GS Paper II- Governance
BRO Builds World’s Highest Motorable Road In Ladakh.
- In a major feat, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has constructed the world’s highest motorable road in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, passing through Umlingla Top at a height of over 19,300 feet.
- The feat was achieved under ‘Project Himank’ of the organisation.
- Being close to Hanle, the 86km long strategic road connects Chisumle and Demchok villages, located 230 km from Leh. These villages are stone’s throw away from the India-China border in eastern sector, a spokesman of BRO said.
Highlights Of The Development-
- Felicitating the BRO personnel for completing the herculean task, chief engineer, Project Himank, Brigadier DM Purvimath, said constructing the road at the altitude of over 19,300 feet was filled with life-threatening challenges.
- He said the climate at the location is always adverse for construction activities.
- During peak summers, temperature hovers around minus 10-20 degrees Celsius, and in winters, it dips to minus 40 degrees. Oxygen level at the altitude is 50 per cent less than at normal places, Purvimath said.
- The brigadier said logistics was another major challenge at such an altitude.
- Purvimath said because of this gradation, the personnel faced serious health problems like loss of memory, eyesight and high blood pressure.
- Pardeep Raj, Commander 753 BRTF, who looks after road construction of this sector, said the BRO personnel were acclimatised through a tedious process and lot of training before being assigned the job.
- The Project Himank has already constructed roads like Khardangu La at an altitude of 17,900 ft and Changla Pass at 17,695 ft in Leh by connecting Nobra valley and Durbuk valley in the cold desert.
GS -2 : Polity and constitution
- As the Constitution Bench declared that the Chief Justice of India is the master who alone could decide what case goes to which judge in the Supreme Court, the registry published a circular notifying lawyers and litigants not to orally mention fresh cases before any other Supreme Court judge except before the Bench presided by the Chief Justice of India.
What is this new circular?
- The circular is issued by the Registry of the Supreme Court.
- The circular asks lawyers and litigants not to orally mention fresh cases before any other Supreme Court judge except before the Bench presided over by the Chief Justice of India.
- The circular has in effect, put a stop to the practice of lawyers or litigants mentioning their cases before Justice J. Chelameswar’s court, the number two judge in the supreme court.
- The circular does not provide for a contingency where the CJI is either on leave or is unable to come to court for any other reason.
Why is this circular significant?
- The circular is significant as it was an oral mention before Justice Chelameswar’s Bench on November 9 that led to a series of events culminating in an almost spur-of-the-moment hearing by a five-judge Constitution Bench led by the Chief Justice of India on November 10.
What was the issue?
- On November 9, advocate Kamini Jaiswal had made an urgent oral mention of a petition before a two-judge Bench. The petition wanted the investigation into the medical college corruption case to be transferred from the CBI to a SIT supervised by a retired CJI.
- The petition said the FIR suspected that a conspiracy was highlighted to bribe Supreme Court judges.
- The two-judge Bench immediately listed the case for hearing on the same afternoon and ordered a Constitution Bench of the “first five judges in the order of seniority” to be set up on November 13 to hear Ms. Jaiswal’s petition.
What was the CJI’s reaction to it?
- The Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Misra effectively prevented the scheduled hearing on November 13 by laying down the law that no two-judge Bench can command the Chief Justice of India to constitute Benches to hear cases in the Supreme Court.
- The Chief Justice of India is the sole master and carries the complete administrative prerogative over which judge should hear which case in the apex court. The Constitution Bench, in effect, nullified the two-judge Bench’s order.
Chief Justice of India
- Chief Justice is the senior most judge in the country, i.e, he is at the apex in the court of law. He sits in the supreme court, the court of Apex.
- The most powerful authority someone as a chief justice can have is, to become an acting President or vice President when the post is vacant until the next President is selected.
- CJI is constitutional post. He/she is who gives oath to president/vice President of india.
- He/she assigns judicial and administrative work to judges and registers.
- Represent India in International Judicial/ legal forum.
The appointment of CJI
- The Chief Justice is appointed by the President in consultation with such other judges of the Supreme Court and High Court as he may deem necessary.
- Convention dictates the appointment of the senior most judges of the Supreme Court as Chief Justice.
- The other judges are appointed by the President after consultation with the Chief justice and such other judges of the Supreme Court and the high courts as deemed necessary.
- The Consultation with the Chief justice is considered necessary for the appointment of any judge other than the Chief justice.
How powerful is CJI?
- MORAL POWER: Chief Justice is the senior most judge in the country, i.e, he is at the apex in the court of law. He sits in the supreme court, the court of Apex.
- POLITICAL POWER: The most powerful authority someone as a chief justice can have is, to become an acting President or vice President when the post is vacant until the next President is selected.
- LEGAL POWER: As head of the supreme court, the chief justice is responsible for the allocation of cases and appointment of constitutional benches which deal with important matters of law. Chief Justice allocates all work to the other judges who are bound to refer the matter back to him or her
- POLITICAL POWER: On the administrative side, the Chief Justice carries out the following functions: maintenance of the roster; appointment of court officials and general and miscellaneous matters relating to the supervision and functioning of the Supreme Court.
The Constitution itself clearly lays out heightened powers for the CJI. Broadly, these are:
- The CJI swears in the President and Governors;
- The President must consult with the Chief Justice before appointing Supreme Court or High Court judges;
- Article 127 gives the CJI power to appoint ad hoc Supreme Court judges
- Article 128 the power to sit retired Supreme Court judges
- Article 130 the power to sit the Court outside of Delhi (with the President’s approval)
- Article 146 the power to appoint officers and servants of the Court
- Article 222 the power to move high court judges to another high court
- Articles 257, 258, and 290 which gives the CJI the ability to appoint an arbitrator to resolve certain financial disputes between the centre and the states
- He or she is also paid a bit more than the rest of the justices, (presumably) for taking on these additional responsibilities.
GS 2: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies.
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
A ‘rice field laboratory’ named after Prime Minister Modi was recently inaugurated by Prime Minister himself at IRRI in Los Banos in Philippines.
What is it?
The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) is an international agricultural research and training organization known for its work in developing rice varieties that contributed to the Green Revolution in the 1960s.
The Institute, established in 1960 aims to reduce poverty and hunger, improve the health of rice farmers and consumers, and ensure environmental sustainability of rice farming.
IRRI is one of 15 agricultural research centers in the world that form the CGIAR Consortium of International Agricultural Research centres, a global partnership of organizations engaged in research on food security. It is also the largest non-profit agricultural research centres in Asia.
India and the IRRI:
IRRI has successfully collaborated with Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) to introduce drought- tolerant, flood-tolerant and salt-tolerant varieties of rice in India. The Indian government is also setting up a regional centre of the IRRI in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency, to develop high-yielding rice varieties. The Varanasi Centre would help increase farmers’ income by enhancing and supporting rice productivity, reducing cost of production, value addition, diversification and enhancement of farmers’ skills.
GS-2 : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
What is it?
It is the country’s largest time-bound “upskilling” exercise for government employees launched by the Indian Railways.
What it does?
It aims to upgrade the skillsets of its 13 lakh-strong workforce with a single drive spanning nine months. The nature of the short-duration training will range from refresher courses, with an eye on evolved global practices in the respective areas, to skills in the existing lining of functioning.
Who will be trained?
Employees from the rank of a peon to the Railway Board Members and everyone in between will undergo the training.
GS-2 : Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
What is it?
It is the Child Rights Week celebrated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development from 16th to 20th November, 2017.
The country celebrates the Children’s Day on 14th November and the International Child Rights Day is celebrated on 20th November every year. The period between the two important events will be celebrated as Child Rights Week by WCD Ministry by hosting an Inter CCI Festival for the children who reside in Child Care Institutions (CCIs).
Significance of this event:
- The commemoration of the festival “Hausala 2017” will provide an occasion to showcase the talents of children from CCIs from various child care institutions across the country and provide them with a space to express their dreams and aspiration.
- Children will be participating in various events like Bal Sansad, painting competition, athletics meet, football, chess competition and speech writing.
GS 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Measles & Rubella
The India Expert Advisory Group on Measles & Rubella (IEAG-MR) has commended India on the progress of the measles and rubella vaccination campaign. The expert member group concluded that ‘the country is on the right track’. The group has advised for the MR vaccination campaign to cover the whole country by 2018. Presently, 13 states have been covered by the vaccination campaign.
About MR campaign:
What is it?
The MR campaign targets around 41 crore children across the country, the largest ever in any campaign. Under the campaign, children will be given a single shot of Measles-Rubella (MR) vaccination irrespective of their previous measles/rubella vaccination status or measles/rubella disease status. MR vaccine will be provided free- of- cost across the states from session sites at schools as well as health facilities and outreach session sites.
Target group: All children aged between 9 months and less than 15 years will be covered.
About Measles and Rubella:
Measles is a deadly disease and one of the important causes of death in children. It is highly contagious and spreads through coughing and sneezing of an infected person. Measles can make a child vulnerable to life threatening complications such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and brain infection. Globally, in 2015, measles killed an estimated 1, 34,200 children—mostly under-5 years. In India, it killed an estimated 49,200 children.
Rubella is generally a mild infection, but has serious consequences if infection occurs in pregnant women, causing congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), which is a cause of public health concern. CRS is characterized by congenital anomalies in the foetus and newborns affecting the eyes (glaucoma, cataract), ears (hearing loss), brain (microcephaly, mental retardation) and heart defects, causing a huge socio-economic burden on the families in particular and society in general.
Measles kills an estimated 49,000 children in India each year, which is about 37% of the global deaths due to this disease. India has set an ambitious goal to eliminate measles from the country. Measles Rubella vaccine has been introduced in 13 states. It is planned to expand across the country, covering 41 crore children by the end of 2018.
GS 2: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
South China sea dispute
Southeast Asian leaders are planning to start negotiations with China on a so- called “Code of Conduct” in the disputed South China Sea in what they regard as a milestone. However, China has been opposed to a legally binding code.
About the dispute over south China sea:
Where is the South China Sea? The South China Sea is located at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean, to Asia’s southeast. It encompasses an area of about 1.4 million square miles and contains a collection of reefs, islands and atolls, including the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands and Scarborough Shoal.
Beijing claims 90% of the South China Sea, a maritime region believed to hold a wealth of untapped oil and gas reserves and through which roughly $4.5tn of ship-borne trade passes every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also contest China’s claims to islands and reef systems closer to their territory than Beijing’s.
China says it follows a historical precedent set by the “nine-dash line” that Beijing drew in 1947 following the surrender of Japan. The line has been included in subsequent maps issued under Communist rule.
Importance of South China Sea:
- It is a 3.5m sq km waterway.
- One of the world’s most strategically vital maritime spaces.
- More oil passes through here than the Suez Canal.
- More than $5 trillion in trade flows through its waters each year. That is a third of all global maritime commerce.
- The Strait of Malacca that links Indian and Pacific Oceans handles four times as much oil as Suez Canal.
GS Paper III- Security.
IAF, DRDO Successfully Test Indigenous ‘Glide’ Bomb, To Be Inducted Soon.
- The government said on 3rd November, 2017 that an indigenously developed light weight ‘Glide’ bomb has been successfully tested in Chandipur in Odisha, marking a major milestone in developing such weapons.
- The bomb — SAAW (Smart Anti Airfield Weapon) — was dropped from an Indian Air Force aircraft at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur on 2nd November, 2017.
- The guided bomb released from the aircraft and guided through precision navigation system, reached the targets at greater than 70 km range, with high accuracies.
Highlights Of The Development-
- The defence ministry said in a statement that a total of three tests with “different release conditions” and ranges were conducted and were all successful.
- The guided bomb is developed by the Research Centre Imarat (RCI), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), along with other laboratories of the DRDO and the Indian Air Force.
- Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman congratulated the DRDO scientists and IAF for the successful tests.
- Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and chairman DRDO, S Christopher, congratulated the team and said SAAW will be inducted soon into the armed forces.
- Director General Missiles and Strategic System of DRDO G Satheesh Reddy termed the test a major milestone in the indigenous capabilities to develop guided bombs.
GS 3: Topic: Inclusive growth and issues arising from it.
Not to pursue Islamic banking: RBI
The Reserve Bank of India has decided not to pursue a proposal for introduction of Islamic banking in the country. The central bank said the decision was taken after considering “the wider and equal opportunities” available to all citizens to access banking and financial services.
About Islamic banking:
What is it? Islamic or Sharia banking is a finance system based on the principles of not charging interest, which is prohibited under Islam.
What exactly is Sharia/Islamic banking?
Sharia banking refers to banking activity that conforms to Islamic law or Sharia. The fundamental principle of Islamic finance is the rejection of usury, along with the requirement that there must be no engagement in immoral businesses. Usury is seen as the levying of unreasonably high interest rates while lending money. Interest is Riba, which in its current interpretation, covers all interest — not just excessive interest. Under Islamic law, a Muslim is prohibited from both paying and accepting interest. Thus, Sharia banking means money can only be parked in a bank without interest — and this money cannot be used for speculative trading, gambling, or trading in prohibited commodities such as alcohol or pork.
Need for Islamic Banking:
Certain faiths prohibit the use of financial instruments that pay interest. The non- availability of interest-free banking products results in some Indians, including those in the economically disadvantaged strata of society, not being able to access banking products and services due to reasons of faith. This non-availability also denies the country access to substantial sources of savings from other countries in the region.
Therefore, introduction of Sharia or Islamic banking could bring more Muslims into the banking system, and help in the inflow of institutional wealth from entities operating in the Islamic world to the Indian economy. Sharia banking is not restricted to Muslims alone, and other communities who are interested in other forms of banking like ethical banking could be allowed to participate.
How does India benefit from Islamic banking?
Introduction of Islamic Banking was mooted by Raghuram Rajan in his report on the Financial Sector in the year 2008 where he recommended that interest-free banking techniques should be operated on a larger scale so as to give access to those who are unable to access banking services, including those belong to economically disadvantaged section of the society.
- There are many advantages in introducing an Islamic window in the banks. For instance, majority of companies in the Stock Exchange are shariat compliant (this number is more than the shariat complaint companies on the Stock Exchange in Malaysia), thus this would result in attracting huge funds in the domestic market alone.
- An Islamic Banking window will encourage many from the Muslim community to come forward and invest in projects thereby mobilising huge amount of capital which they may not be willing to put in the banks. This also means that India will be able to attract huge investments from West Asia and from those who invest only in shariat compliant projects.
Sharia banking globally:
A 2015 World Bank report estimated Sharia-compliant financial assets to be in the range of US $ 2 trillion, covering bank and non-bank financial institutions, capital markets, money markets and insurance. The Islamic Finance Industry has been expanding at a rate of 10%-12% annually. According to the World Bank, in many Muslim countries, Islamic banking assets have been growing faster than conventional banking assets. There has also been a surge of interest in Islamic finance in non-Muslim countries such as the UK, Luxembourg, South Africa, and Hong Kong.
GS 3 : Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.
Small, collaborative robots, or cobots, are gaining currency across the world, as also in India. Several firms, be it Bajaj Auto or Aurolab, have benefited from the adoption of cobots and are planning to add more to their shop floors.
What is a cobot?
A cobot is intended to work hand-in-hand with humans in a shared workspace. This is in contrast with full-fledged robots that are designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance. They support and relieve the human operator of his excess work.
How they operate? examples
In an auto factory, while the the cobot tightens the bolts, the human worker places the tools in front of the cobot. In a biscuit factory, the cobot would package the biscuits while the worker segregates burnt ones not fit for consumption. In a small-scale industry, the cobot is placed on the drilling job while the worker performs a quality check.
Benefits of Cobots:
Cobots are easy to use, flexible and safe. Unlike industrial robots, cobots don’t need fencing for the protection of workers in the shop floor.