IASCLUB Daily Current Affairs : 16 July 2019

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Rajasthan High Court judges don’t want to be called ‘My Lord’

Topic: GS –II: Constitution and Polity

The debate around court etiquette in India took a new turn as a Full Court of the Rajasthan High Court resolved to censure the salutations “My Lord” and “Your Lordship” from courtroom protocol – a practice that has been inherited from British rule.

More in news:

  • The Rajasthan High Court order in the notification on 15th July said: “To honour the mandate of equality enshrined in the Constitution of India, the Full Court has unanimously resolved to request the counsels and those who appear before the Court to desist from addressing the Hon’ble Judges as ‘My Lord’ and ‘Your Lordship’.”
  • The expression “Your Honour”, however, remains unaffected by the order.

Efforts to end the colonial relic

  • The Advocates Act of 1961, under section 49(1)(c), empowers the Bar Council of India to make rules on professional and etiquette standards to be observed by advocates.
  • As the words “My Lord” and “Your Lordship” are relics of a Colonial past, it is proposed to incorporate the above rule showing respectful attitude to the Court.
  • In 2014, a senior advocate filed a PIL with the Supreme Court asking that the archaic expressions be banned. Judges HL Dattu and SA Bobde rejected the petition but said that the terms “My Lord” and “Your Lordship” had never been compulsory, and observed that they were relics of a colonial era. Calling it a “negative prayer”, the bench remarked, “We only say call us respectfully”.

Custom in the UK

  • The official website of the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary in the UK states that judges of the Court of Appeals and the High Court are to be addressed in court as “My Lord” or “My Lady”, Circuit judges as “Your Honour”, Magistrates as “Your Worship”, or “Sir” or “Madam”, and District judges and Tribunal judges as “Sir” or “Madam”.

In the US and the Commonwealth

  • On the US Supreme Court website, a document titled ‘Guide for Counsel in Cases to be argued before the Supreme Court of The United States’ states:
  • “Under the present practice, “Mr.” is only used in addressing the Chief Justice. Others are referred to as “Justice Scalia,” “Justice Ginsburg,” or “Your Honor.” Do not use the title “Judge.” If you are in doubt about the name of a Justice who is addressing you, it is better to use “Your Honor” rather than mistakenly address the Justice by another Justice’s name.”
  • The Singapore Supreme Court website also says that the Judge/Registrar can be addressed as “Your Honour”.
  • In Australia as well, in the High Court and the Federal Court, the judges are to be addressed as “Your Honour”.

Changes in NIA (Amendment) Bill 2019

Topic: GS –II: Constitution and Polity

The Lok Sabha passed the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Bill, 2019 after a heated debate in the House. While the government assured that the Bill seeks to take tougher action against terrorism, the Opposition, including the Congress, called it an attempt to make India a police state.

  • The NIA was set up in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack that had claimed 166 lives.

What are changes introduced in the NIA (Amendment) Bill?

  • There are three major amendments to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act of 2008.
  • The first change is the type of offences that the NIA can investigate and prosecute. Under the existing Act, the NIA can investigate offences under Acts such as the Atomic Energy Act, 1962, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.the latest amendments will enable the NIA to additionally investigate offences related to human trafficking, counterfeit currency, manufacture or sale of prohibited arms, cyber-terrorism, and offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.
  • The second change pertains to NIA’s jurisdiction. Under the Act, for the offences under its purview, NIA officers have the same power as other police officers and these extend across the country.
  • The Bill amends this to give NIA officers the power to investigate offences committed outside India. Of course, NIA’s jurisdiction will be subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.
  • The third change relates to the special trials courts for the offences that come under NIA’s purview or the so-called “scheduled offences”. The existing Act allows the Centre to constitute special courts for NIA’s trials. But the Bill enables the Central government to designate sessions courts as special courts for such trials.

Chandrayaan-2’s GSLV Mk-III rocket developed a glitch today

 Topic: GS -III: Science and Technology

The launch of Chandrayaan-2, India’s first attempt at landing a spacecraft on the Moon, was aborted less than an hour from liftoff Monday morning after scientists detected a technical glitch in the launch vehicle system. The mission vehicle was a GSLV Mk-III rocket, a relatively new acquisition that is critical to ISRO’s future missions.

What makes the new rocket crucial?

  • ISRO intends to use the rocket, a product of over three decades of research and development, for all future deep space exploration missions, including Gaganyaan, India’s first human mission, scheduled to be launched before 2022.
  • The vehicle, which can launch heavier commercial satellites, is also projected to be a big revenue generator for ISRO.

Why wasn’t PSLV used for Chandrayaan-2?

  • It does not have enough power to carry heavier satellites, or to go deeper into space. PSLV can deliver a payload of about 1750 kg to lower Earth orbits, up to an altitude of 600 km from the Earth’s surface. It can go a few hundred kilometres higher in Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO), but only with a reduced payload. Chandrayaan-1 weighed 1380 kg, while Mangalyaan had a liftoff mass of 1337 kg.
  • Many of the common commercial satellites used for remote sensing, broadcasting or navigation are well below 1,500 kg, and need to be put into low Earth orbits. PSLV has proved an ideal vehicle to do this — for both Indian and foreign commercial satellites.
  • However, there are satellites that are much heavier — in the range of 4,000-6,000 kg or more — and need to be put into geostationary orbits that are over 30,000 km from Earth. Rockets that carry such massive satellites need to have substantially more power.
  • GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) rockets use a different fuel, and have a thrust that is far greater than PSLV’s. They can, therefore, carry heavier payloads and travel deeper into space. Chandrayaan-2, for example, had a total mass close to 4,000 kg.
  • Among ISRO’s GSLV rockets, GSLV Mk-III is the latest and most powerful. It has had two successful flights so far — it carried and deployed the GSAT-19 communication satellite on June 5, 2017 and then, the GSAT-29 communication satellite on November 14 last year. It had an experimental flight in 2014.
  • GSLV Mk-III is powered by a core liquid engine, has two solid boosters that are used to provide the massive thrust required during liftoff, and a cryogenic engine in the upper stage.

What is a cryogenic engine?

  • Cryogenics is the science relating to behaviour of materials at very low temperatures. Cryogenic technology is challenging to master, but essential for a rocket like GSLV Mk-III. Among all rocket fuels, hydrogen is known to provide the greatest thrust. But hydrogen in its natural gaseous form is difficult to handle, and therefore, not used in normal engines in rockets like PSLV.
  • Hydrogen can be used in liquid form, but it turns liquid at a very low temperature — nearly 250°C below zero. To burn this fuel, oxygen too, needs to be in liquid form, and that happens at about 90°C below zero. Creating an atmosphere of such low temperatures in the rocket is difficult — it creates problems for other materials.

When and how did India advance in such technology?

  • The technology was denied to India by the United States in the early 1990s, forcing it to go for indigenisation.
  • ISRO had planned the development of a cryogenic engine back in the mid-1980s, when just a handful of countries — the US, erstwhile USSR, France and Japan — had this technology. To fast-track the development of next-generation launch vehicles — the GSLV programme had already been envisioned — ISRO decided to import a few of these engines. It held discussions with Japan, the US, and France before settling for Russian engines. In 1991, ISRO and the Russian space agency, Glavkosmos, signed an agreement for the supply of two of these engines along with transfer of technology, so that Indian scientists could build these in the future.
  • However, the US, which had lost out on the engine contract, objected to the Russian sale, citing provisions of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), of which neither India nor Russia was a member. MTCR seeks to control the proliferation of missile technology. Russia, still recovering from the collapse of the USSR, succumbed to US pressure and cancelled the deal in 1993. In an alternative arrangement, Russia was allowed to sell seven, instead of the original two, cryogenic engines, but it could not transfer the technology to India. These Russian engines were used in the initial flights of the first and second generation GSLVs (Mk-I and Mk-II). The last of these was used in the launch of INSAT-4CR in September 2007.
  • After the original Russia deal was cancelled, ISRO got down to developing its own cryogenic technology at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre in Thiruvananthapuram. It took more than a decade to build the engines. In 2010, two launches of second generation GSLV rockets, one with a Russian engine and the other developed indigenously, ended in failures.
  • The big success came in December 2014, with the experimental flight of third generation (Mk-III) GSLV, containing an indigenous cryogenic engine. This mission also carried an experimental re-entry payload that ejected after reaching a height of 126 km, and landed safely in the Bay of Bengal.
  • Two more successful launches of GSLV Mk-III followed. Chandrayaan-2 was its biggest and most keenly-awaited launch.

How big a setback is this?

  • ISRO had said that the current window of opportunity to launch Chandrayaan-2 was available only between July 9 and 16. That opportunity now appears to have been lost. This could potentially delay the mission by several months. ISRO has not said when the next window of opportunity will open.

5G rollout: How far has India progressed, and where does it stand on Huawei?

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

While taking charge as the telecom minister last month, Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that India would conduct field trials for 5G telephony in the first 100 days of the new government. One question that has been asked is whether Chinese equipment manufacturer Huawei will be able to participate in the trials. Huawei was blacklisted by the US government for American companies to do business with after it was alleged that the company shared data with the Chinese government through the backdoor.

Why did US blacklist Huawei?

  • According to The Wall Street Journal, “Huawei is the world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment and the No. 2 vendor of smartphones, ahead of Apple Inc. and behind only Samsung Electronics Co”. However, notwithstanding its dominance, the US has effectively banned Huawei from selling its products after a 2012 congressional report stated that Huawei could be a security risk. According to the US, Huawei’s owners have close links with the Chinese military and, as such, the company cannot be trusted with data. The treatment of Huawei has become a massive reason for further straining the already fraught diplomatic relations between the US and China.

Where does India stand on the Huawei controversy?

  • Following Huawei’s blacklisting by the US administration, several countries were asked to take a stand on whether or not to allow the company to operate. Certain countries such as the UK did not follow the US and cited benefits to operators from Huawei’s cost-efficient technology as the reason behind not banning the firm.
  • While India is yet to take a stand on whether or not to allow Huawei in 5G trials. Huawei, however, has said that it is ready to sign a “no-backdoor” agreement with the Indian government and telecom companies to ensure that no snooping is allowed on its network.

Where does India stand on the rollout of 5G vis-a-vis other countries?

  • A committee of the telecom ministry recently cleared the proposal to allow Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio to conduct 5G spectrum trial from next month onwards for a period of three months. For these trials, equipment vendors — Samsung, Nokia and Ericsson — have been selected. Despite assertions from the government that India “cannot afford to miss” the 5G bus — indicating that the country will see rollout of the latest generation of mobile telephony along with the world — none of the Indian telecom companies figures in the list (put out by mobile and broadband network intelligence firm Ookla) of 303 5G deployments by 20 operators in 294 locations across the globe. Additionally, the debt-ridden telecom industry of the country has indicated apprehension towards even bidding for 5G airwaves given their weak financial situation.

Why is 5G required?

  • Lower latency and lesser outage scenarios for 5G would allow use cases such as automated driving and telemedicine to flourish. While there is a consumer angle that would allow end-consumers to enjoy faster internet speeds, B2B or business use cases are being seen as the main revenue generating engine for operators with 5G.
  • In financial terms, some estimates suggest that operators are expected to rake in an additional $582 billion globally from digitalisation of the economy through 5G technology by 2026, and the largest opportunity for revenues created or enhanced by 5G will be in the manufacturing, energy and utilities sectors.
  • A panel set up by the Department of Telecommunications in September 2017 to prepare a roadmap for the rollout of 5G noted in its report that 5G services would have a cumulative economic impact of more than $1 trillion by 2035.

12 Indian beaches in the race to crest the ‘Blue Flag’ challenge

 Topic: GS-III: Environment

The Union Environment Ministry has selected 12 beaches in India to vie for a ‘Blue Flag’ certification, an international recognition conferred on beaches that meet certain criteria of cleanliness and environmental propriety.

More in news:

  • These beaches are at Shivrajpur (Gujarat), Bhogave (Maharashtra), Ghoghla (Diu), Miramar (Goa), Kasarkod and Padubidri (Karnataka), Kappad (Kerala), Eden (Puducherry), Mamallapuram (Tamil Nadu), Rushikonda (Andhra Pradesh), Golden (Odisha), and Radhanagar (Andaman & Nicobar Islands).

Blue Flag programme

  • To achieve the internationally recognised highest standard for the purpose of beach management, planning and execution of projects for infrastructure development, cleanliness, safety and security services, these beaches have been identified for Blue Flag certification in different States and Union Territories.
  • The Blue Flag programme for beaches and marinas is run by the international, non-governmental, non-profit organisation FEE (the Foundation for Environmental Education).
  • It started in France in 1985 and has been implemented in Europe since 1987, and in areas outside Europe since 2001, when South Africa joined. Japan and South Korea are the only countries in South and southeastern Asia to have Blue Flag beaches. Spain tops the list with 566 such beaches; Greece and France follow with 515 and 395, respectively.

33 criteria

  • There are nearly 33 criteria that must be met to qualify for a Blue Flag certification, such as the water meeting certain standards such as waste disposal facilities, disabled-friendly facilities, first aid equipment and no access to pets in the main areas of the beach. Some criteria are voluntary and some compulsory.
  • India is set to apply for certification for two beaches, at Shivrajpur and Ghogla, by July-end. About ₹20 crore have been spent on each and the FEE jury will decide by October if these beaches meet the mark.
  • If approved, beaches are given the qualification for a year and must apply annually to continue meriting the right to fly the flag at their locations.
  • To help Indian beaches meet these criteria, the Union Ministry has allowed structures such container toilet blocks, change rooms, shower panels, mini greywater treatment plants in an enclosed structure, mini solid waste recycling plants and off-grid solar photovoltaic panels to come up, provided they are a minimum 10 metres from the high tide line.

Editorial section:

A test of law and justice- The Hindu

Waiting for daybreak- The Hindu

A hand-to-mouth Budget- The Hindu

Closer than close- The Hindu

Creating a fair digital payments market- The Hindu

A WASH for healthcare- The Hindu

It no longer runs in the family- The Hindu



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