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DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 21st January 2022

  • IASbaba
  • January 21, 2022
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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


SC upholds OBC quota in NEET

Part of: Prelims and GS-II -Education

Context: The Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBC) candidates in the All India Quota seats for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate and postgraduate medical and dental courses.

About National Eligibility cum Entrance Test

  • It is an all-India pre-medical entrance test for students who wish to pursue undergraduate medical (MBBS), dental (BDS) and AYUSH (BAMS, BUMS, BHMS, etc.) courses in government and private institutions in India and also, for those intending to pursue primary medical qualification abroad.
  • The exam is conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA).

Do you know?

  • Based on the recommendation of the Second Backward Classes Commission (Mandal Commission), the government in August, 1990 had notified 27% reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs) in vacancies in civil posts and services that are to be filled on direct recruitment.
  • After this was challenged, the Supreme Court in November, 1992 (Indira Sawhney case) upheld 27% reservation for OBCs, subject to exclusion of the creamy layer.

News Source: TH


SAMARTH (Sustainable Agrarian Mission on use of Agro Residue in Thermal Power Plants)

Part of: Prelims and GS-III Agriculture

Context: Recently, the Union Power Secretary chaired the second meeting of Steering Committee for SAMARTH i.e. Sustainable Agrarian Mission on Use of Biomass in coal-based thermal Power Plants.

About SAMARTH

  • It was created to address the issue of air pollution from stubble burning in farms and reduce the carbon footprint generated by thermal power plants which work on coal.
  • It is a government initiative to use agro-residue, which was earlier regarded as waste.
  • It is also regarded as National Mission on Use of Biomass in Thermal Power Plants
  • Its objectives are: 
    • To increase the levels of co-firing (combustion of two different types of materials at the same time).
    • To have a larger share of “carbon neutral power generation from the thermal power plants. 
    • Take up research and development work in designing boilers to handle a greater amount of silica and alkalis in biomass pellets. 
    • Work towards improving constraints in supply of such pellets and agro-residue to power plants.
    • Considering regulatory issues in biomass co-firing.

News Source: BS


Somnath Temple

Part of: Prelims and GS-I Culture

Context: Indian Prime Minister will inaugurate the new Circuit House at Somnath. About Somnath Temple

  • The Somnath temple, also called Somanātha temple or Deo Patan, is located in Prabhas Patan, Veraval in Gujarat.
  • It is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for the Hindus,
  • They believe it to be the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva.
  • The present Somnath temple is reconstructed in the Māru-Gurjara style of Hindu temple architecture.

News Source: NewsonAir


(News from PIB)


Inauguration of Social Housing Units Project in Mauritius

Part of: Mains GS-2: India and its neighborhood

In News: Prime Ministers of the respective countries jointly inaugurated the Social Housing Units Project in Mauritius. 

  • Implemented as part of the vibrant development partnership between India and Mauritius.  
  • The two Prime Ministers also laid foundation for two other projects, undertaken as part of India’s development support – 
    • Construction of a state-of-the-art Civil Service College
    • 8 MW Solar PV Farm
  • Included exchange of two key bilateral agreements: 
    • Agreement for the extension of USD 190 million Line of Credit from the Government of India to the Government of Mauritius for the Metro Express and other infrastructure projects
    • MoU on the Implementation of Small Development Projects

Relations between India and Mauritius

Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, India-Mauritius Development Partnership projects have progressed rapidly. 

India and Mauritius share close ties anchored in our common history, ancestry, culture and language. This is reflected in the privileged development partnership between our two countries, with Mauritius being a key development partner for India in the Indian Ocean Region.

  • India in May 2016 had extended a grant of US$ 353 mn to the Government of Mauritius as Special Economic Package (SEP) to execute five priority projects identified by Government of Mauritius, among others.  
  • These were: the Metro Express Project, Supreme Court Building, New ENT Hospital, Supply of Digital Tablets to Primary School Children, and the Social Housing Project.  
  • With the inauguration of the Social Housing Project, all the high profile projects under the SEP have been implemented.

News Source: PIB


India-Sri Lanka 5th Joint Committee on S&T Cooperation

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-III

In News: India and Sri Lanka extended the existing S&T cooperation for 3 more years, with focus on new areas like waste-water technologies, biotech, sustainable agriculture, aerospace engineering, robotics, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence, as well as industrial collaborations.

Relations between India & Sri Lanka

  • India and Sri Lanka have a great legacy of intellectual, cultural, and religious interaction and relationship of more than 2500 years old. 
  • Trade and investment and cooperation in education and other sectors have gone up in recent times, and in this line, cooperation in S&T becomes very critical
  • The advent of Buddhism to Sri Lanka during the time of Emperor Ashoka was the result of cross-border discourse 
  • Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, to this day, contain shrines for Hindu deities 
  • The colonial expansion of European maritime nations reshaped the Sri Lankan economy.  
  • Labour from South India was brought to Sri Lanka to work in plantations which in post-independence era created tensions with indigenous communities and continues to persist till date 
  • The Indian freedom struggle had its influence on Sri Lanka as well. There was cross-border support for the revival of culture, tradition, local languages, spiritual practices and philosophies, and education. 
  • Both countries transformed into modern nations with constitutional and institutionalised governance under colonial rule. 
  • The nearly three-decade long armed conflict between the Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE came to an end in May 2009. During the course of the conflict, India supported the right of the Sri Lankan Government, much to the anger of Srilankan Tamils 

News Source: PIB


Revised Rural Area Development Plan Formulation and Implementation (RADPFI) Guidelines

Part of: Prelims and Mains GS-2: Devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein

In News: Revised Rural Area Development Plan Formulation and Implementation (RADPFI) Guidelines have been released.

  • Would serve as the basis for rural transformation and enable effective Land use planning in rural areas. 
  • Would supplement the efforts of the Central Government such as the SVAMITVA Scheme of Ministry of Panchayati Raj and RURBAN Mission of Ministry of Rural Development and facilitate better utilisation of Geospatial information.
  • Ensure ease of living in villages and help minimizing migration to big cities by providing all necessary infrastructure and facilities and also resources and opportunities for livelihood in rural area
  • Includes
    • Village Planning Scheme (VPS) on the lines of Town Planning Schemes in urban areas
    • Provisions of linking Gram Panchayat Development Programme (GPDP) with Spatial Land Use Planning, spatial standards for Gram Panchayat development etc. 

Background:

  • Although, many spatial development initiatives have been implemented in India especially in urban areas, there has been no comprehensive exercise for rural spatial planning of panchayats/villages. 
  • In recent times, there has been large growth in rural areas but this unplanned growth has led to inefficient utilisation of geospatial potential in rural areas. 
  • Thus, spatial planning specially for the villages located in the vicinity of the urban centres and those, along the major road corridors, becomes necessary, as various permissible and non-permissible land-use activities need to be decided for optimum growth.

Note: The Panchayati Raj system of local self-government was introduced by the 73rd Amendment of the Constitution of India. Part IX was inserted in the Constitution as a sequel to the 73rd Constitutional Amendment in 1993, bestowing the Constitutional mandatory status to the ‘Panchayats’.

News Source: PIB


(Mains Focus)


POLITY/ GOVERNANCE

  • GS-2: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive 
  • GS-2: Important aspects of governance
  • GS-2: Federal Challenges

IAS cadre rules amendments

Context: The Centre has proposed amendments to the IAS (Cadre) Rules in order to exercise greater control in central deputation of IAS officials, which has often been at the centre of tussles between the Centre and the states.

Significant role of AIS

  • It was Sardar Patel who had championed the creation of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Police Service (IPS) as “All India Services” (AIS) whose members would be recruited and appointed by the Centre and allotted to various States, and who could serve both under the State and the Centre. 
  • AIS is considered as essential to knit the administrative framework of a vast and diverse country into an integrated whole. It will provide a connecting link between implementation at the field level and policymaking at the top. 

What is current rule on deputation?

  • AIS officers are made available for central deputation through a consultative process involving the Centre, the States and the officers concerned. 
  • Central deputation in the Indian Administrative Service is covered under Rule-6 (1) of the IAS (Cadre) Rules-1954, inserted in May 1969. 
    • It states: “A cadre officer may, with the concurrence of the State Governments concerned and the Central Government, be deputed for service under the Central Government (or to another State or a PSU).”
  • In the past, certain healthy conventions were generally followed. Before any officer of the AIS is called for deputation to the Centre, his or her concurrence is required.
  • Every year, the States would prepare an “offer list” of officers who had opted for central deputation without arbitrarily withholding any names. 
  • The Centre would choose officers only from among those “on offer” from the States. 
  • The States would relieve the officers picked up by the Centre at the earliest.
  • In 2020, the DoPT, to ensure that more officers come to the Centre, changed norms and made it mandatory for IAS officers from the 2007 batch onwards to mandatorily serve for two years in Central deputation within first 16 years of their service 

What were the political challenges with such deputation?

  • Unfortunately, both the Centre and the States have at times flouted the above healthy conventions for political considerations. 
  • In July 2001, the Centre unilaterally “placed at its disposal” the services of three IPS officers of Tamil Nadu cadre. 
  • In December 2020, the Centre did the same in respect of three IPS officers of West Bengal cadre. 
  • In May 2021, the Centre unilaterally issued orders for the central deputation of the Chief Secretary of West Bengal just before his last day in service. 
  • In all these cases, the States concerned refused to relieve the officers. 
  • Some States used to vindictively withhold the names of some of the officers who had opted for central deputation or delay their relief after they were picked up by the Centre.
  • On the other hand, Union government was unable to fill vacancies at director and joint secretary level in various Central ministries. 
    • Around 40% or 390 Central Staffing Scheme (CSS) posts are at joint secretary level (more than 19 years experience) and 60% or 540 such posts are at the rank of deputy secretary (nine years) or director rank (14 years of service).

What are the proposed amendments?

Four amendments are proposed to Rule 6 of IAS (Cadre) Rules.

  • One of the major changes proposed is if the State government delays posting a State cadre officer to the Centre within the specified time, “the officer shall stand relieved from cadre from the date as may be specified by the Central government.” 
    • Presently, officers have to get a no-objection clearance from the State government for Central deputation.
  • The other change proposed is the Centre will decide the actual number of officers to be deputed to the Central government in consultation with the State and the latter should make eligible the names of such officers
    • According to existing norms, States have to depute the All India Services (AIS) officers, including IPS officers, to the Central government offices and at any point it cannot be more than 40% of the total cadre strength.
  • The third proposed amendment says that in case of any disagreement between the Centre and the State, the matter shall be decided by the Central government and the State shall give effect to the decision of the Centre “within a specified time.”
  • The fourth change proposed is that in specific situation (discretionary power) where services of cadre officers are required by the Central government in “public interest” the State shall give effect to its decisions within a specified time.

What are the criticisms raised?

  • Consent of Officers neglected: The proposed amendment more or less compels a State government to offer IAS officers for central deputation even when these officers themselves may not wish to go on central deputation. 
  • Scope for Political Misuse: New rules may be misused for political considerations. For instance: Centre can unilaterally place at its disposal the services of the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary to CM and other key officers of a State ruled by a rival party, thereby hampering the smooth administration of states.
  • Affects the administration of States: States perceive the proposed amendments as a serious infringement of their rights to deploy IAS officers as they deem best, especially when the cutting edge of policy implementation is mostly at the State level. 
  • May decline the sheen of All India Services: The contemplated changes have grave implications for the independence, security and morale of IAS officers. If States begin to doubt the loyalty of IAS officers, they are likely to reduce the number of IAS cadre posts and also their annual intake of IAS officers. They may prefer officers of the State Civil Services to handle as many posts as possible

Conclusion

  • In a federal setup, it is inevitable that differences and disputes would arise between the Centre and the States. But all such quarrels should be resolved in the spirit of cooperative federalism and keeping the larger national interest in mind.

Connecting the dots:


GOVERNANCE/ POLITY

  • GS-2: Federalism and Challenges
  • GS-3: Democratic Decentralisation

OBC reservation in local bodies

Context: Reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in local body elections sans empirical base can no more be sustainable in law.

  • Supreme Court’s latest order in Rahul Ramesh Wagh v. State of Maharashtra &Ors. makes it mandatory that the principles laid down by it for providing reservation to OBCs in local bodies should be followed across the country. 

The Constitution Bench decision 

Krishnamurthy (Dr.) v. Union of India (2010)

  • Supreme court declared that though reservation to local bodies is permissible,  the same is subject to empirical finding of backwardness in relation to local bodies as fulfilled through the three tests as follows: 
    1. To set up a dedicated Commission to conduct contemporaneous rigorous empirical inquiry into the nature and implications of the backwardness qua local bodies, within the State; 
    2. To specify the proportion of reservation required to be provisioned local body-wise in light of recommendations of the Commission.
    3. and in any case such reservation shall not exceed aggregate of 50% of the total seats reserved in favour of SCs/STs/OBCs taken together.” The 50% ceiling specifically relied on the ratio of the historic Indra Sawhney judgment (1992). 

Vikas Krishnarao Gawali v. State of Maharashtra &Ors. (2021)

  • The 2010 judgment was not acted upon and the constitutionality of the enacted reservation was challenged. This resulted in the 2021 judgment of a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court.
  • In this above case, the Supreme Court read down the provision of the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis Act, 1961, which mandated for 27% reservation to OBCs in local bodies. 
  • The court observed that the reservation for OBCs was just a statutory dispensation to be provided by the State legislations and is different from the constitutional” provisions which mandate reservation to the SC/ST. 
  • While insisting on the triple test, the court observed that the reservation in favour of OBCs in the concerned local bodies can be notified to the extent that it does not exceed 50% of the total seats reserved in favour of SCs/STs/OBCs taken together. 
  • The Supreme Court quashed notifications issued by the Maharashtra Election Commission, which provided more than 50% reservation to OBCs and SC/STs in some local bodies. 
  • However, the political decision was to take the route of ordinance to overcome an adverse judicial decision. 

The wingless ordinance 

  • Maharashtra had constituted a Commission to ascertain the backwardness of OBCs
  • But without waiting for an empirical report, as mandated by the court, an ordinance was promulgated to amend the Maharashtra local body legislations so as to conduct local body elections while ensuring OBC reservation. 
  • Though the ordinance was portrayed to be in compliance with the order of the apex court without breaching the 50% ceiling as mandated by the triple test, other parameters had been violated. 
  • The ordinance failed to take off, as it was challenged before the Bombay High Court; but the election process was not stalled, 
  • The OBC reservation and notification for the local body election in Madhya Pradesh also were deemed to fall foul of the Supreme Court order, as was found by the apex court, on challenge. 
  • The Supreme Court directed the re-notification of the reserved seats as belonging to general category in both the States on the basis of which the election process may proceed. 

Legislative resolve and the judicial response

  • Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed a resolution to keep the local body elections without OBC reservation at suspension
  • Taking a political cue from Madhya Pradesh, the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly also passed a resolution to stall the local body elections in the wake of the judicial interference. 
  • Interestingly, the last order of the apex court records that “In case the State is not in a position to fulfil the triple test requirement, then the election to local body cannot be postponed beyond the statutory period. In such situation, the State Election Commission concerned ought to notify proportionate seats as open category seats, and proceed with the elections of the local bodies.” 

(Down to Earth: Climate Change)


Jan 20: 2021 was one of the hottest years on record – and it could also be the coldest we’ll ever see again – https://www.downtoearth.org.in/blog/climate-change/2021-was-one-of-the-hottest-years-on-record-and-it-could-also-be-the-coldest-we-ll-ever-see-again-81216 

TOPIC:

  • GS-3: Climate Change

2021 was one of the hottest years on record – and it could also be the coldest we’ll ever see again

In News: 2021 was one of the planet’s seven hottest years since records began, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) declared. 

  • The year was about 1.11℃ above pre-industrial levels — the seventh year in a row that the average global temperature rise edged over 1℃.
  • The WMO report echoes two separate official US analyses released last week that found 2021 was the sixth hottest year on record, tied with 2018.

What were the reasons?

The fact 2021 was among the world’s hottest years despite these cooling forces shows just how strong the long-term warming trend is. 

A. Effect of back-to-back La Niña events, a natural phenomenon that brings cooler, rainier weather in our region.

  • While it’s unusual for this climate phenomenon to occur two years in a row, it’s not unheard of.
  • In La Niña years, we see the global average temperature decrease by about 0.1-0.2℃. 
  • So how does it work?
  • During La Niña, cool water from deep in the Pacific Ocean rise to the surface. This happens when wind strength increases at the equator, which pushes warmer water to the west and allows more cool water to rise off the coast of South America.
  • Essentially, the net transfer of energy from the surface to the deeper ocean brings the average global surface temperature down. 
  • While La Niña is a natural phenomenon (it’s not the result of human activities), human-caused climate change remains a constant underlying influence that sets a long-term warming trend.
  • The La Niña conditions of 2021 took the edge off the global average surface temperature. Parts of Australia, Southern Africa and northwestern North America saw cooler temperatures during 2021 compared to recent years as the effects of La Niña kicked in.

B. A year with massive, extreme events: As the world warms we’re becoming more accustomed to extreme events, especially severe heatwaves. 

2021 was characterized by one incredibly extreme heat event in particular, which occurred in western North America.

  • In late June and early July, heat built over northwest United States and southwest Canada. 
  • New temperature records were set across the region. A staggering 49.6℃ was recorded in Lytton, British Columbia, which is Canada’s highest temperature measurement.

Severe floods were also a feature of 2021 in many places. 

  • Short bursts of extreme rainfall that bring flash flooding are becoming more frequent and intense due to the human influence on the climate. 
  • We saw especially devastating events in central Europe and in China in July.

 And still, 2021 was warmer than any year in the observational series prior to 1980. 

What can we expect further & the way forward?

  • First, while 2022 may experience a slight cooling influence from the ongoing La Niña, it will still be among our warmest years. To have an individual year as cool as those we experienced as recently as the 1990s is exceptionally unlikely due to our high greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Second, there will be more extreme heat events somewhere on Earth this year, because our influence on the climate has greatly increased the odds of record-breaking heatwaves occurring. Even if we start acting on climate change with more urgency, we will experience more frequent and intense heatwaves in coming years. This means we need to build greater resilience to these extremes and adapt cities and towns to a hotter world.
  • Beyond 2022, we know we will see continued global warming until we stop emitting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. And with global carbon dioxide emissions rebounding to near-record levels in 2021 after a brief drop in 2020 from the pandemic, we’re a long way off stopping global warming. Rapid decarbonisation is needed to reduce further warming of the planet. 

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. The fact 2021 was among the world’s hottest years despite these cooling forces shows just how strong the long-term warming trend is. Discuss

(TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE)


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

Q.1 Which of the following is/are true regarding Somnath Temple?

  1. Hindus believe it to be the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva.
  2. The present Somnath temple is reconstructed in the Māru-Gurjara style of Hindu temple architecture.

Select the correct answer:

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2 Sustainable Agrarian Mission on Use of Biomass in coal-based thermal Power Plants falls under which of the following Ministry?

  1. Ministry of Agriculture
  2. Ministry of Power
  3. Ministry of Environment 
  4. Ministry of Commerce

Q.3 In which of following cases, the Supreme Court upheld 27% reservation for OBCs, subject to exclusion of the creamy layer?

  1. Kesavananda Bharati Case
  2. Minerva Mills case
  3. Indira Sawhney case
  4. S.R. Bommai. Case

ANSWERS FOR 21st Jan 2022 TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE (TYK)

1 C
2 B
3 C

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