Daily Current Affairs for UPSC IAS | 9th January 2022

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UPSC Current Affairs:Respect laws passed by T.N. Assembly, CM tells Governor

UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – Polity & Governance

Sub Theme: RESERVATINO OF BILL BY GOVERNOR | FEDERALISM | UPSC

Article 200

Article 200 provides that when a Bill passed by the State Legislature, is presented to the Governor, the Governor shall declare— (a) that he assents to the Bill; or (b) that he withholds assent therefrom; or (c) that he reserves the Bill for the President’s consideration; or (d) the Governor may, as soon as possible, return the Bill (other than a Money Bill) with a message for re-consideration by the State Legislature. But, if the Bill is again passed by the Legislature with or without amendment, the Governor shall not withhold assent therefrom (First Proviso); or (e) if in the opinion of the Governor, the Bill, if it became law, would so derogate from the powers of the High Court as to endanger its constitutional position, he shall not assent to but shall reserve it for the consideration of the President (Second Proviso). 5.1.03 If the Governor reserves a Bill for President’s consideration, the enactment of the Bill then depends on the assent or refusal of assent by the President. 5.1.04 In the case of a reserved Bill, the President shall, under Article 201—, either declare his assent or withhold his assent thereto. Instead of following either of these courses, the President may (if the Bill is not a Money Bill) direct2 the Governor to return the Bill together with a message to the State Legislature for reconsideration.

The State Legislature shall then reconsider the Bill within 6 months of its receipt and, if it is again passed, it shall be presented again to the President for his consideration. In contrast with the power of the Governor regarding a reconsidered Bill, it is not obligatory for the President to give his assent to a reconsidered Bill. 5.1.05 State Bills reserved for Presidents’s consideration under the Constitution, may be classified as follows:— I. Bills which must be reserved for President’s consideration In this category come Bills— (i) which so derogate from the powers of the High Court, as to endanger the position which that Court is by this Constitution designed to fill (Second Proviso to Article 200); (ii) which relate to imposition of taxes on water or electricity in certain cases, and attract the provisions of Clause (2) of Article 288; and (iii) which fall within clause (4) (a) (ii) of Article 360, during a Financial Emergency. II. Bills which may be reserved for President’s consideration and assent for specific purposes (i) To secure immunity from operation of Articles 14 and 19. These are Bills for— (a) acquisition of estates, etc. [First Proviso to Article 31A(I)]; (b) giving effect to Directive Principles of State Policy (Proviso to Article 31C). (ii) A Bill relating to a subject enumerated in the Concurrent List, to ensure operation of its provisions despite their repugnancy to a Union law or an existing law, by securing President’s assent in terms of Article 254(2). (iii) Legislation imposing restrictions on trade and commerce requiring Presidential sanction under the Proviso to Article 304(b) read with Article 255.

UPSC Current Affairs: Nuclear, gas energy likely to receive ‘green’ tag in EU | INDIAN EXPRESS

UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper III – ENERGY

Sub Theme: Nuclear Energy  | Natural Gas | UPSC

 Context- The EU is planning to label energy from nuclear power and natural gas as “green” sources for investment despite internal disagreement over whether they truly qualify as sustainable options.

DISCUSSING THE “GREEN” NATURE OF NUCLEAR ENERGY AND NATURAL GAS:

POINTS IN FAVOUR OF NUCLEAR ENERGY:

  • Nuclear is a zero-emission clean energy source: It generates power through fission, which is the process of splitting uranium atoms to produce energy. The heat released by fission is used to create steam that spins a turbine to generate electricity without the harmful byproducts emitted by fossil fuels.Fig: A comparison of direct GHG emission (red bars) and full life cycle emissions (blue bars)
  • Nuclear energy’s land footprint is small: Despite producing massive amounts of carbon-free power, nuclear energy produces more electricity on less land than any other clean-air source. A typical 1,000-megawatt nuclear facility in the United States needs a little more than 1 square mile to operate. NEI says wind farms require 360 times more land area to produce the same amount of electricity and solar photovoltaic plants require 75 times more space.
  • Nuclear energy produces minimal waste: Nuclear fuel is extremely dense. It’s about 1 million times greater than that of other traditional energy sources and because of this, the amount of used nuclear fuel is not as big as you might think. (All of the used nuclear fuel produced by the U.S. nuclear energy industry over the last 60 years could fit on a football field at a depth of less than 10 yards!)

POINTS AGAINST NUCLEAR ENERGY: 

  • The mining, milling and enrichment of uranium into nuclear fuel are extremely energy-intensive and result in the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Estimated “energy recovery time” for a nuclear power plant is about 10 to 18 years. This means that a nuclear power plant must operate for at least a decade before all the energy consumed to build and fuel the plant has been earned back and the power station begins to produce net energy. By comparison, wind power takes less than a year to yield net energy, and solar or photovoltaic power nets energy in less than three years.
  • Thermal pollution from nuclear power plants adversely affects marine ecosystems.
  • A typical reactor will generate 20 to 30 tons of high-level nuclear waste annually. There is no known way to safely dispose of this waste, which remains dangerously radioactive for a quarter of a million years.

NATURAL GAS:

As we traditionally view it, natural gas is not renewable, but its sustainability level depends on where it comes from. There are three types of natural gas:

  1. Abiogenic methane is a form of oil and gas that does not originate from fossil deposits. Instead, it came from deep, hydrogen-rich carbon deposits that were present since the earth’s formation.
  2. Biogenic methane is created in landfills and on farms that have cows or wherever there is organic matter. Microorganisms called methanogens live off of decaying organic matter, and their excrement is methane.
  3. Thermogenic methane is created when mud and rock sediment put the remains of animals and plants under vast amounts of pressure. This process takes place at extremely high temperatures and over millions of years.

Of these three types of methane, biogenic is the only one that could be described as renewable
POINTS IN FAVOUR OF NATURAL GAS:

  • Natural gas produces less pollution and greenhouse gases than its counterparts, according to the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas. For example, when natural gas is burned, it produces 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal, 30 percent less than oil and 15 percent less than wood.
  • Higher efficiency: appliances, vehicles and power plants are highly efficient when powered by natural gas. This high efficiency makes natural gas a cleaner energy option.

POINTS AGAINST NATURAL GAS:

  • Natural gas is mainly methane—a strong greenhouse gas.
  • Natural gas exploration, drilling, and production affects the environment,  it may disturb vegetation and soil.
  • The fracturing of wells requires large amounts of water which may affect aquatic habitats and the availability of water for other uses.
  • If mismanaged, hydraulic fracturing fluid—which may contain potentially hazardous chemicals—could be released through spills, leaks, faulty well construction, or other exposure pathways. These releases could contaminate surrounding areas.

2.  Maldives inks key deals with China

UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – International Relation
Sub Theme: India – Maldives Relationship | UPSC

Indian Assistance to Maldives

  • Operation cactus – In 1988, when armed mercenaries attempted a coup against President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, India sent paratroopers and Navy vessels and restored the legitimate leadership under Operation Cactus.
  • 2004 Tsunami – India had provided assistance to Maldives and had also supported it during the drinking water crisis in 2014
  • COVID -19 – India rushed $250 million aid in quick time
  • India has also rushed medical supplies to the Maldives, started a new cargo ferry.

Concerns in India – Maldives Relationship

Although India and Maldives enjoy a healthy relationship, there some areas of concern between the two nations.

Enhanced Chinese Presence: 

  • Maldives signed its first country-specific FTA with China in 2017 and thereby becoming China’s 2nd FTA in South Asia after Pakistan.
  • It raised concerns that it will deepen the debt trap to China, wherein more than 70% of Maldives’ foreign debt is owed to China.
  • There has growing trend of Chinese companies and individuals acquiring land in Maldives. The land grab is seen in excess of what East India Company had acquired during the colonial period in Maldives.
  • This land grab has raised concern of Maldives being increasingly falling into an economic neo-colonial influence of China.
  • The new government of President Solih has affirmed that Maldives will scrap the FTA with China and investigate the Chinese land grab in Maldives.

President Yameen Hangover:

  • President Yameen had earlier declared an emergency in Maldives and halted the functioning of Maldives Parliament (Majlis) and arrested several opposition leaders. This was opposed by India and several other countries.
  • Apart from this, President Yameen augmented relations with China without taking India into confidence. This led  India-Maldives relations to decline.
  • Although the New Government under president Solih has welcomed Indian support, The previous President Yameen and his party has launched an ‘India Out’ campaign against New Delhi’s massive developmental funding for creating physical, social and community infrastructure.
  • There have been protests for early release of Mr. Yameen — sentenced to five years of imprisonment in a money laundering case, pending appeal.

Growing Radicalization

  • There is a growing presence of ISIS/Daesh in Maldives and has been seen with growing influence of Saudi philosophy of Wahhabis.
  • Moreover, due to the continuous defeat of Daesh, these fighters have been returning to Maldives and pose a threat to security of India, Sri Lanka and Maldives.

 

3.  India tops Sri Lanka’s tourism list

UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II – International Relation
Sub Theme:  INDIA – MALDIVES | UPSC

India – Sri Lanka

Significance of Sri Lanka to India

  • Trade and Investment: 
  • Sri Lanka is one of India’s largest trading partners in South Asia. India in turn is Sri Lanka’s largest trade partner globally. Exports from India to Sri Lanka in 2016 were US$ 3.83 billion.
  • Sri Lanka also provides investment opportunities for Indian Infrastructure companies. E.g., Colombo port west terminal project.
  • India and Sri Lanka have entered into a Free trade agreement in 2000. The two countries are negotiating Economic and Technology Co-operation Agreement (ETCA). 
  • Connectivity: Transhipment ports of Sri Lankan like Colombo and Hambantota handle huge cargo that comes to India, since India did not fully develop a transhipment port in the southern Coast.
  • Tourism: Huge scope for religious tourism (Buddhist tourism) and medical tourism (Sri Lankan patients frequently visit Chennai for medical treatment)
  • Strategic: 
    • India and Sri Lanka share membership in SAARCBIMSTEC and IORA
    • Sri Lanka is also important for India in its ambitions to become Net security provider in Indian ocean
    • Pursuing Strong ties with Sri Lanka is an integral part of India’s Neighbourhood first policy

Challenging issues in the relationship

  • Ethnic issues: The long drawn ethnic conflicts and human rights violation of Tamils, lack of proper rehabilitation and insufficient devolution of powers (Under 13th Amendment act) to the northern Tamil provinces strained the relation between the two countries.
  • UNHRC resolution: India voted against Sri Lanka in UNHRC resolutions in the past (2012 & 2013).
  • Fishermen issues: Sri Lankan fishermen object to Indians using bottom trawlers and fishing illegally along their coast, which often leads to arrests of the Indians. The dispute status of Katchatheevu islands is still not resolved.
  • Growing trust deficit
  • Scrapping of Indian infrastructure projects like Colombo east container terminal project at a time when China is increasing its investments in the same Colombo port city
  • India’s passive response to Sri Lanka’s request for debt repayment waiver for 3 years and a separate currency swap for $1 billion to help with economic crisis
  • China factor
    • Recently, Sri Lanka gave approval to Chinese funded ‘Colombo port city’ with some autonomy.
    • Already, China developed the Hambantota port which was later leased to it for a period of 99 years.
    • Sri Lanka also endorsed Belt and Road initiative of China.

This increased presence of China in Sri Lanka is a cause of concern to India

  • Sri – Lanka – Pakistan – China – Pakistani PM visited Sri lanka recently. Both the nations have had good defence ties.
  • concerns have been raised by India, about a convergence of interests between Sri Lanka, China, and Pakistan in the Indian Ocean region and in defence co-operation.
  • In 2016, India put pressure on Sri Lanka to drop a plan to buy the Chinese JF-17 Thunder aircraft made in Pakistan’s Kamra Aeronautical Complex, and co-produced by the Chinese Chengdu Aircraft Corporation.

India’s vote at resolutions on Sri Lanka at UNHRC

Year Resolution India’s Vote
2009 Resolution S 11/1 Yes
2012 Resolution 19/2 Yes
2013 Resolution 22/1 Yes
2014 Resolution 25/1 Abstain
2015 Resolution 30/1 Adopted without a vote
2017 Resolution 34/1 Adopted without a vote
2019 Resolution 40/1 Adopted without a vote
2021 Resolution 40/L1 Abstain
  • Initial Votes by India in favour of the resolutions and against Sri Lanka were mainly based on the local politics in the State of Tamil Nadu owing to the coalition government the Center.
  • On the 2013 resolution 22/1 India voted in favour of the resolution and against Sri Lanka. This was mainly because Just ahead of the vote, Tamil Nadu’s main opposition party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), had withdrawn from the Centre’s ruling alliance on the grounds that India was not doing enough to alleviate the alleged human rights violations of Sri Lankan Tamils.
  • However, after the coalition era ended at the central government level, India’s stance has not been much influenced by the local politics but has been influenced by geopolitical concerns owing to the increasing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region.
  • On 2014 resolution 25/1, India abstained during the vote on grounds that the resolution ignored steps taken by Sri Lanka at reconciliation.
  • In 2015 Resolution 30/1 and subsequent resolutions 34/1 and 40/1, India did not have dilemma because Sri Lanka itself joined the resolution which was adopted unanimously without a vote.
  • In 2021 resolution India abstained from voting.
  • India’s position rested on two pillars. The first was support for Sri Lanka’s unity and territorial integrity. Second pillar was commitment to Sri Lankan Tamils’ aspirations for “equality, justice, peace and dignity”.
  • Calling on Sri Lanka to address Tamil aspirations, India said that Colombo should take “necessary steps” through the “process of reconciliation and full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka

Container terminal issue 

  • Sri Lanka  will develop the West Container Terminal (WCT) at the Colombo Port, along with India and Japan. The decision came a month after the Rajapaksa government rejected the two partners from a 2019 tripartite agreement to jointly develop the East Container Terminal (ECT), citing resistance to “foreign involvement”.
  • signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with India and Japan to jointly develop and operate the East Container Terminal wherein India and Japan together were to hold 49% stake in ECT. However, then the opposition parties in Sri Lanka opposed the Indian Involvement in the construction of the port.

The Importance of India having a terminal at Colombo port

  • This port was considered to be strategic for India since it was adjacent to the Chinese-run Colombo International Container Terminal (CICT).
  • More than two-thirds of trans-shipment at this port is tied to India, making it an important trade and connectivity link.
  • As a joint venture for India and Japan to invest in, the ECT project was also expected to showcase how the two Indo-Pacific partners, and also Quad members, could provide South Asia with viable, transparent and sustainable alternatives for financing and development.

Reassignment of West Terminal Container Port 

  • Commercially, the west terminal offer is better for India as it gives 85% stake for developers of the West Terminal against the 49% in ECT.
  • And geo-politically too, West Terminal is almost the same if we consider the security aspect and the necessity to have a port terminal in Sri Lanka.
  • West Terminal is no smaller in size or depth compared to the East Terminal.
  • There is no difference between East and West Terminals except for the fact that development of the ECT is partialy completed while the development of the West Terminal has to start from scratch.

Indian and Chinese ports in the Indian Ocean region 

  • Based on the theory of string pearls in the Indian Ocean, China is investing in strategically important foreign commercial ports.
  • Some of these ports include Chittagong in Bangladesh, Gwadar in Pakistan, Hambantota in Sri Lanka, Kyaupkyu in Myanmar, Malacca in Malaysia, Mombasa in Kenya
  • Chinese scholars recognize the far-reaching strategic significance of these projects for the success of the maritime Silk Road.
  • On the other hand India has also begun to invest heavily, albeit quietly, in expanding its naval and air power across the Indian Ocean.
  • The effort is driven by two factors: a desire to improve maritime domain awareness and maritime security throughout the vast region, and New Delhi’s growing anxieties about Chinese inroads in its strategic backyard
  • Piracy, illegal fishing, and other maritime crimes remain serious concerns and potential sources of instability around the entire Indian Ocean rim
  • As a response, India has presence in the ports shown in the picture above.

 

4.  ‘LCA MK-1A to take flight in June’

UPSC Syllabus: PRELIMS: SCIENCE AND TECH
Sub Theme:  LCA TEJAS | UPSC

Context:

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) expects to deliver all Light Combat Aircraft

(LCA) Tejas in the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) variant to the Indian Air Force

(IAF) in 2022 while the LCA MK-1A, with specific enhancements, will take flight by middle of this year.

LCA:

  • It is an Indian multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.
  • In 2003, the LCA was officially named “Tejas”.
  • It is the smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft.
  • Primary user: Indian Air force.

Variants:

The Tejas currently has three production models – Tejas Mark 1, Mark 1A and trainer variant. 

The IAF currently placed an order for 40 Tejas Mark 1 and 83 Tejas Mark 1A, including Tejas trainer aircraft.

The IAF plans to procure 324 aircraft in all variants, including the Tejas Mark 2 currently being developed by the HAL.

The Tejas Mark 2 is expected to be ready for series production by 2026–27.

Tejas Mark 2 – or Medium Weight Fighter, is an enhanced Tejas Mark 1 design which is expected to have a more powerful engine and an increased payload carrying capacity. The Tejas Mark 2 will feature an AESA radar, an on-board oxygen generation system and a built-in electronic warfare suite among other improvements to avionics.

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