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[Mission 2024] INSIGHTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 2 September 2023

 

InstaLinks :  help you think beyond the issue but relevant to the issue from UPSC prelims and Mains exam point of view. These linkages provided in this ‘hint’ format help you frame possible questions ina your mind that might arise(or an examiner might imagine) from each current event. InstaLinks also connect every issue to their static or theoretical background. This helps you study a topic holistically and add new dimensions to every current event to help you think analytically

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 2:

  1. Simultaneous elections
  2. Concerns about RTI Act
  3. Omission of disability-related questions from NFHS-6

 

Content for Mains Enrichment

  1. R Ravi Kannan (Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2023)
  2. Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton

 

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

  1. Kokborok language
  2. Tibetan Democracy Day
  3. “Special Session” of Parliament
  4. NCERT as Deemed-to-be-University
  5. Largest indigenously developed N-plant unit begins operations
  6. Chandrayaan-3 takes seismic readings from lunar surface
  7. BS 6 Stage II ‘Electrified Flex Fuel Vehicle’

 

Mapping

  1. Kigali (Rwanda)

 


 

Simultaneous elections

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Elections

 

Source: IE, IE

 Context: The Government has formed a committee, headed by former President Ram Nath Kovind, to explore the possibility of one nation, one election,” which refers to holding simultaneous Lok Sabha (Parliament) and state assembly elections.

  

What is one nation, one election (ONOE)?

The concept of “one nation, one election” refers to holding elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies simultaneously, once in five years.

 

Background:

Simultaneous elections were held in the country during the first two decades after Independence up to 1967. The dissolution of certain Assemblies in 1968 and 1969 followed by the dissolution of the Lok Sabha led to the disruption of the conduct of simultaneous elections.

 

Benefits of “one nation, one election”

BenefitDescription
Reducing Election ExpenditureConducting all elections simultaneously minimizes expenses on logistics, security, and campaigning.
Better GovernanceSimultaneous elections allow elected governments to focus on governance rather than preparing for the next election. It will help in streamlining the election cycle to avoid policy disruptions due to the Model Code of Conduct
Voter ConvenienceEnsures voters are not subjected to multiple rounds of voting, leading to better turnout and voter convenience.
Reduced Security ConcernsConducting elections together reduces overall security concerns and enhances security setup across the country.
Level Playing FieldProvides a level playing field for all parties and candidates, promoting fairness and transparency in elections.
Reduced Impact on EducationSimultaneous elections reduce the impact on the education sector, as fewer teachers are involved in the electoral process.

 

Challenges of “One Nation, One Election”:

ChallengeDescription
Constitutional ChallengesRequires constitutional amendments, necessitating consensus among political parties and states, a complex and lengthy process.
Anti-federalAssembly elections focus on local issues, and combining them with general elections may overshadow regional narratives.
Logistical challengesConducting all elections simultaneously involves logistical arrangements, security deployment, voter rolls, and polling booth management, leading to administrative difficulties.
Need for approximately 30 lakh electronic voting machines (EVMs) and voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines
Possibility of Domination by National PartiesSimultaneous elections may favour national parties with more resources, potentially marginalizing regional parties and issues.
Impact on DemocracyVoters may struggle to engage with all issues simultaneously, potentially leading to uninformed choices and undermining the democratic process.

 

Way forward

  • Recommendation of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice: A two-phase election schedule, according to which elections to some legislative assemblies whose term end within six months to one year before or after the election date could be held during the midterm of Lok Sabha. For the rest of the states, elections could be held along with the general elections to Lok Sabha.
  • Cost can be brought under control by ensuring that the legal cap on the expenditure of candidates is followed by all parties.
  • Concept of One year, One election will be easier than ONOE, and will have the same benefits.

 

International Examples: Simultaneous Elections are successfully held in South Africa (national and provincial), and Sweden (including local elections as well on the same day).

 

Conclusion:

While the idea of “One nation, one election” has its own merits, it is important to consider the practical challenges and limitations of implementing it. A comprehensive study is required to examine the feasibility of this concept in India.

 

Insta Links

One nation, one election

 

Practice Questions

In view of the idea of holding simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies, discuss the advantages that its implementation would lead to and the concerns that it raises. (250 words)

Concerns about RTI Act

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Governance

 

Source: TH

 Context: The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, which was initially seen as a powerful tool for citizens to access government information, is facing concerns about its effectiveness and transparency

 

What is the RTI Act?

RTI Act (enacted in 2005) replaced the former Freedom of Information Act, 2002. Under the provisions of the RTI Act, any citizen of India may request information from a “public authority which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days.

 

Significance of RTI:

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2nd ARC) lauds the Right to Information (RTI) as the “master key of good governance.” This legislation marks a significant paradigm shift, transitioning from the veil of secrecy to the light of transparency.

  • Often termed the dawn of a new era in democracy, RTI initiates the second democratic revolution, empowering citizens to access information crucial for an informed and accountable governance system.

 

Success  of RTI

SuccessDetails and Impact
Empowering CitizensOver 50 lakh RTIs are filed annually, showcasing extensive use.
Public offices (90%) proactively share RTI-related information, promoting openness.
Access to Vital InformationRTI grants access to crucial information like competitive exam answer keys (IIT JEE, Civil Services), ensuring fairness.
Disclosure of property details of public officials helps prevent conflicts of interest.
Exposing Scams and CorruptionRTI played a pivotal role in uncovering major scams like the Commonwealth Games and 2G spectrum allocations.
Fosters accountability and corrective actions against wrongdoings.
Global Influence and InspirationThe adoption of similar information access laws in Sri Lanka underscores India’s impactful legal framework.
Reflects India’s positive global influence and effective governance practices.
Transparency and Anti-Corruption EffortsRTI promotes transparency in diverse sectors and empowers citizens in democratic processes.
Recognized by Transparency International for combating corruption through exposure and accountability.

Areas of Concern with the RTI Act:

Aspects of the RTI ActDetails and Impact
AmendmentsThe Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023, made significant amendments to the RTI Act, particularly regarding the disclosure of personal data.
This change has raised concerns about the impact of social audits and public officials’ accountability.
Union Government’s ControlThe Right to Information (Amendment) Act, 2019, granted the Union Government unilateral power in deciding the tenure and salaries of information commissioners, affecting their independence.
Rules and AppointmentsThe implementation of the RTI Act depends on rules made by the Union and State Governments. This can lead to complications, as states have discretion in deciding payment methods for public authority fees.
Delayed appointments to information commissions have also undermined the RTI framework.
Online RTIsWhile filing RTI applications online has made the process more accessible, some states lack online portals. The Union Government’s RTI portal has faced issues, including data loss and a more complex application process.
Low SatisfactionDissatisfaction with the RTI system is growing, as more citizens file first appeals, indicating their dissatisfaction with the information received from public officials.
Structural ProblemsMany of the issues faced by the RTI Act stem from institutional and website-related problems, as well as narrowing avenues to conveniently file requests and appeals.
Limited ApplicabilityThe RTI Act’s limitations regarding its applicability to political parties, the judiciary, and intelligence agencies have been subject to debate.
Moreover, the Act’s limited applicability to NGOs and private entities narrows its reach.
Non-complianceOver 26% rejection rate of RTI applications on spurious grounds as per DoPT data. Appeals processes are delayed
Safety of Activists and Lack of Centralized DatabaseThe safety of RTI activists remains a concern due to instances of violence and fatalities. Additionally, the absence of a centralized database hampers data access, impacting the Act’s intended transparency
Inconsistent Record Management Poor record management by Public Information Officers (PIOs) leads to response delays and incomplete information
Grievance Redressed BacklogEnforcing fines for non-compliance remains weak, with only a 1% imposition rate

For the Impact of the DPDP Bill on the RTI Act: Click Here

 

Conclusion:

While the RTI Act initially empowered citizens to seek government information, concerns have arisen about its diminishing effectiveness due to changes in the law, bureaucratic processes, and structural issues. These challenges threaten its role in ensuring transparency and accountability in government operations.

 

Insta Links:

New draft digital data protection bill: How it compares with the older version and  laws elsewhere

 

Mains Links:

The Digital Personal Data Protection Bill must ensure that individuals’ personal data is collected and processed in a manner that respects their privacy rights under Article 21 of the Indian constitution. Comment.

Omission of disability-related questions from NFHS-6

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Social Justice – Persons With Disabilities

 

Source: IE

Context: The decision to omit disability-related questions from the sixth round of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-6) has raised concerns about the understanding and representation of disability issues in India.

  • Persons with disabilities make up around 2.21% of the country’s population, which is approximately 2.68 crore people according to the 2011 Census.

  

Reasons for under representation of Persons with Disabilities:

  • The inadequate understanding of the term “disability.”
  • The government report on ‘Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan) in India – A Statistical Profile: 2021’ only acknowledges eight categories of disabilities, failing to account for the 21 categories recognized by the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPWDA).
  • This oversight is particularly concerning for “invisible disabilities,” such as mental health-related illnesses, which affect nearly 24 lakh persons but are not adequately addressed in the data.

  

Issues because of under representation of Persons with Disabilities:

  • Lack of Accurate Data: Without including questions related to disabilities, it becomes challenging to gather accurate and up-to-date data on the disabled population in India.
  • Invisibility of Invisible Disabilities: Many disabilities, particularly “invisible disabilities” like mental health conditions, often go unnoticed or unreported. The omission of questions related to such conditions exacerbates the invisibility of these disabilities.
  • Limited Policy Insights: Policies and programs designed to support people with disabilities may not be comprehensive or targeted effectively without a clear understanding of the disability landscape.
  • Exclusion from Development Goals: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasize the inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities.
  • Barriers to Accessing Services: People with disabilities often face barriers in accessing healthcare, education, employment, and social services.
  • Underreporting of Disabilities: When individuals do not see their specific disabilities reflected in data collection efforts, they may be less inclined to self-identify or seek support.
  • Stigmatization and Discrimination: When disabilities are not recognized or understood, individuals with disabilities may face exclusion, bias, or negative stereotypes.
  • Missed Opportunities: Comprehensive data on disabilities can provide valuable insights into the diverse needs and experiences of people with disabilities.

  

Insta Links:

Disability Rights

 

Mains Link:

 UPSC – 2017

Does the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 ensure effective mechanism for empowerment and inclusion of the intended beneficiaries in the society? Discuss.

R Ravi Kannan (Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2023)

Content for Mains Enrichment

 

Source: Newonair

Dr R Ravi Kannan, a surgical oncologist from Assam, has been honoured with the Ramon Magsaysay Award for 2023.

He received this prestigious award for his remarkable contributions to transforming cancer treatment in Assam, particularly through programs that prioritize the welfare of the people and those with limited means.

Kannan left his practice in Chennai and moved to Assam with his family in 2007 to provide basic healthcare facilities to the people of Barak Valley through Cachar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Silchar.

Usage: This highlights how values of Dedication, compassion, and Duty towards public service can take a long way in the betterment of society.

 

About Ramon Magsaysay Award

It was established in 1957 and is Asia’s prestigious honor named after Ramon Magsaysay, the Philippines’ third president.

  • It celebrates individuals and organizations in Asia who excel in their fields and contribute generously to others without seeking public recognition.
  • Initially, awards were given in five categories, but since 2009, the foundation has selected awardees for Emergent Leadership. Recipients receive a certificate, a medallion featuring Ramon Magsaysay, and a cash prize.
  • This award is often referred to as Asia’s Nobel Prize counterpart, recognizing outstanding contributions across diverse domains.

Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton

Content for Mains Enrichment

 

Source: Th

 Context: The article highlights the enduring legacy of British General and Irrigation Engineer Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton in the Godavari Delta region of India. In the 1840s, facing severe drought and famine, Sir Cotton convinced the British government to build the Dowleswaram anicut on the River Godavari.

Over the years, the Dowleswaram anicut and subsequent developments transformed the Godavari Delta, turning it into a thriving agricultural region known for rice, banana, and coconut production.

 

Usage: You can use the example to show the values of Dedication, Vision, Humanitarianism, and Service

Kokborok language

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE

 Context: Over 260 individuals were detained in Tripura during a 12-hour state-wide strike aimed to

advocate for the adoption of the Roman script for Kokborok, the indigenous language of the state.

  • The central issue revolves around the script used for Kokborok, which has been a decades-old debate in Tripura. While Bengali and Roman scripts have been used for Kokborok, the demand for Roman script has gained momentum in recent years.

 

About Kokborok language:

Kokborok is a Sino-Tibetan language spoken by about 1 million people in the state of Tripura in northeast India.

Kokborok is one of the official languages of Tripura, along with Bengali.

Kokborok is a relatively homogenous language with several dialects spoken in Tripura. It is the lingua franca of most of the 19 tribal communities of Tripura.

“Special Session” of Parliament

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE

 Context: The government has announced a “special session” of Parliament from September 18 to 22, and this has raised questions about the legislative agenda for the session.

 

About the Special session:

The term “special session” is not defined in the Constitution but is often used for sessions convened for specific occasions or commemorating milestones.

 

Key points about the parliamentary special session:

Key PointsDescription
Special SessionsThe term “special session” may refer to sessions convened for specific occasions or purposes, often with limitations on parliamentary procedures. Presiding officers chair these sessions.
Emergency ProvisionsArticle 352 of the Constitution mentions a “special sitting of the House” in the context of a Proclamation of Emergency. If Parliament is not in session, one-tenth of Lok Sabha MPs can request a special meeting to disapprove the Emergency.
Determining Parliamentary SessionsThe government, through the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, decides when Parliament meets, including session dates and durations.
The President is informed of the Committee’s decisions, and MPs are summoned for the session.
Constitutional Requirement (Article 85)The Constitution mandates that there should not be more than a six-month gap between two parliamentary sessions. This provision was adapted from the Government of India Act of 1935
Parliamentary CalendarIndia does not have a fixed parliamentary calendar. Traditionally, Parliament meets for three sessions in a year:

·        Budget Session (February-May)

·        Monsoon Session (July-August)

·        Winter Session (November-December)

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s PerspectiveDr. B.R. Ambedkar believed in regular parliamentary sessions and rejected proposals for year-round or longer sessions to prevent fatigue among legislators.
Frequency of SessionsSession frequency has varied over the years. Pre-independence, the central assembly met for about 60 days annually, increasing to 120 days in the first two decades after independence.
Efforts to Increase Sitting DaysVarious recommendations have suggested increasing the number of sitting days for Parliament, exceeding 100 days annually. Some private member Bills proposed specific session durations.

Tibetan Democracy Day

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE  

Context: Tibetan Democracy Day, celebrated on September 2nd, marks the establishment of the Tibetan democratic system in exile.

  • It commemorates the inauguration of the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala over six decades ago. The day is known as Mangsto Duchen and signifies the beginning of Tibetan democracy, governing over 1 lakh Tibetan refugees worldwide through the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).

 

Tibetan democratic system:

The Tibetan democratic system evolved with the first elected representatives taking their oaths in Bodh Gaya in 1960, and the Tibetan constitution, based on democratic ideals and universal values, was enacted by the Dalai Lama in 1963.

In 1975, the CTA declared September 2nd as the founding day of Tibetan democracy. The system comprises three pillars of democracy, including the executive head known as the Sikyong, who took over from the Dalai Lama in 2011.

India maintains a policy of not recognizing a separate government of Tibet in India but regards the Dalai Lama as a revered religious leader. Tibetans in exile recognize the CTA as their legitimate government.

NCERT as Deemed-to-be-University

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: PIB

 Context: Union Minister for Education and Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, announced that the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has been granted the status of a Deemed-to-be-University.

  • This new status as a research university will allow NCERT to engage in global collaborations and make contributions to the global education landscape. 

Further necessities highlighted:

  • The importance of developing content in the mother tongue and proposed the establishment of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Artificial Intelligence labs in all seven regional canters of NCERT.
  • Equipping these centres with the latest technologies from around the world to make India a global hub of research and innovation.
  • Standardize the teacher training curriculum and prepare children for the challenges of Industrial Revolution 4.0.

Largest indigenously developed N-plant unit begins operations

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: IE

 Context: The third unit of the indigenously developed 700-megawatt electric (MWe) nuclear power reactor at the Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP3) in Gujarat, India, has started operations at full capacity.

  • This marks a significant achievement in India’s civilian nuclear program, as it is the country’s first 700 MWe unit and represents a scale-up in technology.
  • The reactor uses Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR) technology and is seen as a milestone in India’s effort to expand its nuclear power capacity to 22,480 MWe by 2031.
  • The reactor design also incorporates enhanced safety features, including a Passive Decay Heat Removal System.

Chandrayaan-3 takes seismic readings from lunar surface

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: Hindustan Times

  

Context: India’s lunar exploration mission, Chandrayaan-3, Vikram lander and Pragyan rover conducted their first in-situ measurements of the lunar surface.

  • The detection of seismic activity, which not only registered the rover and scientific instruments but also captured a “natural event”.

 

Further findings:

  • Chandrayaan-3’s RAMBHA-LP payload made the first-ever measurements of the lunar plasma environment near the south pole.
  • The assessment revealed relatively sparse plasma near the lunar surface, with a density ranging from approximately 5 to 30 million electrons per cubic meter, particularly during the early stages of the lunar daytime.
  • These measurements are expected to aid in reducing noise in radio wave communication and contribute to improved designs for future lunar missions.
  • The Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) onboard the Pragyan rover detected sulphur and other minor elements using a unique technique.

BS 6 Stage II ‘Electrified Flex Fuel Vehicle’

Facts for Prelims (FFP)

 

Source: PIB

 Context: Toyota Kirloskar Motor has launched the world’s first prototype of a BS 6 Stage II ‘Electrified Flex Fuel Vehicle’ in India.

 

This vehicle combines a flex-fuel engine with an electric powertrain, offering greater use of ethanol and improved fuel efficiency. It aligns with India’s stricter emission standards and has the potential to utilize excess ethanol resources.

 

What are Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) and Electrified Flex Fuel Vehicles?

Flex Fuel Vehicles (FFVs): It is designed to run on a flexible combination of fuels, typically gasoline and ethanol. These vehicles are equipped with engines that can adjust their fuel mixture based on the available fuel blend E.g., E20 (20% ethanol and 80% gasoline) or even higher percentages.

 

Electrified Flex Fuel Vehicles: They are a more advanced version of FFVs that

offer the advantage of being able to operate on both ethanol-based fuels and electricity, providing increased fuel efficiency and potentially reducing emissions compared to traditional gasoline-only vehicles.

Significance:

  • These vehicles offer higher ethanol use and better fuel efficiency similar to Strong Hybrid Electric Vehicles (SHEVs)
  • Electrified Flex Fuel Vehicles use minimal advanced chemistry batteries to reduce dependence on imports.

Challenges:

  • Higher cost of ownership and running cost for customers, which may affect their acceptance unless retail fuel prices are competitive.
  • Developing FFVs requires significant effort and calibration with multiple fuel blends, making them less viable without widespread fuel availability.

 

About Ethanol Blended Petrol Programme (EBPP): 

  • The target of 10% ethanol blending for 2021-22 has already been achieved.
  • The National Policy on Biofuels – 2018 targets 20% blending of ethanol in petrol by ESY 2025-26.

 

About Bharat Stage VI (BS VI):

It is a set of emission standards established to regulate the level of air pollutants emitted from internal combustion and spark-ignition engine equipment.

India has made it mandatory to follow BS-VI emission (from previously BS-IV) norms starting on April 1, 2020.

  • BS-VI contains enhanced fuel quality, and reduced the permissible Sulphur content by 80%, from 50 Parts Per Million (ppm) to a maximum of 10 ppm.

Kigali (Rwanda)

Mapping

 

Source: PIB

 Context: The International Solar Alliance (ISA) conducted its 5th regional meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.

ISA grants have facilitated the implementation of nine solar power demonstration projects in Uganda, Comoros, and Mali. These projects included the solarization of rural healthcare centres and primary schools in these countries.

  • ISA also launched the SolarX Startup Challenge, promoting entrepreneurship and clean energy in Africa.
  • The Global Solar Facility aims to boost innovative solar technologies in Africa through private investment and guarantees.

Kigali is the capital city of Rwanda. Kigali Genocide Memorial documents the 1994 mass killings in Rwanda, associated with the country’s civil war.

Rwanda is a landlocked country in the Great Rift Valley of Central Africa, where the African Great Lakes region and Southeast Africa converge. Located a few degrees south of the Equator, Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

/ 02 September 2023, Today's Article

 

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