Daily Current Affairs IAS | UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 11th March 2019
Published on March 13, 2019, 6:38 p.m.

IAS UPSC Prelims and Mains Exam – 11th March 2019

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(PRELIMS + MAINS FOCUS)


National Park in news: Orang National Park

Why in news?

  • A Royal Bengal tigress, F103, strayed out of north-central Assam’s Orang National Park 16 months ago.
  • Despite a 16-month trapping operation, a tigress from a reserve in Assam remains elusive.

Karnataka set to tap the clouds yet again

In news:

  • As 176 taluks reel under drought, the Karnataka government is hoping to influence the upcoming monsoon and capture as much water as possible from the rain clouds.
  • Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department called for cloud seeding operations to enhance rainfall during the monsoons of 2019 and 2020.
  • The project is expected to cost ₹50 crore each year.

Do you know?

  • Cloud seeding uses planes to spray clouds with chemicals to condense smaller particles into larger rain droplets.
  • The department is aiming to replicate the ₹35-crore ‘Varshadhare’ project two years ago that was called a success by an independent evaluation committee.
  • The most common chemicals used for cloud seeding include silver iodide, potassium iodide and dry ice (solid carbon dioxide). Liquid propane, which expands into a gas, has also been used.
  • This can produce ice crystals at higher temperatures than silver iodide. After promising research, the use of hygroscopic materials, such as table salt, is becoming more popular.

https://d39gegkjaqduz9.cloudfront.net/TH/2019/03/11/DEL/Delhi/TH/5_05/90f6171f_2790787_101_mr.jpg


India asks Saudi to invest in strategic oil storage

Part of: GS Prelims and Mains II – India and the World; International Relations; Bilateral ties

In news:

  • India invited Saudi Arabia to invest in its strategic oil storage even as it looks to resurrect a $44 billion refinery project with the world’s largest oil producer after the Maharashtra government denied land at the initial site.
  • Saudi Oil Minister Khalid Al Falih, on his second visit to India, discussed with his Indian counterpart the 60-million-tonne (MT)-a-year mega oil refinery-cum-petrochemical complex.
  • India has built 5.33 MT of emergency storage, enough to meet its oil needs for 9.5 days, in underground rock caverns in Mangalore and Padur in Karnataka and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

(MAINS FOCUS)


NATIONAL/GOVERNANCE

TOPIC: General studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

EC’s new norms laudable, now to implement them well

Introduction:

  • Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora announced that Elections to the 17th Lok Sabha will be conducted in seven phases across the country from April 11 to May 19. The counting will be on May 23.
  • The Model Code of Conduct (MCC) came into effect immediately on the announcement of the schedule.

Do you know?

  • The MCC lays down a list of do’s and don’ts for leaders and parties ahead of elections. Amongst other things, the code bars the government from announcing policy decisions.
  • It is a set of guidelines issued to regulate political parties and candidates prior to elections.
  • The rules range from issues related to speeches, polling day, polling booths, portfolios, content of election manifestos, processions and general conduct, so that free and fair elections are conducted.
  • The MCC contains eight provisions dealing with general conduct, meetings, processions, polling day, polling booths, observers, the party in power, and election manifestos.
  • The party must also avoid advertising at the cost of the public exchequer or using official mass media for publicity on achievements to improve chances of victory in the elections.

Is the Model Code of Conduct legally binding?

  • The fact is the MCC evolved as part of the ECI’s drive to ensure free and fair elections and was the result of a consensus among major political parties. It has no statutory backing.
  • Simply put, this means anybody breaching the MCC can’t be proceeded against under any clause of the Code. Everything is voluntary. The EC uses moral sanction or censure for its enforcement.
  • The ECI can issue a notice to a politician or a party for alleged breach of the MCC either on its own or on the basis of a complaint by another party or individual. Once a notice is issued, the person or party must reply in writing — either accepting fault and tendering an unconditional apology or rebutting the allegation.

New regulations:

  • All the election management related news would be monitored vigorously on all the major national and regional news channels for immediate action against any violation.
  • Various social media platforms shall also remain under the close and stringent vigil of the Commission for any content aimed at vitiating the electoral process or designed to disturb peace, tranquility, social harmony and public order.
  • The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) responded and confirmed its eagerness to cooperate with the EC to uphold the integrity and legality of the political campaigns conducted on the platforms of the intermediaries.
  • The intermediaries have already started awareness campaigns for users highlighting the EC activities.
  • The exercise will cover awareness campaigns regarding unlawful conduct during election, particularly the prohibited period of 48 hours under Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act.
  • The platforms have appointed grievance officers and will deploy fact checkers to identify fake news and other malpractices.

Conclusion:

  • The above MCC just announced by the ECI and the Government decision earlier to make it compulsory for candidates in polls to submit details of I-T returns for the past five years and disclose details of wealth held overseas, are a resounding vote for transparency and accountability.  
  • ECI also requires candidates with criminal charges against them to declare the particulars of the charges thrice in newspapers and news channels should give voters an idea about the antecedents of the person hoping to represent the public interest in Parliament.
  • The ECI will now require all EVMs to carry pictures of the candidate along with the party symbol. This will help the voter be sure that her electoral choice is not tampered with.
  • The new norms draw up an environment in which the voter is able to make an informed choice.

Connecting the dots:


EDUCATION/SOCIAL ISSUE

TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.
  • Parliament and State Legislatures, structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

The flawed unit of academic quotas

Introduction:

  • Recently, the Union government promulgated an ordinance to undo the Allahabad High Court's judgment in Vivekanand Tiwari (2017) which had relied on a number of other High Courts and a few apex court judgments such as Suresh Chandra Verma (1990), Dina Nath Shukla (1997) and K. Govindappa (2009) that had made ‘department’ rather than ‘university’ as the unit of reservation in universities.

Ordinance to restore the 200-point system

  • The Cabinet cleared an ordinance to change the formula for implementing reservations in teaching posts in universities.
  • The ordinance seeks to bring back the older system of taking the entire college/university as the unit for implementing reservations (the so-called ‘200-point roster’), rather than the individual department (’13-point roster’ system), as prescribed by the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court.

Rational of Judiciary for Department rather than University as Unit of Reservation:

  • Judiciary criticised the UGC for applying reservation in teaching jobs in a “blanket manner”.
  • The Judiciary held that – “If the University is taken as a ‘Unit’ for every level of teaching and applying the roster, it could result in some departments/subjects having all reserved candidates and some having only unreserved candidates. (This) would be discriminatory and unreasonable (and)... violative of Article 14 and 16”.

Our courts have used the differences between ‘cadre’, ‘service’ and ‘post’ to arrive at the conclusion that ‘department’ should be unit of reservation.

So though lecturers, readers and professors in a university have the same scale and allowances in their respective cadres, they cannot be clubbed together. Since there is no scope for interchangeability of posts in different disciplines, each single post in a particular discipline is be counted as a separate post.

Issues with Reservation based on Department:

  • Reservation based on department or subject as unit means the number of reserved posts at the level of, say, assistant professor, will be determined separately for each department — based on the total assistant professor posts in each department.
  • Therefore, a department that has only one professor cannot have reserved posts — which will have the effect of drastically reducing the number of SC, ST, and OBC teachers in higher education.
  • Also, departments with two or more faculty posts, but fewer than 15 in a cadre, will have only one reserved for an SC candidate at serial number 7, and for an ST candidate at serial number 14.
  • So, if a department has only six associate professor-level posts, none will be reserved for SC and ST candidates. Reservation will only be implemented by rotation, which experts say could take years.
  • A projection presented by BHU to the HRD Ministry last year showed that if the university were to use the 13-point formula, the posts reserved for SCs would be reduced by half, those for STs by almost 80%, and those for OBC teachers by 30%.
  • The government used this projection before the Supreme Court, and argued that the Allahabad HC judgment “drastically reduces, and, in many departments completely wipes out, the representation of members of SC/ST community”.

According to data compiled by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on teaching posts generated across several universities since the UGC order of March 2018 (13 point formula), of the 706 vacancies advertised by 11 central universities, only 2.5% posts were for SCs and none for STs. It is to change this situation that the present ordinance has been brought.

If SC/ST candidates do not become professors, they cannot become vice-chancellors as only a professor with 10-year experience is eligible for this. In 2018, out of some 496 vice-chancellors of Central and State universities, there were just six SC, six ST and 48 OBC vice-chancellors.

Moreover even with the 'university’ as the unit, in over 40 Central universities we have huge under-representation of SCs and STs especially at the level of professor and associate professor.

Do you know?

Judiciary and Legislature Tussle over reservation in History:

  • The 77th constitutional amendment of 1995, which was recently extended to Kashmir, restored reservation in promotions as a nine-judge bench of the Supreme Court in lndra Sawhney (1992) while upholding Other Backward Classes reservation based on Mandal Commission recommendations had prohibited Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ST) reservation in promotions.
  • The 81st constitutional amendment was made to overturn the Supreme Court's decision against the ‘carrying forward’ rule, which permitted the filling of unfilled reserved seats in subsequent years.
  • Similarly, the 85th constitutional amendment was passed in 2001 to restore consequential seniority to promote SC/ST employees as a ‘catch-up’ rule introduced by the court in Ajit Singh (1999) was causing hardship to SC/ST employees.

Conclusion:

  • The government deserves appreciation for the ordinance, though brought in belatedly on the eve of the elections to garner Dalit votes.
  • But more needs to be done to improve diversity, with more SCs, STs, OBCs, Muslims, persons with disabilities and sexual minorities being recruited as faculty.
  • The score on the diversity index should be given a major criterion while giving grants to universities.

Connecting the dots:

  • The representation of SCs, STs, and OBCs among teachers in higher education is abysmal. Discuss what measures need to be taken to overturn this situation.

(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) Which of the following compounds are used for Cloud seeding?

  1. Sulfuric acid
  2. Mercury oxide
  3. Nitric Acid
  4. Silver Iodide

Q.2) Orang National Park is located in

  1. Assam
  2. Manipur
  3. Mizoram
  4. Nagaland

Q.3) Consider the following statements about Cloud Seeding

  1. It is a kind of weather modification procedure that attempts to enhance the amount of precipitation from the clouds to generate more rain
  2. ‘Varshadhare’ is a cloud-seeding project by Maharashtra
  3. Solid form of carbon dioxide is used for cloud seeding

Select the correct statements

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 1 and 3
  4. All of the above

Q.4) Consider the following statements:

  1. The Model Code of Conduct for guidance of candidates and political parties comes immediately into effect after the Election Commission announces the schedule of elections
  2. Once the polls are completed and result declared, the Election Commission cannot review any result on its own

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

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

Q.5) Chronologically arrange the following events happening during election process.

  1. Enforcement of Model Code of Conduct
  2. Announcement of election schedule
  3. Filing of nominations
  4. Scrutiny of nominations

Select the correct code

  1. 2-3-4-1
  2. 2-1-3-4
  3. 3-4-2-1
  4. 3-2-4-1

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