018, Saudi had lifted the ban on women drivers. And, women not requiring permission from their male guardians to apply for a passport anymore.

Unified Geologic Map of the Moon:

It is the first ever digital, unified, global, geological map of the moon.

  • It was released virtually by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) and the Lunar Planetary Institute on April 22, 2020.
  • The map is a ‘seamless, globally consistent, 1:5,000,000-scale geologic map’.
  • It will serve as a blueprint for future human missions and a source of research and analysis for the educators and the general public interested in lunar geology.

Geological_map_moon

Total Nobels for the Curie family:

The Curies have received a total of four of Nobel prizes, the highest won by a single family.

They also have the unique distinction of having three Nobel-prize winning members in the family.

  • In 1903, Marie Curie received the Nobel Prize in Physics making her the world’s first woman to win the prize. Curie shared the 1903 Nobel with her fellow researcher Pierre Currie and Becquerel for their combined work on radioactivity. 
  • In 1911, she created history again by becoming the first woman to have won two Nobel awards. The 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Marie after she managed to produce radium as a pure metal.
  • The 1935 Nobel in Chemistry went to Irène Curie and her husband and co-researcher Frédéric Joliot for their joint work on the artificial creation of new radioactive elements. 

Rohtang Pass:

It is a high mountain pass on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas around 51 km (32 mi) from Manali.

  • It connects the Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh, Manali-Leh Highway, a part of NH 21, transverses Rohtang Pass.
  • River Ravi rises west of the Rohtang pass in the Kullu Hills.

Yemen separatists declare self-rule in south:

  • Separatists in southern Yemen have declared self-rule, breaking a peace deal signed in November with the internationally recognised government.
  • The coalition consists of the UAE-backed separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) and the Saudi-backed government forces.
  • Yemen has been devastated by a civil war between the Houthis and the government-backed coalition.

Yemen

Pitch Black 2020:

  • Australia’s multilateral air combat training exercise, Pitch Black 2020 has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation.
  • In the last edition of Pitch Black in 2018, the Indian Air Force (IAF) had for the first-time deployed fighter aircraft for the exercise.
  • The multilateral air combat exercise provides a unique opportunity for exchange of knowledge and experience with forces across the globe in a dynamic warfare environment.

About CERT-In:

CERT-In (the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team) is a government-mandated information technology (IT) security organization. CERT-In was created by the Indian Department of Information Technology in 2004 and operates under the auspices of that department.

It’s purpose: The purpose of CERT-In is to respond to computer security incidents, report on vulnerabilities and promote effective IT security practices throughout the country. According to the provisions of the Information Technology Amendment Act 2008, CERT-In is responsible for overseeing administration of the Act.


Insights Current Affairs Analysis (ICAN) by IAS Topper