Daily Prelims Notes 10 November 2023
- November 10, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN
Daily Prelims Notes
10 November 2023
Table Of Contents
- Wildlife biologist Sumit Dookia on researching the understudied Asiatic wildcat
- Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) to prepare master plan for its non-major ports
- India’s monetary policy must remain ‘actively disinflationary’
- Food price shocks, a risk to inflation
- Role of IBC and IBBI in Insolvency process of India
- India to be in UK safe list for Asylum seekers
- EUCLID Telescope
- Ethics panel adopts report for Moitra’s expulsion
- Need to expedite trial in cases against MPs and MLAs
- Nagaland passes Bill retaining 33% women’s reservation for ULB polls
- Madras HC sets aside Tamil Nadu ban on online rummy and poker
- More than 15 products from Uttarakhand bag GI tags
- SC attains full strength as case log nears 80000
- CBI an independent agency, not a limb of the Union govt
Subject : Environment
Section: Species in news
Asiatic wildcat (Felis lybica ornata):
- Also known as Asian steppe cats or Indian Desert cats.
- It has back and reddish-brown spots.
- Southeast and Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Mongolia and China
- In India: Thar Desert (Rajasthan), Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab
- The cat is locally called rohiminno (male cat that lives in the scrubs) or roniminni (for females) in Rajasthan region.
- The Asiatic wildcat is much smaller than the European wildcat and has yellow or reddish fur, with small black or reddish-brown spots. Some might have stripes too.
- The Asiatic wildcat, also known as the Indian desert cat, faces threats such as hybridisation of the species with the domestic cat, road kills and expansion of infrastructure projects that fragment its habitat.
- Renewable energy projects have particularly threatened the habitat of this species.
- Due to the elusive nature of this small wildcat, it also becomes challenging to study it by identifying optimal observation sites and setting up camera traps. There is no official census available for the species.
- Ecological role:
- They prey on insects such as grasshoppers and small herbivores such as hares and ground-nesting birds, thereby helping regulate the populations of rodents, locusts and other potential pests. These ecosystem services benefit local communities by protecting crops and maintaining a balance in the environment.
- IUCN Red List: Near Threatened
Section: Economic geography
- Gujarat is taking its non-major ports (NMPs) operated by the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) to the next level with plans to enhance the capacity, efficiency, safety, and sustainability of port operations.
About the development of non-major ports of Gujarat:
- A master plan and implementation plan are to be prepared for the NMPs up to the year 2047. The plan will help streamline operations, minimise risks and ensure ports remain competitive and resilient in a dynamic global trade environment.
- The aim of developing a master plan for ports is to ensure the efficient, safe and sustainable functioning of the ports while considering the broader economic, environmental, and social factors that influence its operations and development.
- The master plan will include key components for green ports such as environmental impact assessment, energy efficiency, emissions reduction, water quality and conservation, waste management, green infrastructure, noise reduction, regulatory compliance, monitoring and reporting, research and innovation, certifications and recognition.
Major and Minor ports in Gujarat:
About Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB):
- Founded in 1982
- It is responsible for the management, control and administration of 48 ports, including Bedi, Bhavnagar, Dahej and Porbandar.
- Gujarat’s non-major ports handled 416 million tonne (mt ) of cargo in 2022-23 which was about 30 per cent of total traffic handled by all Indian ports, and 65 per cent of traffic for all NMPs of India. The capacity of Gujarat’s non-major ports during 2023 was 593.01 mt.
- Gujarat has a coastline of 1,600 km, the longest in the country.
- Gujarat has the advantage of being near to the Middle East, Africa and Europe having the highest number of commercial cargo ports.
Major and Non-major ports regulation:
- Ports in India are classified as Major and Minor (non-major) Ports according to the jurisdiction of the Central and State governments as defined under the Indian Ports Act, of 1908.
- All the 13 Major Ports are governed under the Major Port Trusts Act, of 1963 and are owned and managed by the Central Government.
- All the Minor Ports are governed under the Indian Port Act, of 1908 and are owned and managed by the State Governments.
List of Major Ports in India:
|Eastern Coast||Tamil Nadu||Chennai|
|Western Coast||Kerala||Kochi (Cochin)|
|Eastern Coast||Tamil Nadu||Ennore|
|Eastern Coast||West Bengal||Kolkata (Haldia)|
|Western Coast||Maharashtra||Mumbai Port Trust|
|Western Coast||Maharashtra||Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT)|
|Western Coast||Maharashtra||Vadhavan Port|
|Eastern Coast||Tamil Nadu||Tuticorin|
|Eastern Coast||Andhra Pradesh||Visakhapatnam|
Cheetah reintroduction in India:
|African Cheetah||Asian Cheetah|
|Physical Characteristics– Bigger in size as compared to Asiatic Cheetah.|
Habitat – Around 6,500-7,000 African cheetahs present in the wild.
IUCN status– Vulnerable
CITES status– Appendix-I of the List. This List comprises of migratory species that have been assessed as being in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range.
|Physical Characteristics – Smaller and paler than the African cheetah. Has more fur, a smaller head and a longer neck. Usually have red eyes and they have a more cat-like appearance.|
Habitat – 40-50 found only in Iran.
IUCN Status– Critically Endangered.
CITES– Appendix I of the list
About Project Cheetah:
- Launched in 2022
- It is India’s ambitious attempt to introduce African cats into the wild in the country.
- Recently it has claimed to have achieved short-term success on four counts:
- 50% survival of introduced cheetahs,
- establishment of home ranges,
- birth of cubs in Kuno, and
- revenue generation for local communities.
The claims assessed:
- SURVIVAL: According to India’s official Cheetah Action Plan, the male and female cats from both Namibia and South Africa were to spend two and three months respectively inside bomas (enclosures) before being released in the wild. No cheetah spent the targeted months in the wild.
- Yet, the project lost 40% of its functional adult population. Of the 20 cats that arrived in India, six died (Dhatri and Sasha from Namibia; Suraj, Uday, Daksha, and Tejas from South Africa), and two were unfit for the wild, Four cubs were born in India, three of which died, and the fourth is being raised in captivity.
- HOME RANGE: Only three cheetahs – Namibian imports Asha, Gaurav, and Shaurya have spent more than three months at a stretch in the wild. It is unlikely any of the cats would have established “home ranges” in Kuno.
- REPRODUCTION: The goal, as per the Action Plan, was: “Cheetah successfully reproduce in the wild”, However, Siyaya aka Jwala, the Namibian female that gave birth to four cubs in Kuno, was captive raised herself. She was unfit for the wild and her cubs were born inside a hunting boma.
- LIVELIHOOD: The project has indeed generated a number of jobs and contracts for the local communities, and the price of land has appreciated significantly around Kuno.
- No human-cheetah conflict has been reported in the area.
Compromises and mistakes:
- To get the cheetahs, India promised to support Namibia for “sustainable utilisation and management of biodiversity at international forums”.
- After the cheetahs arrived, India abandoned its decades-old stand by abstaining at the CITES vote against trade in elephant ivory.
- The two South African males killed the female Phinda alias Daksha in May.
- The three cubs succumbed to acute dehydration in May.
- Maggot infestation due to radio collars- which would have affected their gait – killed two in July.
- Seasonal variation as a factor was not considered while sourcing animals from the southern hemisphere. The animals grew winter coats during the Indian monsoon, leading to prolonged wetness and infection.
Kuno’s carrying capacity:
- The project’s original goal is to establish a free-ranging breeding population of cheetahs in and around Kuno but has been diluted to “managing” a metapopulation through assisted dispersal.
- The Cheetah Action Plan estimated a “high probability of long-term cheetah persistence within populations that exceed 50 individuals.
- Cheetal is the cheetah’s prime prey in Kuno where project scientists reported per-sq-km cheetal density of 5 (2006), 36 (2011), 52 (2012) and 69 (2013).
Paradigm shift ahead
- Since Kuno cannot support a genetically self-sustaining population, the project’s only option is a meta-population scattered over central and western India. But unlike leopards, which dominate this landscape, cheetahs cannot travel the distances between these pocket populations on their own.
- A solution would be to periodically translocate animals from one fenced reserve to another to maintain genetic viability.
Optimal Work Hours
- The debate on optimal work hours continues without a consensus, sparking discussions on work-life balance and productivity.
- Narayana Murthy’s Advice
- Infosys cofounder, NR Narayana Murthy, advised young Indians to work 70 hours a week for nation-building, triggering debate and diverse opinions.
- Legislation in India
- Legislation in India restricts adult workers to 48 hours a week (Indian Factories Act, 1948). Some states have extended working hours to 12 per day.
- The Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code (OSHWC), 2020 limits daily work to eight hours, with a proposal for amendment to 12 hours.
- International Perspective
- ILO’s “Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, 1919 (No. 1)” aligns with India’s existing provisions, limiting working hours.
- Empirical Data
- National Sample Survey Office’s 2019 Time Use Survey reveals variations in daily work hours across occupations and genders.
- Male workers spend more time in services-related activities than agriculture, while commuting time and breaks add to working hours.
- On average, excluding agriculture, male workers spend over 10 hours a day at work, with commuting and breaks included.
- Cumulatively, workers in activities other than agriculture spend around 47-48 hours per week at work, in line with ILO data.
- Even those aged 60 and above spend significant hours at work.
- Key Factors
- Determining an optimum work hour is complex but should align with productivity and fair compensation.
- John Maynard Keynes’ 1930 speculation about a 15-hour work week remains a distant dream.
- The alignment of working hours, productivity, and compensation is crucial, emphasizing the need for a balanced approach in the ongoing discourse.
Overview of Labour Codes in India
Introduction to Labour Codes:
- The new set of regulations consolidates 44 labour laws into four comprehensive Codes.
- These Codes are categorized as:
- Wage Code
- Social Security Code
- Occupational Safety, Health & Working Conditions Code
- Industrial Relations Code
- Code on Wages, 2019:
- Applicable to employees in both organized and unorganized sectors.
- Regulate wage and bonus payments across all employments.
- Ensure equal remuneration for employees performing similar work in any industry, trade, business, or manufacture.
- Code on Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions, 2020:
- Covers establishments with 10 or more workers, and all mines and docks.
- Regulate health and safety conditions for workers.
- Code on Social Security, 2020:
- Consolidates nine laws related to social security and maternity benefits.
- Streamline social security provisions for workers.
- Code on Industrial Relations, 2020:
- Consolidates The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947; The Trade Unions Act, 1926; and The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.
- Improve the business environment by reducing the labour compliance burden.
- Enhance industrial relations.
Objectives of Labour Codes:
- Simplification and consolidation of existing labour laws.
- Facilitation of ease of doing business.
- Ensure welfare and protection of workers.
- Streamline social security and maternity benefits.
- Create a conducive environment for industrial relations.
Understanding Moonlighting: A Dual Employment Scenario
Definition of Moonlighting
- Moonlighting refers to having a second job or engaging in additional projects, gigs, or employment outside one’s primary working hours.
Debate around Moonlighting
- Moonlighting allows for extra income, skill development, personal choice, and profile building.
- Rishad Premji criticizes moonlighting in the tech industry, considering it cheating.
- Arguments against moonlighting include the expectation of full dedication to the primary job, legal and ethical concerns, and potential productivity loss.
- Workers can engage in side projects without compromising their primary employment.
- Extra profits and skill development opportunities.
- Personal choice after official working hours.
- Adds value to profiles for professional courses.
- Employees are expected to dedicate their entire working time and energy to their primary job.
- Legal but may pose ethical concerns, especially regarding confidentiality.
- Not legally allowed in some states, depending on labor laws.
- Potential productivity loss and fear of leaking confidential information.
- Some companies introduce moonlighting clauses to restrict dual employment.
Understanding “Quiet Quitting” in the Workplace
Definition of “Quiet Quitting”
- “Quiet Quitting” refers to the situation when an employee deliberately chooses not to take on additional work beyond their job description or refuses to engage in work-related activities outside their scheduled work hours.
Perception of “Quiet Quitting”
- Not Inefficient Working:
- It shouldn’t necessarily be perceived as inefficient working.
- Employees might be prioritizing a work-personal life balance.
Key Aspects of “Quiet Quitting”
- Selective Work Approach:
- Employees consciously limit their involvement to tasks within their defined role.
- They may avoid taking on extra responsibilities or tasks that go beyond their job description.
- Boundaries and Work-Life Balance:
- Employees set clear boundaries to maintain a healthy work-personal life balance.
- Refusal to answer work-related queries outside scheduled hours may indicate a commitment to personal time.
Reasons Behind “Quiet Quitting”
- Work-Life Balance Prioritization:
- Employees prioritize maintaining a balance between work and personal life.
- Avoiding additional work may be a strategy to prevent burnout and maintain well-being.
- Communication Issues:
- It could result from communication gaps between employees and management regarding workload expectations.
Section: Monetary Policy
Context: In the current situation, RBI Governor said monetary policy must remain actively disinflationary to ensure that ongoing disinflation process progresses smoothly
What is Disinflation?
- Disinflation is a decline in the rate of inflation. The inflation rate is declining over time, but it remains positive.
- Disinflation should not be confused with deflation, which is fall in price level. Disinflation accompanied by higher economic growth, is a favourable position for economy.
- Deflation occurs when asset and consumer prices fall over time. t is the opposite of the often-encountered inflation.
- A reduction in money supply or credit availability is the reason for deflation in most cases. Reduced investment spending by government or individuals may also lead to this situation.
Deflation leads to a problem of increased unemployment due to slack in demand.
Is deflation similar to disinflation?
Deflation is different from disinflation as the latter implies decrease in the level of inflation whereas on the other hand deflation implies negative inflation.
Section: Monetary Policy
Even though CPI inflation has been projected at 5.4%for 2023-24by the Monetary Policy Committee(MPC), a moderation from6.7% in 2022-23,headline inflation remains vulnerable to recurring and overlapping food price shocks.
Core inflation has also moderated by 170 basis points since its recent peak in January 2023
Core inflation represents the long-term trend in the price level and factors out short-term volatility caused by external factors such as energy and food prices. It excludes highly volatile commodities like food and energy, which can undergo rapid price fluctuations due to seasonal and market conditions. By eliminating these volatile elements, core inflation provides a more accurate reflection of the underlying inflationary trends in the economy.
Central banks often use core inflation as a key indicator when formulating monetary policies and making adjustments to interest rates. It allows policymakers to focus on the persistent inflationary pressures in the economy, enabling them to make informed decisions that can maintain price stability and promote sustainable economic growth.
Headline Inflation refers to the complete inflation figure including all goods and services within the consumer price index basket. It encompasses all items, including those that are highly volatile, such as food and energy. Headline inflation is the most commonly reported measure of inflation and is what is typically referenced in the news and by the general public. While headline inflation provides a comprehensive view of the overall price levels, it can be influenced by temporary factors that do not reflect the underlying inflationary pressures.
Subject : Economy
Section: Monetary Policy
- Significant Supreme Court ruling: Upheld the constitutionality of IBC provisions on Personal Guarantors’ Insolvency Resolution.
- Dismissed over 200 petitions: Challenged the legal validity of the IBC provisions related to personal guarantors’ insolvency.
- Decision Summary: Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code provisions (Sections 95 to 100) on personal guarantors’ insolvency process were deemed non-arbitrary by the court.
- Implications: Likely to aid lenders, especially banks, in recovering dues of corporate debtors from personal guarantors, often promoters of companies.
- Removal of Obstacles: The ruling effectively removes procedural obstacles to the progress of insolvency motions against personal guarantors pending before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT).
- Insolvency Applications: 2,289 insolvency applications involving corporate debt of ₹1,63,916 crore have been filed since 2019 against personal guarantors under the IBC.
- Principles of Natural Justice: Variability of their application based on the situation was affirmed. Sufficient safeguards were highlighted regarding the resolution professional’s functioning during insolvency processes.
- Resolution Professional’s Role: Not intended to perform an adjudicatory function, as the petitioners contended. The court emphasized that the RP does not possess adjudicatory powers.
- Introduction of Provisions: The provisions related to personal guarantors were introduced under the IBC in 2019, facing subsequent challenges in various courts and ultimately moving to the Supreme Court.
- Encouragement from Finance Ministry: Public sector banks were urged by the Finance Ministry in 2020 to enhance their initiatives in initiating insolvency processes against personal guarantors.
- Contentious Point: Concerns were raised about the lack of opportunity for personal guarantors to dispute the initiation of the insolvency resolution process against them before the petition is admitted.
- Legal Expert’s Comments: highlighted that the Supreme Court’s decision clarifies the legal landscape concerning personal guarantors within the context of the IBC and emphasizes the need for careful consideration before assuming such responsibilities.
Insolvency and Bankruptcy: Key Concepts
A state where individuals or companies cannot repay their outstanding debts.
Situation: Inability to meet financial obligations.
- Definition: A legal declaration of insolvency by a competent court.
- Outcome: Court orders to resolve insolvency and protect creditors’ rights.
- Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC):
- Enacted: In 2016 to streamline and expedite the resolution of failed businesses.
- Objective: Provide a common forum for debtors and creditors of all classes to resolve insolvency.
- Timeline: Resolution process for a stressed company must be completed in a maximum of 270 days.
- Threshold Adjustment:
- Change: In March, the government raised the threshold for invoking insolvency under IBC to Rs 1 crore from Rs 1 lakh.
- Purpose: Prevent triggering insolvency proceedings against small and medium enterprises affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
- Institutions under IBC:
- Insolvency Professionals: Licensed professionals administering the resolution process, managing debtor assets, and providing information to creditors.
- Insolvency Professional Agencies: Register and certify insolvency professionals, enforce a code of conduct.
- Information Utilities: Creditors report financial information, including debt records, liabilities, and defaults.
- Adjudicating Authorities: National Companies Law Tribunal (NCLT) for companies; Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) for individuals. Responsibilities include approving the resolution process, appointing insolvency professionals, and approving creditors’ decisions.
- Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board: Regulates professionals, agencies, and utilities under the Code. Comprises representatives from the Reserve Bank of India, Ministries of Finance, Corporate Affairs, and Law.
About National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT)
The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) are key judicial bodies in India that deal with matters related to companies and corporate affairs.
National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT):
- The NCLT is a quasi-judicial body that was established under the Companies Act, 2013.
- It was set up to handle matters related to company law in India, including disputes, insolvency, liquidation, mergers, and amalgamations.
- NCLT exercises powers that were earlier vested in various judicial forums such as the Company Law Board, the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR), and the Appellate Authority for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (AAIFR).
National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT):
- The NCLAT is a higher appellate authority that was established under the Companies Act, 2013.
- It serves as an appellate body for appeals against the orders passed by the NCLT.
- NCLAT has the jurisdiction to hear appeals against the orders of NCLT related to insolvency, liquidation, and other company-related matters.
- It plays a crucial role in ensuring transparency and efficiency in the adjudication of company law cases and disputes in India.
Both the NCLT and NCLAT were created to streamline the legal processes and provide a single platform for resolving corporate disputes and insolvency cases, thereby contributing to the ease of doing business in India.
About Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT)
The Debt Recovery Tribunal (DRT) is a specialized legal body in India that handles cases related to the recovery of debts primarily by banks and financial institutions.
- DRTs were established under the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993 (RDDBFI Act).
- The primary objective of DRTs is to provide a speedy and efficient mechanism for the recovery of debts.
- DRTs have jurisdiction over cases where the claim by banks and financial institutions against a borrower is more than Rs 20 lakhs.
- DRTs handle cases related to the recovery of debts due to banks and financial institutions and are not involved in other civil or criminal matters.
- DRTs have the authority to adjudicate debt recovery cases, examine witnesses, and pass orders for the recovery of debts.
- Appeals against the orders of DRTs lie before the Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunals (DRATs).
- Speedy Resolution:
- One of the main features of DRTs is to ensure the speedy resolution of debt recovery cases, which is crucial for the financial health of banks and financial institutions.
- Secured and Unsecured Debts:
- DRTs handle both secured and unsecured debts, providing a forum for creditors to recover their dues.
- Recovery Certificate:
- Once a DRT passes an order in favor of the bank or financial institution, it issues a Recovery Certificate, which empowers the creditor to recover the debt as arrears of land revenue.
- Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal (DRAT):
- DRATs serve as appellate authorities for appeals against the orders of DRTs.
- Cross-border insolvency involves cases where a debtor has operations or creditors in multiple countries, requiring coordination among different courts for an efficient resolution.
- UNCITRAL Model Law:
- The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency (1997) provides a widely accepted legal framework for addressing cross-border insolvency issues.
- India’s Decision:
- The Indian government has decided to halt the adoption of a cross-border insolvency regime. This regime would have allowed foreign lenders to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against defaulting Indian businesses in local tribunals.
- Reason for Halt:
- India’s decision is based on the limited adoption of the UN model globally, with only around 50 countries implementing it, and many having stringent restrictions.
- Government Priorities:
- Instead of focusing on cross-border insolvency, the government prioritizes:
- Expanding the informal debt resolution scheme for larger corporations.
- Implementing a new regime for handling group company insolvencies.
- Creating a special regime for the real estate sector.
- Addressing lacunas in the operation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code.
- Reducing delays in case admission and approval of rescue plans.
- Preventing inappropriate transactions by the management of defaulting companies.
Section: Places in news
Context: The UK government has announced that it will add India to a list of “safe states”
More about the news:
- The UK government plans to include India in an expanded list of safe states, facilitating faster repatriation of Indians who enter the country illegally and preventing them from seeking asylum.
- The move aims to strengthen immigration controls and discourage unfounded protection claims.
- Home Secretary Suella Braverman emphasized the need to deter illegal journeys, aligning with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s commitment to “stop the boats.”
- The draft legislation, part of the Illegal Migration Act 2023, designates India as a safe country, subject to parliamentary scrutiny before implementation.
- The UK Home Office aims to tackle illegal migration comprehensively, collaborating internationally and enhancing enforcement measures.
What are the countries in in UK’s safe states list
- India, Georgia, Albania, Switzerland, as well as the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) states
- The EEA links the EU member states and three EFTA statesi.e Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway into an internal market governed by the same basic rules.
When can a country be added to the UK’s safe states list:
- A country can only be added to the UK’s safe states list known legislatively as Section 80AA if the Home Secretary is satisfied that:
- There is, in general, no serious risk of persecution of its nationals, and;
- Removal of nationals to that country cannot go against the UK’s obligations under the Human Rights Convention.
Subject : Science and Tech
Section: Space technology
Context: Euclid mission for investigating dark matter & dark energy shares its first images
Some facts about Euclid Space Telescope:
- It derives its name from the Greek mathematician Euclid of Alexandria.
- This mission was part of ESA’s Cosmic Vision programme, aimed at exploring the origin and components of the Universe and the fundamental laws that govern it.
- The spacecraft was equipped with a 1.2-metre-wide telescope and two instruments:
- A visible-wavelength camera (the VISible instrument): It sought tiny distortions in the shapes of distant galaxies from different points in time to highlight the interplay between the pull of gravity and the push of dark energy.
- A near-infrared camera/spectrometer (the Near-Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer): It observed how quickly galaxies were moving away from each other, providing scientists with insights into both dark energy and the workings of gravity.
- The detectors of the near-infrared instruments were supplied by NASA, making the American agency an integral part of the Euclid Consortium.
- It orbited 1.5 million kilometres above the Earth, and the telescope aimed to capture images at least four times sharper than ground-based ones.
- The spacecraft had dimensions of approximately 4.7 metres in height and 3.7 metres in diameter.
- It was launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket
- It will remain operational for a minimum of six years.”
Comparison between Euclid Telescope and James Webb Space Telescope
- While the Euclid Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope pursue distinct objectives, their missions complement each other, offering a more holistic comprehension of the universe.
- Euclid’s emphasis on dark energy and dark matter will furnish crucial insights into the fundamental forces governing the universe’s expansion. Simultaneously, the JWST’s exploration of the early universe and exoplanets will illuminate the origins of celestial objects and the potential for extraterrestrial life.
- Euclid’s precise measurements of galaxy shapes and redshifts will unveil the distribution and evolution of dark matter. Meanwhile, the JWST’s observations of distant galaxies and protoplanetary disks will deepen our knowledge of star formation and galaxy evolution.
- Both telescopes contribute to understanding cosmic structures, offering crucial insights into dark matter distribution, star formation, and galaxy evolution. Together, they push scientific boundaries, uncovering the universe’s mysteries and inspiring future exploration.
Context: Ethics panel adopts report for Moitra’s expulsion
More about the news:
- The Lok Sabha Ethics Committee has adopted its draft report, recommending the expulsion of TMC MP Mahua Moitra from the 17th Lok Sabha for alleged “unethical conduct” and “serious misdemeanours” in response to cash-for-query allegations by BJP MP Nishikant Dubey.
- The committee further suggested an intense legal inquiry by the government, emphasizing Moitra’s “highly objectionable, unethical, heinous, and criminal conduct.”
- The report was supported by six ruling NDA MPs and opposed by four from the Opposition.
- Moitra, accused of sharing her Parliament login, denies the allegations and criticizes the proceedings as a “kangaroo court.”
Some facts about Ethics Committee:
- Each of the two Houses of Parliament has an ethics committee. They deal with the members’
- Besides overseeing the moral and ethical conduct of members, ethics committee also prepares a Code of Conduct for members, which are amended from time to time.
- The ethics committee in Lok Sabha has 15 members while in Rajya Sabha has 10 members.
- The members of the Ethics Committee are appointed by the Speaker for a period of one year.
- The Committee is currently headed by the BJP MP Vinod Kumar Sonkar
What is the history of Ethics Committees:
- A Presiding Officers’ Conference held in Delhi in 1996 first mooted the idea of ethics panels for the two Houses.
- Then Vice President K R Narayanan constituted the Ethics Committee of the Upper House on March 4, 1997, and it was inaugurated that May to oversee the moral and ethical conduct of members and examine cases of misconduct referred to it.
- The Rules applicable to the Committee of Privileges also apply to the ethics panel.
- In the case of Lok Sabha, a study group of the House Committee of Privileges, after visiting Australia, the UK, and the US in 1997 to look into practices pertaining to the conduct and ethics of legislators, recommended the constitution of an Ethics Committee, but it could not be taken up by Lok Sabha.
- The Committee of Privileges finally recommended the constitution of an Ethics Committee during the 13th Lok Sabha.
- The late Speaker, G M C Balayogi, constituted an ad hoc Ethics Committee in 2000, which became a permanent part of the House only in 2015.
What is the Procedure for complaints:
- Any individual has the right to file a complaint against a Member of Parliament (MP) by going through another Lok Sabha MP. This process requires providing evidence of the alleged misconduct and submitting an affidavit affirming that the complaint is not “false, frivolous, or vexatious.“
- If the MP in question files the complaint, there is no need for an affidavit.
- The Speaker has the authority to forward any complaint against an MP to the Ethics Committee.
- Notably, the committee does not entertain complaints solely based on media reports or matters under judicial consideration.
- Before deciding to investigate a complaint, the committee conducts a prima facie inquiry and subsequently issues recommendations based on its evaluation.
- The committee then presents its report to the Speaker, who seeks the House’s opinion on whether to consider the report.
- Additionally, there is provision for a half-hour discussion on the report.
Subject : Polity
Context: The Supreme Court has issued guidelines to monitor the speedy disposal of criminal cases against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs).
More about the news:
- The Supreme Court has directed High Courts to establish special benches for the expedited disposal of over 5,000 pending criminal cases against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs).
- Emphasizing the impact of such cases on political democracy, the court ordered prioritization, giving preference to cases punishable by death or life imprisonment, followed by cases with imprisonment for five years or more.
- The court stressed that trials should not be adjourned except for compelling reasons.
- As of November 2022, there were 5,175 pending cases, with over 40% pending for more than five years.
- The move aims to bolster public trust in political representatives and enhance the efficiency of parliamentary democracy.
What is the Background of the case:
- Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay filed a plea in August 2016, emphasizing the need for expeditious resolution of cases involving lawmakers.
- The petition put forth a proposition for a lifetime ban on convicted politicians, including sitting legislators, barring them from contesting elections.
- This proposal presented an alternative to the current six-year ban stipulated in Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, 1951.
- The existing provision enforces a six-year restriction on individuals convicted of offenses carrying a minimum two-year sentence.
What was the judgment by the Supreme Court:
- Chief justices of various high courts are directed to initiate suo motu cases to oversee the swift resolution of pending criminal cases involving legislators.
- Such cases can be assigned to a special bench led by the Chief Justice or any designated bench.
- Regular listing of these cases may be undertaken as deemed necessary by the special bench.
- The special bench has the authority to seek assistance from the advocate general or prosecutor for legal insights.
- Priority should be accorded to cases against lawmakers carrying penalties of death or life imprisonment.
- Cases with sentences of 5 years or more will also be prioritized for expeditious resolution.
- High courts are entrusted with the task of formulating effective measures to monitor and accelerate the disposition of such cases. High courts may issue pertinent orders and directions for the efficient handling of these cases.
- High courts can engage the Principal District and Sessions Judge to manage the allocation of “subject cases” to appropriate courts.
- The Supreme Court has kept the issue of replacing the existing 6-year ban with a lifetime ban, as suggested by altering Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, open for consideration.
What is Representation of the People Act, 1951:
- Representation of the People Act, 1951 was enacted before first general elections. The act provides for the actual conduct of elections in India.
- It deals with the following aspects of the election:
- Actual conduct of elections;
- Administrative machinery for conducting elections;
- Election offences;
- Election disputes;
- Registration of political parties.
What are the Provisions that deal with disqualification under the Representation of the People Act:
- There are several provisions that deal with disqualification under the Representation of the People Act.
- Section 8(1A):Specific Offenses
- Addresses disqualification for specific offenses such as promoting enmity between groups, bribery, and undue influence or personation during elections.
- Section 8(2A):Offenses Related to Hoarding and Adulteration
- Lists offenses related to hoarding, profiteering, and adulteration of food or drugs.
- Includes convictions with a minimum six-month sentence under the Dowry Prohibition Act.
- Section 8(3A): Duration of Disqualification for Imprisonment
- Disqualifies individuals sentenced to imprisonment for at least two years.
- Disqualification starts from the conviction date and continues for an additional six years post-release.
- Section 9: Disqualification for Corruption and Government Contracts
- Deals with disqualification for dismissal due to corruption, disloyalty, or engagement in government contracts while holding a legislative position.
- Section 9(A): Disqualification for Government Contracts
- Pertains to disqualification for involvement in government contracts.
- Section 10: Disqualification for Office in Government Company
- Addresses disqualification for holding office in a government company.
- Section 10(A): Failure to Lodge Election Expense Accounts
- Address disqualification for failing to submit election expense accounts.
- Section 11: Removal or Reduction of Disqualification
- Covers the removal or reduction of disqualification periods.
- Sections 11(A) and 11(B): Disqualification Arising from Convictions and Corrupt Practices
- Address disqualification arising from convictions and corrupt practices and the removal of such disqualifications.
Subject : Polity
Section: Local government
Context: Nagaland passes Bill retaining 33% women’s reservation for ULB polls
More about the news:
- The Nagaland Assembly unanimously passed the Nagaland Municipal Bill 2023 in a special session, retaining 33% reservation for women in urban local bodies.
- The Bill, which addresses a longstanding issue that has delayed civic polls for around two decades, removes women’s reservation for the post of chairperson in municipal bodies.
- The legislation was introduced in response to opposition and calls for a boycott from civil society organizations and tribal bodies.
- Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio announced that the apex tribal bodies, which had previously opposed the reservation, now accepted it, and the State Election Commission will soon announce dates for municipal polls.
- The Bill also eliminates taxes on immovable property, addressing historical opposition to taxation by the Naga people.
- The legislative changes aim to pave the way for the much-delayed municipal elections in the state.
What is the history of Nagaland Municipal Elections:
- Civic body elections were initially conducted in Nagaland in 2004 under the Nagaland Municipal Act of 2001.
- The Nagaland Municipal Act of 2001 underwent an amendment in 2006 to introduce a 33% reservation for women, aligning with the 1992 Constitutional amendment.
- Subsequent to the amendment, significant opposition emerged, primarily from Naga groups asserting that the reservations contradicted Naga customary laws protected by Article 371(A) of the Constitution, which grants the state special status and safeguards its traditional way of life.
- Attempts to implement the 33% reservation, particularly during the February 2017 elections following a Supreme Court directive, resulted in violent protests. The unrest led to the removal of the then Chief Minister T R Zeliang.
What are Urban Local Bodies (ULB):
- Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) refer to small local governing bodies responsible for administering a city or town with a designated population.
- These bodies are endowed with a comprehensive set of functions delegated by state governments, encompassing various areas such as public health, welfare, regulatory duties, public safety, infrastructure projects, and developmental initiatives.
- The Urban Local Government encompasses eight types of urban local bodies:
- Municipal Corporation:
- Municipal corporations are typically present in large cities like Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, etc.
- Smaller cities often have municipalities, also known by other names such as municipal council, municipal committee, municipal board, etc.
- Notified Area Committee:
- Notified area committees are established for rapidly developing towns and those lacking basic amenities. All committee members are nominated by the state government.
- Town Area Committee:
- Found in small towns, the town area committee has limited authority, focusing on areas such as street lighting, drainage, roads, and conservancy.
- Cantonment Board:
- Set up for the civilian population residing in cantonment areas, it is created and managed by the central government.
- Townships serve as another form of urban government, providing essential facilities to staff and workers in colonies near industrial plants. It lacks elected members and functions as an extension of the bureaucratic structure.
- Port Trust:
- Established in port areas like Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, etc., port trusts manage and oversee the ports while offering basic civic amenities to the local residents.
- Special Purpose Agency:
- These agencies undertake specific activities or functions designated for municipal corporations or municipalities.
What are some special provisions with respect to Nagaland:
- Article 371A deals with the special provisions with respect to the State of Nagaland.
- Article 371A (1) (b) – the Governor of Nagaland has special responsibility with respect to law and order in the state so long as internal disturbances caused by the hostile Nagas continue.
- For instance, under Article 371A (1) (b) of the Constitution, important functions like transfer and posting of officials entrusted with the maintenance of law and order of and above the district level will be with the approval of the Governor.
Subject : Polity
Context: Madras HC sets aside TN ban on online rummy and poker
More about the news:
- The Madras High Court upheld the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Online Gambling and Regulation of Online Games Act, 2022, differentiating between skill-based and chance-based online games.
- Rummy and poker, considered games of skill, were excluded from the Act’s prohibition.
- The court, led by Chief Justice Sanjay V Gangapurwala and Justice P D Audikesavalu, dismissed writ petitions challenging the Act’s constitutionality.
- The legislation, enacted in response to a committee led by retired Justice K Chandru, was initially met with concerns and returned by the Governor.
- However, the court affirmed the state’s authority to regulate online gambling while recognizing its role in overseeing online skill-based games, emphasizing the need for responsible regulation.
Some facts about gambling in India:
- The Gambling Act, also known as The Public Gambling Act of 1867, is the law governing gambling in India.
- Gambling is regulated by individual states, and they are responsible for crafting laws pertaining to gambling within their jurisdictions.
- Goa and Sikkim are exceptions, as they have legalized and regulated gambling and betting within their states, with Goa also permitting casinos.
- Some states, such as Sikkim, Meghalaya, and Nagaland, have enacted specific laws to regulate online gaming.
- However, only Nagaland and Meghalaya have separate regulations for “games of skill.“
- Fantasy league betting, such as fantasy football and cricket, has generally remained unregulated across India, although Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, and Assam have imposed bans on it.
- Additionally, Telangana and Karnataka have banned all forms of online gaming and gambling, and similar laws were passed in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. However, the laws in Kerala and Tamil Nadu were challenged and subsequently overturned in court, exempting games of skill.
- From a local brick tea to textiles made from a Himalayan plant, over 15 products from Uttarakhand have been given the coveted GI tag by the Geographical Indications Registry.
Products which got GI Tag
- Uttarakhand’s Berinag tea, highly sought-after by London tea houses and tea blenders, is made from the leaves of a plant that grows wild in the Himalayas, which are then compressed into a solid mass.
- Bichhubuti fabrics, made from Himalayan nettle fibres, was also on the list of products that bagged the GI tag. As the plant’s fibres are hollow, they have the unique ability to accumulate air inside, thus creating a natural insulation and making an ideal clothing material for both winters and summers.
- The Uttarakhand mandua, a finger millet grown in Garhwal and Kumaon that is part of the staple diet in many parts of the State, was among the products granted GI tags.
- Similarly, jhangora, a home grown millet commonly cultivated in the rain-fed areas of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand, got a tag.
- Gahat is one of the most important pulses growing in the dry regions of the State, whose medicinal uses have been known to Ayurveda and traditional physicians for centuries.
- Uttarakhand lal chawal, a red rice organically grown in the Purola region, was also on the list.
- Other products to receive GI tags included the Uttarakhand kala bhat (black soybean); malta fruit; chaulai (ramdana), a grain used on fasting days; buransh juice obtained from the red flowers of the Rhododendron arboreum; paharitoor dal; Uttarakhand likhai or wood carvings, Nainital mombatti (candles), the rangwalipichhoda of Kumaon, Ramnagar Nainital litchis, Ramgarh Nainital peaches, Chamoli wooden Ramman masks, and Almora Lakhorimirchis, a chilli variant.
What is a GI Tag?
- A geographical indication (GI) tag is a name or sign used on certain products that correspond to a specific geographical location or origin.
- For example, Darjeeling Tea, Kanchipuram Silk, etc.
- The GI tag ensures that only the authorised users or those residing in the geographical territory are allowed to use the popular product name.
- It also protects the product from being copied or imitated by others.
- A registered GI is valid for 10 years.
Legal Framework and Obligations:
- The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 seeks to provide for the registration and better protection of geographical indications relating to goods in India.
- It is governed and directed by the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
- Furthermore, the significance of protecting industrial property and geographical indications as integral components of intellectual property is acknowledged and emphasized in Articles 1(2) and 10 of the Paris Convention.
Subject : Polity
- The Supreme Court welcomed three new judges on Thursday, taking the judicial strength to its sanctioned capacity of 34, even as the pendency clock on the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) dashboard threatens to hit a high of 80,000 cases in the next 24 hours.
- The original Constitution of 1950 envisaged a Supreme Court with a Chief Justice and 7 puisne Judges – leaving it to Parliament to increase this number. In the early years, all the Judges of the Supreme Court sat together to hear the cases presented before them.
- The sanctioned judge strength of the Supreme Court is 34 (including Chief Justice of India).
- The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Act 1956, as originally enacted, provided for the maximum number of Judges(excluding the Chief Justice of India) to be 10. This number was increased to 13 by the Supreme Court (Number of Judges), Amendment Act, 1960, and to 17 by the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 1977. The Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 1986 augmented the strength of the Supreme Court Judges from 17 to 25 excluding the Chief Justice of India. Subsequently, the Supreme Court (Number of Judges) Amendment Act, 2009 further augmented the strength of the Supreme Court Judges,from 25 to 30.
What are the reasons for the high pendency of cases in the Indian Judiciary?
- Shortage of judges: There is a shortage of judges in the Indian judiciary. This leads to delays in the resolution of cases, as there is a backlog of cases waiting to be heard.
- Lack of infrastructure: Many courts in India lack the necessary infrastructure and resources to deal with the many cases that are filed. This can contribute to delays in the resolution of cases.
- Complexity of cases: Some cases are complex and require a lot of time and resources to be resolved. This can contribute to delays in the resolution of cases.
- Procedural delays: There are often delays in the legal process due to procedural issues, such as the inability to locate witnesses or delays in obtaining evidence.
- Weak enforcement of court orders: In some cases, court orders are not enforced, which can lead to further delays in the resolution of cases.
- Increased legal awareness: Increased legal awareness has increased the number of cases filed. Further, new mechanisms like Public Interest Litigation (PIL) have also resulted in more cases being filed.
What steps have been taken to reduce the pendency of cases?
- Virtual court system: In the virtual court system, regular court proceedings are conducted virtually through videoconferencing. It ensures easy access to justice and reduces the pendency of cases.
- e-Courts portal: It has been launched to improve access to justice using technology. It is a comprehensive platform for all stakeholders, such as litigants, advocates, government agencies, police, and citizens.
- E-filing: The facility of submitting court cases electronically through the internet, providing benefits such as saving time and money, not requiring physical presence in court, automatic digitization of case files, and reducing paper consumption.
- e-Payment of court fees and fines: The ability to make online payments for court fees and fines, reducing the need for cash, stamps, and cheques, and integrating with state-specific vendors for convenience.
- Interoperable Criminal Justice System (ICJS): ICJS is an initiative of the e-Committee, Supreme Court to enable the seamless transfer of data and information among different pillars of the criminal justice system, like courts, police, jails, and forensic science laboratories, from one platform.
- Fast track courts : Fast track courts are being set up by the government to expedite the justice delivery and reduce the pendency of cases.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution: ADR mechanisms like Lok Adalats, Gram Nyayalayas, Online Dispute Resolution, etc., ensure timely justice.
What steps could further help reduce the judicial pendency in India?
- Increase the number of judges: One way to reduce the backlog of cases is to increase the number of judges in the Indian judiciary. This will allow more cases to be heard and decided more quickly.
- The Law Commission of India (1987) recommended increasing the number of judges to 50 per million people. This was reiterated by the Supreme Court (2001) and the Standing Committee on Home Affairs (2002).
- Expand alternative dispute resolution methods: Alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and arbitration, can resolve disputes more quickly and efficiently than traditional court proceedings.
- Streamline the legal process: Efforts can be made to streamline the legal process, such as by using technology to manage cases and eliminate unnecessary steps. Example: e-courts projects.
- Strengthen the enforcement of court orders: Ensuring that court orders are enforced can help to reduce the backlog of cases, as individuals and institutions will be more likely to comply with court orders if they know that they will be held accountable for failing to do so.
Subject : Polity
Section: National body
- The Union government claimed in the Supreme Court on Thursday that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was its own boss and the government had no control whatsoever over the probe agency in the registration, investigation, and prosecution of cases.
What is CBI?
- Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the premier investigating police agency in India.
- It provides assistance to the Central Vigilance Commission and Lokpal.
- It functions under the superintendence of the Deptt. of Personnel, Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances, Government of India – which falls under the prime minister’s office.
- However for investigations of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, its superintendence vests with the Central Vigilance Commission.
- It is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigation on behalf of Interpol Member countries.
- Its conviction rate is as high as 65 to 70% and it is comparable to the best investigation agencies in the world.
- The CBI is not a statutory body but derives its power to investigate from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
- The establishment of the CBI was recommended by the Santhanam Committee on Prevention of Corruption (1962–1964).
How is the Director of CBI Appointed?
- Director, CBI as Inspector General of Police, Delhi Special Police Establishment, is responsible for the administration of the organisation.
- Till 2014, the CBI Director was appointed on the basis of the DSPE Act, 1946.
- In 2003, DSPE Act was revised on Supreme Court’s recommendation in the Vineet Narain case.
- A committee that had members from Central Vigilance Commission, Secretaries from Home Ministry, Ministry of Personnel and Public Grievances would send recommendations to Central Government for the appointment of CBI Director.
- In 2014, the Lokpal Act provided a committee for appointment of CBI Director:
- Headed by Prime Minister
- Other members – Leader of Opposition/ Leader of the single largest opposition party, Chief Justice of India/ a Supreme Court Judge.
- Home Ministry sends a list of eligible candidates to DoPT. Then, the DoPT prepares the final list on basis of seniority, integrity, and experience in the investigation of anti-corruption cases, and sends it to the committee.
- Director of CBI has been provided security of two year tenure, by the CVC Act, 2003.
What Challenges are Faced by the CBI?
- Political Interference: The Supreme Court of India has criticised the CBI by calling it a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”, due to excessive political interference in its functioning.
- It has often been used by the government of the day to cover up wrongdoing, keep coalition allies in line and political opponents at bay.
- Delayed Investigations: It has been accused of enormous delays in concluding investigations – For example, the inertia in its probe against the high dignitaries in Jain hawala diaries case [of the 1990s].
- Loss of Credibility: Improving the image of the agency is one of the biggest challenges till now as the agency has been criticised for its mismanagement of several cases involving prominent politicians and mishandling of several sensitive cases like Bofors scandal, Hawala scandal, Sant Singh Chatwal case, Bhopal gas tragedy, 2008 Noida double murder case(Aarushi Talwar).
- Lack of Accountability: CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act, thus, lacking public accountability.
- Acute shortage of personnel: A major cause of the shortfall is the government’s sheer mismanagement of CBI’s workforce, through a system of inefficient, and inexplicably biased, recruitment policies – used to bring in favoured officers, possibly to the detriment of the organisation.
- Limited Powers: The powers and jurisdiction of members of the CBI for investigation are subject to the consent of the State Govt., thus limiting the extent of investigation by CBI.
- Restricted Access: Prior approval of Central Government to conduct inquiry or investigation on the employees of the Central Government, of the level of Joint Secretary and above is a big obstacle in combating corruption at higher levels of bureaucracy.