Polity & Governance
- Supreme Court declines plea against Gujjar quota
- Govt sells Rs 1,150 crore worth enemy shares in Wipro to LIC, 2 other state-owned insurers
- Competition Commission of India Okays Larsen and Toubro proposal to take over Mindtree
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- First-ever global coalition for clean cooling launched
- NITI Aayog looks at saving in Energy, Oil,and Carbon Emissions by 2030
- National Seminar on Greenery and Landscaping
- Muslim League moves Election Commission against Yogi
Art & Culture
- Hindu New Year celebrations begins
Science & Technology
- Japan space probe drops explosive on asteroid to make crater
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Polity & Governance
Supreme Court declines plea against Gujjar quota
The Supreme Court refused a plea challenging the grant of 5% quota to Gujjars and four other castes in jobs and educational institutions in Rajasthan through an amendment.
- The Supreme Court bench dismissed the appeal filed against an order of the Rajsthan High Court refusing to grant an interim relief on the petition challenging the quota to Gujjars and others, treating them as socially and economically backward classes.
- The Rajasthan assembly passed a bill granting five per cent quota to the Gujjar, Raika-Rebari, Gadia Luhar, Banjara and Gadaria communities in jobs and education.
- The bill sought to increase the backward classes’ reservation from the present 21 per cent to 26 per cent with a five per cent quota.
- The Rajasthan government passed the bill after the five communities protested for days on railway tracks to push for the reservation quota.
- The plea for relief is already pending in High Court, therefore, we are not inclined to entertain it.
- It was argued that the reservation would breach the 50 per cent ceiling on total quantum of quota.
Rajasthan Backward Classes Amendment Bill, 2019:
- The Rajasthan government has passed the Rajasthan Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutes in the State and of Appointments and Posts in Services under the State) Amendment Bill, 2019.
- The bill seeks to provide 5% reservation to Gujjars, Banjaras, Gadia Lohars, Raikas and Gadaria. At present, the communities are provided 1% reservation under More Backward Classes (MBC).
- The bill has increased the OBC reservation in Rajasthan from the present 21% to 26%. It has also increased the income limit for defining creamy layer in OBC from Rs. 2.5 lakh to Rs. 8 lakh/annum.
- The Rajasthan government has also passed a resolution requesting the Centre to include the bill in Schedule IX of the Indian Constitution. This is because Rajasthan has breached the 50% cap on reservations set by the Supreme Court.
- The Ninth Schedule was added to the Constitution by the First Amendment in 1951 along with Article 31-B with a view to provide a “protective umbrella” to land reforms laws to save them from being challenged in courts on the ground of violation of fundamental rights.
- According to Article 13(2) of the Constitution, the state shall not make any law inconsistent with the fundamental rights and any law made in contravention of fundamental rights shall be void to the extent of the contravention.
- Originally, the Ninth Schedule contained only 13 acts and regulations but at present their number is 282.
- The acts and regulations of the state legislature deal with land reforms and abolition of the zamindari system and that of the Parliament deal with other matters.
- Laws placed in the Ninth Schedule are open to judicial scrutiny and that such laws do not enjoy a blanket protection.
- Laws placed in the Ninth Schedule after the Keshwanand Bharti Judgment on April 24, 1973, when it propounded the “basic structure” doctrine, were open to challenge.
- It laid down dual test to examine the validity of a law placed in the Ninth Schedule.
- Whether it violates any fundamental right and if yes whether the violation also damages or destroys the basic structure. If the answer to both the questions is in the affirmative, then only a law placed in the Ninth Schedule can be declared unconstitutional.
Govt sells Rs 1,150 crore worth enemy shares in Wipro to LIC, 2 other state-owned insurers:
Custodian of Enemy Property for India offloaded more than 4.43 crore shares of the company. More than 3.86 crore enemy shares were purchased by Life Insurance Corporation.
What is Enemy Property?
- As per the Enemy Property Act, 1968, ‘enemy property’ refers to any property that was belonging to a person who migrated from India to an enemy country when a war broke out.
- In India, after the war with China and Pakistan in 1962 and 1965, the government took over the properties, under the Defence of India Act, from persons who migrated to these countries.
- The confiscated property included both movable and immovable properties — securities, jewellery, land, and buildings.
- The responsibility of the administration of enemy properties was handed over to the Custodian of Enemy Property, an office under the central government.
Enemy Property Act:
- In 1968, a law called the Enemy Property Act was enacted to regulate such properties and entrusted with the Custodian of Enemy Property.
- It voids the legal sales undertaken by enemies of enemy properties since 1968. This means that a person who may have bought an enemy property in good faith when such sale and purchase was legal, now stands to lose the property.
- It prohibits Indian citizens who are legal heirs of enemies from inheriting enemy property, and brings them within the definition of ‘enemy’.
- The Enemy Property Act gave enemy citizens certain rights with respect to their properties vested in the Custodian. But the ambiguity in their rights and the powers of the Custodian to administer these properties resulted in disputes being raised before the courts. Some of these disputes related to Indian citizens challenging whether they could inherit enemy properties belonging to their ancestors who were nationals of enemy countries.
- The act was amended in 2017 to ensure that the successors of those who migrated to Pakistan and China will have no claim over the properties left behind in India.
- The Centre has allowed state governments to put to “public use” some enemy properties that were left behind by people who migrated to Pakistan since the Partition and to China after the 1962 Sino-Indian war.
Key Issues and Analysis
- The Act allows transfer of enemy property from the enemy to other persons. The Bill declares all such transfers as void. This may be arbitrary and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.
- The Bill prohibits civil courts from entertaining any disputes with regard to enemy property. It does not provide any alternative judicial remedy. Therefore, it limits judicial recourse or access to courts available to aggrieved persons.
Competition Commission of India Okays Larsen and Toubro proposal to take over Mindtree:
In a boost to Larsen and Toubro (L&T), the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved the former’s proposed acquisition of Bengaluru-based IT firm Mindtree.
About the Competition Commission of India:
- Competition Commission of India established in 2003 which is a body of the Government of India responsible for enforcing The Competition Act, 2002 throughout India and to prevent activities that have an adverse effect on competition in India.
- CCI is quasi-judicial statutory body and became fully functional in May 2009.
The Competition Act, 2002
- It prohibits anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position by enterprises and regulates combinations (acquisition, acquiring of control and Merger and acquisition), which causes or likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition within India.
- Objectives of this act sought to be achieved through Competition Commission of India which consist chairperson and 6 Members appointed by the Central Government. Government has now approved reduction of members from 6 to 3.
Goal and Objectives of Commission:
- To create and sustain fair competition in the economy that will provide a ‘level playing field’ to the producers and make the markets work for the welfare of the consumers.
- To give opinion on competition issues on a reference received from a statutory authority established under any law and to undertake competition advocacy, create public awareness and impart training on competition issues.
Duties of Commission:
- To eliminate practices having adverse effect on competition.
- Promote and sustain competition.
- Protect the interests of consumers.
- Ensure freedom of trade in the markets of India.
- Implement competition policies with an aim to effectuate the most efficient utilization of economic resources.
- Develop and nurture effective relations and interactions with sectoral regulators to ensure smooth alignment of sectoral regulatory laws in tandem with the competition law.
- Effectively carry out competition advocacy and spread the information on benefits of competition among all stakeholders to establish and nurture competition culture in Indian economy
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
First-ever global coalition for clean cooling launched
The first-ever global coalition on clean and efficient cooling was launched at the First Global Conference on Synergies between the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement, which concluded in April 2019, in Copenhagen, Denmark.
About Global Cool Coalition:
The Global Cool Coalition is a unified front that links action across the Kigali Amendment, Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.
- Cool Coalition comprising 23 members is backed by United Nations, Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Program and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).
- It includes government officials from Chile, Rwanda, Denmark as well as leaders from civil society, research and academia.
- It will complement and build upon ongoing successful programmes to advance clean and efficient cooling, including, the Cooling for All Secretariat, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, the Kigali Cooling Efficiency Programme, private sector action like the Global Cooling Prize, and other initiatives.
- It is expected to inspire ambition, identify solutions and mobilise action to accelerate progress towards clean and efficient cooling.
- Throughout the world, 2018 was the fourth hottest year, preceded by 2017, 2015 and 2016. With increasing incomes and urbanisation, number of air conditioning units across the globe is set to increase from 1.2 billion to 4.5 billion by 2050, and India alone may account for one billion units.
- In the next 20 years, India’s cooling requirement will increase by eight times, with air conditioners alone consuming more than half of the total energy required for cooling in the country by 2037-38.
Clean, efficient cooling appliances and equipment can save up to $2.9 trillion in energy use by 2050 and help avoid 0.4° Celsius warming of the planet.
- India has already developed a national cooling action plan that was launched by the Union environment ministry on March 8, 2019.
[Ref: Down To Earth]
NITI Aayog looks at saving in Energy, Oil,and Carbon Emissions by 2030
The NITI Aayog and the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) released a report on opportunities for the automobile sector and government under the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric Vehicles II (FAME II) scheme.
- RMI is an Indian and global nonprofit organisation focused on driving the efficient and restorative use of resources.
- The report is named ‘India’s Electric Mobility Transformation: Progress to Date and Future Opportunities’.
About the Report:
- It quantifies the direct oil and carbon savings that the vehicles incentivized under FAME II will deliver.
- The report also quantifies the catalytic effect that FAME II and other measures could have on the overall Electric Vehicle (EV) market.
Key highlights from the report:
- Effects of FAME II will go beyond the vehicles that are eligible under the FAME II
- There is considerable energy and CO2 savings associated with the two, three, and four-wheeled vehicles and buses covered by FAME II over their lifetime, as well as the potential savings associated with greater adoption levels by 2030.
- The electric buses covered under FAME II will account for 3.8 billion vehicle kilometers travelled (e-vkt) over their lifetime.
- In order to capture the potential opportunity in 2030, batteries must remain a key focal point as they will continue to be the key cost driver of EVs.
- Vehicles eligible under FAME II scheme can cumulatively save 5.4 million tonnes of oil equivalent over their lifetime worth Rs 17.2 thousand crores.
- EVs sold through 2030 could cumulatively save 474 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) worth INR 15 lakh crore and generate net CO2 savings of 846 million tonnes over their operational lifetime.
- India needs auto industry’s active participation to ease electric mobility transition.
Significance of the scheme:
- India could achieve high penetration of electric vehicles (EV) by 2030 on the back of the success of FAME II and other measures.
- According to the analysis, if FAME II and other measures – in public and private space – are successful, India could realize EV sales penetration of 30% of private cars, 70% of commercial cars, 40% of buses and 80% of two and three-wheelers by 2030.
About FAME II scheme:
- Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles, or FAME 2 scheme aims to further accelerate the government of India’s commitment to a clean mobility future.
- It promotes the electrification of transportation as a primary focus area.
- It intends to catalyse the market for faster adoption of EVs to ensure durable economic growth and global competitiveness for India’s automotive industry.
- Under these scheme the government will offer incentives for electric buses, three-wheelers and four-wheelers to be used for commercial purposes.
- Plug-in hybrid vehicles and those with a sizeable lithium-ion battery and electric motor will also be included in the scheme and fiscal support offered depending on the size of the battery.
Steps being taken to make electric vehicles more affordable:
- FAME 2 will offer incentives to manufacturers, who invest in developing electric vehicles and its components, including lithium-ion batteries and electric motors.
- The centre has asked states to frame their EV policy and provide additional fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to manufacturers and buyers.
- The centre plans to roll out an incentive of ₹10,000 per kilowatt (kW) for two-, three- and four-wheelers, based on the size of their batteries.
What is FAME India scheme?
- With an aim to promote eco-friendly vehicles, the government had launched the FAME India scheme in 2015 offering incentives on electric and hybrid vehicles of up to Rs 29,000 for bikes and Rs 1.38 lakh for cars.
- FAME India – Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles in India – is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission Plan.
- The scheme envisages Rs 795 crore support in the first two fiscals starting with the current year.
- It is being administered by the Heavy Industries Ministry.
About National Electric Mobility Mission Plan (NEMMP) 2020
- NEMMP aims to achieve national fuel security by promoting hybrid and electric vehicles in country.
- It has set ambitious target of 6-7 million sales of hybrid and electric vehicles year on year from 2020 onwards.
National Seminar on Greenery and Landscaping
Central Public Works Department (CPWD), as a part of its continued effort for green and clean sustainable development, organised a National Seminar on “Greenery and Landscaping” under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
Recommendations made during the Seminar:
- Green Urban Areas play an important role in the social and natural sustainability and improve quality of life.
- Greenery and Dense plantation have a major impact on the conservation of energy, and reduce the energy requirement of the building.
- In order to maintain sustainable environment, pollution free clean air, it is essential to take up the plantation work.
- Plantation, greenery and other environment friendly applications should be planned around the building by way of dwarf trees, small shrubs, ground covers, hanging baskets, creepers, etc.
- There is need to adopt wood alternative in building construction. Use of alternate materials like Bamboo needs to be encouraged.
- Orientation and proper training should be imparted to the persons engaged in landscaping and Horticulture, for implementation of the new technologies in this field to save the labour and cost of the project in long run.
- Emphasis should be given for conserving and transplanting indigenous and grown up trees.
- Herbal and medicinal plants need to be encourage. Herbal plants are useful for keeping the life healthy.
- Application of Organic Manure needs to be adopted for healthy and nutritious food.
- Water conserving irrigation method like drip irrigation, Sprinkler irrigation and pop up system needs to be adopted.
- Plants and greenery help in reducing adverse effects of climate change. Therefore, every individual should adopt minimum one tree.
- Green initiative needs to be taken up on a mission mode by every nation, every city, every society and every individual so that future generations may lead happy and healthy life.
Urban green spaces:
- Green spaces such as parks and sports fields as well as woods and natural meadows, wetlands or other ecosystems, represent a fundamental component of any urban ecosystem.
- Green urban areas facilitate physical activity and relaxation, and form a refuge from noise.
- Trees produce oxygen, and help filter out harmful air pollution, including airborne particulate matter. Water spots, from lakes to rivers and fountains, moderate temperatures.
- Urban parks and gardens play a critical role in cooling cities, and also provide safe routes for walking and cycling.
- Green spaces also are important to mental health.
- Having access to green spaces can reduce health inequalities, improve well-being, and aid in treatment of mental illness.
- Physical activity in a natural environment can help remedy mild depression and reduce physiological stress indicators.
- Physical inactivity, linked to poor walkability and lack of access to recreational areas, accounts for 3.3% of global deaths.
Muslim League moves Election Commission against Yogi
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath dubbed the “Muslim League” a “virus” and claimed the Congress was affected by it, prompting the opposition party to retort that it was he who was a “virus” that would be “eradicated” in the election.
- In this regard, the Indian Union Muslim League petitioned the Election Commission to register an FIR against Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
About Muslim League:
- Muslim League, original name All India Muslim League, is a political group that led the movement calling for a separate Muslim nation to be created at the time of the partition of British India (1947).
- The Muslim League was founded in 1906 to safeguard the rights of Indian Muslims.
- The party arose out of a literary movement begun at The Aligarh Muslim University in which Syed Ahmad Khan was a central figure.
- At first the league was encouraged by the British and was generally favourable to their rule, but the organization adopted self-government for India as its goal in 1913.
- For several decades the league and its leaders, notably Mohammed Ali Jinnah, called for Hindu-Muslim unity in a united and independent India.
- It was not until 1940 that the league called for the formation of a Muslim state that would be separate from the projected independent country of India.
- The league wanted a separate nation for India’s Muslims because it feared that an independent India would be dominated by Hindus.
Factor Promoting the Muslim League:
- British Plan: Dividing Indian on communal lines and adhered separatist attitude in Indian politics. For example- Separate electorate, Played caste politics between non- Brahmins and Brahmins.
- Lake of Education: Muslims were isolated from western and technical education.
- Loss Sovereignty by Muslims: 1857 revolt makes British to think that Muslims are dangerous for their colonial policy. As they were established their rule after dethroning the Mughal rule.
- Expression of Religious Colour: Most of the historians and radical nationalists glorified India’s one side of our composite culture. Their praises were biased because Shivaji, Rana Pratap etc were paraises but they remained silent on Akbar, Sher Shah Suri, Allauddin Khalji, Tipu Sultan etc.
- Economic backwardness of India: Lack of Industrialisation causes acute unemployment and British attitude towards cottage industry was pathetic.
Objectives of the Formation of League
- To promote loyalty of Indian Muslims towards the British government.
- To protect the political and other rights of the Indian Muslims and to place their needs and aspirations before the Government.
- To overcome on the feeling of hostility among Muslims towards other communities.
All India Muslim League in post- independence:
- Soon after Partition, the All India Muslim League, which had led the movement for Pakistan, was disbanded.
- Over the next few months, the party of Mohammed Ali Jinnah was succeeded by the Muslim League in West Pakistan and The All Pakistan Awami Muslim League in East Pakistan.
- In East Pakistan, the Awami Muslim League championed the cause of Bengali nationalism, and sought to chart a course independent from Punjabi-dominated West Pakistan.
- Under the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, East Pakistan ultimately broke free from the West.
All India Muslim League in India:
- In independent India, the All India Muslim League was succeeded by the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML).
- The IUML fought elections under the Constitution of India, and has always had a constant, if small, presence in Lok Sabha.
- The IUML is the strongest in Kerala, and has a unit in Tamil Nadu as well. It has long been recognised by the Election Commission of India as a state party in Kerala.
- London branch inaugurated under Syed Amir Ali. It played significant role in shaping Minto-Morley Reforms and getting separate electorate
Lucknow Pact between Indian National Congress (INC) and Muslim League (ML):
- Principle of separate electorate was accepted
- Demands for a representative government and Dominion status for India
1920 – 1924
- ML and INC worked together for Khilafat Movement. The movement fizzled due to abolition of Caliphate under Kamal Pasha
- Delhi Session of ML, four demands were issued to be incorporated in draft constitution prepared by Motilal Nehru.
- When Jinnah demands were not incorporated in Nehru Report Jinnah presented his 14 demands.
- Lahore Session of ML passes Pakistan Resolution.
- The ML criticised the idea of single Indian Union.
- Unlike 1937, ML performed really well. In provincial elections, ML got a majority in Bengal and Sindh.
- ML accepted the cabinet mission plan and the plan was also accepted by Congress
- Mountbatten plan leads to partition and ML achieve its goal as independent Pakistan.
Art & Culture
Hindu New Year celebrations begins
- Hindu New Year is being welcomed in different parts of the country with traditional festivities and celebrations.
- The Chaitra Sukladi, Ugadi, Gudi Padava, Navareh, Navroz and Chetti Chand are the same festivals in different names, marking the occasion.
New year names
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
Marwari of Rajasthan
Sajibu Nongma Panba
Hindus of Kashmir
Hindus of Bali and Indonesia
Science & Technology
Japan space probe drops explosive on asteroid to make crater:
Japan’s spacecraft Hayabusa-2 recently dropped an explosive on an asteroid to make a crater.
- Its aim was to make a crater on asteroid.
- Also, this spacecraft will collect its underground samples to find possible clues to the origin of the solar system.
- Notably, Hayabusa2 is the second Japanese spacecraft to land on an asteroid, after Hayabusa achieved a similar feat back in 2005.
- Hayabusa-2 made history on 22 February when it successfully touched down on the boulder-strewn asteroid and collected some surface fragment.
- Hayabusa, formerly known as known as Muses-C, was a Japanese spacecraft that brought back a sample of asteroid material to Earth in 2010, after a mission riddled with technical glitches.
- The aim of the Hayabusa is to seek clues about the origins of life by landing on Ryugu asteroid.
- It was launched in December 2014 and is scheduled to return to Earth at the end of 2020.
- The spacecraft was originally intended to launch in July 2002. However, a July 2000 failure of Japan’s M-5 rocket forced the delay.
- The spacecraft touched down on a small near-Earth asteroid called Itokawa and safely brought back minute rocky particles for analysis.
- Hayabusa carried a tiny mini-lander named “MINERVA” which never landed on asteroid due to technical glitches.
Finding of Hyabusa:
- Finding of minerals such as olivine and pyroxene, which are common on Earth and have been found on the moon and Mars.
- Finding of sub-micrometer craters on the surface of the particles
- Hayabusa2, an asteroid sample-return mission, follows on from Hayabusa mission.
- Hayabusa2 was launched in December 2014 and rendezvoused with near-Earth asteroid Ryugu in June 2018.
- Hayabusa2 carries four small rovers to investigate the asteroid surface. MINERVA-II-1 is a container that deployed two rovers, Rover-1A (HIBOU) and Rover-1B (OWL) and Rover-2 carreid by MINERVA-II-2.
- The fourth rover called ‘Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout’ (MASCOT) was developed by the German Aerospace Center in cooperation with the French space agency.
- The function of MASCOT is to collect data on the surface structure and mineralogical composition, the thermal behaviour and the magnetic properties of the asteroid.
- Remote Sensing: Optical Navigation Camera (ONC-T, ONC-W1, ONC-W2), Near-Infrared Camera (NIR3), Thermal-Infrared Camera (TIR), Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR)
- Sampling: Sampling device (SMP), Small Carry-on Impactor (SCI), Deployable Camera (DCAM3)
- Four rovers: Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT), Rover-1A, Rover-1B, Rover-2.
The scientific objectives of Hayabusa2 mission:
- To characterize the asteroid from remote sensing observations (with multispectral cameras, near-infrared spectrometer, thermal infrared imager, laser altimeter) on a macroscopic scale
- To analyse the samples returned from the asteroid on a microscopic scale.
- To accomplish context science to complement the remote sensing observations from Hayabusa2,
- To provide ground truth information down to the microscopic scale for the sample analyses,
- To accomplish stand-alone science that only a lander can provide e.g. geophysics investigations,
- To serve as a “scouting” vehicle to guide the sampling site selection of the main spacecraft.
- Ryugu is a C-type asteroid – a relic from the early days of the Solar System.
- Scientists think that C-type asteroids contain both organic matter, and trapped water, and might have been responsible for bringing both to Earth, thereby providing the planet with the materials necessary for life to originate.