IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 7th March 2018
Mumbai and Delhi airport: World’s best airport
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Infrastructure
- Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport and Delhi’s IGI Airport have been jointly adjudged the ‘World’s Best Airport’ for customer experience in the 40 mppa (million passengers per annum) category.
- This was announced by Airports Council International (ACI).
The ACI is a trade association with 1,953 airports from 176 countries among its members.
- The award was adjudicated by means of ACI’s Airport Service Quality survey, conducted among millions of passengers.
Passengers were surveyed across international airports for their feedback on 34 key performance indicators.
Article link: Click here
IMPRINT- Phase II
Part of: Mains GS Paper III- Science & Technology
- In a major boost for research and innovation, the Centre had sanctioned Rs. 1,000 crore for the Phase II of the Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) India programme.
- Under the IMPRINT-II, a fund will be created by the Department of Science and Technology and the HRD Ministry in which participation would come from the industry and interested Ministries.
- Under the IMPRINT-I Programme, 142 projects at a cost of Rs. 318.71 crore are under implementation.
These projects cover crucial domains like security and defence, information technology, energy, sustainable habitat, advance materials, health care, nano technology, climate change, etc.
Article link: Click here
TOPIC: General studies 2:
- Structure, organization and functioning of the Judiciary
Making the Supreme Courts’ roster public
The Supreme Court’s “roster”, the allocation of case categories to different judges of the SC, is to be made public.
This is a welcome step as it will promote greater transparency.
The ongoing crisis in the higher judiciary came to light when four senior-most judges of the SC held an unprecedented press conference indicating their loss of faith in Chief Justice of India (CJI).
The issue relates precisely to the manner of allocation of cases.
The manner in which sensitive cases were being allocated by the CJI to certain judges suggested that it was totally arbitrary and designed to ensure a certain outcome, in some cases favouring the Union government.
In the states:
At least four large high courts — those of Allahabad, Bombay, Delhi and Karnataka — also make their rosters available on their websites.
A litigant in any of these courts, or a lawyer practising here, has already known for a while how cases are being allocated to various judges on the basis of subject matter.
This level of transparency is only necessary.
Making roster public is by no means necessary or sufficient to address the ongoing crisis of credibility in the Supreme Court of India.
- The crux of the issue lies in the absence of any norms or transparency in the manner in which the CJI exercised his discretionary power — to go beyond the roster and allocate specific cases to specific benches.
This continues to be a bone of contention and won’t be resolved unless clear and specific norms are laid down guiding the CJI’s exercise of discretion.
- The SC’s roster allocation is far less detailed when compared to those of the four high courts mentioned above.
In the Delhi High Court, cases are divided between benches on the basis of not just subject matter but also by date.
In the Allahabad High Court, writ petitions are divided among the benches based on which local law they are concerned with.
The SC’s roster on the other hand is just a list of case categories allocated to certain judges.
No inter se classification or division has been made between the benches.
- The fact that the CJI’s court will be the only one to hear Public Interest Litigations is also problematic.
PILs constitute a very small number of the total cases in the SC. But PILs are more likely than most other case types to raise important issues, and spark confrontation between the judiciary and executive.
Having only the CJI hear PILs in the present context, where questions over his integrity and independence have been raised, is problematic.
Way forward: Fine-tuning roster
- A fine-tuned roster will prevent two different benches from hearing the same kind of case and taking divergent views at the same time.
This happens far more often than it should forcing the SC to set up larger benches to resolve the conflicting interpretations.
As seen a few years ago when different benches of the SC took different approaches to interpreting the Karnataka and the Gujarat Lokayukta laws as regards appointment of Lokayuktas within two weeks of each other.
- It will allow for effective case management within the SC.
Though judges in India are not specialists in any specific areas of the law, they will be in a better position to dispose of cases the more they handle the same kind of case.
This can be concluded by the SC’s own experience with a dedicated tax bench constituted for about one year.
- In putting in place the procedures and norms for the preparation of the roster, the SC has to ensure that the task is not left to each individual CJI but carried on through an internal mechanism that has some level of continuity and consistency.
Connecting the dots:
- Recent decision to make the Supreme Court’s “roster”, the allocation of case categories to different judges of the SC, public is a welcome step as it will promote greater transparency. Discuss.
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
Making the neighbourhood first again
Almost four years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his term with a “Neighbourhood First” moment, by inviting leaders of all South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries to his swearing-in ceremony, India’s neighbourhood policy seems to be adrift(unanchored).
New Delhi’s connect with its South Asian neighbours is weaker than it has been for a very long time.
Governments in the SAARC region are not on ideal terms with New Delhi:
- In the Maldives, President Yameen Abdul Gayoom has gone out of his way to challenge the Indian government, whether it is on his crackdown on the opposition, invitations to China, or even breaking with New Delhi’s effort to isolate Pakistan at SAARC.
- In Nepal, the K.P. Sharma Oli government is not India’s first choice.
- No matter which party is in power in Pakistan, the official dialogue seems difficult, especially with the military on the ascendant once again.
- In other parts of the neighborhood (Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh), where relations have been comparatively better for the past few years, upcoming elections could be of disadvantage for India.
China’s unprecedented forays into each of these countries:
- In Nepal, China has opened up an array of alternative trade and connectivity options after the 2015 India-Nepal border blockade: from the highway to Lhasa, cross-border railway lines to the development of dry ports.
- In Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives and Pakistan, China holds strategic real estate, which could also be fortified militarily in the future.
- China stepped in to negotiate a Rohingya refugee return agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh, host a meeting of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s foreign ministers to help calm tensions and bring both on board with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) connection between them and offered to mediate between the Maldivian government and the opposition.
This shows increasing involvement of China in internal politics of these countries.
The government’s decision to use hard power tactics in the neighbourhood has had a boomerang effect:
- The “surgical strikes” on Pakistan of 2016 have been followed by a greater number of ceasefire violations and cross-border infiltration on the Line of Control.
- The 2015 Nepal blockade and a subsequent cut in Indian aid channelled through the government did not force the Nepali government to amend its constitution as intended.
- Mr. Modi’s decision to abruptly cancel his visit to Male in 2015 did not yield the required changes in the government’s treatment of the opposition.
Warnings about Mr. Yameen’s emergency in the past month have led to the Maldives cancelling its participation in the Indian Navy’s “Milan” exercises.
- Even in Bangladesh, the Indian Army chief, General Bipin Rawat’s tough talking last week about immigration has drawn ire there.
Time for reversal:
Building sot power:
India’s most potent tool is its soft power.
Its successes in Bhutan and Afghanistan, for example, have much more to do with its development assistance than its defence assistance.
- After sharp drops in 2016 (of 36%) and 2017 (of 19%) year on year, the budget allocations for South Asia have seen an increase (of 6%) in 2018.
- After the Doklam crisis was defused in 2017, India also moved swiftly to resolve differences with Bhutan on hydropower pricing.
- The governement has announced a tariff hike for energy from Bhutan’s Chhukha project, the first in several years.
Instead of opposing every project by China in the region, the government must attempt a three-pronged approach-
- Where possible, India should collaborate with China in the manner it has over the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic corridor.
- When India feels a project is a threat to its interests, India should make a counter-offer to the project, if necessary in collaboration with its Quadrilateral partners, Japan, the U.S. and Australia.
- India should coexist with projects that do not necessitate intervention, while formulating a set of South Asian principles for sustainable development assistance that can be used across the region.
This will all only be possible if India and China reset bilateral ties.
Learning from ASEAN:
- There must be more interaction at every level of government.
- Just as Indonesia, the biggest economy in the ASEAN, allowed smaller countries such as Singapore to take the lead, India too must take a back seat in decision-making, enabling others to build a more harmonious SAARC process.
India must focus its efforts to return to a more comfortable peace, and to “Making the Neighbourhood First Again”.
Connecting the dots:
- India needs to re-look at her neighborhood policy. Analyze.
It is time to have a debate on proportional representation
Before and after Javed Abidi
The fight to finish against banking frauds
Trade in an increasingly protectionist world
Don’t muzzle the pharma regulators
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