17th February, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Issues related to Kaveri river water sharing’
(GS2: Issues and challenges pertaining to federal structure)
Issue: The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the 2007 Cauvery tribunal award with minor tweaks. It increased Karnataka’s water share from the river by 14.75 thousand million cubic feet (tmcft), considering the very high demand for potable water in Bengaluru city, and lessened Tamil Nadu’s share to the same extent.
This verdict will help the state of Karnataka to meet primarily the drinking water requirements of concerned districts and particularly, Bengaluru. The verdict has allocated 4 tmcft of water for Bengaluru for drinking and other purposes. This is a welcome step by the Supreme Court since Bengaluru faces acute shortage of water during distress years
Furthermore, this verdict directs the state of Tamil Nadu to utilize the 10 tmcft of ground water. Also the Court has denied permission for Kerala to divert Kaveri river water for their hydro-electric projects. Union territory of Puducherry has been allowed to grow a second crop in Kaveri basin
Information on Kaveri River
Kaveri is an Indian river flowing through the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. It is the third largest after Godavari and Krishna in South India and the largest in Tamil Nadu which on its course bisects the state into North and South. Originating in the foothills of Western Ghats at Talakaveri, Kodagu in Karnataka it flows generally south and east through Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and across the southern Deccan plateau through the southeastern lowlands, emptying into the Bay of Bengal through two principal mouths in Poompuhar, Tamil Nadu. Amongst the river valleys, the Kaveri delta forms one of the fertile regions in the country.
The Kaveri basin is estimated to be 81,155 square kilometres (31,334 sq mi) with many tributaries including Harangi, Hemavati, Kabini, Bhavani, Arkavathy, Lakshmana Tirtha, Noyyal and Amaravati. The river’s basin covers three states and a Union Territory as follows: Tamil Nadu, 43,856 square kilometres (16,933 sq mi); Karnataka, 34,273 square kilometres (13,233 sq mi); Kerala, 2,866 square kilometres (1,107 sq mi), and Puducherry, 160 square kilometres (62 sq mi). Rising in southwestern Karnataka, it flows southeast some 800 kilometres (500 mi) to enter the Bay of Bengal. In Mandya district it forms the island of Shivanasamudra, on either side of which are the scenic Shivanasamudra Falls that descend about 100 metres (330 ft). The river is the source for an extensive irrigation system and for hydroelectric power. The river has supported irrigated agriculture for centuries and served as the lifeblood of the ancient kingdoms and modern cities of South India. The primary use of Kaveri is providing water for irrigation, water for household consumption and the generation of electricity.
Note: It is to be noted that the Supreme Court is silent on the water allocation between states during distress years.
A Kaveri water tribunal was constituted for the first time in 1990 under article 262 of the Indian constitution which authorizes parliament to provide mechanism for adjudication of river water disputes in India. The tribunal gave its first verdict in 2007. The recent Supreme Court judgment is based primarily on this verdict
Note: This issue is important both from Prelims and Mains perspective. One has to remember the factual aspects of this issue for prelims and also analyze the methods of solving this issue, the role of executive and judiciary in this issue. Other ways and means to combat rising droughts in South India
‘Punjab National Bank and Chief vigilance Commission’
(GS2: Statutory, regulatory and various other quasi-judicial bodies)
Issue: The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), India’s apex body for checking corruption in the government, has summoned senior officials from the Reserve Bank of India, the Finance Ministry, along with the Chief Vigilance Officer of Punjab National Bank (PNB), early next week to assess how the ₹11,500 crore fraud reported on Wednesday by the government-owned PNB, slipped past all the in-built checks and balances in the banking system.
Banks are audited at three levels — apart from an internal audit, there is an external auditor and a statutory audit undertaken by the RBI. The CVC is keen to understand how none of these audits picked up a red flag on the letters of undertaking that seem to have been issued bypassing the system,
Central vigilance commission
Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) is an apex Indian governmental body created in 1964 to address governmental corruption. It has the status of an autonomous body, free of control from any executive authority, charged with monitoring all vigilance activity under the Central Government of India, advising various authorities in central Government organizations in planning, executing, reviewing and reforming their vigilance work.
It was set up by the Government of India in February, 1964 on the recommendations of the Committee on Prevention of Corruption, headed by Shri K. Santhanam Committee, to advise and guide Central Government agencies in the field of vigilance. Nittoor Srinivasa Rau, was selected as the first Chief Vigilance Commissioner of India.
The Commission shall consist of:
- A Central Vigilance Commissioner – Chairperson;
- Not more than two Vigilance Commissioners – Members;
The Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner can be removed from his office only by order of the President on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity after the Supreme Court, on a reference made to it by the President, has, on inquiry, reported that the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner, as the case may be, ought to be removed. The President may suspend from office, and if deem necessary prohibit also from attending the office during inquiry, the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner in respect of whom a reference has been made to the Supreme Court until the President has passed orders on receipt of the report of the Supreme Court on such reference. The President may, by order, remove from office the Central Vigilance Commissioner or any Vigilance Commissioner if the Central Vigilance Commissioner or such Vigilance Commissioner, as the case may be:
- is adjudged an insolvent; or
- has been convicted of an offence which, in the opinion of the president, involves moral turpitude; or
- engages during his term of office in any paid employment outside the duties of his office; or
- is, in the opinion of the president, unfit to continue in office by reason of infirmity of mind or body; or
- Has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as the CVC or a Vigilance Commissioner.
- If the CVC or a vigilance Commissioner in any way, concerned or interested in any contract or agreement made by or on behalf of the Government of the India or participates in any way in the profit thereof or in any benefit or emoluments arising there from otherwise than as a member and in common with the other members of an incorporated company, he shall, for the purposes of sub-section (1), be deemed to be guilty of misbehavior.
Note: The questions on this topic would primarily concentrate on factual data keeping prelims in mind
(GS2: Important aspects of Governance)
Issue: In a landmark move in electoral reforms, the Supreme Court ruled that politicians, their spouses and associates to declare their sources of income, along with their assets, in order to qualify for contesting elections.
The apex court further directed the government to set up a permanent mechanism to monitor the accrual of wealth of sitting Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies, their spouses and associates.
Relevance of this direction:
- Cleanse the electoral system of corruption
- Allows more transparency and accountability
- Provides more information for people to choose their candidates intelligently
- Black money in electoral system of our country can be effectively curtailed
- Will allow more candidates with clear background to compete on a level playing field
‘Highlights of Karnataka Budget’
- ‘Madhyama Sanjeevini’, a group insurance facility will be provided to journalists with a view to give insurance coverage upto Rs 5 lakh to the families of the deceased in case of untimely death due to accidents or casualties while on professional duty
- Government to waive off penalties on property taxes for industries in industrial areas and townships if the principal amount is paid in a single instalment
- Basava Study Centre to be set up in University of Mysuru, PG centre of Kuvempu University to come up in Chikkamagaluru
- More air quality monitoring stations to be set up in Karnataka to combat pollution
- A vented dam under Paschimavahini scheme to be built in Dakshina Kannada district
- Rs 2500 crore package for Bengaluru
- Mukhyamantri Anila Bhagya Yojane or free gas connection project of state government to see twin burner stove and two refills for 30 lakh beneficiaries
- Government to setup Karnataka Sports University under PPP model
- Arogya Karnataka Yojane or universal health scheme to be launched
- Farm loan waiver to the tune of Rs 1 lakh from cooperative banks after the death of the farmer announced
- CM announces loans to the tune of Rs 50000 at 0% interest for women and fishermen
- 5.9 lakh government employees and nearly equal number of pensioners to benefit from wage revision, it will cast additional burden of Rs 10508 crore on exchequer
- CM announces ‘Raitha Belaku’ scheme to benefit 70 lakh dry land farmers with Rs 5000 per hectare up to a maximum of Rs 10000
This is a vote-on-account (the government obtains the vote of legislature for a sum sufficient to incur expenditure on various items for a part of the year) rather than a full-fledged budget. The sum is for period of 2-4 months
‘Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited the historic Mecca Masjid, a Sunni mosque, to offer Friday prayers and called for unity among Muslims across the world’
Mecca Masjid, is one of the oldest mosques in Hyderabad, Telangana in India, and it is one of the largest masajids in India. Makkah Masjid is a listed heritage building in the old city of Hyderabad , close to the historic landmarks of Chowmahalla Palace, Laad Bazaar, and Charminar.
Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the fifth ruler of the Qutb Shahi dynasty, commissioned bricks to be made from the soil brought from Mecca, the holiest site of Islam, and used them in the construction of the central arch of the mosque, thus giving the mosque its name. It formed the centerpiece around which the city was planned by Muhammad Quli Qutub Shah.
(GS3: Achievements of Indians in Science and Technology)
Issue: Chandrayaan-2, the lunar mission under which the ISRO will for the first time attempt to land a rover on the moon’s South Pole, will be launched in April
Related information about this project
- The rover of India’s second lunar mission, costing nearly Rs 800 crore, will be made to land near the yet-unexplored South Pole
- Chandrayaan-2 will be ISRO’s first inter-planetary mission to land a rover on any celestial body.
- South Pole has very old rocks. This could possibly help us understand the origin of universe
- Landing the rover near the South Pole was that the area has not been explored by other missions.
‘Pariksha pe Charcha’
Issue: Prime Minister Modi interacted with students on the issue of examinations and how to handle them effectively in New Delhi
(GS2: Global groupings)
Issue: The biggest development on tackling climate change since the Paris Accord of 2015 has been the International Solar Alliance, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inaugural session of the World Sustainable Development Summit.
International Solar Alliance:
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) that aims at increasing solar energy deployment in member countries (Most of them being sunshine countries, which lie either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn
) came into legal, independent existence in December and is the first treaty-based international inter-governmental organisation to be based out of India. The ISA aims to mobilise more than $1000 billion in investments by 2030 for “massive deployment” of solar energy, pave the way for future technologies adapted to the needs of moving to a fossil-free future and keep global temperatures from rising above 2°C by the end of the century. India has committed itself to having 175,000 MW of renewed energy in the grid by 2022.
As part of the agreement, India will contribute $27 million (₹175.5 crore approximately) to the ISA for creating corpus, building infrastructure and recurring expenditure over five years from 2016-17 to 2020-21. In addition, public sector undertakings of the Government of India, Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA), have made a contribution of $1 million (₹6.5 crore) each for creating the ISA corpus fund.
The ISA was launched on November 30, 2015 in Paris, on the sidelines of COP-21, the UN climate conference.
MoU Signed between Botanical Survey of India and Natural History Museum, UK
(GS3: Science and technology)
Issue: Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and Natural History Museum (NHM), UK signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in the field of genetic/taxonomic studies, research and training, conservation in India, including species and habitat conservation assessments, etc
Benefits of this agreement
- The MoU will pave the way for BSI staff to work in Natural History Museum, London and vice-versa and they will share fairly and equitably the benefits that may arise from the collection, study and conservation of the plant materials such as seeds, herbarium specimens and tissue samples and exchange associated data and images. NHM will help BSI in capacity building in areas of systematic botany and long-term conservation of plant genetic resources in India.
- Botanical research has a long history in India, and modern scientific institutions have developed over two centuries. The collection of Indian plants held in UK institutions, together with India’s own tremendous collections, is an invaluable resource for modern Indian botanical science. Collections, digitization and study by Indian scientists will make these openly available for wider scientific use in India in areas such as biodiversity conservation, environmental protection, and preservation of plant resources for use in traditional health systems by rural communities
‘National Automotive Policy’
(GS2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation)
Issue: Department of Heavy Industry is working for formulating the National Automotive Policy for holistic development of automobile sector in India.
Draft automotive policy recommendations are:
- Adopt a long-term roadmap for emission standards beyond BSVI and harmonize the same with global standards by 2028
- Adopt a composite criterion based on length and CO2 emissions to classify vehicles for differential taxation purposes
- Harmonize automotive standards over the next 5 years
- Improve the skill development and training eco-system, increase accountability
- Retain tax exemption on different levels of R&D expenditure with strong audit control
- Scale-up of indigenous R&D with commercially viable innovations
- Harmonize AIS and BIS standards on safety critical parts over next 3 years
- Fast track adoption of Bharat New Vehicle Safety Assessment Program
‘Humans on Mars’
(Facts based questions for Prelims)
In the race to land humans on Mars, NASA is blowing the cobwebs off a technology it shelved in the 1970s — nuclear-powered rockets. NASA partnered with BWXT Nuclear Energy Inc. for an $18.8 million contract to design a reactor and develop fuel for use in a nuclear-thermal propulsion engine for deep-space travel.
Unlike conventional rockets that burn fuel to create thrust, the atomic system uses the reactor to heat a propellant like liquid hydrogen, which then expands through a nozzle to power the craft. That doubles the efficiency at which the rocket uses fuel, allowing for a “drastically smaller” craft and shorter transit time
(Facts based questions for Prelims)
Scientists have, for the first time, directly observed the shower of electrons bouncing across Earth’s magnetic field, which causes the spectacular, colourful phenomenon commonly known as the Northern Lights.