4 September, 2021 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu

  • Experts flag diversion of fresh water from Brahmani river - Environment & Ecology
  • India, U.S. sign project agreement on air-launched UAV International Relation
  • PMI signals fastest rebound in services activity in 18 months SC Indian Economy
  • Collegium clears 68 names for HC judges Polity & Governance
  • India and Russia friendship has stood the test of time, says Modi International Relation
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    UPSC Current Affairs: Experts flag diversion of fresh water from Brahmani river | Page 10 

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS Paper III: Environment & Ecology  

    Sub Theme: Bhitarkanika Mangrove | UPSC 

    Environmentalists have expressed concern over the massive diversion of fresh water from the Brahmani river  basin, which could pose a grave threat to the famous mangrove vegetation in Odisha. 

    • Bhitarkanika — a notified Ramsar wetland — is spread over 195 sq. km and is home to 62 mangrove species. 
    • 1,600 salt water crocodiles crawl on the mudflats of the Bhitarkanika mangrove forest. 
    • Mangroves grow in brackish water. Proportionate fresh water flow from the Brahmani river basin and the Kharasrota river keep the salinity level of the water along the shore down. 
    • The brackish water becomes ideal for the mangroves to grow and stay healthy. 
    • The Wildlife Society of Orissa (WSO), an environmental pressure group, had drawn public attention on the excess water allocation for industries, which is likely to reduce fresh water discharge to the sea.

    o The Talcher-Angul coal mines, steel and power plants as well as the Kalinganagar steel and  power hub are drawing enormous quantities of fresh water from the Brahmani river. 

    o Against an available 4,400 mcum of fresh water stored by the Rengali reservoir, 4,318 mcum,  that is almost equal to the available water supply shall be withdrawn from the river. 

    o 105 million litres, as per government claims, would be withdrawn for the mega drinking water  project. 

    • The reduction in water flow would lead to drastic changes in the water regime of the Bhitarkanika mangroves. The Sunderbans mangrove forest was drastically affected after the Farraka barrage was commissioned. 
    • lack of normal flow of fresh water would increase saline ingression upstream, it would affect the local flora and fauna as well as the livelihoods of the farmers and fishermen. 
    • Besides, there could be a quantum increase in the man–crocodile conflict since the estuarine crocodiles would leave the core sanctuary area and migrate upstream once salinity increases, he said.

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: India, U.S. sign project agreement on air-launched UAV | Page 09 

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains: GS – III: International Relation 

    Sub Theme: Technology collaboration between India and U.S | UPSC 

    India and the United States signed a project agreement (PA) on July 30 for an Air-Launched Unmanned Aerial  Vehicle (ALUAV) under the ambit of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), the Defence Ministry  said in a statement on Friday. 

    The PA was inked between the Ministry and the U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) by the co-chairs of the Joint  Working Group (JWG) on Air Systems under the DTTI. 

    • The PA outlines the collaboration between Air Force Research Laboratory, Indian Air Force, and Defence Research and Development Organisation towards design, development, demonstration, testing and evaluation of systems to co-develop an ALUAV prototype. 
    • The PA fell under the Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation memorandum of agreement between the Ministry and the DoD that was first signed in January 2006 and renewed in January 2015. It was a significant step towards deepening technology collaboration between the two nations through the co-development of equipment.  
    • The DTTI’s main aim was to bring a sustained leadership focus on promoting collaborative technology exchange and creating opportunities for co-production and co-development of future technologies for the military forces of both nations. 
    • Under the DTTI, JWGs on land, naval, air, and aircraft carrier technologies had been established to focus on mutually agreed projects in the respective domains.
    1. UPSC Current Affairs: PMI signals fastest rebound in services activity in 18 months SC | Page 14 UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy  

    Sub Theme: PMI | Purchasing Managers Index | UPSC 

    Details about PMI 

    Published by: PMI Data is published by Japanese firm Nikkei but compiled and constructed by Markit Economics  (for the US, it is the Institute of Supply Management). 

    Source of Information: 

    • PMI is calculated on the basis of information received from companies on various factors that represent  demand conditions. It is very different from IIP which is indicative of actual production. The PMI takes  in responses from a company on a monthly basis on whether there has been improvement,  deterioration or no change for a set of parameters relative to the previous month. 
    • It takes into account the following parameters for the calculation: new orders, output, employment,  supplier's delivery and stock of purchases. This questionnaire is administered to 500 private sector  companies and the comprehensive score is arrived at. 
    • The PMI is constructed separately for manufacturing and services sector. But the manufacturing sector  holds more importance. 

    Understanding the Index Value: 

    • A figure above 50 denotes expansion in business activity. Anything below 50 denotes contraction.  Higher the difference from this mid-point greater the expansion or contraction. The rate of expansion  can also be judged by comparing the PMI with that of the previous month data. 
    • If the figure is higher than the previous month’s then the economy is expanding at a faster rate. If it is  lower than the previous month then it is growing at a lower rate. 

    Importance of PMI

    The PMI is usually released at the start of the month, much before most of the official data on industrial output,  manufacturing and GDP growth becomes available. It is, therefore, considered a good leading indicator of  economic activity. 

    Differences between IIP and PMI: 

    Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) 

    Index of Industrial Production (IIP)

    Published by Nikkei 

    Published by National Statistical Office

    Does not track the actual Production 

    Tracks the actual Production

    Covers only 500 private sector companies 

    Covers both Private Sector as well as PSUs

    Covers both Manufacturing and Services 

    Covers only the Manufacturing Sector

    Less Comprehensive since it covers only private  sector companies

    More Comprehensive

    Not used for GDP calculation 

    Used for GDP Calculation to account for the unorganised sector

     


    UPSC Current Affairs: Collegium clears 68 names for HC judges | Page 01 

    UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II: Constitutional Posts  

    Sub Theme: HC SC Judges | Apointments | UPSC 

    Context: The Supreme Court has questioned the government about the delay in clearing Collegium recommendations for  judicial appointments to various High Courts. Recommendations date as back as May/June 2020 and based on this delay;  Supreme Court has asked the Centre to fix a timeline to clear the recommendations for appointment of Judges.    

    Judges Appointment – Article 124(2) and 217(1) 

    • Judges to the Supreme Court and High Court are appointed by the President of India by warrant under his hand  and seal respectively under Article 124(2) and 217(1).  
    • Judges of Supreme Court shall hold office till the age of 65 years whereas Judges of High Courts shall hold office  till the age of 62 years.  
    • However, the method and manner of their selection to higher judiciary has not been explicitly provided in the  Constitution. Thus, the process for appointment, elevation and transfer of Judges to higher judiciary has been a  debatable issue.  
    • Government of India earlier passed The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-First Amendment) Bill, 2014 to  establish a National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) to replace the Collegium.  
    • However, a Five Judge Bench of Supreme Court declared NJAC as unconstitutional because of interference from  the executive in the judicial appointments. This decision effectively revived the Collegium system.  

    What is a collegium? 

    • The Collegium System is one where the CJI and a forum of four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court  recommend appointment and transfer of judges of higher judiciary.  
    • The collegium system evolved through three different judgments which are collectively known as the Three  Judges Cases.
    • Now, recommendations of collegium have been made public on the website of Supreme Court including the  reasons for appointment or transfer.  

    How Collegium came into being? 

    Earlier Practice  

    • Power to appoint Supreme Court judges rested primarily with the Executive. The practice was to appoint the  senior most judge of the Supreme Court whenever a vacancy occurred by the Executive under Article 124 and  217. 
    • This move was criticized by Fourteenth Law Commission Report and suggested to widen the role of Chief Justice  of India (CJI) in judicial appointments. However, the government did not act upon this recommendation and  continued its practice. 

    Departing from the Process – (Empowered Executive) – (Understanding the Chronology) 

    • In 1973, the Union government departed from this practice and appointed Justice A.N. Ray as CJI who was  fourth in order of seniority bypassing three senior judges of Supreme Court. The government was accused of  tampering with the independence of judiciary. The three senior Judges resigned from their post in protest.  
    • Again in 1976, government appointed Justice Beg as CJI bypassing Justice Khanna who was senior to him. Thus,  interference by executive in judicial appointments was cloaked in veils of politics and it started a disturbing  trend in judicial appointments in India.  
    • Till 1976, India had witnessed emergency and implementation of 42nd amendment had casted a serious doubt  on the ever growing power of executive in all spheres of democracy.  
    • In such an environment of growing executive influence, the collegium system evolved through three different  judgments which are collectively known as the Three Judges Cases. 

    THREE JUDGES CASE – 1982 (E) – 1993 (J) – 1999 (J) 

    The Three Judges Case was delivered by Supreme Court amid changing political atmosphere of the country. Post  Emergency and Constitution 42nd Amendment, Executive had become all powerful and had started their interference  even in appointment of Judges as we have seen earlier.  

    First Judges Case - S.P Gupta vs. Union of India (1982) – (In favour of Executive) 

    • SC held - opinions of Chief Justice of India (CJI) and Chief Justice of respective High Courts were merely  “consultative” and the power of appointment resides solely and exclusively with the Central Government. Central government “could” override the opinions given by the Judges. Thus, the opinion of Chief Justice of India  in matters of appointment was not given primacy in matters of judicial appointments under Article 217(1).  

    Second Judges Case - S.C. Advocates on Record Association v. Union of India (1993) – (Primacy of Judiciary) – The  matter was decided by Nine Judge Constitution Bench 

    • The Court considered the question of “Primacy of opinion of CJI in regard to appointment of Supreme Court  Judges”. The Court said that the question had to be considered in the context of achieving constitutional purpose of selecting the best so as to ensure the independence of judiciary and thereby preserving democracy.
    • Referring to ‘Consultative Process’ as envisaged in Article 124(2), SC emphasized that Government does NOT enjoy primacy or absolute discretion in matters of appointment of Supreme Court judges.  Court said that provision for consultation with Chief Justice was introduced as CJI is best equipped to know and  assess the worth and suitability of a candidate and it was also necessary to eliminate political influence.  Selection should be made as a result of ‘Participatory Consultative Process’ where Executive has the power to  act as a mere check on the exercise of power by CJI to achieve constitutional purpose.  
    • SC held that initiation of the proposal for appointment of a Supreme Court Judge must be by the Chief Justice.  Third Judges Case - (1999) - Re: Presidential Reference (Emergence of Collegium System)
    • Supreme Court on a reference made by the President under Article 143 has laid down the following proposition  with respect to appointment of Supreme Court judges  

    While making recommendation, CJI shall consult four senior most Judges of Supreme Court. This led to  the emergence of present Collegium System.  

    The opinion of all members of collegium regarding their recommendation shall be in writing.  The views of the senior-most Supreme Court Judge who hails from the High Court from where the person  recommended comes must be obtained in writing for Collegium’s consideration.  

    If majority of the Collegium is against the appointment of a particular person, that person shall not be  appointed.  

    Even if two of the judges have reservation against appointment of a particular Judge, CJI would not press  for such appointment. 

    A High Court Judge of outstanding merit can be appointed as Supreme Court Judge regardless of his  standing in the seniority list.  

    Problems which emerged in the functioning of Collegium System  

    • Lack of transparency: Collegium System worked in complete secrecy and initially did not reveal the  methodology or reasons provided for transfer or promotion of judges or even appointing senior lawyers as  Judges of SC or HC.  
    • Nepotism – Accusations of favouritism and preferential treatment to members from judicial fraternity were  raised. This also impacted quality of judgment specially in High Courts.  
    • Politicization of judiciary: Due to lack of transparency in appointing process, certain political appointments  specially to High Court were witnessed.  
    • Absence of Permanent Commission: Law Commission in its 121st Report proposed to set up a National Judicial  Service Commission for appointment of Judges. Even NCRWC in its 2002 Report highlighted the need for  National Judicial Commission for the purpose of appointments to higher judiciary.  

    NJAC Act Declared as Unconstitutional 

    Violation of Basic Structure - Five Judge Bench of Supreme Court [4:1] declared the Constitution 99th Amendment Act and the National Judicial Appointment Commission Act, 2014 as unconstitutional as it  violated the Basic Structure of the Indian Constitution.  

    Inclusion of Members of Executive - Constitution 99th Amendment introduced Article 124A which provided  for the constitution and composition of the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) which apart  from members of Judiciary also included Union Minister of Law & Justice and two Eminent Persons to be  appointed by the Central Government.  

    Violation of Independence of Judiciary - SC held that Article 124A was insufficient to preserve the primacy of  the judiciary, in the matter of selection and appointment of Judges to the higher judiciary as inclusion of  members of executed violated independence of judiciary and the aspect of separation of powers. Accordingly,  Article 124A (a) to (d) was set aside by the Constitution Bench as being ultra vires.  

    Collegium System to Continue - The judgment officially allowed Collegium System for appointment and  transfer to continue. 

     

    UPSC Current Affairs: India and Russia friendship has stood the test of time, says Modi | Page 09 UPSC Syllabus: Mains – GS Paper II: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS  

    Sub Theme: India-Russia | RUSSIA-CHINA | UPSC 

    Context: Article talks about the changing contours of India Russia relations in the backdrop of growing closeness  between China and Russia. 

    Russia - China and the Quad - 

    • Russia has been critical of the concept of Indo pacific and the Quadrilateral security dialogue. Russia's foreign minister had termed Quad as an Asian NATO.
    • Russia thinks that Quad and Indo - pacific conception is primarily an American initiative designed to contain both China and Russia.
    • It is in favour of the concept of Asia Pacific.

    Asia Pacific and Indo Pacific - 

    • The ‘Asia Pacific’ relates to that part of Asia which lies in the Pacific Ocean.
    • It is an idea proposed and supported by Asia’s Pacific powers who sought a term to describe their common region.
    • The Asia Pacific, therefore, has three major constituents: north-east Asia, south-east Asia and Oceania (South Western Pacific). India is not a part of the region.
    • The Asia-Pacific is more of an economic conception, rather than a security related notion.

    Indo - Pacific - 

    • The Indo-Pacific, on the other hand, is an integrated theatre that combines the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and the land masses that surround them.
    • Even though it is still an evolving concept, most analysts see it as an idea that captures the shift in power and influence from the West to the East.
    • It is both a strategic as well as an economic domain comprising important sea-lines of communication that connect the littorals of the two oceans.
    • Since it is primarily a maritime space, the Indo-Pacific is associated with maritime security and cooperation.

    Date: 04-Sep-2021 DNS Notes - Revision

    • Russian ambassador to India had recently advised India to take a “larger look at Chinese foreign policies”, while describing the Indo-Pacific strategy as an effort to revive the Cold War mentality. 
    • Russian foreign minister recently visited Pakistan. This is the first time a Russian Minister has done so.
    • In this background India is concerned about Russia's uncritical advocacy of China's global Vision.

    Emerging geopolitical issues and India - Russia relations - 

    Alignment with US - 

    • India aligning with US in the Quad in the Indo-Pacific strategy is one ok the key issue between India and Russia.
    • India insists that its Indo-Pacific initiatives seek a cooperative order, that the Quad dialogue (of India, Japan, Australia and the U.S.) is not the nucleus of a politico-military alliance.

    Russia - China Bonhomie - 

    • India’s has raised concerns about Russia’s China embrace, encompassing close political, economic and defense cooperation
    • Russia accounted for 77% of China’s arms imports in 2016-20.
    • India has raised apprehensions about their technology- and intelligence-sharing. Further speculations are rife about a future Russia-China military alliance.

    Russia - Pakistan angle - 

    • Russian foreign minister recently visited Pakistan. This is the first time a Russian Minister has done so.
    • He highlighted that Russia would strengthen Pakistan’s “counter-terrorism capability”. This is being seen as a step to increase the Russian weapon supply to Pakistan.
    • Russia is Pakistan’s second largest defense supplier, accounting for 6.6% of its arms imports in 2016-20.
    • Further both are cooperating on joint “counter-terrorism” drills and sharing perspectives on military tactics and strategic doctrines.

    New cold war - 

    US is taking on both China and Russia thereby driving the two together . 

    And this accelerating the move to bipolarity towards a new cold war. 

    Concerns for India - Russia ties

    • Russia supplied 49% of India’s arms imports in 2016-20. The share although still high has been falling off late.
    • Concerns have been raised regarding the potential technology secrets that can be shared with India's adversaries like Pakistan and China because of improving relations of Russia with Pak and China. 
    • Further the there is fear of attracting sanctions from America under its CAATSA law. Geography in geopolitics -
    • The Eurasian landmass to India’s north is dominated by Russia and China.
    • Strategic and security interests in Central Asia, West Asia and Afghanistan dictate our engagement with the region and the connectivity projects linking it, like the International North-South Transport Corridor through Iran. 
    • For pursuing these interests, India will have to effectively manage its relations with Russia.

    Way forward 

    • The real ‘strategic triangle’ in the maritime domain will be that between India, US and China. 
    • Russia is yet to realise that it will gain immensely from the multilateralism that the Indo-Pacific seeks to promote. 
    • Being China’s junior partner will undermine Moscow’s great-power ambitions. 
    • Russian policymakers are obsessively preoccupied with Russia’s ‘status’ rivalry with the U.S. And this largely impacted Russia's view of India China relations. 

    As such India is interested in a normalisation of relations between US and Russia,  While diminishing Russia's propensity to coordinate its South Asian policies with China.

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