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Daily Current affairs 26 July 2019

UPSC - Daily Current Affair

SL. NO.

TOPICS

THE HINDU

PAGE NO.

1

‘100 pending cases? Set up a POCSO court’

01

2

The terrorist tag

10

3

                      How to make the Surrogacy Bill more inclusive?

11

4

Making national legislatures more gender-balanced

11

5

Arunachal tiger park facing a wage crisis

09







 

Title

1. ‘100 pending cases? Set up a POCSO court’ (The Hindu, Page 01)     

Syllabus

Mains: GS Paper II - Social Justice, governance

Theme

 Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

Highlights

Context: Supreme Court has directed to set up special courts in such districts across the country which has over 100 cases of child abuse and sexual assault pending trial under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act within 60 days.  

Why was the petition filed?

  • A petition was filed in Supreme Court as a Public Interest Litigation with respect to steps taken by the government over alarming rise in child abuse cases and their long pendency in courts. 

  • The case was admitted as “In-re Alarming Rise in the Number of Reported Child Rape Incidents.” 

Supreme Court’s Verdict

  • As per the Court, such special courts shall be set up under a Central scheme with complete financial assistance from Central Government. 

  • So, the Centre will fund everything from the payment of the presiding officers, staff and support persons to the court’s child-friendly infrastructure.    

  • In this regard, Supreme Court has asked Solicitor General to file a progress report in four weeks as the Court will again take up the matter in late September, 2019. 

  • On vulnerable children being victims of such sexual abuse, CJI stated that there was no excuse for a long delay in justice for them. The traumatised victims needed to be treated with compassion and kindness. 

  • Thus, CJI asked the government to follow a completely different approach while investigating and trying POCSO cases.  

  • The CJI expressed concerns over lack of infrastructure in such special courts which try POCSO cases in different districts across India. 

  • The Court expressed the need for a support system comprising qualified people who are dedicated towards child rights as they can act as a bridge between the authorities and the vulnerable child in such sensitive cases of child abuse.

THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT, 2012    

  • The Government of India is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations. The Convention prescribes a set of standards to be followed by all State parties in securing the best interests of the child. 

  • The parties to the Convention are required to take measures to prevent children from being coerced into any unlawful sexual activity. On the basis of the Convention, India has legislated POCSO Act, 2012.  

  • As per the Act, any person below the age of 18 years is defined as a “child”. The Bill seeks to penalise any person who commits offences such as “sexual harassment”, “sexual assault”, “penetrative sexual assault”, and “aggravated penetrative sexual assault”.

  • POCSO aims to protect children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography and provide for establishment of Special Courts for trial of such offences. 

  • Each district shall designate a Sessions Court to be a Special Court. It shall be established by the state government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court. 

  • The state government shall appoint a Special Public Prosecutor for every Special Court. 

  • The Court shall, as far as possible, complete the trial within one year. The trial shall be held in camera and in the presence of the child’s parents or any person trusted by the child. 

  • If an offence has been committed by a child, it shall be dealt with under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000.   


 

Title

2. The terrorist tag (The Hindu, Page 10)     

Syllabus 

Mains: GS Paper II - Polity & Governance 

Theme

 The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019. 

Highlights

Context: Parliament has passed the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2019. 

Proposed Amendments         

  • As per Home Minister, object of the proposed amendment is to facilitate speedy investigation and prosecution of terror offences by empowering National Investigative Agencies (NIA) and designating an individual as terrorist in line with the international practices. 

  • The Home Minister also stated in Parliament that the amendment bill will not be misused against any individual unless individuals including urban Maoists engage in terrorist activities against the security and sovereignty of India including. 

  • Currently, the law requires that NIA take prior permission from the respective state DGPs to start investigation in terror cases. This delays the process. The amendment thereby gives powers to DG, NIA to attach properties acquired from proceeds of terrorism.  

  • Under the Act, an investigating officer is required to obtain the prior approval of the Director General of Police to seize properties that may be connected with terrorism.  The Bill adds that if the investigation is conducted by an officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the approval of the Director General of NIA would be required for seizure of such property.    

  • Earlier, under section 43 of UAPA, an officer not below the rank of DSP or equivalent was competent to investigate offences under UAPA. Amendment to section 43 is being proposed to make the Inspectors of NIA competent to investigate offences punishable under.

  • The Act defines terrorist acts to include acts committed within the scope of any of the treaties listed in a schedule to the Act.  The Schedule lists nine treaties, including the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings (1997), and the Convention against Taking of Hostages (1979). The Bill adds another treaty to the list namely The International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (2005).     



 

                 

Things which remain unchanged    

  • The Home Minister said that there are no changes proposed in the arrest or bail provision in the original law. This means that there will be no violation of fundamental rights of any person.

  • Further, the burden of proof is on the investigating agency and not on the accused. This provision also remained unchanged. 

Probable Impact of the amendment

  • The amendment proposes to designate individual as terrorist but the government has not set any procedure to do so. Thus, designating a person terrorist prior to completion of court trial becomes a point of concern as it not only impacts the basic and fundamental rights of an individual but also gives discretionary powers to the central government to the extent of even misusing the power. 

  • Individuals may be subjected to arrest and detention even after obtaining bail from the courts. This may restrict their travel and movements along with carrying the taint.   

  • In case, an individual designated as terrorists, is cleared by the Court, then the process to get the individual’s name removed from the terrorists list becomes another procedural hurdle. 

  • The government needs to specify the exact meaning of Urban Maoists as under the pretext; non-sympathisers of the government may be targeted or made to live inconstant fear of being designated as terrorist in near future.      

  • The editorial argues that the Bill contains anti-federal principles as it transfers the power to confiscate property of those involved in terrorism from State DGP to Director General of NIA. 

Way Forward - The government should be mindful of its obligations to preserve fundamental rights and also prevent misuse of anti-terrorism law.    

 

Title

3. How to make the Surrogacy Bill more inclusive? (The Hindu Page 11)   

Syllabus 

Mains: GS Paper II –Social issues

Theme

Surrogacy

Highlights

Context: The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha earlier this month with the intent of facilitating altruistic surrogacy in the country. 

 

What is surrogacy?

  • The Bill defines surrogacy as a practice where a woman gives birth to a child for an intending couple with the intention to hand over the child after the birth to the intending couple.

  • Commercial surrogacy includes a monetary benefit or reward (in cash or kind) that exceeds basic medical expenses and insurance for the surrogate mother.

  • Altruistic surrogacy involves a surrogacy arrangement where the monetary reward only involves medical expenses and insurance coverage for the surrogate mother.

 

Main Provisions of the Bill 

  • The Bill prohibits commercial surrogacy, but allows altruistic surrogacy. 
     

  • Purposes for which surrogacy is permitted: Surrogacy is permitted when it is: (i) for intending couples who suffer from proven infertility; (ii) altruistic; (iii) not for commercial purposes; (iv) not for producing children for sale, prostitution or other forms of exploitation; and (v) for any condition or disease specified through regulations.
     

  • Eligibility criteria for intending couple: The intending couple should have a ‘certificate of essentiality’ and a ‘certificate of eligibility’ issued by the appropriate authority.

  • The certificate of eligibility to the intending couple is issued upon fulfilment of the following conditions: 

    1. the couple being Indian citizens and married for at least five years; 

    2. between 23 to 50 years old (wife) and 26 to 55 years old (husband); 

    3. they do not have any surviving child (biological, adopted or surrogate); this would not include a child who is mentally or physically challenged or suffers from life threatening disorder or fatal illness; and 

    4. other conditions that may be specified by regulations.

 

  • Eligibility criteria for surrogate mother: To obtain a certificate of eligibility from the appropriate authority, the surrogate mother has to be: 

    1. a close relative of the intending couple; 

    2. a married woman having a child of her own; 

    3. 25 to 35 years old; 

    4. a surrogate only once in her lifetime; and 

    5. Possess a certificate of medical and psychological fitness for Surrogacy.  Further, the surrogate mother cannot provide her own gametes for surrogacy.
       

  • National and State Surrogacy Boards: The central and the state governments shall constitute the National Surrogacy Board (NSB) and the State Surrogacy Boards (SSB), respectively.  Functions of the NSB include, (i) advising the central government on policy matters relating to surrogacy; (ii) laying down the code of conduct of surrogacy clinics; and (iii) supervising the functioning of SSBs.
     

  • A child born out of a surrogacy procedure will be deemed to be the biological child of the intending couple. Further, the surrogate mother will have an option to withdraw from surrogacy before the embryo is implanted in her womb.
     

  • Offences and penalties: The offences under the Bill include: (i) undertaking or advertising commercial surrogacy; (ii) exploiting the surrogate mother; (iii) abandoning, exploiting or disowning a surrogate child; and (iv) selling or importing human embryo or gametes for surrogacy.  The penalty for such offences is imprisonment up to 10 years and a fine up to 10 lakh rupees.  The Bill specifies a range of offences and penalties for other contraventions of the provisions of the Bill.

 

Points from the Article 

 
  • For surrogacy to happen, embryos are needed and embryos are cultured in various In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) laboratories. Therefore before the Surrogacy Bill the Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Bill, should have been brought. If one has a surrogate pregnancy, it should be preceded by an IVF. That is why IVF should be discussed first. IVF clinics have mushroomed all across the country, and malpractices are happening, for instance, in dichotomy or seed-splitting. It is important to take note of such malpractices where somebody else’s embryo can be put into you saying that it is yours. (We should have formulated rules and regulations for ART because there is a mention of ‘donor eggs’ in the Surrogacy Bill; and it is the donor eggs that are used for the IVF procedures.) 

  • The Bill specifies that the intending couples should be married Indian couples. There is no mention of Non-Resident Indians working or studying abroad who may want to come back home to have a baby. 

  • Only relying on relatives may lead to not many people coming forward.

  • Does not include unmarried couples (live -In couples), gay couples and single men and women. In the case of LGBTQI couples and single parents, when medical facilities are available, surrogacy should be allowed, else how will they have a baby otherwise. They will need the womb of a surrogate.

  • Altruistic surrogacy has failed in other countries and has resulted in various other forms of assistance being given, though money may not be paid. 

  • Couples with infertility problems, transgender people, single women, divorced women, and widows should be involved in the public debate and only then should the Bill be brought in. The whole Bill has been drafted without taking into consideration the many physical and emotional factors at stake. 

 

Suggestions 

 
  • Surrogacy should be declared as a kind of profession — the person providing a womb must have a contract, must be paid properly and get insurance and proper medical checks.

  • It should have a provision that if a surrogate cannot be found within close relatives, the couple should be allowed to explore their options from other groups of people too. 

  • there are certain places where surrogates were thoroughly exploited and it was the agents, the middlemen, who did that. However, instead of removing the means of livelihood from them, government should have a contract that all surrogates and the commissioning parents have to sign.

  • Surrogates are actually not very attached to the babies they are carrying in their wombs, because it is a means for them to get a livelihood. If the government can only ensure that everything is done legally, there is no need for this kind of a Bill.

 

Title

4. Making national legislatures more gender-balanced (The Hindu Page 11)   

Syllabus 

Mains: GS II – Social Issues; Polity & Governance

Theme

Women representation in legislatures 

Highlights

Context: Author has highlighted examples of different countries which have higher representation of women in their legislatures. Also the reasons why these countries have higher representation have been discussed. Finally What method should be adopted by India to increase the representation of Women in the parliament has been pointed out. 

Women representation in legislatures across Countries 

Rwanda - tops the list, with 61.3% seats in the Lower House and 38.5% in the Upper House occupied by women. A law was passed which provided for quota of 30% in all elected positions. However Political representation increased also because of the huge vacuum that emerged in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, which resulted in a large chunk of the country’s male population getting killed.

Cuba - 53.2 % seats in its top legislature. Cuba does not have a law providing for quota. At local level the representation of women is less. 

Sweden - women’s parliamentary representation of at least 40% since 90s. Sweden does not have any constitutional clause or electoral law earmarking representation for women in elected bodies. Almost all political parties there have adopted measures to ensure a fair representation for women at all levels

Nepal - The constitution provides for 33% seats for women in all state institutions, including the legislature.

Indian scenario - India had barely 11.8% women’s representation in the 16th Lok Sabha, which improved to 14.5% in the current Lower House. 

What India needs to do to improve the representation of Women?

system of voluntary party quotas, which has worked well in many countries, is not likely to work in case of India because of the patriarchal mindset of the society. Thus a legal or constitutional quota needs to be provided. An example is the reservation for women that has been provided in the Panchati raj Institutions. 

Women's Reservation Bill [The Constitution (108th Amendment) Bill, 2008

Commonly known as the Women's Reservation Bill, it seeks to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies. Introduced by the UPA-I government in May 2008, it also provides that one third of the total number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be reserved for women of those groups. Similar Bills have been introduced thrice before in the late 90's but lapsed with the dissolution of their respective Lok Sabhas.
 

Highlights of the Bill

  • The Constitution (One Hundred and Eighth Amendment) Bill, 2008 seeks to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies.  The allocation of reserved seats shall be determined by such authority as prescribed by Parliament.

  • One third of the total number of seats reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be reserved for women of those groups in the Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies.

  • Reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory.

  • Reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of this Amendment Act.

Key Issues and Analysis

  • There are divergent views on the reservation policy. Proponents stress the necessity of affirmative action to improve the condition of women. Some recent studies on panchayats have shown the positive effect of reservation on empowerment of women and on allocation of resources.

  • Opponents argue that it would perpetuate the unequal status of women since they would not be perceived to be competing on merit. They also contend that this policy diverts attention from the larger issues of electoral reform such as criminalisation of politics and inner party democracy.

  • Reservation of seats in Parliament restricts choice of voters to women candidates. Therefore, some experts have suggested alternate methods such as reservation in political parties and dual member constituencies.

  • Rotation of reserved constituencies in every election may reduce the incentive for an MP to work for his constituency as he may be ineligible to seek re-election from that constituency.

  • The report examining the 1996 women’s reservation Bill recommended that reservation be provided for women of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) once the Constitution was amended to allow for reservation for OBCs. It also recommended that reservation be extended to the Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils. Neither of these recommendations has been incorporated in the Bill.


 

Title

5. Arunachal tiger park facing a wage crisis (The Hindu Page 09)   

Syllabus 

Mains: GS III –Environment 

Theme

Conservation  

Highlights

Namdapha National park 

  • Namdapha is name of a river which originates from Daphabum (Dapha is the name of hill, Bum means peak of hill) and meets Noa - Dehing river. 

  • The name Namdapha has been given based on the river Namdapha which passes through it. 

  • It is crossed from east to west by the Noa Dehing River

  • It is located between the Dapha bum range of the Mishmi Hills and the Patkai range

  • In local Singphoo language Nam means water or river and Dapha is the name of a clan of Singphoo tribe. 

 

Vegetation 

  • The Biomes recognised are evergreen Forests, Moist deciduous forests, sub-tropical forests, Temperate Forests and Alpine

 

 Endemic Species 

  • The Namdapha flying squirrel was first collected in the park and described.

  • It is endemic to the park and critically endangered. 


Relevant articles from PIB:

 

Kargil Vijay Diwas:

  • Context: Indian Army declared the Kargil mission successful on July 26, 1999; since then the day has been celebrated annually as Kargil Vijay Diwas.
  • India launched ‘Operation Vijay’ to clear the Kargil sector of infiltration by Pakistani soldiers and Kashmiri militants on the Indian side of the Line of Control.
  • Background: The war took place between May and July of 1999 in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kargil district. It began with the infiltration of both Pakistani troops and terrorists into Indian territory. The infiltrators positioned themselves in key locations that gave them a strategic advantage during the start of the conflict.
  • Safed Sagar, the Indian Air Force’s operation, was a major part of the Kargil war. It used air power at the height of 32,000 feet for the first time.

 

About the territorial army:

  • India’s first Governor General Shri C Rajagopalachari formally inaugurated the Indian Territorial Army on October 9 in 1949.
  • It is an organization where volunteers apply for a short period of training every year, so as to be ready to tackle any emergent situation or to serve for the defence of India.
  • The Territorial Army, also known as the ‘Terriers’, is considered the second line of national defence after the regular Army.
  • The Territorial Army is part of a Regular Army and its present role is to relieve the Regular Army from static duties and assist civil administration in dealing with natural calamities and maintenance of essential services in situations where life of the communities is affected or the security of the country is threatened and to provide units for Regulars Army as and when required.
  • Territorial Army comes under the Defence Ministry.

GS Paper 3:

Topics covered:

  1. Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

 

Global Innovation Index

 

What to study?

For Prelims: GII- performance of India and other countries.

For Mains: Need for innovation and government efforts to promote innovation.

 

Context: Global Innovation Index 2019 has been released.

  • GII rankings are based on 80 indicators, from traditional measurements like research and development investments and international patent and trademark applications.
  • Theme for the year 2019 is – Creating Healthy Lives – The Future of Medical Innovation, which aims to explore the role of medical innovation as it shapes the future of healthcare.
  • It is published by a specialized agency of the United Nations – the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in association with Cornell University and graduate business school INSEAD.

 

India’s performance:

  1. India’s rank has been improved as it has reached at 52nd position in 2019. India was at 57th position in 2018.
  2. In terms of innovation and newly-emerging technologies India has been performing well and has improved its position by 29 places in the global index since 2015.
  3. India had ranked 81 in 2015, which rose to 66 in 2016, 60 in 2017 and 57 in 2018.
    India continues to be the most innovative economy in central and southern Asia.

 

Key Findings:

  1. Public R&D expenditures, particularly in some high-income countries, are growing slowly or not at all.
  2. Global landscape of science, innovation, and technology has undergone important shifts over the last decades.
    Asian economies especially middle-income one, are rapidly contributing to global research and development (R&D) and international patenting rates via WIPO’s International Patent System.

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

 

Van Dhan Yojana

 

What to study?

For Prelims: Van Dhan Vikas Kendras.

For Mains: MFP and its significance.

 

Context: Training Workshop for implementing teams of Van Dhan Yojana Organized.

 

About Van Dhan Vikas Kendras initiative:

  • The initiative aims to promote MFPs-centric livelihood development of tribal gatherers and artisans.
  • It mainstreams the tribal community by promoting primary level value addition to MFP at grassroots level.
  • Significance: Through this initiative, the share of tribals in the value chain of Non-Timber Forest Produce is expected to rise from the present 20% to around 60%.

 

Implementation:

  • The scheme will be implemented through Ministry of Tribal Affairs as Nodal Department at the Central Level and TRIFED as Nodal Agency at the National Level.
  • At State level, the State Nodal Agency for MFPs and the District collectors are envisaged to play a pivot role in scheme implementation at grassroot level.
  • Locally the Kendras are proposed to be managed by a Managing Committee (an SHG) consisting of representatives of Van Dhan SHGs in the cluster.
  • Composition: As per the plan, TRIFED will facilitate establishment of MFP-led multi-purpose Van Dhan Vikas Kendras, a cluster of 10 SHGs comprising of 30 tribal MFP gatherers each, in the tribal areas.

 

Significance of MFP:

  • Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a major source of livelihood for tribals living in forest areas. The importance of MFPs for this section of the society can be gauged from the fact that around 100 million forest dwellers depend on MFPs for food, shelter, medicines and cash income.
  • It provides them critical subsistence during the lean seasons, particularly for primitive tribal groups such as hunter gatherers, and the landless. Tribals derive 20-40% of their annual income from MFP on which they spend major portion of their time.
  • This activity has strong linkage to women’s financial empowerment as most of the MFPs are collected and used/sold by women. MFP sector has the potential to create about 10 million workdays annually in the country.

 

Relevant articles from various news sources:

GS Paper 2:

Topic covered:

  1. Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.

 

National Data Quality Forum (NDQF)

 

What to study?

For prelims: NDQF- features, need and launched by?

For mains: The need for data management, challenges present and measures to address them.

 

Context: Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)’s National Institute for Medical Statistics (ICMR-NIMS), in partnership with Population Council, has launched the National Data Quality Forum (NDQF).

 

Aims:

  • The NDQF aims at establishing protocols and good practices when dealing with data collection, storage, use and dissemination that can be applied to health and demographic data, as well as replicated across industries and sectors.
  • The NDQF aims to do brainstorming, piloting and employ advanced modeling techniques in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and big data analytics along with using technology-based solutions to improve data quality.

 

Roles and functions:
NDQF will integrate learnings from scientific and evidence-based initiatives and guide actions through periodic workshops and conferences.

It will fetch quality data in upcoming health studies and surveys such as National Family Health Survey (NFHS).

 

Benefits and significance:

Its activities will help establish protocols and good practices of data collection, storage, use and dissemination that can be applied to health and demographic data, as well as replicated across industries and sectors noted a release issued by ICMR.

 

Need:

Data on health and demographics in India is plagued by incomplete information, overestimation, and under- and over-reporting that lead to hindrance in policy planning.

 

Challenges present:

  • lack of comparability and poor usability of national level data sources.
  • discordance between system and survey level estimates.
  • increased questionnaire length and questions on socially restricted conversation topics that translate to poor data quality.
  • age-reporting errors or non-response and intentional skipping of questions.
  • underreporting due to subjective question interpretation and incompleteness.
  • paucity of data to generate reliable estimates on mortality as major barriers to quality data.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


 

GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

 

Employment of Local Candidates in Industries and Factories Bill, 2019

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Key features of the bill, need, significance, concerns, challenges and alternatives present.

 

Context: Andhra Pradesh clears bill granting 75% reservation in jobs for locals in factories.

 

AP Employment of Local Candidates in Industries and Factories Bill, 2019- highlights:

The bill seeks to provide 75% reservation for locals in factory jobs.

Coverage: The reservation in jobs for local people of the state will extend to industries, factories, joint venture units and projects taken up under Public-Private Partnership initiatives. 

The concerned factories will need to take up training programmes of the local workforce in case they don’t have the requisite skills.

 

Rationale behind this move:

With growth in industries, the demand for land has been increasing. Since most of the land requirement is met by acquiring private agricultural lands, the land owners are being displaced and deprived of their occupation and thereby loss of income.

Local people have complained that industrialisation in their areas have deprived them of means of livelihood

To address this gap, the government has brought this legislation.

 

Will it help?

  • The Andhra Pradesh government’s proposed law to enforce 75 percent reservation for local candidates in private sector jobs may be right in intent, but conceptually flawed and may have little practical value beyond political jingoism.
  • This would mean irrespective of the availability, all private sector enterprises will have to ensure a minimum of 75 percent employment for local candidates.
  • In the absence of local candidates of a particular skill level, the law would force the employers to recruit them anyway and train them. The government has promised help to upskill the staff, but this could be time-consuming. Businesses that have to remain nimble to adapt their business strategies to changing market situations may find it tough to meet this requirement.
  • A provision of such sweeping import could in fact hinder the state’s economic growth by affecting the ease of doing business. Ease of recruiting talent is a major aspect that influences the index.
  • If job creation is the intention, the move may become counterproductive.

 

Sources: the Hindu.


GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

Infrastructure- energy.

 

Grid Connected Rooftop Solar Programme

 

What to Study? 

For Prelims and Mains: Meaning, significance and potential of rooftop solar energy, challenges therein.

 

Context: Government has set a target for installation of Rooftop Solar projects (RTS) of 40,000 MegaWatt (MW) by 2022 in the country including installation of RTS on rooftop of houses.

 

What is rooftop solar?

Rooftop solar installations — as opposed to large-scale solar power generation plants — can be installed on the roofs of buildings. As such, they fall under two brackets: commercial and residential. This simply has to do with whether the solar panels are being installed on top of commercial buildings or residential complexes.

 

What are the benefits?

  • Rooftop solar provides companies and residential areas the option of an alternative source of electricity to that provided by the grid.
  • While the main benefit of this is to the environment, since it reduces the dependence on fossil-fuel generated electricity, solar power can also augment the grid supply in places where it is erratic.
  • Rooftop solar also has the great benefit of being able to provide electricity to those areas that are not yet connected to the grid — remote locations and areas where the terrain makes it difficult to set up power stations and lay power lines.

 

What is the potential for rooftop solar in India?

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has pegged the market potential for rooftop solar at 124 GW. However, only 1,247 MW of capacity had been installed as of December 31, 2016. That is a little more than 3% of the target for 2022, and 1% of the potential.

 

Why is it not being adopted widely?

  1. One of the major problems with rooftop solar — and what affects solar energy generation in general — is the variability in supply. Not only can the efficiency of the solar panels vary on any given day depending on how bright the sunlight is, but the solar panels also produce no electricity during the night. Arguably, night is when off-grid locations most need alternative sources of electricity.
  2. Storage is one solution. Storage technology for electricity, however, is still underdeveloped and storage solutions are expensive. Most residential customers will find the cost of installing both rooftop solar panels and storage facilities prohibitive. Residential areas also come with the associated issues of use restrictions of the roof — if the roof is being used for solar generation, then it cannot be used for anything else.
  3. Another major reason why rooftop solar is not becoming popular is that the current electricity tariff structure renders it an unviable option. Many states have adopted a net metering policy, which allows disaggregated power producers to sell excess electricity to the grid. However, the subsidised tariffs charged to residential customers undermine the economic viability of installing rooftop solar panels. The potential profit simply does not outweigh the costs.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Mains Question: India has made remarkable strides in renewable energy during the recent years, which has emerged as an integral part of the solution to nations energy needs. Discuss the steps taken by the government in this direction.


GS Paper 2:

Topics covered:

  1. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

 

UKIERI Mobility Programme

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: key features and significance of the programme.

 

Context: India and UK have joined hands together for UKIERI Mobility Programme: Study in India which will allow UK students to visit India for higher studies.

 

About the UK India Education & Research Initiative (UKIERI) Mobility Programme: Study in India:

It will be a bilateral pilot programme which will support UK universities to collaborate with Indian partners to send UK students to India as part of their studies.

It provides flexible grants to UK higher education institutions (HEIs) and their Indian partner institutions to design and deliver academically rigorous short-term mobility opportunities in India for undergraduate students from UK HEIs.

 

The aims and objectives of the Programme:

  1. Increase the levels of outward student mobility from the UK.
  2. Enhance the employability of UK graduates, recognizing the positive correlation between international experience, academic performance and graduate employability.
  3. Support the internationalization of Indian higher education institutions in line with the Government of India’s ‘Study in India’ programme through the diversification of the student body, and through establishing links with the potential to seed deeper institutional partnerships and research collaboration. 

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 


Facts for prelims:

 

Proahaetulla antiqua:

What is it? It Is a new species of vine snake discovered recently by researchers from the Western Ghats that dates back 26 million years.

The species, endemic to southern Western Ghats, is thought to have evolved during the mid-Oligocene.

 

CARE4U app:

Context: IIT Kharagpur team develops app CARE4U for elderly people.

Key features of the app:

  • The android-based app will connect the caregiver to the elderly person.
  • The app has a record of medical histories, allergies’ account, an SOS button, real time location tracking and so on.
  • The network-based fall detection algorithm in the app installed on the phone of the elderly can detect whether the elderly has fallen down.
  • If there is a fall, it automatically calls the caregiver and emergency services along with the exact location of the elderly person.
  • CARE4U can also detect emotions and whenever the elderly opens the app, the phone takes his picture and a mood index is calculated. This detects whether the person is sad or not and automatically updates the caregiver with the time stamp.
  • It has a ‘Medicine Reminder’ feature to remind both the elderly as well as the caregiver that it is time for the former to take medicine.

 

Jute fibre converted into low-cost bio-degradable cellulose sheets:

Context: Scientists in Bangladesh have developed a method to convert Jute fibre into low-cost bio-degradable cellulose sheets named ‘Sonali’ which can be used as wrapping material and carrying bag. 
Uses: The Eco-friendly jute poly bags made up of Sonali can be used in garments and food packaging work and they are not harmful for human health.


 

Summaries of important Editorials:

 

What is a floor test or trust vote?

A floor test is a constitutional mechanism. It is used to determine if the incumbent government enjoys the support of the legislature.

 

How it takes place?

  1. This voting process happen in the state’s Legislative Assembly or the Lok Sabha at the central level.
  2. Technically, the chief minister of a state is appointed by the Governor. The appointed chief minister usually belongs to the single largest party or the coalition which has the ‘magic number’. The magic number is the total number of seats required to form a government, or stay in power. It is the half-way mark, plus one. In case of a tie, the Speaker casts the deciding vot
  3. However, at times, a government’s majority can be questioned. The leader of the party claiming majority has to move a vote of confidence.
  4. If some MLAs remain absent or abstain from voting, the majority is counted on the basis of those present and voting. This effectively reduces the strength of the House and in turn brings down the majority-mark.
  5. The voting process can happen orally, with electronic gadgets or a ballot process.
  6. The Governor can also ask the Chief Minister to prove his or her majority in the House if the stability of the government comes into question.

 

  1. Composite floor test:
  2. While there is another test, Composite floor test, which is necessitated when more than one person stake the claim to form the government and the majority is not clear.
  3. Governor may call a special session to assess who has the majority. The majority is counted based on those present and voting and this can be done through voice vote also.

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