Polity & Governance
- The idea of regional Supreme Court Benches, and ‘divisions’ of the top court
- Pilot project to introduce Industry 4.0 launched by railways
- Government bans onion exports with immediate effect
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Winners of 2019 UN Global Climate Action Awards Announced
- IPCC Working Group meets in India to further preparations of Sixth Assessment Report
Bilateral & International Relations
- 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)
- India, US, Japan begin trilateral maritime exercise
- The ‘right to be forgotten’ on the Internet
Defence & Security Issues
- INS Nilgiri, Navy’s India-Made Stealth Frigate, Launched For Sea Trials
- Defence minister Sang INS Vikramaditya Anthem On His Visit
Science & Technology
- Scientists Discover New Mineral – ‘Goldschmidtite’ Inside A Diamond
- NASA Visualization Shows a Black Hole’s Warped World
- International Astronomical Union names minor planet after Pandit Jasraj
Key Facts for Prelims
- Exercise KAZIND – 2019
- Vice President presents the Saraswati Samman
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Polity & Governance
The idea of regional Supreme Court Benches, and ‘divisions’ of the top court
Expressing serious concern over inordinate delay in justice delivery in the country, Indian Vice President of India and Chairman of Rajya Sabha has suggested several reforms.
What are the suggested reforms?
Four regional Benches
- Supreme Court should institute four regional Benches to tackle the enormous backlog of cases.
- Moreover, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice also recommend on having Regional Benches of the Supreme Court on trial basis at Delhi, Chennai/Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai.
- This arrangement does not require any amendment to the Constitution because as per Article 130, the Supreme Court can sit in Delhi or in such other place or places, as the Chief Justice of India may, with the approval of the President, from time to time appoint. Hence, Supreme Court Rules give the Chief Justice of India the power to constitute Benches.
Splitting the Supreme Court
- As per recommendation of the Law Commission, Supreme court should be split into two divisions for steady disposal of cases: Constitutional Division and Courts of Appeal.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
- Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) should be evolved by the judiciary by which the number of permissible adjournments can be specified and a time limit can be set for disposal of cases based on the nature of issues involved.
Re-visiting Anti-Defection Laws
- There is need to revisit the Anti-Defection Laws contained in the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution to prevent loopholes and set time limits for the Presiding Officers of various legislatures to decide on defection matters in quick time.
Cases related to election and politicians
- There is need for election cases and cases of criminal proceedings against politicians to be decided by special benches of higher courts for their disposal within six months.
Problem of pendency of cases
- As anyone can approach the Supreme Court directly on the question of violation of fundamental rights, more than 65,000 cases are pending in the Supreme Court, and disposal of appeals takes many years.
- Due to their heavy workload, judges mostly sit in two- or three-judge Benches to dispose of all kinds of cases including several non-Constitutional and relatively petty matters such as on films, or allegations that a Commissioner of Police is misusing his powers.
- This heavy workload is due to the fact that India’s Supreme court has a very wide jurisdiction and hears matters between the Centre and states, and between two or more states; rules on civil and criminal appeals; and advises the President on questions of law and fact.
What the Law Commission said
- In 1984, the Tenth Law Commission of India (95th Report) under Justice K K Mathew recommended that the Supreme Court of India should consist of two Divisions, namely (a) Constitutional Division, (only matters of Constitutional law may be assigned to the proposed Constitutional Division) and (b) Legal Division.
- The Eleventh Law Commission also endorsed the bifurcation of supreme court.
- Thereafter, the 18th Law Commission under Justice A R Lakshmanan (2009) recommended that a Constitution Bench be set up at Delhi to deal with constitutional and other allied issues, and “four Cassation Benches be set up at Delhi, Chennai/Hyderabad, Kolkata and at Mumbai to deal with all appellate work arising out of the judgments of the High Courts.
What are Cassation Benches?
- Cassation courts decide cases involving non-Constitutional disputes and appeals from the lower level of courts. These are courts of last resort that have the power to reverse decisions of lower courts.
Argument for multiple Benches
- As per Article 39A “the state shall ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities”.
- However, travelling to New Delhi or engaging expensive Supreme Court counsel to pursue a case is beyond the means of most litigants. Hence, in the past, Standing Committees of Parliament suggested that Supreme court benches should be set up elsewhere.
- In 2008, the Standing Committee suggested that at least one Bench be set up on a trial basis in Chennai. But the Supreme Court has not agreed with the proposal, which in its opinion will dilute the prestige of the court.
- The world’s first constitutional courts were set up in in Austria in 1920 and in Germany after World War II. Today, 55 countries have constitutional courts, including most European or civil law jurisdictions.
Pilot project to introduce Industry 4.0 launched by railways
The Ministry of Railways and Department of Science & Technology have joined hands in partnership with IIT Kanpur for taking up a unique project on ‘Industry 4.0’ by launching a Pilot Project for implementation at Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli.
About the new pilot project
- The project launched would be undertaken under the aegis of “Technology Mission for Indian Railways” (TMIR).
- It would be implemented by a consortium of Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Human Resource Development and Ministry of Science & Technology.
What is Industry 4.0?
- Industry 4.0, commonly referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, is a name given to the current trend of automation, inter-connectivity and data exchange in manufacturing technologies to increase productivity.
- Industry 4.0 is a complex cyber-physical system which synergies production with digital technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Analytics, Machine Learning and Cloud Computing.
- Full transition to the digital factory using ‘Industry 4.0’ will help enhance productivity by providing insight into production process to take the decisions in real time basis, minimizing human errors by effective monitoring to ensure that resources are put to the best utilization measured by, what is called the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).
Previous versions of industrial revolutions:
There are four distinct industrial revolutions that the world either has experienced or continues to experience today.
First Industrial Revolution:
- Happened between the late 1700s and early 1800s.
- During this period of time, manufacturing evolved from focusing on manual labor performed by people and aided by work animals to a more optimized form of labor performed by people through the use of water and steam-powered engines and other types of machine tools.
Second Industrial Revolution:
- In the early part of the 20th century, the world entered a second industrial revolution with the introduction of steel and use of electricity in factories.
- The introduction of electricity enabled manufacturers to increase efficiency and helped make factory machinery more mobile.
- It was during this phase that mass production concepts like the assembly line were introduced as a way to boost productivity.
Third Industrial Revolution:
- Starting in the late 1950s, it slowly began to emerge, as manufacturers began incorporating more electronic—and eventually computer—technology into their factories.
- During this period, manufacturers began experiencing a shift that put less emphasis on analog and mechanical technology and more on digital technology and automation software.
What is Cyber Physical System (CPS)?
- A Cyber Physical System (CPS) is a mechanism controlled or monitored by computer-based algorithms, tightly integrated with internet and its users.
- In general, Cyber means computation control while Physical means natural and human-made systems. CPS are physical and engineered systems whose operations are monitored and coordinated by a computing and communication core.
About National Mission on Interdisciplinary Cyber-Physical Systems (NM-ICPS)
- It is an initiative Department of Science & Technology.
- The Mission aims at establishment of 15 numbers of Technology Innovation Hubs (TIH), six numbers of Application Innovation Hubs (AIH) and four numbers of Technology Translation Research Parks (TTRP).
- The Hubs & TTRPs have four focused areas: (i) Technology Development; (ii) HRD & Skill Development; (iii) Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Start-ups Ecosystem Development; (iv) International Collaborations.
- The Mission will feed the Central Ministries/ Departments and State Govts and also the Industry to effectively use the CPS technologies in their projects and schemes for the benefit of the society.
About Technology Mission for Indian Railways
- In 2018, Ministry of Railway set up the “Technology Mission for Indian Railways” (TMIR) as a consortium of Ministry of Railways, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Ministry of Science & Technology and Industries.
- The Technology Mission will take up R&D projects in the areas of heavy haul, safety, energy, environment and urban railways.
- Railway will be benefitted with availability of world class indigenized technologies at very reasonable cost.
- Academic research institutions will be benefitted with applied research and real situation output in the form of new products for immediate use and with availability of source codes for all such indigenized technologies at very low cost.
- The Indian industries will also be gaining in the form of production of new items to be used on Indian Railways with additional export potential, helping in the national cause of revenue generation and on the theme of ‘Make in India’.
- Modern Coach Factory (MCF), Raebareli was established as a State of the Art coach manufacturing unit with the capacity to manufacture 1000 passenger coaches annually.
Government bans onion exports with immediate effect
The government banned exports of all varieties of onion in a bid to tame prices, which have doubled in the domestic retail market since July. It also imposed stock limits on onion traders to facilitate release of stocks and prevent hoarding by traders.
New norms on onion export
- The commerce and industry ministry amended the export policy of onion, making it ‘prohibited’ from ‘free’ earlier.
- Retail traders in India will now be able to stock only up to 100 quintals of onion while wholesale traders will be allowed to stock up to 500 quintals.
Reason behind ban
- The onion shortage was caused by flooding from heavy monsoon rains, which damaged the crops—as a result, prices of onion increased more than 200 percent.
- Hence, government enacted the temporary export ban in an attempt to curb inflation.
- Promote modern cold storages and develop a system similar to that of the warehouse receipt system for farmers.
- States must launch a concerted intelligence drive to crack down on hoarders and bring the stocks to the market swiftly.
- Encourage imports.
- Set up onion dehydrating units and promote demand for dehydrated onions amongst large consumers.
Indian onion export
- India exported chilled onions worth nearly $500 million in 2018-19. Exports were worth over $150 million in the first four months of 2019-20.
- Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the UAE are the top three destinations for Indian onions.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Winners of 2019 UN Global Climate Action Awards Announced
The award-winning projects range from an in-app mini program that’s helped plant 122 million trees, to a “climate positive” burger that’s taking the fast food industry by storm.
- The 15 award-winning projects fall within four focus areas: Planetary Health, Climate Neutral Now, Women for Results, and Financing for Climate Friendly Investment.
About UN Global Climate Action Awards
- The UN Global Climate Action Awards are led by the Momentum for Change initiative at UN Climate Change.
- The projects are recognized as innovative solutions that not only address climate change, but also help drive forward progress on many other sustainable development goals, for example, innovation, gender equality and economic opportunity.
About Momentum for Change initiative
- It is an initiative of UN Climate Change which operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum.
IPCC Working Group meets in India to further preparations of Sixth Assessment Report
Experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meets in New Delhi to advance their work on the Working Group III contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report, which will be finalized in July 2021.
Sixth Assessment Report (AR6)
- Comprehensive scientific assessment reports are published every 6 to 7 years by IPCC. The latest, the Fifth Assessment Report, was completed in 2014, and provided the main scientific input to the Paris Agreement.
- The IPCC is currently in its Sixth Assessment cycle. During this cycle, Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) along with other reports will be published.
The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) will,
- examine the link between consumption and behaviour and greenhouse gas emissions, and the role of innovation and technology.
- assess the connection between short to medium-term actions and their compatibility with the long-term temperature goal in the Paris Agreement.
- assess mitigation options in sectors such as energy, agriculture, forestry and land use, buildings, transport and industry.
- Each of the three IPCC Working Groups will release their contributions to the Sixth Assessment Report in 2021.
- A Synthesis Report in 2022 will integrate them together with the three special reports that the IPCC is producing in the current assessment cycle.
- It will be released in time to inform the 2023 global stocktake by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when countries will review progress towards the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global warming to well below 2°C while pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change.
- It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide periodic scientific assessments concerning climate change as well as to put forward mitigation strategies.
- It has 195 member
- The main activity of the IPCC is the preparation of reports assessing the state of knowledge of climate change. These include assessment reports, special reports and methodology reports.
About IPCC Working groups
The IPCC work is shared among three Working Groups, a Task Force and a Task Group.
- Working Group I aims to assess the physical scientific basis of the climate system and climate change.
- Working Group II assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change and options for adapting to it.
- Working Group III focuses on climate change mitigation, assessing methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Bilateral & International Relations
74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)
The 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74) was conducted in September 2019.
- The theme of the 74th UNGA was ‘Galvanizing multilateral efforts for poverty eradication, quality education, climate action and inclusion’.
United Nations General Assembly (UNGA)
- It is one of the six main organs of the UN.
- It aims to discuss on a wide array of international issues covered by the Charter of the United Nations, such as development, peace and security, international law, etc.
- Every year in September, all the Members meet in this unique forum at Headquarters in New York for the General Assembly session.
Key facts about UNGA:
- UNGA takes a decision on important matters such as peace and security, discusses various global issues and budgetary matters.
- It takes decides on matters such as the admission of new members.
- Its decisions are taken through a vote. Admission of new members and budgetary matters require a two-thirds majority, while the decision on other issues are taken by a simple majority.
- Each sovereign state gets one vote and the votes are not binding on the membership, except in budgetary matters.
- The Assembly has no binding votes or veto powers like the UN Security Council.
- The UNGA can express world opinion, promote international cooperation in various fields and make recommendations to the UNSC and elect the Security Council’s non-permanent members.
Members of UNGA:
- All 193 Member States of the United Nations are represented in the General Assembly.
- Among the world’s 196 countries, 193 are UN member states and three nations- Palestine, the Vatican City and Taiwan are not a part of the international organization as their country status is not recognized globally due to political and religious reasons.
Role and functions of UNGA:
- Consider and approve the United Nations budget and establish the financial assessments of Member States;
- Elect the non-permanent members of the Security Council and the members of other United Nations councils and organs and, on the recommendation of the Security Council, appoint the Secretary-General
- Consider and make recommendations on the general principles of cooperation for maintaining international peace and security, including disarmament;
- Discuss any question relating to international peace and security and, except where a dispute or situation is currently being discussed by the Security Council, make recommendations on it;
- Discuss, with the same exception, and make recommendations on any questions within the scope of the Charter or affecting the powers and functions of any organ of the United Nations;
- Initiate studies and make recommendations to promote international political cooperation, the development and codification of international law, the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and international collaboration in the economic, social, humanitarian, cultural, educational and health fields;
- Make recommendations for the peaceful settlement of any situation that might impair friendly relations among countries;
- Consider reports from the Security Council and other United Nations organs.
India, US, Japan begin trilateral maritime exercise
India, the US and Japan began the ‘Malabar 2019’ trilateral maritime exercise in the Pacific Ocean.
About Malabar 2019
- Malabar 2019 is the 33rd edition of Malabar exercise. It aims to further strengthen naval ties between the three countries as well as enhance cooperation.
- Complex maritime operations including anti-submarine warfare, anti-air and anti-surface firings will be conducted during the sea-phase of the exercise.
About Malabar exercise
- Exercise Malabar is a trilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Japan and India as permanent partners.
- Originally begun in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between India and the United States, Japan became a permanent partner in 2015.
- Past non-permanent participants are Australia and Singapore.
The ‘right to be forgotten’ on the Internet
What is the right to be forgotten?
- The right to be forgotten empowers individuals to ask organisations to delete their personal data.
- It is provided by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a law passed by the 28-member bloc in 2018.
- “Personal data” means “any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (“data subject”)”, and “controller” means “the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or any other body which determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data”.
What is Google case of right to be forgotten?
- In 2015, a French internet regulating agency (CNIL) accused that Google go beyond its practice of region-specific delinking, and ordered the it to delete links from its global database.
- Google refused to abide by the order, arguing that following the same would impede the free flow of information across the world. This led to the CNIL slapping a fine on Google in 2016.
- Google challenged the CNIL’s order at the ECJ. Arriving at a landmark ruling, the ECJ has now restricted applying the privacy law beyond the EU. It has also observed that the EU cannot enforce the ‘right to be forgotten’ on countries which do not recognise such a right.
Defence & Security Issues
INS Nilgiri, Navy’s India-Made Stealth Frigate, Launched For Sea Trials
Stealth frigate INS Nilgiri, the first ship of the P-17A frigates, was launched at the dockyard of the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai.
About INS Nilgiri
- Built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL), it is the first ship of the P-17A frigates
- The P17A frigates incorporate new design concepts for improved survivability, sea keeping, stealth and ship maneuverability.
- It is the first of the Indian Navy’s seven new stealth frigates with enhanced stealth features, weapons and sensors. Other six ships are: Himgiri, Udaygiri, Dunagiri, Taragiri, Vindhyagiri and Mahendragiri.
- INS Nilgiri has been built using an integrated construction methodology.
- Out of the total 51 ships and submarines on order by India at various shipyards, 49 are being constructed indigenously.
- India’s 70% trade by value and 95 % by volume are taking place through the sea route.
Defence minister Sang INS Vikramaditya Anthem On His Visit
The office of Defence Minister released a video clip of him in which he is seen singing the anthem of INS Vikramaditya onboard the aircraft carrier along with crew of the ship.
- INS Vikramaditya is the largest ship to join Indian Navy in 2013.
- It is a modified Kiev-class (made by Russia) aircraft carrier.
- Originally named as Baku and commissioned in 1987, the carrier served with the Russian Navy (as Admiral Gorshkov) before being decommissioned in 1996. The carrier was purchased by India from Russia after in 2004.
Science & Technology
Scientists Discover New Mineral – ‘Goldschmidtite’ Inside A Diamond
US scientists at the University of Alberta have recently found a small rock, which contains a never-before- unearthed mineral named ‘Goldschmidtite’, inside a diamond from South Africa’s Koffiefontein pipe.
What is ‘Goldschmidtite’?
- The new mineral ‘Goldschmidtite’ ((K,REE,Sr)(Nb,Cr)O3) has been named after renowned geochemist Victor Moritz Goldschmidt.
Significance of the discovery
- ‘Goldschmidtite’ has the potential to reveal unusual chemical reactions taking place inside the Earth’s mantle.
- This new development will help researchers to study unexplored regions of the mantle.
- While the rest of the earth’s mantle is dominated by other elements, such as magnesium and iron, Goldschmidtite has high concentrations of niobium, potassium, and the rare earth elements such as lanthanum and cerium.
- Moreover, Goldschmidtite is highly unusual for an inclusion captured by diamond and gives us a snap-shot of fluid-processes that affect the diamond formation process.
NASA Visualization Shows a Black Hole’s Warped World
The new visualization of a black hole illustrates how its gravity distorts our view, warping its surroundings as if seen in a carnival mirror
About the new visualization of Black hole
- The new black hole visualization created by NASA simulates the appearance of a black hole where infalling matter has collected into a thin, hot structure called an accretion disk.
- Bright knots constantly form and dissipate in the disk as magnetic fields wind and twist through the churning gas.
- Nearest the black hole, the gas orbits at close to the speed of light, while the outer portions spin a bit more slowly. This difference stretches and shears the bright knots, producing light and dark lanes in the disk.
- Closest to the black hole, the gravitational light-bending becomes so excessive that one can a bright ring of light outlining the black hole called “photon ring”. Inside the photon ring is the black hole’s shadow.
International Astronomical Union names minor planet after Pandit Jasraj
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has named a minor planet (asteroid) discovered in 2006, after Indian classical singer Pandit Jasraj.
About the ‘Panditjasraj (300128)’
- IAU has named the minor planet as ‘Panditjasraj (300128)’.
- The minor planet is located between Mars and Jupiter, and was discovered in 2006.
- This minor planet, earlier known as ‘2006 VP32’, was spotted by a NASA-funded project called the ‘Catalina Sky Survey’, which tracks and discovers near-earth objects.
- With the honour, Pandit Jasraj has become the first musician from India to have name of a celestial body.
How does naming of a planet is done by IAU?
- The privilege of naming a planet is first given to discoverers, who have 10 years to propose a name.
- The discoverer or team is expected to write a short citation, explaining the reasons for assigning the name.
- All names proposed are judged by the 15-member Working Group for Small Body Nomenclature (CSBN) of the IAU, comprising professional astronomers.
About Pandit Jasraj
- Pandit Jasraj is an Indian classical vocalist.
- He received the Padma Vibhushan and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.
Key Facts for Prelims
Exercise KAZIND – 2019
Joint Military Exercise KAZIND-2019 between India and Kazakhstan will be conducted at Pithoragarh from 02 to 15 October 2019.
About Exercise KAZIND-2019
- Exercise KAZIND-2019 is the fourth edition of an annual event which is conducted alternatively in Kazakhstan and India.
- The aim of this exercise is to conduct company level joint training with emphasis on counter terrorism operations in mountainous terrain.
- During the exercise, aspects of emerging trends of global terrorism and hybrid warfare have also been included.
Vice President presents the Saraswati Samman
Vice President of India awarded the 28th Saraswati Samman to Dr. K. Siva Reddy, who is one of the major poets of Telugu.
About Saraswati Samman
- The Saraswati Samman is an annual award for outstanding prose or poetry literary works in any of the 22 languages of India listed in Schedule VIII of the Constitution of India.
- It is named after an Indian goddess of knowledge and is considered to be among the highest literary awards in India.
- The Saraswati Samman was instituted in 1991 by the K. Birla Foundation. Candidates are selected from literary works published in the previous ten years by a panel that included scholars and former award winners.