29 th Nov, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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‘Arvind Saxena’ (GS2: Constitutional bodies)
Issue: The President has appointed Shri Arvind Saxena as Chairman, Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
It is India’s premier central recruiting agency. It is responsible for appointments to and examinations for All India services and group A & group B of Central services.
Established on 1 October 1926 as Public Service Commission, it was later reconstituted as Federal Public Service Commission by the Government of India Act, 1935; only to be renamed as today’s Union Public Service Commission after the independence.
The commission is mandated by the Constitution for appointments to the services of the Union and All India Services. It is also required to be consulted by the Government in matters relating to the appointment, transfer, promotion and disciplinary matters. The commission reports directly to the President and can advise the Government through him. Although, such advice is not binding on the Government. Being a constitutional authority, UPSC is amongst the few institutions which function with both autonomy and freedom, along with the country’s higher judiciary and lately the Election Commission
Appointment procedure to UPSC
As per Art. 316, the Chairman and other members of Union Public Service Commission shall be appointed by the President. In case the office of the Chairman becomes vacant his duties shall be performed by one of the other members of the Commission as the President may appoint for the purpose.
Also, nearly half of the members of the Commission shall be persons who at the dates of their respective appointments have held office for at least ten years either under the Government of India or under the Government of a State. A member of a Union Public Service Commission shall hold office for a term of six years from the date on which he enters upon his office or until he attains the age of sixty-five years, whichever is earlier. Under Art 318, the President is empowered to determine number of members of the Commission and their conditions of service. Further, he can make provision with respect to the number of members of the staff of the Commission and their conditions of service too. Also, conditions of service cannot be varied to his disadvantage after his appointment.
As per Art 319, a person who holds office as Chairman shall, on the expiration of his term of office, be ineligible for re-appointment to that office. But, a member other than the Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission shall be eligible for appointment as the Chairman of the Union Public Service Commission, or as the Chairman of a State Public Service Commission, but not for any other employment either under the Government of India or under the Government of a State. Also, the Chairman of a State Public Service Commission shall be eligible for appointment as the Chairman or any other member of the Union Public Service Commission.
Removal and suspension
As per Article 317, the Chairman or any other member of a Public Service Commission shall only be removed from his office by order of the President on the ground of “misbehaviour” after the Supreme Court, on reference being made to it by the President, has, on inquiry reported that the Chairman or such other member ought to be removed. The President may suspend the Chairman or other member of the Commission until report of the Supreme Court is received.
The President may also remove the Chairman or any other member of the commission if he/she:
- is adjudged an insolvent; 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.
- The Chairman or any other member cannot hold an office of profit or otherwise he/she shall be deemed to be guilty of misbehaviour.
‘National Skill development corporation’ (GS2: Issues related to Human resources)
Issue: Shri A.M. Naik has been appointed as Chairman of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) by the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
NSDC is a unique public-private-partnership, working under the aegis of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship. NSDC aims to promote skill development by catalyzing creation of large, quality and for-profit vocational institutions. The organisation provides funding to build scalable and profitable vocational training initiatives. It also develops appropriate models to enhance, support and coordinate private sector initiatives. NSDC supports short-term skill training through a wide network of training providers and district nodal skill centres called Pradhan MantriKaushal Kendra (PMKK). Besides, the organisation is involved in re-skilling and also in catering to the skilled manpower requirement of overseas markets
‘Heatwave’ (GS2: Issues related to Health)
Issue: Indian policy makers must take a series of initiatives to mitigate the increased risks to health, and the loss of labour hours due to a surge in exposure to heatwave events in the country over the 2012-2016 period, the Lancet Countdown 2018 report recommended
Observations made in the report
- From 2014-2017, the average length of heatwaves in India ranged from 3-4 days compared to the global average of 0.8-1.8 days,
- Indians were exposed to almost 60 million heatwave exposure events in 2016, a jump of about 40 million from 2012
- Almost 153 billion hours of labour were lost globally in 2017 due to heat, an increase of 62 billion hours from the year 2000.
Effect of heatwaves
Heatwaves are associated with increased rates of heat stress and heat stroke, worsening heart failure and acute kidney injury from dehydration. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing morbidities are particularly vulnerable. The agriculture sector was more vulnerable compared to the industrial and service sectors because workers there were more likely to be exposed to heat.
India and Heatwave
The India Meteorological Department had reported that from 1901 to 2007, there was an increase of more than 0.5°C in mean temperature, with considerable geographic variation, and climate forecasts by research groups project a 2.2-5.5°C rise in temperatures in northern, central and western India by the end of the 21st century.
Significance of the study
The findings are significant for India as agriculture makes up 18% of the country’s GDP and employs almost half the population. A recent World Bank report on South Asia’s hotspots predicted a 2.8% erosion of the country’s GDP by 2050, accompanied by a fall in living standards due to changes in temperature, rainfall and precipitation patterns.
‘Protectionism and India’ (GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: Engineering exports may slip by about $5 billion from the $90 billion target set for this fiscal due to increased protectionism in the U.S. and Europe
Reasons for such a prediction
- issues and ambiguity on the continuation of U.S. GSP (generalized system of preferences) benefit scheme for India
- Tariff war between the U.S. and China and possible phasing out of India’s export promotion schemes were also notable challenges.
- Imposition of additional dumping duty by the U.S. on India, certain categories of engineering goods would face an import tariff of about 30% against an average of 6% earlier. Steel exports, accounting for about 15% of India’s engineering exports, may be affected
Engineering exports account for about 25% of India’s total merchandise exports with the SME sector contributing about 35% of the shipments. The U.S. remained the top destination followed by UAE and the U.K. Capital goods, consumer durables, non-ferrous metals and its products and primary iron and steel, including ferro alloys, comprised the Indian export basket.
‘Food security’ (GS3: Environment)
Issue: The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) on Wednesday renewed appeals for better policies and technologies to reach ‘zero hunger’ around the world.
The call came as FAO in a report said, feeding a hungry planet is growing increasingly difficult as climate change and depletion of land and other resources undermine food systems.
Observations made in the report
The report said, hunger is still most severe in Africa, but the largest number of undernourished people live in the Asia-Pacific region. It said, good public policies and technology are the keys to improving the situation.
Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate arguments and debate policy.
FAO is also a source of knowledge and information, and helps developing countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices, ensuring good nutrition and food security for all. Its Latin motto, fiat panis, translates as “let there be bread”. As of August 2018, The FAO has 197 member states
In 1951, FAO’s headquarters were moved from Washington, DC, United States, to Rome, Italy. The agency is directed by the Conference of Member Nations, which meets every two years to review the work carried out by the organization and to Work and Budget for the next two-year period.
FAO is composed of eight departments: Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department, Economic and Social Development, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Forestry, Corporate Services and Technical Cooperation and Programme Management
‘Brazil and deforestation’ (GS3: Environment)
Issue: Deforestation in Brazil has reached such epic proportions that an area equivalent to one million football pitches was lost in just one year, Greenpeace reported
Between August 2017 and July 2018, deforestation increased by almost 14 per cent, with an area of 7,900 square kilometres of forest cleared
Significance of the study
The Amazon rainforest represents more than half of Earth’s remaining rainforest and covers an area of 5.5 million square kilometres, about 60 per cent of which is in Brazil. These observations should push both the national policy makers and international makers to combat this challenge
About Amazon rainforest
It is a moist broadleaf forest in the Amazon biome that covers most of the Amazon basin of South America. This basin encompasses 7,000,000 km2 (2,700,000 sq mi), of which 5,500,000 km2 (2,100,000 sq mi) are covered by the rainforest. This region includes territory belonging to nine nations. The majority of the forest is contained within Brazil, with 60% of the rainforest, followed by Peru with 13%, Colombia with 10%, and with minor amounts in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. States or departments in four nations contain “Amazonas” in their names. The Amazon represents over half of the planet’s remaining rainforests, and comprises the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world, with an estimated 390 billion individual trees divided into 16,000 species
The rainforest likely formed during the Eocene era. It appeared following a global reduction of tropical temperatures when the Atlantic Ocean had widened sufficiently to provide a warm, moist climate to the Amazon basin. The rainforest has been in existence for at least 55 million years, and most of the region remained free of savanna-type biomes at least until the current ice age, when the climate was drier and savanna more widespread
As the largest tract of tropical rainforest in the Americas, the Amazonian rainforests have unparalleled biodiversity. One in ten known species in the world lives in the Amazon rainforest