IASCLUB Daily Current Affairs : 23 May 2019

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Centre clears names of four judges to SC

 Topic: GS –II: Constitution and Polity

 The Centre has cleared four names recommended by the Collegium for elevation as Supreme Court judges. With their appointment, the court will reach its full sanctioned strength of 31 judges.

More in news:

  • The government has cleared the names of Jharkhand High Court and Gauhati High Court Chief Justices Aniruddha Bose and A.S. Bopanna.
  • On May 8, the Collegium refused the government’s request to reconsider its April 12 recommendation to elevate the two judges. The government also gave its nod to the Collegium’s May 8 recommendation for elevation of Justice B.R. Gavai, a judge of the Bombay High Court, and Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court Surya Kant.
  • The Collegium had reiterated its recommendation on Justices Bose and Bopanna in the face of the government’s reluctance. It resent the files to the government, saying there was nothing adverse found in their conduct, competence or integrity.
  • This made it binding on the government to clear their appointments. The Collegium had said the elevation of Justices Gavai and Kant was an attempt to provide “due representation” to all High Courts and all sections of society.
Collegium System for appointment of judges:

·         The collegium recommends judges for the High Courts and the Supreme Court.

·         The Collegium is headed by the Chief Justice of India and comprises of the four other senior-most judges of the Supreme Court. The decisions of the collegium are made through voting and the majority view prevails in case of difference of opinion.

Constitutional Provisions:

·         Article 124(2) provides that the Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President after consultation with such number of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary for the purpose.

·         Article 217 of the Indian Constitution states that the Judge of a High Court shall be appointed by the President consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the State, and, in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of the High Court.

How Collegium came into existence?

·         The system of appointment and transfer of judges by collegium has evolved through judgments of the Supreme Court, and not by an act of the Parliament or by a provision of the Constitution, which are famously referred as Three-Judge Case.

·         In the First Judges Case of 1980, the Supreme Court had declared that there was no need to provide primacy for the opinion of the Chief Justice of India while recommending a candidate to the President.

·         This judgment was over-ruled in 1993 when the nine-judge bench ruled in favour of granting primacy to the Chief Justice of India in appointing the key members of the top judicial brass. This is referred to as second judge case.

·         Things were clarified in the third judge case which was the Presidential reference to the Supreme Court on what the term “consultation”, implies which the President was required to do with judges before selecting a judge, referred to in the Constitution. In reply, SC laid down guidelines for the functioning of the collegium system.

·         As a result in the process of appointment of Judges to the High Courts and Supreme Courts, the role of the President is reduced to the ceremonial participant.

The attempt by the central government to constitute the National Judicial Appointments Commission through constitutional amendment act as per the recommendations of the Justice MN Venkatachaliah Commission was also quashed by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

Gender diversity good for businesses: UN

Topic: GS–II: Social Justice  

Companies that improve gender diversity — especially at the top — perform better and rake in higher profits, while countries that increase women employment see better economic growth, the United Nations said.

More in news:

  • The UN’s International Labour Organization found in a study that companies that improve gender diversity in their management reported significant profit increases.
  • The report based on the findings of a survey of nearly 13,000 companies across 70 countries.
  • According to the survey, nearly three-quarters of companies that tracked gender diversity in their management reported profit hikes of between five and 20%.
  • The study reported that 57% said growing the number of women at the top made it easier to attract and retain talent, while nearly as many said they saw improvements in creativity, innovation and openness, and an enhancement of the company’s reputation.
  • The report also analysed data from 186 countries between 1991 and 2017, and found that increasing women’s employment is associated with more economic growth at the national level.

OBC categories commission receives 2-month extension

Topic: GS –II: Constitution and Polity

A commission appointed in 2017 to examine the sub-categorisation of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) has been given a two-month extension by President Ram Nath Kovind, according to an order of the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on Tuesday.

More in news:

  • The tenure of the commission was to end on May 31 but has now been extended till July 31, the order said.
  • The commission had been constituted to “examine the extent of inequitable distribution of benefits of reservation among the castes or communities included in the broad category of Other Backward Classes with reference to such classes included in the Central List”, the October 2, 2017 order notifying its creation said.
  • The commission was meant to “work out the mechanism, criteria, norms and parameters in a scientific approach for sub-categorisation within such OBCs and to take up the exercise of identifying the respective castes or communities or sub-castes or synonyms in the Central List of OBCs and classifying them into their respective sub-categories.
  • The commission, whose chairperson was former Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rohini, was supposed to present its report to the President in 12 weeks from the time the chairperson assumed charge.
National Commission for Backward Classes

·         National Commission for Backward Classes is a Constitutional body set up through the 123rd constitutional amendment bill 2018 and 102nd amendment act under the provisions of Article 338B of Indian Constitution.

·         The commission consists of one chairman and five Members with the term of three years.

·         The National Commission for Backward Classes is vested with the responsibility of considering inclusions in and exclusions from the lists of communities notified as backward for the purpose of job reservations. The commission tenders the needful advice to the Central Government on the issues related to the backward classes and the commission has the powers of a civil court.

Water experts warn of ‘desertification’ of Marathwada

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

The water crisis in Maharashtra is a “policy-induced failure”, according to economists and water academics who have specifically warned of the ‘desertification’ of the parched Marathwada region in the near future.

More in news:

  • Mismanagement of water resources by successive governments, coupled with four decades of incessant ‘water mining’, had led the groundwater table across the Marathwada region to decline precipitously to the point where rejuvenating it had become difficult.
  • According to data by the Groundwater Surveys and Development Agency, the water table had dropped alarmingly in 70 of the 76 talukas, with more than 25 reporting a drop of more than two metres.

Why this happen?

  • The crop pattern in the region had drastically changed over the past decades. “Earlier, the main crops cultivated here used to be cereal and oilseeds. These crops were not only conducive to Marathwada’s arid climate, but were drought-resistant and led to moisture harvesting. But now, the predominant crops here are soybean and Bt Cotton, which dominate more than 80% of Marathwada’s 50 lakh hectares of cultivable land.
  • These crops, coupled with the lure of easy profits from sugarcane, have led the farmers and the citizens to the edge of the current hydrological disaster.
  • Sugarcane, which is only grown in 4% of the total cultivable land, guzzles 80% of the water resources. As a result, today, a slight change in the meteorological cycle is enough to cause a full-blown water crisis here.
  • Water experts painted a grim scenario for Marathwada in the near future, stating the process of desertification had already begun here. Some said that the only way out of this ecological mess is to prohibit the cultivation of sugarcane.
  • There are provisions within the Maharashtra Irrigation Act of 1976 wherein the government can notify people in the command area not to go in for water-intensive crops like sugarcane in the case of acute water scarcity.
  • However, there is no effort on the government’s part to wean farmers away from cultivating sugarcane and switching to drought-resistant ones like oilseeds and pulses. Despite the water position being clear in October, the powers-that-be made no move to curtail water supply to industries.

Political crop

  • Sugarcane was a ‘political crop’ and was a tried-and-tested method of becoming a politician in Maharashtra. “The political elite, from Yashwantrao Chavan to Sharad Pawar, has used the crop as a powerful instrument for building and retaining its voter base. Of the 200-odd sugar factories in the State, nearly 50 are located in Marathwada,” he said.
  • To produce 1 kg of sugar, 2,500 litres of water are required. This is tantamount to diverting water for human beings and livestock to maintain the sugar factories of the political elite.
  • An acute water scarcity had drained several parts of Latur district in January itself. Today, Latur receiving water supply once in 12 days.

ISRO launches radar imaging observation satellite RISAT-2B

Topic: GS -III: Science and Technology

India successfully launched a new “spy satellite” capable of keeping a lookout from space even in cloudy conditions, leaving no room for doubt the next time its armed forces conduct an operation such as the Balakot air strike carried out earlier this year.

More in news:

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) used its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle to launch the 615-kg RISAT-2B satellite, capable of clear viewing during the day, night and even under adverse weather conditions, at 5:30 am on Wednesday.
  • RISAT-2B has “special imaging capabilities to take strips of images and mosaics of images”. The launch also saw the use of made-in-India Vikram Processor for the first time, realised by the semiconductor complex at Chandigarh.
  • The special radar-enabled satellite has been placed at a low earth 557-kilometre orbit, a suitable level for detecting hostile installations as well as monitoring agriculture, forestry and possible disaster zones. The space agency did not release details or photographs of the satellite, considering that it is meant for strategic needs.
  • The Indian Air Force (IAF) had sent Mirage 2000 fighter jets to strike a terror camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan territory, on the morning of February 26. Some experts have speculated that heavy cloud cover at the time could have blinded Indian satellites, resulting in no images or videos of the operation being released so far. The lack of “proof” even spurred some opposition leaders to question the actual impact of the air strike.
  • Now, with a new set of radar-enabled satellites at its disposal, the space agency hopes to provide India’s armed forces with the ability to keep track of activities across its eastern and western borders. Although the country also has high-resolution optical imaging CartoSAT satellites, they get blinded by dense cloud cover. Moreover, their imaging resolution was possibly not good enough to make an accurate damage assessment after the IAF strike in Balakot.
  • The RISAT-2B, is equipped with a special X-band radar capable of providing much better images.
  • This is the first time India has launched indigenous technology of this kind into the space.

RISAT-1 and RISAT-2

  • Two previous radar-enabled satellites launched by India into space were RISAT-1 and RISAT-2, the latter being an acquisition from Israel.
  • The RISAT-1, a C-band radar imaging satellite, was not available for recording the impact of the Balakot strikes because it was declared dead in 2017. However, there is no clarity on why images from the RISAT-2, a tiny 300 kg satellite with an X-band radar launched in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks – have not been released.
  • The launch of RISAT-2B was realised in 15 months and it has a life of five years, and if all goes well, two clones – RISAT-BR1 and RISAT-2BR2 – will be launched in the coming months. Some of these launches have been advanced by as many as 18 months.

The next launch: Chandrayaan-2

  • The next launch for ISRO is the prestigious Chandrayaan-2 mission slated for lift off between July 9-16.
  • It would be the first mission where India attempts to soft land a robot on the lunar surface. With this mission, India “would be going where no one has ever gone before which is to the south pole of the moon on the near side.

Finance Ministry begins pre-Budget discussions

Topic: GS -III: Economic Development

The Finance Ministry has begun the pre-Budget consultation exercise with industry bodies in the run-up to the full Budget for the current financial year to be unveiled by the new government sometime in July.

More in news:

  • Finance Ministry officials met representatives of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) and would hold similar consultation meetings with other key chambers, including CII, next week.
  • Following tradition, the government on February 1 unveiled an interim Budget for 2019-20 in view of the Lok Sabha election.
  • The final Budget for the fiscal is likely to be tabled in July after the formation of the new government.
  • The Ministry has already met the representatives of other Ministries and government departments as part of the Budget-making exercise.

News in Brief:

Largest liquid hydrogen tank flagged off

  • ISRO Chairman K. Sivan flagged off the country’s largest liquid hydrogen storage tank at Sri City on Wednesday.
  • VRV Asia Pacific manufactured the storage tank with a Liquid Nitrogen shield in a collaborative effort with the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
  • The tank can store 120 kilolitres of liquid hydrogen, which is used as fuel for satellite launch vehicles.

 Woman pilot Bhawana Kanth scripts history

  • Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth became the first woman pilot of the IAF to be qualified to undertake combat missions on a fighter jet. Flight Lieutenant Kanth completed the operational syllabus for carrying out combat missions on Mig-21 Bison aircraft during day time.

IAF successfully testfires aerial version of BrahMos

  • The IAF on Wednesday said it had successfully testfired the aerial version of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile from a Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft.
  • The 2.5 tonne air-to-surface missile has a range of around 300 km.

Strike rate

  • This refers to the share of seats won by a party of the overall seats it contested in an election.
  • The BJP had an extraordinary strike rate in 2014 despite only an overall vote share of 31% because of its performance in the northern and western regions (it won 190 of the 225 seats in 10 States in the Hindi belt, which is a strike rate of 85%).
  • The BSP, on the other hand, had a very poor strike rate (it did not win a single seat of the 503 seats it contested though it got the third largest vote share of 4.2%).

In a first, Arabic novel wins international Booker

  • Celestial Bodies, became the first novel originally written in Arabic to win the Man Booker International Prize.
  • The book’s author, Jokha Alharthi of Oman, shares the award of £50,000 pounds (about $63,000) with its translator, Marilyn Booth.

Man Booker International Prize.

  • The prize, given each year to the best book translated into English and published in Britain, is widely seen as the world’s most significant award for translated fiction.
  • It is distinct from the more well-known Booker Prize, for fiction originally published in English.

Editorial Section : 

Disclosing dissent – The Hindu

Eye in the sky – The Hindu

Why China changed its stand on Masood Azhar – The Hindu

Rohingya repatriation – The Hindu

 

 

 

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