IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains
Focus)- 29th October 2018
(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)
India-US: F-16 fighter jets deal
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – International Relations; Defence
- S. diplomat said – The United States is not going to put pressure on India to buy F-16 fighter jets or any other defence system.
- India has purchased more than $15 billion worth of American defence materials.
- India recently concluded a $5 billion deal to buy the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia, which could attract U.S. sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act instituted by the U.S. Congress on arms purchases from Moscow.
Supreme Court and Justice Radhakrishnan committee on Road Safety
Part of: Mains GS Paper II- Social and Health issues; Role of Judiciary; Judicial Activism/Overreach?
Supreme Court had directed that –
- All States and Union Territories should frame a Road Safety Policy.
- Should set up lead agencies to work as secretariats of State Road Safety Councils to co-ordinate on activities such as licensing issues like driving licences, registration of vehicles, road safety and features of vehicles.
- It is mandatory for States and Union Territories to establish Road Safety Fund, the corpus of which would come from traffic fines collected. The money would be used to meet the expenses for road safety.
- Framing Road Safety Action Plans by March 31 (2018) to reduce the number of road accidents, as well as the fatality rate.
Cause of concern:
- 90 per cent of the problem of deaths due to road accidents was the result of a lack of strict enforcement of safety rules on roads and strict punishment for those who do not obey rules.
- There was one death almost every three minutes due to road accidents. Only half the number of families of these victims were compensated.
- Many states are yet to frame Road Safety Action Plans and establish district road safety committees (as recommended by Radhakrishnan committee)
Justice Radhakrishnan committee on road safety:
- Set up after the Supreme Court intervention.
- The Justice Radhakrishnan panel would fix the responsibility and functions of the State road safety councils.
- These councils would periodically review the laws and take appropriate remedial steps wherever necessary.
- Similarly, lead agencies and district road safety committees should be established.
A.P. ranked first, with 10.5% growth
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Indian Economy; Development and Growth
- Andhra Pradesh has achieved the number one rank in the country with an average growth of 10.5% during the last four years.
- It has surpassed many developed States such as Maharashtra and Gujarat following a “focused approach” and setting high targets for itself.
- Andhra Pradesh is the only State to clock the double-digit growth rate.
- Telangana has slipped to the second place, Maharashtra is ranked sixth. Punjab is placed 14th and Karnataka third.
- Telangana, which registered 6.8% growth in 2014-15 could achieve 10.4% in 2017-18.
Animal in news: Amur falcon
- Amur falcon is a small raptor of the falcon family.
- It breeds in south-eastern Siberia and Northern China before migrating in large flocks across India and over the Arabian Sea to winter in Southern Africa.
- The raptor (bird of prey) — the size of a pigeon — makes its home in Nagaland, flying a staggering 22,000 km from there to South Africa, then onto Mongolia and back to Nagaland. The bird has one of the longest and most fascinating migratory paths in the avian world.
- The falcon breeds in south-eastern Siberia and north-eastern China, where the Amur River divides the Russian Far East and China.
Do you know?
- It is a small raptor, of the size of a pigeon. It covers one of the largest migratory distances from Mongolia and Russia to South Africa.
- It is not a critically endangered species and is found in large numbers. However, due to indiscriminate killing, their numbers are rapidly coming down.
- It is considered as a delicacy in Nagaland and widely hunted and sold in the local market.
- The Centre decided to develop Doyang Lake in Nagaland, famous as a roosting site for longest travelling raptors Amur Falcons, as an eco-tourism spot for bird-watchers.
- Mahila Mall (Kerala) – First mall in the country with an all-women crew.
- Nearly half the applications pending for Indian citizenship are from Pakistanis, according to a Home Ministry database. The power to grant citizenship lies with the Home Ministry.
- 13th India-Japan annual summit – PM Modi arrived in Japan.
- Usually bees, wasps and butterflies are considered as prominent pollinators. However, study of a dozen species of Moths revealed they are also key pollinators. (Concern – almost two-thirds of common large moth species have declined over a period of 40 years in many parts of the world)
- About 90% of the world’s flowering plants are pollinated by animals. Therefore, pollinators are essential for the genetic exchange among flowering plants and the biodiversity among plants.
TOPIC: General studies 2
- Constitution: Fundamental rights
- Social justice and empowerment of vulnerable sections of the society
Glass ceiling, caste wall
- Reservation in the promotion in higher posts of government services remained a contentious debate.
- The governing elite largely believe that caste discrimination is an overblown problem that is a thing of the past.
- The five-judge Constitution Bench largely endorsed the 2006 SC judgment in the Nagaraj case relating to reservation for SC/STs in promotion.
- Originally, the reservation in promotion implies that at every level in the hierarchy, there should be 22.5 per cent seats reserved for SC/STs.
- But even prior to the Nagaraj judgment, the senior positions in the bureaucracy had been insulated against reservation in promotion.
- Since 1967, when a five-judge bench headed by Justice Wanchoo decided against reservation in promotions within Class I positions (Group A), no government or court has broken this elitist barrier.
- The hitherto skewed, discriminatory implementation of the policy is reflected in the statistic.
- Although SC/STs constitute about 23 per cent of all central government employees, they occupy more than 45 per cent of the safai karmachari posts but less than 10 per cent posts in the higher tiers of government.
- The latest Court order sanctifies this unequal representation of Dalits in the higher levels of government.
Details of the judgment
- SC held that the Nagaraj case which had effectively put a stop to reservation in promotions need not be referred for consideration to a larger Bench.
- The Court invalidated the Nagaraj case decree that the state should collect quantifiable data of backwardness of SC/STs while considering eligibility for reservation in promotion.
- One of the reasons of such invalidation is that SC/STs are specifically mentioned in Article 46 and should therefore be deemed to be “the most backward or the weakest of the weaker sections of society and therefore presumed to be backward.”
- While discussing the “creamy layer”, the judges argued that the equality principle demands that “unequals” within the same class should be weeded out.
- “Those persons… who have come out of untouchability or backwardness by virtue of belonging to the creamy layer… (should) be excluded from the benefit of reservation”.
Criticism of the judgment
- There are serious problems with the philosophy underlying the apex court’s verdict on the “creamy layer”.
- It is based on a worldview that ignores the complexities and rationale behind affirmative action.
- The rationale behind reservation is not merely economic as imputed by the Court (poverty exists across castes and communities) but untouchability and its tenacious grip on our society.
- So ingrained is caste that the ordinary Dalit, irrespective of his material advancement, is still hobbled by his social origins.
- The Court’s view that the so-called “creamy layer” has transcended caste discrimination and untouchability betrays a poor understanding of a social milieu still scarred by caste.
- What Gandhiji said still holds good today: “Whether a Harijan is nominally a Hindu, Christian, Sikh… he is still a Harijan. He can’t change his spots… He may change his garb… but his untouchability will haunt him during his lifetime.”
- On the issue of adequacy of representation, the Court has struck at the very root of affirmative action in the promotional stages.
- The court observed that “as the post gets higher it may be necessary to reduce the number of SC/STs in promotional posts… for the simple reason that efficiency of administration has to be looked at every time promotions are made”.
- Implicit in this observation is the cultural bias that sees the Dalit as less efficient than his peers and hence the directive that the proportionate reservation of 22.5 per cent should be progressively reduced in the higher tiers of the bureaucracy.
Does caste based discrimination exist?
- For purveyors of the myth that caste no longer determines one’s social standing or life chances, a recent news report should be an eye-opener.
- In Jabalpur, a doctor belonging to the Scheduled Tribe community was assaulted by the relatives of two patients who wanted them treated by an “upper caste” person.
- The assailants then took the patients to another hospital for treatment.
- The recent killing in Telangana of an educated Dalit Christian for marrying an upper caste girl reminds us of what it means to be Dalit.
- On the surface, things seem to have improved but the subterranean volcano of prejudice erupts in case the Dalit breaches the invisible but unyielding caste wall.
- Such inhuman treatment of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (SC/STs) is routine in the life of our nation, irrespective of whether they belong to the so-called “creamy layer” or not.
- Every year, there are more than 40,000 registered cases of atrocities against Dalits though the actual number of heinous crimes committed against this beleaguered community is much higher.
- It is against the backdrop of this oppressive social milieu that one must view the recent SC pronouncement on reservation in promotion which has dealt a body blow to Dalit aspirations.
- Caste consciousness is embedded in our culture.
- In Vasanth Kumar vs State of Karnataka (1985), Justice Chinnappa Reddy attacked the “meritarian principle” and observed that it is not permitted to use merit as a camouflage to let the upper classes monopolise the services, higher posts and the professional institutions.
- Prime minister Narendra Modi asserted that “reservation is here to stay… the dreams of Dr Babasaheb are still incomplete… and reservation is an important tool to achieve this”.
- However, the recent SC judgment puts paid to any hopes of Dalits ever getting their legitimate share of posts in the upper echelons of government.
Connecting the dots:
- Write a brief note on SC judgment in Nagraj Case. What are your views on Reservation in Promotions in higher echelons of government services?
TOPIC: General studies 2
- 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
Gulf in strategic precepts
- Twenty years after exchanging bitter words following India’s nuclear tests, India-Japan ties acquired exceptional warmth.
- From development assistance to maritime cooperation, both countries view each other as “special strategic and global partners.”
- But an unpleasant truth is, ties are a mile wide but an inch deep.
Critical analysis of India-Japan relations:
- In 2011, India and Japan began implementing the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement; yet seven years later, bilateral trade has yet to hit even the $20 billion mark.
- India’s exports to Japan have in fact contracted in four of the past six years.
- Since early 2010, Japan and India have discussed joint infrastructure projects in third countries, including announcing an Asia-Africa Growth Corridor.
- But not a single project has taken off, including in Myanmar and the Mekong countries where the two share complementary interests.
- The largest gap between form and substance is evident in the area of defence cooperation.
- The framework of Indo-Japanese defence ties has grown considerably, including the joint declaration on security cooperation, the action plan to advance such cooperation, a defence equipment transfer agreement, a classified military information security protection agreement, and the ongoing logistical support cooperation talks.
- Yet, 10 years later, the two sides have failed to realise the sale of a single defence article and there exists no conventional threat-specific contingency scenario in which the two militaries can practicably cooperate.
- The veiled threat to embargo Chinese shipping at the Indo-Pacific’s chokepoints might make for good theatre but is poor policy.
- India and Japan must grapple with the gulf that separates their guiding strategic precepts if they are to transcend the hollow institutionalisation that infects strategic ties.
Strategy of alliance
- Though influenced by competing currents of Asia-oriented or autonomy-centred diplomacy, Japan has never been able to successfully postulate an order beyond a Western-led alliance framework.
- Whereas, independent India has never sought to articulate an identity within the framework of an alliance system – be it Western or any other.
- As Prime Minister Narendra Modi eloquently restated at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, New Delhi remains conspicuously committed to a non-Western, pluralistic model of cooperative security in Asia.
Do you know?
What is the Shangri-La Dialogue?
- The SLD is a top annual even where top representatives and defence personnel from several countries from 28 Asia Pacific countries as well as from across the world assemble.
- Hosted by London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) and the government of Singapore since 2002, the SLD has become “one of world’s great strategic gatherings” as it boosts security cooperation and mutual confidence through easy communication between defence personnel and policymakers.
- This event gives an opportunity for officials and defence personnel to discuss in depth various regional security issues in break-up groups or on the sidelines, thus making it an effective diplomatic platform.
- The SLD recognises emerging security concerns and prevalent security concerns every year and focuses on thorough discussions on them.
- The SLD gets its name from its venue – Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore.
What was the SLD’s agenda this year?
- North Korean denuclearisation issue was the prime topic for discussion this year as it has been in the previous few years.
- Besides, the South China Sea crisis, terrorism, future conflicts and emerging technologies were also discussed at length this year.
- More on: https://www.iiss.org/events/shangri-la-dialogue/shangri-la-dialogue-2018
- Nuzzling together within a broader anti-China coalition can only go so far in bolstering strategic congruence.
- Rather, Japan must adopt a more independent-minded approach in the Indo-Pacific that is less attached to the West and more amenable to partners like India.
Connecting the dots:
- Analyse the India – Japan relations.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)
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Q.1) Amur falcons has one of the longest and most fascinating migratory paths in the avian kingdom. Consider the following statements regarding Amur falcons:
- It is one of the largest raptor species.
- It migrates from Mongolia to South Africa via India.
- It is amongst the critically endangered species and very few left in wild.
- It considered a delicacy in Nagaland and widely hunted during their short stay in India.
Select the correct statements from above:
- 1 and 3
- 2 and 4
- 3 only
- All of the above
Q.2) Doyang Lake, famous as a roosting site for longest travelling raptors Amur Falcons is located in which state?
- Arunachal Pradesh
Q.3) Which of the following bird species are migratory in nature?
- Northern Duck
- Amur Falcon
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
- 1 and 3 only
- 1 and 4 only
- 2, 3, and 4 only
- 1, 2, 3 and 4
Q.4) United Nations Road Safety Trust Fund has been launched recently. Consider the following statements about the same
- The fund will help to strengthen the capacity of government agencies to implement road safety programmes.
- It will mobilize resources only from governments or governmental organizations.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- Only 1
- Only 2
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
Q.5) Justice Radhakrishnan Committee is associated with
- Teacher Reforms
- Pension Reforms
- Labour Reforms
- None of the above
In the court of last resort
The paradox of faith
Plate to Plough: Sardar’s unfinished task
Protecting the central bank’s independence
The importance of Asia-Europe cooperation
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