04 th Dec, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
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“Criminalization of Politics’ (GS2: Governance)
Issue: The Supreme Court was informed that there were 4,122 criminal cases pending, some for over three decades, against present and former members of Parliament and legislative assemblies.
The apex court had sought detailed data on the pending criminal cases against the present and former legislators from the state and various high courts so as to enable the setting up of adequate number of special courts for expedited trial in these cases. Senior advocate Vijay Hansaria who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in the matter along with advocate Sneha Kalita filed the data received from states and high courts and submitted it to the apex court
What is Amicus Curiae?
He/she is someone who is not a party to a case and may or may not have been solicited by a party and who assists a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case; and is typically presented in the form of a brief. The decision on whether to consider an amicus brief lies within the discretion of the court.
What is Criminalization of politics?
Criminalization of Politics means that the criminals entering the politics and contesting elections and even getting elected to the Parliament and state legislature.
17 per cent of 5,380 candidates contesting the Lok Sabha election 2014 have declared criminal charges in their affidavits submitted to the Election Commission; 10 per cent have declared serious criminal charges such as murder and rape charges.
Reasons for such a problem
- Criminality and ability to win election: While any random candidate has one in eight chances of winning a Lok Sabha seat, a candidate facing criminal charges is twice as likely to win as a clean candidate.
- Vote bank politics
- Legal lacunae in our system to nip this issue in the bud
- Lack of physical infrastructure and manpower in the judiciary to deal with ever rising cases against politicians
- Inability of successive governments to pass strict legislation against fighting corruption. Example: Lokpal act
‘Gravitational waves’ (GS3: Science)
Issue: Scientists have made four new detections of gravitational waves — ripples in the fabric of space and time — emanating from separate black hole mergers.
So far the US-based LIGO and Europe-based VIRGO gravitational-wave detectors have recorded gravitational waves from a total of 10 black hole mergers and one merger of neutron stars.
What are gravitational waves?
Gravitational waves are ‘ripples’ in the fabric of space-time caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the Universe. Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916 in his general theory of relativity. Einstein’s mathematics showed that massive accelerating objects (such as neutron stars or black holes orbiting each other) would disrupt space-time in such a way that ‘waves’ of distorted space would radiate from the source (like the movement of waves away from a stone thrown into a pond). Furthermore, these ripples would travel at the speed of light through the Universe, carrying with them information about their cataclysmic origins, as well as invaluable clues to the nature of gravity itself.
The strongest gravitational waves are produced by catastrophic events such as colliding black holes, the collapse of stellar cores (supernovae), coalescing neutron stars or white dwarf stars, the slightly wobbly rotation of neutron stars that are not perfect spheres, and possibly even the remnants of gravitational radiation created by the birth of the Universe.
On September 14, 2015, when LIGO physically sensed the distortions in spacetime caused by passing gravitational waves generated by two colliding black holes nearly 1.3 billion light years away! LIGO’s discovery will go down in history as one of humanity’s greatest scientific achievements.
Lucky for us here on Earth, while the processes that generate gravitational waves can be extremely violent and destructive, by the time the waves reach Earth they are billions of times smaller. In fact, by the time gravitational waves from LIGO’s first detection reached us, the amount of space-time wobbling they generated was thousands of times smaller than the nucleus of an atom! Such inconceivably small measurements are what LIGO was designed to make
‘Dr Rajendra Prasad’ (GS1: Indian History)
Issue: The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, paid floral tributes to Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, on his birth anniversary at Rashtrapati Bhavan yesterday
About Dr Rajendra Prasad
He was the first President of India, in office from 1952 to 1962. He was an Indian political leader, and lawyer by training, Prasad joined the Indian National Congress during the Indian Independence Movement and became a major leader from the region of Bihar. A supporter of Mahatma Gandhi, Prasad was imprisoned by British authorities during the Salt Satyagraha of 1931 and the Quit India movement of 1942. After the 1946 elections, Prasad served as Minister of Food and Agriculture in the central government. Upon independence in 1947, Prasad was elected as President of the Constituent Assembly of India, which prepared the Constitution of India and served as its provisional parliament.
When India became a republic in 1950, Prasad was elected its first president by the Constituent Assembly. Following the general election of 1951, he was elected president by the electoral college of the first Parliament of India and its state legislatures. As president, Prasad established a tradition of non-partisanship and independence for the office-bearer, and retired from Congress party politics. Although a ceremonial head of state, Prasad encouraged the development of education in India and advised the Nehru government on several occasions. In 1957, Prasad was re-elected to the presidency, becoming the only president to serve two full terms
‘Exercise SHINYUU Maitri-18’ (GS2: Japan and India Bilateral relations)
Issue: The Japanese Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) is in India for a bilateral air exercise SHINYUU Maitri-18 with Indian Air Force from 03-07 Dec 18 at A F Station Agra.
About the exercise
- The theme of the exercise is joint Mobility/Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief (HADR) on Transport aircraft.
- The focus of the exercise is set for the IAF and JASDF crews to undertake Joint Mobility/ HADR operations. Display of heavy loading/ off loading are also planned to be practiced during this exercise.
‘OPEC and Qatar’ (GS2: Important groupings)
Issue: Qatar will leave the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) next month in order to focus on gas production, the Gulf state’s new Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi announced recently
It has been a member of OPEC since 1961, and the decision to pull out after all these decades comes at a turbulent time in Gulf politics. Some analysts saw Qatar’s withdrawal as a “political decision to oppose Saudi Arabia”, which alongside the U.S. and Russia is the biggest producer in OPEC.
What is OPEC?
The Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is an intergovernmental organisation of 15 nations, founded in 1960 in Baghdad by the first five members (Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela), and headquartered since 1965 in Vienna, Austria. As of September 2018, the 15 countries accounted for an estimated 44 percent of global oil production and 81.5 percent of the world’s “proven” oil reserves, giving OPEC a major influence on global oil prices
The stated mission of the organisation is to “coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its member countries and ensure the stabilization of oil markets, in order to secure an efficient, economic and regular supply of petroleum to consumers, a steady income to producers, and a fair return on capital for those investing in the petroleum industry.”
The current OPEC members are the following: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, the Republic of the Congo, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela.
‘World Disabilities day 2018’ (Facts that can be asked in Prelims)
Issue: The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was observed globally on December 3, 2018, with the theme “Empowering persons with disabilities and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.
About The International Day of Persons with Disabilities
International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3) is an international observance promoted by the United Nations since 1992. The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.
About Accessible India campaign
- For Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) universal accessibility is critical for enabling them to gain access for equal opportunity and live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society. Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 under sections 44, 45 land 46 categorically provides for non-discrimination in transport, non-discrimination on the road and non-discrimination in built environment respectively. United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which India is a signatory, under Article 9 casts obligations on the Governments for ensuring to PwDs accessibility to (a) Information, (b) Transportation, (c) Physical Environment, (d) Communication Technology and (e) Accessibility to Services as well as emergency services. The Department hosted the Second Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) Working Group on Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities during 2-3 March, 2015 at New Delhi in association with the UNESCAP Secretariat. This Working Group has been constituted by UNESCAP Secretariat to monitor implementation of the Incheon Strategy “Make the Right Real” for Persons with Disabilities.Goal No. ‘3’ of Incheon Strategy concerns “Enhance access to the physical environment, public transportation, knowledge, information and communication”.
- It is the vision of the Government to have an inclusive society in which equal opportunities and access is provided for the growth and development of PwDs to lead productive, safe and dignified lives. In furtherance of the vision of the Department, it is imperative to launch a Nation-wide Awareness Campaign towards achieving universal accessibility for all citizens including PwDs in creating an enabling and barrier-free environment. In this direction, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has conceptualized the “Accessible India Campaign (Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan)”as a nation-wide flagship campaign for achieving universal accessibility that will enable persons with disabilities to gain access for equal opportunity and live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society. The campaign targets at enhancing the accessibility of built environment, transport system and Information & communication eco-System.
- A multi-pronged strategy will be adopted for the campaign with key components as (a) leadership endorsements of the campaign, (b) mass awareness, (c) capacity building through workshops, (d) interventions (legal frame-work, technology solutions, resource generation, etc. and (e) leverage corporate sector efforts in a Public-Private Partnership.
- Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities will sign MOU with State to support spreading awareness about accessibility and help create accessible buildings, accessible transport and accessible websites etc.
Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (GS3: Security)
Issue: The three services are taking steps to improve ‘jointmanship’ and have agreed on the appointment of a Permanent Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee
Chief of Staff Committee can be called as a forum, where the head of three services come together to discuss important matters related to any military issue or any task given by the ministry.
According to the current rule, the senior-most of three services acts as the ex-officio of CoSC till the time he retires. Earlier in 2012, Naresh Chandra Taskforce also suggested for the permanent post of CoSC, which is a diluted form of CDS post.
Why Permanent CoSC is needed?
- All the three services co-ordinate with each other for different purposes. With the existence of one head of all three services, a better coordination and co-operative practices could be executed.
- The requirement of CDS (Chief of Defence Staff) is strongly recommended by successive committees including the Kargil Review Committee headed by K Subramanya .
- To provide single point military advice to government.
- Streamline long-term defence planning and procurement purpose.
- Integrate service Headquarters with the defence ministry.
‘Indian Navy Day’ (GS3: Security)
Issue: The Navy Day is celebrated every year to recall the contribution of the force during the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war.
Why is the navy day celebrated?
Navy Day in India is celebrated to commemorate the courageous attack on the Karachi harbor during the Indo-Pakistan war (on 4 December 1971) by the Indian Naval Missile boats as well as to reverence all the martyrs of that war. It is celebrated using a particular theme (like “Safe Seas and Secure Coasts for a strong Nation”) of the year for making it more powerful and potent.