19th May, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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(Prelims, GS-3 Environment)
The India Meteorological Department issued an advisory to Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and the Lakshadweep archipelago over cyclonic storm ‘Sagar’.
1. Sagar is the name given by India, which is part of cyclone name list for the Northern Indian Ocean.
2. WMO maintains rotating lists of names which are appropriate for each Tropical Cyclone basin.
3. If a cyclone is particularly deadly or costly, then its name is retired and replaced by another one.
4. Infamous storm names such as Haiyan (Philippines, 2013), Sandy (USA, 2012), Katrina (USA, 2005), Mitch (Honduras, 1998) and Tracy (Darwin, 1974) are examples for this.
5. Tropical cyclone is a localized, very intense low-pressure wind system, forming over tropical oceans and with winds of hurricane force.
Electric vehicles don’t need a government push
News-EVs are the future, but the investments are still risky and rushing the change could leave us with an overpriced fleet of early-generation vehicles
Government is considering some exemptions
1. Government has recently announced that the government is considering
(1) exemption from permits, concessional toll,
(2) a rate of depreciation of 50% as against the prevailing 15% for conventional vehicles,
(3) lowering of the goods and services tax on batteries and
(4) a rule mandating taxi aggregators to have a certain percentage of EVs in their fleet
2. Government has spoken about making the public transport system fully electric through the second phase of Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India (FAME India) scheme
3. It’s possible that some of these plans will not materialize
Important issue related to the EVs: Pricing
1. EVs are superior to internal combustion engines, but also expensive
2. Therefore, incentives to purchase EVs, as well as procurement of EVs for public transport, could be fiscally expensive, and we might end up with an overpriced fleet of early-generation vehicles
3. Suggestion: Just like early smartphones, a better idea would be to wait until the rich nations buy sufficient volumes of the products on offer, and bring prices down
An all-electric fleet of buses is an expensive solution to the problem: A World Bank study
1. A World Bank study on the cost effectiveness of electric and hybrid buses in developing countries concluded that
2. in order to tackle air pollution, the policy goal should be to incentivise more people to leave their cars at home
Government should be cautious
1. The government should avoid regulating the supply of infrastructure with arbitrary prescriptions and subsidies
2. While everyone agrees that charging infrastructure is essential to the success of EVs, whether there should be a charging station at every five kilometres or 10 cannot be known in advance
3. Factors such as the driving range of vehicles, private charging capabilities of users and charging speed will determine the number and location of charging stations
4. Similarly, shifts in technology(such as wireless charging, solid state batteries or a transition to hydrogen fuel cells) will have to be anticipated as these might render existing infrastructure obsolete
The way forward
1. The government needs to focus on the less appealing, but more effective solutions
2. Choosing new technologies is the task of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, not the government
Online resource for academicians soon
( GS-3 Science& Tech)
News –A Portal to connect with experts, access books and journals in their fields of study
1. University and college teachers across the country will soon be able to connect with experts in their fields of study and also pose queries on academic questions that they wish resolved through suggestions offered by these experts or other teachers of their discipline.
2. A National Resource Centre, envisaged as a one-stop point for Indian academicians to enhance their research and teaching skills, will make such cooperation across universities possible with the launch of a portal within months from now
3. The National Institute of Educational Research and Planning (NIEPA) is in the process of rolling out the centre
4. The initiative is part of the Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Training (PMMMNMTT)
Particulars of the Portal
1. The center will enable college and university teachers to access a detailed database of academic resources, including lists of books, top journals and subject experts in their area of interest
2. It will also suggest a mechanism to higher education institutions to assess students’ satisfaction with teaching and research in the institutions so that the faculties are able to figure out what students think about their college/university and make improvements
3. NIEPA will hold a series of intensive workshops with experts in various disciplines in the next two months to put together an effective resource centre, said an official who did not want to be named
4. The PMMMNMTT calls for a National Resource Centre to be “set up with the vision of developing teachers who are able to enhance their potential and push the frontiers of knowledge through research, networking, and sharing of existing resources in the competitive knowledge world”
5. The portal will be launched with detailed information on resources in some key subjects: History, Political Science, Sociology, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology
6. Education and Management will also feature among the chosen disciplines
What is the S.R. Bommai case, and why is it quite often in news?
Who was S.R. Bommai?
1. R. Bommai was the Chief Minister of the Janata Dal government in Karnataka between August 13, 1988 and April 21, 1989
2. His government was dismissed on April 21, 1989, under Article 356of the Constitution and President’s Rule was imposed, in what is then a mostly common mode to keep Opposition parties at bay
3. The dismissal was on grounds that the Bommai government had lost majority following large-scale defections engineered by several party leaders of the day
4. Then Governor P. Venkatasubbaiah refused to give Bommai an opportunity to test his majority in the Assembly despite the latter presenting him with a copy of the resolution passed by the Janata Dal Legislature Party
What happened then?
1. Bommai went to court against the Governor’s decision to recommend President’s Rule
2. First, he moved the Karnataka High Court, which dismissed his writ petition
3. Then he moved the Supreme Court
What did the Supreme Court do?
1. The case, which would go on to become one of the most cited whenever hung Assemblies were returned, and parties scrambled to form a government, took almost five years to see a logical conclusion
2. On March 11, 1994, a nine-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court issued the historic order, which in a way put an end to the arbitrary dismissal of State governments under Article 356 by spelling out restrictions
What did the judgment say?
1. The verdict concluded that the power of the President to dismiss a State government is not absolute
2. The verdict said the President should exercise the power only after his proclamation (imposing his/her rule) is approved by both Houses of Parliament
3. Till then, the Court said, the President can only suspend the Legislative Assembly by suspending the provisions of Constitution relating to the Legislative Assembly
4. The dissolution of Legislative Assembly is not a matter of course
5. It should be resorted to only where it is found necessary for achieving the purposes of the Proclamation
What happens if the Presidential proclamation is not approved by the Parliament?
1. In case both Houses of Parliament disapprove or do not approve the Proclamation, the Proclamation lapses at the end of the two-month period. In such a case, the government which was dismissed revives
2. The Legislative Assembly, which may have been kept in suspended animation gets reactivated
3. Also, the Court made it amply clear that a Presidential Proclamation under Article 356 is subject to judicial review.
What is the significance of the S.R. Bommai vs Union of India case?
1. The case put an end to the arbitrary dismissal of State governments by a hostile Central government
2. And the verdict also categorically ruled that the floor of the Assembly is the only forum that should test the majority of the government of the day, and not the subjective opinion of the Governor, who is often referred to as the agent of the Central government
When the verdict’s impact was first seen?
1. In one of the first instances of the impact of the case, the A.B. Vajpayee government in 1999 was forced to reinstate a government it dismissed
2. The Rabri Devi government, which was sacked on February 12, 1999, was reinstated on March 8, 1999, when it became clear that the Central government would suffer a defeat in the Rajya Sabha over the issue
3. And later whenever the case of a hung Assembly, and the subsequent exercise of government formation, came up, the Bommai case would be cited, making it one of the most quoted verdicts in the country’s political history
Governor’s discretion cannot be arbitrary or fanciful: SC Constitution Bench
Appointing a pro-tem Speaker
1. Article 180 (1)of the Constitution gives the Governor the power to appoint a pro-tem Speaker
2. The Article says that if the chair of the Speaker falls vacant and there is no Deputy Speaker to fill the position, the duties of the office shall be performed “by such member of the Assembly as the Governor may appoint for the purpose”
3. The Supreme Court ordered the appointment of a pro-tem Speaker to conduct a floor test to decide the majority in the hung Karnataka Assembly
Article 180 (1) is silent about the extent to which the Governor can use his discretion
1. The Governor’s appointment of Mr. Bopaiah is being defended by quoting Article 163(2)of the Constitution
2. The latter part of this Article mandates that “the validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion
What SC ruled out in Nabam Rebia Judgement, 2016
1. The Rebia case dealt with the problem of the Arunachal Pradesh Governor advancing the date for the sixth Assembly session in the northeastern State.
2. The five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court led by then Chief Justice J.S. Khehar in the Nabam Rebia judgment of 2016 ruled that Article 163 does not give Governors a “general discretionary power” as is often misunderstood
3. The area for the exercise of his (Governor) discretion is limited
4. Even this limited area, his choice of action should not be arbitrary or fanciful. It must be a choice dictated by reason, actuated by good faith and tempered by caution
5. In his speech on the constitutional role of Governors, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar described how a Governor should use his discretion not as “representative of a party” but as “the representative of the people as a whole of the State”
Issues with the Speaker’s Appointment
1. One of the issues which may arise is whether or not the discretion of the Governor can be judicially reviewed by the Supreme Court
2. But a Constitution Bench judgement in 2006 in the Rameshwar Prasad Casehas held that the “immunity granted to the Governor under Article 361 (1) does not affect the power of the Court to judicially scrutinise the attack made to the proclamation issued under Article 361(1) of the Constitution of India on the ground of mala fides or it being ultra vires”
Justified the Powers of Pro-tem Speaker
1. The powers of a pro-tem Speaker are wide
2. The Bombay High Court in its 1994 judgment in the Surendra Vassant SirsatCaseholds that a pro-tem is Speaker of the House “for all purposes with all powers, privileges and immunities” until the Speaker is elected
3. The Odisha High Court also agreed in the Godavari Misra versus Nandakisore Das, Speaker, Orissa Legislative Assemblycase when it said the powers of the Speaker pro-tem are co-extensive with the powers of elected Speaker
4. The proceedings of the Legislature chaired by the Speaker pro-tem are as much protected under the Constitution as those chaired by the elected Speaker
Growing cities: Migration from rural areas
(GS-1 Social issues)
Context- A fresh look at urban governance is necessary as migration from rural areas picks up pace
2018 Revision of the World Urbanization Prospects: By the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs
1. Forecasting for the year 2050, the UN agency has estimated that the percentage of urban residents in India would be 52.8, compared to 34 today
2. Delhi would edge past Tokyo as the world’s most populous city by 2028
3. India, China and Nigeria are expected to lead other countries and account for 35% of the projected growth in urban population by mid-century
This forecast frames the challenge before developing countries, India in particular
The imperative before the Government
The government should come up with policies that provide adequate services in the villages
Crucial issues in Indian Cities
1. Housing deficits have led to the proliferation of slums,
2. lack of enforcement of building norms has left the metros heavily congested, and
3. poor investment in public transport has fuelled unsustainable levels of private vehicle use
4. Most cities are also unable to collect and dispose of municipal waste scientifically, and simply dump them in the suburbs
5. Such a dismal scenario can only get worse with higher population concentrations, unless city governments come into their own
What should be done?
1. Now is the time to take a fresh look at urban governance
2. While the Centre’s goal of homes for all by 2022 is laudable, it is unlikely to be realised without a push from the States
3. Integrating green spaces, open commons and wetlands will make cities cleaner and aesthetically richer
About The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)
1. It is part of the United Nations Secretariat and is responsible for the follow-up to major United Nations Summits and Conferences, as well as services to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and the Second and Third Committees of the United Nations General Assembly
2. UN DESA assists countries around the world in agenda-setting and decision-making with the goal of meeting their economic, social and environmental challenges
3. It supports international cooperation to promote sustainable development for all, having as a foundation the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015
4. In providing a broad range of analytical products, policy advice, and technical assistance, UN DESA effectively translates global commitments in the economic, social and environmental spheres into national policies and actions and continues to play a key role in monitoring progress towards internationally agreed-upon development goals
5. It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group
Teams to clean beaches, river fronts
News: Environment Ministry Forms 19 Teams to Undertake Cleaning of Beaches, River Fronts and Lakes in Nine Coastal States
Context- 1. In the build-up to the World Environment Day 2018, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, has formed 19 teams to take up cleaning of beaches, river fronts and lakes in the country.
2. The teams will include senior officers of MoEF&CC, state nodal agencies in-charge of eco-clubs of schools, State Pollution Control Boards, district administration, college of fisheries located along the coastal stretches and other educational/research institutions.
3. The Ministry will be engaging Eco-club schools, which are being provided assistance from MoEF&CC under the National Green Corps program.
4. State Nodal Agencies (SNAs) are the nodal points for implementing the programme of the Ministry in every State.
5. At the end of the program, the Minister will be awarding certificates titled ‘Green School/college’ to institutions that declare themselves free from plastic pollution.
6. India is the global host of World Environment Day celebrations 2018, the largest UN-led celebrations on environment.
7. The theme of this year’s edition of World Environment Day is – “Beat Plastic Pollution”.