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Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th August 2019

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  • August 19, 2019
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IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 19th August 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


Iran-West tensions

Part of: GS Prelims and GS Mains II – International relations

  • An Iranian oil supertanker that was seized by the UK nearly a month ago amid escalating tension between Tehran and the West, was released on Sunday and was moving away from Gibraltar.
  • The ship, now renamed Adrian Darya 1, was previously known as Grace 1. It has a cargo of at least $130m worth of light crude oil. 
  • British Royal Marines had seized the vessel in Gibraltar in July on suspicion that it was carrying oil to Syria, a close ally of Iran, in violation of EU sanctions.
  • The decision came after Gibraltar’s government said it had received written assurances from Iran that the ship would not be headed for countries “subject to European Union sanctions”.

Do You Know?

  • Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory and headland, on Spain’s south coast.
  •  In 1704, Anglo-Dutch forces captured Gibraltar from Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession on behalf of the Habsburg claim to the Spanish throne. The territory was ceded to Great Britain in perpetuity under the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713
  • The seizure of Grace 1 triggered a sharp deterioration in relations between Iran and the United Kingdom. 
  • Tehran subsequently detained the British-flagged tanker in what was seen as a tit-for-tat move. That tanker, the Stena Impero, is still in Iranian custody.
  • US court had issued a warrant for the seizure of the Iranian Oil tanker, on the grounds that it had links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which US has designated a “terrorist” organisation.
  • Gibraltar’s government however said that it could not comply with the US court’s warrant because of European law.

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India-Bhutan

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS II – International relations

In News

  • PM Modi during his recent visit to Bhutan has said that that India and Bhutan are “natural partners” in bringing prosperity to their peoples
  • The two countries also signed 10 MoUs to expand their bilateral relationship and infuse new energy in their ties. Some of the key MoUs include:
  • Inauguration of the Mangdechhu hydroelectric power plant. Most of the electricity generated by it will meet the energy requirements of Bhutan and the surplus electricity will be exported to India. 
  • Launch of the RuPay Card in Bhutan to further enhance bilateral relationship in digital payments, and trade and tourism. 
  • Currency Swap limit increased: additional $100 million will be available to Bhutan under a standby swap arrangement to meet the foreign exchange requirement.
  • Space cooperation: Inauguration the Ground Earth Station and SATCOM network, developed with assistance from ISRO for utilization of South Asia Satellite in Bhutan. 
  • MoU signed for interconnection between India’s National Knowledge Network and Bhutan’s Druk Research and Education Network. 

Geographical indication (GI)

Part of: GS Prelims

In News

  • The Geographical Indication (GI) under the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade has recently registered 4 new GIs.
  • Palani Panchamirtham:
    • Palani Panchamirtham, an abishega Prasadam, is one of the main offerings for the presiding deity of Arulmigu Dhandayuthapaniswamy Temple, situated in palani Hills in Dindigul District of Tamil Nadu.
    • It is a combination of five natural substances, namely, banana, jaggery sugar, cow ghee, honey and cardamom in a definite proportion.
    • This is the first time a temple ‘prasadam’ from Tamil Nadu has been bestowed with the GI tag.
  • Tawlhlohpuan:
    • Tawlhlohpuan is a medium to heavy, compactly woven, good quality fabric from Mizoram.
    • It is known for warp yarns, warping, weaving & intricate designs that are made by hand.
    • Tawlhloh, in Mizo language, means ‘to stand firm or not to move backward’
  •  Mizo Puanchei:
    • Mizo Puanchei is a colourful Mizo shawl/textile, from Mizoram.
    • It is an essential possession for every Mizo lady and an important marriage outfit in the state. It is also the most commonly used costume in Mizo festive dances
    • The weavers insert the designs and motifs by using supplementary yarns while weaving to create this textile
  •  Tirur Betel leaf:
    • Tirur betel mainly cultivated in Malappuram District of Kerala, is valued both for its mild stimulant action and medicinal properties.
    • Even though it is commonly used for making pan masala for chewing, it has many medicinal, industrial and cultural usages.

Know India programme (KIP)

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS I – Indian Society

In News

  • A group of Indian Origin youth have visited India under the 54th Edition of KIP, scheduled from 1st August to 25th August, 2019 in association with the partner sates of Punjab and Haryana
  • KIP is a 25-day orientation programme organized by the Ministry of External Affairs in partnership with the states of India.
  • The objective of the programme is to make Indian diaspora (aged between 18-30 years) aware about India, its cultural heritage, art and to promote awareness about the progress made by India in various fields such as Industry, Education, ICT, Climate and Power & Renewable Energy etc.
  • Since 2004, the Ministry has conducted 53 editions of KIP with participation of 1821 Overseas Indian youth. 
  • In 2016, the scheme was revamped to increase duration from 21 to 25 days, with a 10-day visit to one or two States and preference given to PIOs from Girmitiya countries. 
  • Since 2016, six KIPs are being organised in a year.
  • A maximum of 40 Indian Diaspora youth are selected for each programme and provided full hospitality in India.

Do You Know?

  • Girmitiyas” or Indentured Labourers, is the name given the Indians who left Indian in the middle and late 19th Century to serve as labourers in the British colonies, where the majority eventually settled.
  • Mauritius, Fiji, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago are known as Girmitiya Countries. 

(MAINS FOCUS)


ENVIRONMENT

TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

Plastic Pollution

Context:

  • Worldwide, 75 per cent of all plastic produced is waste, and 87 per cent of this is leaked into the environment.
  • In his Independence Day speech, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for freeing India from “single-use plastic”.

Concerns:

  • A study by the University of Newcastle, Australia, and published by the World Wildlife Foundation this year concluded that an average person may be ingesting 5 grams of plastic every week. 
  • Over one-third of plastic waste ends up in nature, especially water, which is the largest source of plastic ingestion according to the report. 
  • India ranks number three in terms of plastic fibres found in a sample of tap water – 82.4 per cent of tap water sampled in India contained over four plastic fibres per 500 ml

What is the present scenario of plastics?

  • Plastics are organic polymers of high molecular mass and are usually synthetic, mainly derived from petrochemicals.
  • Due to their low cost, ease of manufacture, versatility, non-corrosiveness and imperviousness to water, plastics are used for multiple purposes at different scales.
  • Presently, over one million plastic bags and one million plastic bottles are used every minute worldwide.
  • About 50% of the plastics used are single use (disposable) which constitute 10% of the total waste generated.
  • And of the 7 billion tons of plastic waste generated, only 9% was recycled, 12% incinerated, and 79% accumulated in landfills or the environment.

What is the impact of plastics on environment?

  • The plastics, mostly single use plastics are carried down the rivers to the oceans and this accounts for two thirds of the plastic waste present in the oceans.
  • This affects the marine ecosystem as fishes are killed when they swallow plastic particles.
  • Also the economic impact due to plastic pollution is high especially in fisheries and tourism sector.
  • Another direct impact of plastic pollution is on the land, as it degrades slowly and leaches chemicals into surroundings and groundwater.
  • Drinking water samples in different parts of the world including India reveal presence of up to 83% micro plastic concentrations.

What measures can be taken to reduce plastic pollution?

  • Plastic use cannot be entirely eliminated from day to day activities, but safe disposal, reuse and reducing the quantity can be done.
  • Policies should be made to restrict plastic production and encourage recycling.
  • Since plastics are used by the common man, a behavioural change is necessary and segregation of household waste must be made mandatory.
  • Awareness has to be created on the dangers of plastics hazards and to opt for sustainable and biodegradable products.
  • Incentives for developing eco-friendly substitutes (cloth/paper/jute bags, leaves/areca leaf plates, paper straws), scientific as well as financial support must be provided.

India’s Stand:

  • India went big in their commitment to Beat Plastic Pollution today, with an announcement to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022. This unprecedented ambitious move against disposable plastic will drastically stem the flow of plastics from 1.3 billion people and business in the fasted growing economy in the world.
  • India has 7,500 km of coastline – the 7th longest in Asia. As part of this commitment, the government will establish a national and regional marine litter action campaign as well as a program to measure the total marine plastic footprint in India’s coastal waters.
  • Partnership between UN Environment and BCCI to ‘green cricket’ across the country – aims to reduce cricket’s environmental impact by greening operations and engaging fans and cricketers in green initiatives
  • Government to begin a five-year exercise to compute district-level data of the country’s environmental wealth. The data will be used to calculate every State’s ‘green’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • The government has also launched a ‘green skilling’ programme – Green Skill Development Programme (GSDP), under which youth, particularly school dropouts, would be trained in a range of ‘green jobs’. GSDP aims to get 80, 000 people imparted green skills and in filling the skill gaps in the environment sector. Green Skill Development Programme will go a long way in reaping the demographic dividend of the country; GSDP to cover nearly 5 lakh people by 2021.
  • Pledge to make 100 national monuments litter-free.

What is the way forward?

As individuals: We can reduce our plastic pollution and be more environmentally conscious by avoiding single-use plastics (e.g. straws, cups, cutlery, etc.) and packaging materials (e.g. polybags). Instead we can use jute bags, glass bottles or jars, steel or ceramic cutleries and utensils, and paper-made tetra packs.

The private sector needs to invest more in producing alternatives and biodegradable plastics and in phasing out the production of plastic. More research and technology investment and development is required to make alternatives to plastic that are economically viable and affordable.

The government should play a leading role by enacting strong policies and regulations that will encourage a more sustainable model for the design and production of plastics – Local bodies mandated under rules to ensure segregation, collection and transfer of waste to registered recyclers have spectacularly failed to fulfil their responsibilities. 

The State Level Monitoring Committees provided for under the rules have not been made accountable. The waste management framework is dysfunctional.

Technical and financial incentives from the government are instrumental for the transformation of the existing production system to a more sustainable one.

Connecting the dots:

  1. “India’s environmental diversity and riches are universally recognised but have never been quantified.” Discuss this in context of the decision taken to calculate every State’s ‘green’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  2. What do you mean by plastic roads? What are its benefits?

POLITY

Topic: General studies 2

  • Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.
  • Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

How states are split into seats

Context:

  • With J&K reorganised, all eyes are on how Election Commission will proceed with delimitation of constituencies
  • Since the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir state into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, delimitation of their electoral constituencies has been inevitable. While the government has not formally notified the Election Commission yet, the EC has held “internal discussions” on the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, 2019, particularly its provisions on delimitation.

What is Delimitation?

  • Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats to represent changes in population. In this process, the number of seats allocated to different states in Lok Sabha and the total number seats in a Legislative Assembly may also change. 

Objective of delimitation

  • The main objective of delimitation is to provide equal representation to equal segments of a population. 
  • It also aims at a fair division of geographical areas so that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.
  • Delimitation is carried out by an independent Delimitation Commission. 
  • The Constitution mandates that its orders are final and cannot be questioned before any court as it would hold up an election indefinitely.

How is delimitation carried out?

  • Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census. Once the Act is in force, the Union government sets up a Delimitation Commission made up of a retired Supreme Court judge, the Chief Election Commissioner and the respective State Election Commissioners. 
  • The Commission is supposed to determine the number and boundaries of constituencies in a way that the population of all seats, so far as practicable, is the same. 
  • The Commission is also tasked with identifying seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes; these are where their population is relatively large. 
  • All this is done on the basis of the latest Census and, in case of difference of opinion among members of the Commission, the opinion of the majority prevails.
  • The draft proposals of the Delimitation Commission are published in the Gazette of India, official gazettes of the states concerned and at least two vernacular papers for public feedback. 
  • The Commission also holds public sittings. After hearing the public, it considers objections and suggestions, received in writing or orally during public sittings, and carries out changes, if any, in the draft proposal. The final order is published in the Gazette of India and the State Gazette and comes into force on a date specified by the President.

How often has delimitation been done in the past?

  • The first delimitation exercise in 1950-51 was carried out by the President (with the help of the Election Commission), as the Constitution at that time was silent on who should undertake the division of states into Lok Sabha seats. 
  • This delimitation was temporary as the Constitution mandated redrawing of boundaries after every Census. Hence, delimitation was due after the 1951 Census. Pointing out that the first delimitation had left many political parties and individuals unhappy, the EC advised the government that all future exercises should be carried out by an independent commission. 
  • This suggestion was accepted and the Delimitation Commission Act was enacted in 1952. Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002. There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses.

Why was there no delimitation then?

  • The Constitution mandates that the number of Loksabha seats allotted to a state would be such that the ratio between that number and the population of the state is, as far as practicable, the same for all states. 
  • Although unintended, this provision implied that states that took little interest in population control could end up with a greater number of seats in Parliament. 
  • The southern states that promoted family planning faced the possibility of having their seats reduced. To allay these fears, the Constitution was amended during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency rule in 1976 to suspend delimitation until 2001.
  • Despite the embargo, there were a few occasions that called for readjustment in the number of Parliament and Assembly seats allocated to a state. These include statehood attained by Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram in 1986, the creation of a Legislative Assembly for the National Capital Territory of Delhi, and creation of new states such as Uttarakhand.
  • Although the freeze on the number of seats in Loksabha and Assemblies should have been lifted after the 2001 Census, another amendment postponed this until 2026. 
  • This was justified on the ground that a uniform population growth rate would be achieved throughout the country by 2026. 
  • So, the last delimitation exercise — started in July 2002 and completed on May 31, 2008 — was based on the 2001 Census and only readjusted boundaries of existing Loksabha and Assembly seats and reworked the number of reserved seats.

Why is delimitation for Jammu and Kashmir in the news now?

  • Delimitation of Jammu and Kashmir’s Lok Sabha seats is governed by the Indian Constitution, but delimitation of its Assembly seats (until special status was abrogated recently) was governed separately by the Jammu and Kashmir Constitution and Jammu and Kashmir Representation of the People Act, 1957. 
  • As far as delimitation of Loksabha seats is concerned, the last Delimitation Commission of 2002 was not entrusted with this task. Hence, J&K parliamentary seats remain as delimited on the basis of the 1971 Census.
  • As for Assembly seats, although the delimitation provisions of the J&K Constitution and the J&K Representation of the People Act, 1957, are similar to those of the Indian Constitution and Delimitation Acts, they mandate a separate Delimitation Commission for J&K.
  • In actual practice, the same central Delimitation Commission set up for other states was adopted by J&K in 1963 and 1973.
  • While the amendment of 1976 to the Indian Constitution suspended delimitation in the rest of the country till 2001, no corresponding amendment was made to the J&K Constitution. 
  • Hence, unlike the rest of the country, the Assembly seats of J&K were delimited based on the 1981 Census, which formed the basis of the state elections in 1996. 
  • There was no census in the state in 1991 and no Delimitation Commission was set up by the state government after the 2001 Census as the J&K Assembly passed a law putting a freeze on fresh delimitation until 2026. This freeze was upheld by the Supreme Court. 
  • The J&K Assembly has 87 seats — 46 in Kashmir, 37 in Jammu and 4 in Ladakh. Twenty-four seats are reserved for Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). The freeze, some political parties argue, has created inequity for Jammu region.

Conclusion:

This month, the Union government scrapped the state’s special status and turned J&K into a Union Territory. Under this law, delimitation of Loksabha and Assembly seats in J&K UT will be as per the provisions of the Indian Constitution. The Act also states that in the next delimitation exercise, which is expected to kick start soon, the number of Assembly seats will increase from 107 to 114. The increase in seats is expected to benefit Jammu region.

Connecting the dots:

  1. Discuss the problems with Delimitation? suggest the measures to over the problems?

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


Model questions: (You can now post your answers in comment section)

Note: 

  • Featured Comments and comments Up-voted by IASbaba are the “correct answers”.
  • IASbaba App users – Team IASbaba will provide correct answers in comment section. Kindly refer to it and update your answers.

Q.1) Know India Programme is organised by which Union Ministry?

  1. Ministry of Human Resource Development
  2. Ministry of Culture
  3. Ministry of External Affairs
  4. Ministry of Home Affairs

Q.2) Consider the following statements about Geographical Indication Tag

  1. GI is an indication used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  2. GI products can benefit the rural economy in remote areas, by supplementing the incomes of artisans, farmers, weavers and craftsmen.
  3. Palani Panchamirtham is the first temple ‘prasadam’ in India to have been bestowed with the GI tag.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1,2 and 3

Q.3) Mangdechhu hydroelectric power plant is located in which country?

  1. India
  2. Nepal
  3. Bhutan
  4. Bangladesh

Q.4) Strait of Gibraltar connects which two water bodies ?

  1. Atlantic Ocean
  2. Pacific Ocean
  3. Mediterranean Sea
  4. Red Sea

Select the correct answers from the codes given below.

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 2 and 4 only

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