Daily Current Affairs [IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam] – 14th December 2018
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains III – Animal conservation; Agriculture/Livestock
- Punganur cow is considered one of the world’s smallest breeds of cattle.
- The breed is on the verge of extinction, due to cross-breeding conducted by farmers.
- Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Animal Genetic Resources list the breed as facing extinction.
- The Punganur cow is diminutive, with a height of 70 cm to 90 cm and weighing around 115 to 200 kg. In comparison, the famous Ongole bull stands tall at 1.70 metres and weighs 500 kg. Both breeds trace their origins to Andhra Pradesh.
- Animal genetics and breeding scientists are now engaged in efforts to save the unique breed from extinction.
Do you know?
- Gir – This breed is highest producer of milk among all breeds in India.
- Sahiwal – This cow is also called ‘Red Gold’ and identified by its prominent red colour.
- Rathi, Tharparkar, Dhanni, Deoni, Hariana, Ongole, Nimari, Hallikar, Vechur (smallest cattle in the world)
- Umblachery – The bulls are used in the sport of Jallikattu or bull-taming
Migratory birds at Chilika face flu threat
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Health issue; Animal conservation; Bird Sanctuary in news
- Lakhs of migratory birds at Chilika are facing a threat to their lives following the detection of avian influenza virus barely a few kilometres away from the Nalabana Bird Sanctuary.
- Samples have tested positive for H5N1 virus.
- Avian influenza refers to the disease caused by infection with avian (bird) influenza (flu) Type A viruses.
- These viruses occur naturally among wild aquatic birds worldwide and can infect domestic poultry and other bird and animal species.
- Avian flu viruses do not normally infect humans. However, sporadic human infections with avian flu viruses have occurred.
Groundwater extraction will invite a fee
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – Conservation of Water; Government policies and schemes
- In a bid to promote conservation of groundwater, the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has notified a water conservation fee (WCF).
- Industries will need to pay on groundwater extraction starting from June 2019.
Do you know?
- As per the CGWA notification, industries extracting groundwater, including mining-dewatering units and those that use groundwater for packaged drinking water, will need to apply for a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the government.
- Individual households that draw groundwater using a delivery pipe of a greater than 1” diameter, too, will need to pay a WCF.
- However, the agriculture sector — the largest consumer of groundwater in the country — will be exempt from the fees.
- In India, extracted groundwater is mainly used for irrigation and accounts for about 228 BCM (billion cubic metre) — or about 90% of the annual groundwater extraction.
- The rest, 25 BCM, is drawn for drinking, domestic and industrial uses.
- India is the largest user of groundwater in the world, and accounts for about 25% of the global water extraction.
Lack of basic rights for the aged a concern: SC
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – Social issue; Government schemes and policies; Fundamental Rights
- Supreme Court has expressed its disappointment over lack of basic rights and inadequate welfare provided to senior citizens and the aged.
- The court said it was a statutory right of every aged person under the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act of 2007 to be provided dignity, health and shelter.
- All the three are important components which make the fundamental right to life under Article 21.
Do you know?
- The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act makes it obligatory for children or relatives to provide maintenance to senior citizens and parents.
- It also provides for the setting up of old age homes by State governments.
- Lack of knowledge of rights, the inherent inability of the elderly to approach a tribunal for recourse under the law, and poor implementation of the Act by various State governments are other concerns
- The increase in the number of elderly people in the country calls for responsible policies and programmes for their protection and care.
- India is expected to be home to 300 million elderly people by 2050
- 18 per cent of the population is going to be over 60 years of age by 2050
- In India, about 50 per cent of the elderly are being financially dependent on others
- Most of the elderly have been turned out from their homes, or have lost a partner, or just can’t manage to live on their own anymore
- Elderly Population need to thrive not just survive
It is time India pay heed to the problems of those who are old, else the country will be faced with a large incidence of degenerative diseases, accompanied with serious gaps in the geriatric medical ecosystem, a changing joint family structure, the lack of ‘grey-friendliness’ in public spaces, transport, housing, and a virtually non-existing policy framework to tackle these issues.
The court directed that the Centre should prepare a plan of action for giving publicity to the provisions of 2007 Act and ensure that the State governments carry out and execute the provisions of the law.
SC bats for rights of death row convicts
Part of: GS Mains II – Social issue; Fundamental Rights
According to a recent judgment by the Supreme Court –
- Death row convicts should be allowed to meet with family, friends, lawyers and mental health professionals for a “reasonable period of time with reasonable frequency” like any other prisoner.
- It is part of their fundamental right to dignity and equality.
- The court said prison manuals or laws depriving condemned prisoners of their basic rights should be nixed.
- The court banked on generalities, referring to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and reiterated that right to life includes the “right to live with human dignity.”
India, Russia to boost joint production in defence
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II and III – India and Russia; International Relations; Defence
- 18th meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) took place recently.
- India and Russia have agreed on ways to simplify export clearances to take forward joint manufacturing in defence.
- Focus – expanding military-to-military and defence industrial engagement.
- Both Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSU) and private sector to manufacture spares for Russian systems in India.
TOPIC:General studies 2
- Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.
- Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Need for an effective ‘Legal Culture’ to maintain judicial independence
- The below article deals with assessment of whether Indian Judiciary is really free from political influence?
- According to the author there are series of instances where judges outright favour particular political affiliations.
- Therefore, the author stresses for the need for an effective ‘Legal Culture’ to maintain Judicial independence (free from political influence).
- Once a Judge takes an oath to uphold the Constitution, his/her past connections or inclinations, should not weigh in their decision making process.
We know that our Constitution is designed to ensure that judges can do their work “independent” of government influence:
- fixed salaries
- security of tenure and
- an appointments process that is insulated from executive control
Independence, however, means something more. It also requires that judges perform their constitutional role independent of personal biases, political and moral beliefs, and partisan ideologies.
While adjudicating, a judge should not turn into a politician.
At all times, he/she is bound to maintain primary fidelity to the law and the Constitution:
- to the text of legal instruments,
- to the canons of legal interpretation, and
- to the body of judicial precedent that holds the field
– These are crucial checks upon judicial power.
‘Role of Legal Culture’
Judicial independence depends on judges recognising that law and adjudication must remain autonomous from partisan politics in important ways.
Judges need to be insulated from any external control; they should be accountable only to themselves, and their own sense of the limits of their constitutional role.
However, accountability only to oneself is a very weak form of constraint. The temptation to overstep is always immense, more so when such immense power has been placed in one’s own hands.
Therefore, it is here that “legal culture” plays a critical role in establishing judicial accountability.
- A Legal Culture – which has a set of unwritten, but clearly established, norms that determine what is or is not acceptable in the process of adjudication.
- A Legal Culture – which has not sprung up out of a vacuum, but created and nurtured by judges, lawyers, legal academics, the press and the citizenry.
The roots of the crisis and where the legal culture got exactly failed?
- During the first 17 years of India’s republic, by and large, the Supreme Court reposed faith in Parliament. Most MPs were freedom fighters, and the court trusted them.
- But as amendment after amendment was used to undo the core values of the Constitution, the court had to apply the brakes in 1967.
- The court refused to trust elected representatives with the amendment process, and ruled that fundamental rights could not be curtailed except by the Constituent Assembly.
- In the 1980s, there was a rapid expansion of judicial power. Supreme Court began to dispense with procedural checks upon its power.
- Some of these steps were important and necessary, such as allowing “public interest” cases to be filed on behalf of those who were unable to access the courts.
- However, other steps were double-edged swords, such as diluting the evidentiary standards required to prove disputed facts, and vastly expanding the courts’ discretion to shape and fashion remedies. (for complete justice)
The 1980s Supreme Court was highly praised for this. Judges were painted as crusading heroes.
1990s and 2000s
- By the 1990s and the 2000s, under the misleading label of “judicial activism”, the court was beginning to engage in a host of administrative activities, from managing welfare schemes to “beautifying cities” to overseeing anti-corruption initiatives.
- The constitutional court had become a Supreme ‘Administrative’ Court.
- This, too, was justified on the altar of necessity: politicians were corrupt, bureaucrats were inefficient, and things didn’t move. Someone had to come and clean it all up.
- Judiciary was viewed as an infallible solution to all social problems.
- In other words, the Judiciary was considered to be flawless, incapable of making mistakes or being wrong.
Is Indian Judiciary really flawless? Is it free from political influence?
Some of the judgments show that Judiciary has failed to maintain its legal culture and has many times sided with government’s agenda –
- Recent Meghalaya High Court Judge Justice S.R. Sen’s ill-advised and ill-judged remarks (had some sort of biasness towards current government or political posturing)
- A judge, who wrapped up in patriotic zeal, did not stop to think whether he is authorised to compel all cinema halls in the nation to play the national anthem.
- Another did not consider whether he has the power to mandate that every student in Tamil Nadu must study the Tirukkural.
- Judiciary taking over the entire process of preparing a National Register of Citizens (NRC).
- The record of the courts in protecting civil rights has also been a mixed one. In far too many cases, courts have tended to defer to the executive and the government.
Courts simply missed the thought whether the Constitution ever contemplated a task such as this to fall within the judicial domain.
Above judgments like the national anthem order, the Tirukkural order, the NRC process, and Justice Sen’s recent foray – raise an altogether more frightening prospect: that of an “executive court”.
**An “executive court” – is a court whose moral and political compass finds itself in alignment with the government of the day, and one that has no compunctions in navigating only according to that compass.
Instead of checking and limiting government power, an executive court finds itself marching in lockstep with the government, and being used to set the seal of its prestige upon more controversial parts of the government’s agenda.
Connecting the dots:
- Do you think Indian Judiciary is really free from political influence? Is it really independent and flawless? Critically analyze.
- “Legal culture” plays a critical role in establishing judicial accountability and judicial independence. Substantiate.
TOPIC:General studies 3
- Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.
MSMEs: Changing the Indian state from bully to ally
- Policy makers often romanticize MSMEs over large employers because it believes that MSMEs are a source of massive job creation, are the salvation of less-skilled job seekers, and embody solid middle-class values.
- However, MSMEs view the Indian state as a bully rather than an ally, because of its 60,000-plus employer compliance universe that changes 5,000-plus times a year and 3,300-plus possible filings for enterprises.
- Therefore, there is a need for massive regulatory rationalization, simplification and digitalization because no MSME can possibly keep track of 60,000 plus regulatory compliances.
India’s next wave of Ease of Doing Business (EODB) should have three vectors—
- rationalization (cutting down the number of laws),
- simplification (cutting down the number of compliances and filings) and
- digitization (architecting for true paperless, presence-less and cashless).
Rationalization could start with clustering the 44 labour laws into a single labour code.
Simplification would include replacing our 25-plus different numbers issued by various government arms to every employer with a unique enterprise number (an Aadhaar for enterprises).
Finally, we must move away from the current approach to digitization as a website and shift to open architecture-based API frameworks, where multiple players compete in providing services to employers.
- MSMEs remain, by their predominantly informal nature, vulnerable to structural and cyclical shocks, at times with persistent effects.
- Some of the critical issues that hamper their development were absence of access to easy finance and credit instruments, serious regulatory constraints, lack of access to modern and affordable technology, lack of basic infrastructure, lack of access to modern marketing and distribution networks, shortage of skilled labour and inflexible and archaic labour laws.
- The micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) have been impacted adversely by the twin shocks of demonetisation and goods and services tax (GST).
India is expected to emerge as one of the leading economies in the world over the next decade and the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) segment is expected to play a significant role.
The development of this segment is extremely critical to meet the national imperatives of financial inclusion and generation of significant levels of employment across urban, rurban and rural areas across the country. Further, it can nurture and support development of new age entrepreneurs who have the potential to create globally competitive businesses from India.
Connecting the dots:
- Explain in brief the significance of MSMEs in Indian economy. Also discuss the challenges faced by the MSME sector in India.
(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)
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Q.1) H5N1 is often in news. It is concerned with which of the following diseases?
- Avian Influenza
- Swine Flu
Q.2) Famous breeds – Punganur, Ongole, Nimari, Hallikar, Vechur relates to –
Q.3) The practice of mating of animals of the same breed, having no common ancestors, is called
- Interspecific hybridization
Q.4) The spread of Avian Influenza in Odisha is in news. Consider the following statements with respect to Avian Influenza:
- It is a viral infection spread from bird to bird.
- A particular strain of H5N1 virus is believed to cause avian influenza.
- Human beings catch bird flu by close contact with birds or bird droppings.
Which of the statements given above are correct?
- 1 and 2 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2, and 3
Q.5) Mangalajodi, the second largest hotspot for birds is on the banks of
- Chilika Lake
- Pangong lake
- Dal Lake
- Pulikat Lake
Q.6) It is said that the one issue which highlights the need to unify the Central Water Commission and the Central Ground Water Board is the drying up of peninsular rivers, the single most important cause of which is
- Climate Change
- Over-extraction of groundwater
- Construction of excessive number of dams
- Excess population in the peninsular region
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