Polity & Governance
- PIL misuse is posing grave danger: Bench
- Government sets up Defence Planning Committee
- Vehicles made on or after Jan. 1 to have High Security Registration Plates
Issues related to Health & Education
- ‘India absent from Malaria Summit in London’
- GoM on Transport deliberates upon One Nation- One Tax and One Permit
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Environment Ministry frames new draft Coastal Regulation Zone Notification
Bilateral & International Relations
- Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)
Science & Technology
- SpaceX rocket successfully launches NASA’s Tess into space
Key Facts for Prelims
- ‘Most Film-Friendly State’ award
- Kayakalp awards
- India is now world’s sixth largest economy
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Polity & Governance
PIL misuse is posing grave danger: Bench
While rejecting a bath of PILs in a case, the Supreme Court has observed that Public Interest Litigations (PILs) have been brazenly misused by people with political agenda and they pose a grave danger to the entire judicial process.
- It is a travesty of justice for the resources of the legal system to be consumed by an avalanche of misdirected petitions purportedly filed in public interest that are found to promote a personal, business or political agenda. This has spawned an industry of vested interests in litigation.
- Frivolous or motivated petitions, detract the time and attention that courts must devote to genuine causes. Besides, such petitions pose a grave danger to the credibility of the judicial process.
- Also, PILs have been used to seek publicity, instituted at the behest of business or political rivals to settle scores behind the facade of public interest.
What is PIL?
‘Public Interest Litigation’ denotes a legal action initiated in a court of law for the enforcement of public interest where the rights of an individual or a group have been affected.
- In Public Interest Litigation (PIL) vigilant citizens of the country can find an inexpensive legal remedy because there is only a nominal fixed court fee involved in this.
- Further, through the so-called PIL, the litigants can focus attention on and achieve results pertaining to larger public issues, especially in the fields of human rights, consumer welfare and environment.
Abuse of PIL:
- The genuine causes and cases of public interest have in fact receded to the background and irresponsible PIL activists all over the country have started to play a major but not a constructive role in the arena of litigation. Of late, many of the PIL activists in the country have found the PIL as a handy tool of harassment since frivolous cases could be filed without investment of heavy court fees as required in private civil litigation and deals could then be negotiated with the victims of stay orders obtained in the so-called PILs.
- The flexibility of procedure that is a character of PIL has given rise to another set of problems. It gives an opportunity to opposite parties to ascertain the precise allegation and respond specific issues.
- The credibility of PIL process is now adversely affected by the criticism that the judiciary is overstepping the boundaries of its jurisdiction and that it is unable to supervise the effective implementation of its orders.
- It has also been increasingly felt that PIL is being misused by the people agitating for private grievance in the grab of public interest and seeking publicity rather than espousing public cause.
Government sets up Defence Planning Committee
The Union Government has formed Defence Planning Committee (DPC), a new integrated institutional mechanism that will drive country’s military and security strategy and guide defence equipment acquisitions.
- It will be under the chairmanship of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
About the Defence Planning Committee (DPC):
The committee will be a permanent body and it will prepare draft national security strategy besides undertaking strategic defence review and formulating international defence engagement strategy.
- It will consist of Chairman Chiefs of the Staff Committee (COSC), service chiefs, Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Secretary (expenditure) in the Finance Ministry.
- The committee will operate through four sub-committees: on Policy and Strategy, Defence Diplomacy, Plans and Capability Development and Defence Manufacturing Ecosystem.
- The membership and the terms of reference of the sub-committees will be finalized separately.
- Foreign Secretary and Expenditure Secretary being member of DPC will help to overcome problems of coordination between various ministries on matters of national security.
- It will submit all its reports to defence minister.
- Prepare drafts of national security strategy and doctrines, international defence engagement strategy and roadmap to build defence manufacturing ecosystem.
- Work on strategy to boost defence exports, and prioritised capability development plans for the armed forces.
- Analyse and evaluate all relevant inputs relating to defence planning and foreign policy imperatives besides focusing on defence acquisition and infrastructure development plans including the 15-year-long integrated perspective plan.
- Work on development of Indian defence industry and technology advancements.
- Because the Prime Minister’s Office, the defence ministry, the finance ministry and the three services are part of the same committee, decisions on military purchases could now happen much faster.
Need for such committee:
- Considering the complex security environment and volume of expenditure on national defence, it was imperative to have strong defence planning mechanism.
- The present system was found insufficient to provide rigour necessary for planning process. So it was mandated to create an institutional mechanism which can undertake comprehensive and integrated planning of higher defence matters.
Vehicles made on or after Jan. 1 to have High Security Registration Plates
Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has published new draft rules to make mandatory for automobile manufacturers to provide high security registration plates (HSRP) to all new vehicles from January 1, 2019.
- The HSRP to be fitted in all classes of motor vehicles will have tamper-proof plates with host of in-built security features and is expected to offer increased protection against theft.
- HSRP was made mandatory in some States 2005 but failed to take off.
What are High Security Registration Plates (HSRP)?
- HSRPs will have in-built security features, such as self-destructive sticker with engine and chassis numbers.
- It will be fitted on front and rear of vehicles and windscreens will have number plate tag with hologram.
- Chromium-based hologram will be applied by hot stamping on top left corner of plates both at front and back.
- Permanent identification (id) number with minimum of 10 digits will be laser-branded into reflective sheeting on bottom left of registration plate.
Issues related to Health & Education
‘India absent from Malaria Summit in London’
The Malaria Summit was held in London, United Kingdom organisations to make game-changing commitments towards beating malaria.
- It was organized by non-profit organisation Malaria No More in conjunction with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and supported by British Prime Minister Theresa May.
- Despite having the third largest malaria cases in the world after Congo and Nigeria, India is absent from Malaria Summit.
All about Malaria:
- Malaria is life-threatening mosquito-borne blood disease caused by Plasmodium parasite.
- It is transmitted to humans through bite of Anopheles mosquito.
- Once infected mosquito bites human, the parasites multiply in host’s liver before infecting and destroying red blood cells.
- Symptoms of mosquito resemble those of flu, but, without treatment, the effects can sometimes be long-term and fatal.
- It can be treated and controlled with early diagnosis.
- Currently, no vaccine is licensed for use in the United States or globally, although one is available in Europe.
GoM on Transport deliberates upon One Nation- One Tax and One Nation
A group of ministers (GoM) on transport constituted by the roads ministry has recommended a uniform road tax structure for vehicles across states.
- The group was constituted to find a solution to the various problems plaguing the road sector in the country. It was also asked to suggest ways to improve road safety and facilitate ease of transport.
Recommendations of GoM
Uniform road tax for vehicles across states:
- It will allow transfer of vehicles from one state to another without levying road tax.
- It will put check on people registering their vehicles in low tax states and running them in other states.
- It will also bring necessary relief to genuine cases requiring transfer of vehicles.
- Centre has the powers to decide principles on which motor vehicles tax can be levied.
- The uniform tax should be based on invoice price of vehicles in three slabs.
- 8% tax on vehicles below 10 lakhs, 10% for vehicles costing between 10 -20 lakh, and 12% for vehicles above 20 lakh. Diesel vehicles may have to pay 2% extra taxes, while electric vehicles will be given 2% discount.
National passenger vehicles permit for passenger cars:
- There should be national bus and taxi permit on lines of such permit for goods transport. It will give the much needed fillip to public transport and help reduce road congestion and its attendant problems.
Benefits of uniform road tax:
- It will end the practice of people registering their vehicles in low-tax states and using them in other states. The move will also bring relief to consumers moving across states.
- If the states agree to One Nation, One Permit, One Tax then the revenues of the states will increase. This will also reduce the chances of one operator taking a few permits and running a large number of buses.
- It will also go a long way in improving the interstate transfer of used cars making the lengthy and rather a cumbersome process that exists today into a much more streamlined and less complicated one.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Environment Ministry frames new draft Coastal Regulation Zone Notification
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has framed a new draft Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, 2018.
Salient features of the draft CRZ Notification, 2018:
- CRZ limits on land along the tidal influenced water bodies has been proposed to be reduced from 100 meters or the width of the creek, whichever is less, to 50 meters or the width of the creek, whichever is less.
- A No Development Zone (NDZ) of 20 meters has been proposed to be stipulated for all Islands close to the main land coast and for all Backwater Islands in the main land.
- For CRZ-III areas, two separate categories have been proposed viz.: CRZ-III A – Densely populated rural areas with a population density of 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall have an NDZ of 50 meters from the HTL as against 200 meters from the HTL stipulated in the CRZ Notification, 2011. CRZ-III B – Rural areas with population density of below 2161 per square kilometre as per 2011 Census. Such areas shall continue to have an NDZ of 200 meters from the HTL.
- Ease of procedures: Only such projects/activities, which are located in the CRZ-I & IV areas, shall be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the MoEF&CC. For all other project activities located in CRZ-II/III areas, CRZ clearance shall be considered at the level of the CZMA.
- FSI: As per CRZ, 2011 Notification, for CRZ-II areas, Floor Space Index (FSI) or the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) had been frozen at 1991 Development Control Regulation (DCR) levels. In the Draft CRZ, 2018 Notification, it has been proposed to de-freeze the same and permit FSI for construction projects.
- Mining: Regulated limestone mining is proposed to be permitted, subject to strict Environmental safeguards, in areas adequately above the height of HTL, based on recommendations of reputed National Institutes in the Mining field.
- Disposal of plastics and mangroves: The norms also prevent the disposal of plastic into the coastal waters and mandate the compensatory plantation of three times the mangrove area destroyed for development works. Mangroves in private land will not require a buffer zone.
- Eco-tourism activities such as mangrove walks, tree huts, nature trails, and so on will be allowed in these areas through the development of coastal zone management plans (CZMPs) and public consultation.
About Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ):
- CRZ is the zone along the coastal stretches of seas, bays, estuaries, creeks, rivers and backwaters along the coastline specially demarcated for regulated development activity.
- The demarcated zone consists of coastal stretches influenced by tidal action (in the landward side) upto 500 metres from the High Tide Line (HTL) and the land between the Low Tide Line (LTL) and the HTL.
- The regulations in this zone are governed by the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), 2011 issued under the under Section 3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
- In this zone, Government imposes restrictions on setting up and expansion of industries or other projects. It is mandatory for getting clearances from ministry and local authorities to start any development project in CRZ.
According to Coastal Regulation Zone notifications, it is divided into 4 zones:
- CRZ I – It refers to the ecologically sensitive areas, essential in maintaining ecosystem of the coast. These lie between the HTL and LTL. Only exploration of natural gas and extraction of salt is permitted.
- CRZ II – These areas form up to the shoreline of the coast. Authorized structures are not allowed to be constructed in this zone.
- CRZ III – This includes rural and urban localities. Only certain activities relating to agriculture and public utilities allowed here.
- CRZ IV – This includes the aquatic area up to the territorial limit (12 nautical miles). Fishing and allied activities permitted in this zone. Solid waste can be let off in this zone.
Bilateral & International Relations
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018 (CHOGM 2018) was held in London, United Kingdom.
- It was overall 25th meeting of the heads of government of the Commonwealth of Nations.
- It was also first CHOGM held following United Kingdom’s decision to withdraw from European Union. This decision has resulted for Britain to strengthen its economic ties with and play greater role in Commonwealth.
- India was represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- The theme CHOGM 2018 was “Towards a Common Future”.
About Commonwealth of Nations:
- It is an international intergovernmental organisation of countries that were mostly former territories of the British Empire and dependencies.
- It was established by the London Declaration in 1949. Many countries from Africa, Asia, Americas, Europe and the Pacific have joined the Commonwealth.
- Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of the Commonwealth. She is also the monarch of 16 members of the Commonwealth, known as Commonwealth realms.
- Membership is based on free and equal voluntary co-operation.
- Current membership includes 52 counties (including India).
Science & Technology
SpaceX rocket successfully launches NASA’s Tess into space
TESS, NASA’s planet-hunting satellite was recently launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
About TESS mission:
The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is an upcoming NASA mission that will look for planets orbiting the brightest stars in Earth’s sky.
- TESS is designed to carry out first spaceborne all-sky transiting exoplanet survey.
- It is equipped with four wide-angle telescopes and associated charge-coupled device (CCD) detectors.
- The mission will monitor at least 200,000 stars for signs of exoplanets, ranging from Earth-sized rocky worlds to huge gas giant planets.
- TESS, however, will focus on stars that are 30 to 100 times brighter than those Kepler examined. This will help astronomers better understand the structure of solar systems outside of our Earth, and provide insights into how our own solar system formed.
- TESS will occupy a never-before-used orbit high above Earth. The elliptical orbit, called P/2, is exactly half of the moon’s orbital period; this means that TESS will orbit Earth every 13.7 days.
- Its closest point to Earth (67,000 miles or 108,000 kilometers) is about triple the distance of geosynchronous orbit, where most communications satellites operate.
- It will provide prime targets for further characterization by James Webb Space Telescope, as well as other large ground-based and space-based telescopes of the future.
Key Facts for Prelims
‘Most Film-Friendly State’ award
- Madhya Pradesh was conferred the award for the Most Film Friendly State for its efforts towards easing filming in the State by creating a well-structured web site, film friendly infrastructure, offering incentives, among others.
- State of Uttarakhand is given a Special Mention Certificate to recognize the efforts made by the State of Uttarakhand towards creating a film friendly environment.
- The jury for selecting the Most Film Friendly State Award 2017 was chaired by acclaimed filmmaker Shri Ramesh Sippy and comprised of renowned filmmakers.
- Kayakalp awards were recently given to felicitate Public Health Facilities for maintaining high standards of sanitation and hygiene.
- Kayakalp – Award to Public Health Facilities” was instituted as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan on 15th May 2015 as a National Initiative to give Awards to those public health facilities that demonstrate high levels of cleanliness, hygiene and infection control focuses on promoting cleanliness in public spaces.
India is now world’s sixth largest economy
- According to International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook (WEO) for April 2018, India is now the world’s sixth largest economy at $2.6 trillion (interms of GDP), displacing France.
- The five economies ahead are United States, China, Japan, Germany and United Kingdom.