IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


11th February, 2020


Four Indian pilots begin astronaut training in Russia

Announcement of Russian space business company Glavkosmos:

-       Much of the training will take place at the GCTC facilities.

-       The full programme includes basic or generic astronaut training followed by activities specific to the first Indian human space mission, Gaganyaan.

-       The four candidates are fighter pilots from the Indian Air Force

-       They were chosen from among hundreds of applicants over the last few months.

India-Russia Contract:

-       The training includes Russian support in the selection of candidates, their medical examination and space training.

-       The 12-month training programme includes comprehensive and biomedical training of the Indian candidates, combined with regular physical practices.

-       They will study in detail the systems of the Soyuz manned spaceship, as well as be trained in short-term weightlessness mode aboard the Il-76MDK aircraft.

-       The candidates will also be trained to take appropriate actions during emergencies — for example should the spacecraft make an abnormal landing in (unplanned) climate and geographic zones.

About Gaganyaan:

-       Gaganyaan is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft intended to be the formative spacecraft of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme.

-       The spacecraft is being designed to carry three people, and a planned upgraded version will be equipped with rendezvous and docking capability.

-       In its maiden crewed mission, Indian Space Research Organisation's largely autonomous 3.7-tonne (8,200 lb) capsule will orbit the Earth at 400 km (250 mi) altitude for up to seven days with a two or three-person crew on board.

-       The crewed vehicle is planned to be launched on ISRO's GSLV Mk III in December 2021.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/four-indian-pilots-begin-astronaut-training-in-russia/article30786910.ece


No shortage of funds for Siachen, say Army sources

Comment of Army Sources:

-       Funds are made available to cater to all requirements and exigencies.

-       Each soldier is kitted with special clothing equipment worth over ₹1 lakh, along with auxiliary, medical and mountaineering equipment worth an additional ₹1.5 lakh.

-       There were no international benchmark standards for war fighting equipment for troop deployment in the glacier.

-       The Army conducted stringent field trials under actual operational conditions to clear each piece of clothing and equipment based on suitability.

-       There was “no standard scaling of equipment” used in Siachen and procurement was done keeping in mind the comfort of the troops and the gravity of the situation.

-       The government has also authorised procurement substitutes in accordance with the preference of the troops on a cost-to-cost basis.

-       Till date, the supply of rations had never been delayed or denied.

-       Multiple factors like calorific, nutritional and medicinal requirements, and the taste and palate preference of troops of various ethnicities and regional composition, were kept in mind.

-       It was to overcome “anorexia syndrome”, a condition in which personnel were unable to consume food due to loss of appetite.

Calorific Value:

-       According to an extensive study by the Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences (DIPAS) on the nutritional and physiological aspects of the ration scales for troops deployed above 12,000 ft., according to which whereas the energy expenditure was 4,270 Kcal, the total energy intake from the then provided rations was 5,350 Kcal.

Finding of CAG report:

-       There were delays of up to four years in the procurement of high-altitude clothing and equipment, leading to an acute shortage of essential clothing and equipment.

-       There was a critical shortage of snow goggles, ranging from 62% to 98%.

-       The troops had not been issued ‘multi-purpose boots’ from November 2015 to September 2016.

-       Procurement of Old models of face mask, jacket and sleeping bags were not letting troops get the benefit of using improved products.

-       Lack of research and development by defence laboratory led to a continued dependence on import.

-       The housing project, aimed at improving the living conditions of the troops in high-altitude areas, was executed in an ad hoc manner.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/no-shortage-of-funds-for-siachen-say-army-sources/article30785143.ece


CRR exemption for retail, MSME loans for 5 years

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has exempted banks from maintaining cash reserve ratio (CRR) for loans to retail and micro, small and medium enterprises for five years, if these loans are extended between January 31 and July 31, 2020.

About Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR):

-       It allows to maintain a desired level of inflation, control the money supply, and liquidity in the economy.

-       The lower the CRR, the higher liquidity with the banks, which in turn goes into investment and lending and vice-versa.

-       Banks store a proportion of their deposits in the form of cash so that the same can be given to the bank’s customers if the need arises.

-       The percentage of cash required to be kept in reserves, vis-a-vis a bank’s total deposits, is called the Cash Reserve Ratio.

-       The cash reserve is either stored in the bank’s vault or is sent to the RBI.

-       Banks do not get any interest on the money that is with the RBI under the CRR requirements.

-       If the current CRR rate is 4%, a bank is required to store 4% of the total NDTL or the Net Demand and Time Liabilities in the form of cash.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/business/crr-exemption-for-retail-msme-loans-for-5-years/article30785511.ece


India moves to include elephant, bustard in global conservation list

India will be moving to include the Asian Elephant and the Great Indian Bustard in global conservation list.

The list will be debated at the 13th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), an environment treaty under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Migratory species in India:

-       Snow leopard,

-       Amur falcons,

-       Bar- headed geese,

-       Black-necked cranes,

-       Marine turtles,

-       Dugongs

-       Hump-backed whales.

Significance of the move:

-       It would coax countries neighbouring India, where wild animals such as tigers and elephant foray into, to direct more resources and attention to protecting them.

Gujarat Meet:

-       The COP is scheduled to be organised from February 17 to 22 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

-       There are 130 parties to the convention and India has been a member since 1983.

-       India has been designated the President of the COP for the next three years.

-       The theme of CMS COP 13 in India is, “Migratory species connect the planet and we welcome them home”.

-       The CMS COP 13 logo is inspired by ‘Kolam’, a traditional art form from southern India.

-       The mascot for CMS COP13 is “Gibi – The Great Indian Bustard”.

Government statement:

-       Seven species that include Dugong, Whale Shark, Marine Turtle (two species), have been identified for preparation of Conservation and Recovery Action Plan.

About Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS):

-       As an environmental treaty of the United Nations, CMS provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats.

-       CMS brings together the States through which migratory animals pass, the Range States, and lays the legal foundation for internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout a migratory range.

-       It is the only global convention specializing in the conservation of migratory species, their habitats and migration routes.

-       Migratory species threatened with extinction are listed on Appendix I of the Convention.

-       CMS Parties strive towards strictly protecting these animals, conserving or restoring the places where they live, mitigating obstacles to migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them.

-       The Convention entered into force on 1 November 1983.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/india-moves-to-include-elephant-bustard-in-global-conservation-list/article30784719.ece


U.S. State dept. nod for sale of air defence system to India

The U.S. Department of State has approved the potential sale of a $1.867 billion Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS) to India.

About Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS):

-       It provides integrated air missile defence and is currently deployed around Washington.

-       The IADWS system includes radar, launchers, targeting, and guidance systems, advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM) and Stinger missiles, and related equipment and support’.

-       Communications equipment, testing and training equipment and documentation and technical and logistics support are also part of the package.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-approves-sale-of-integrated-air-defence-weapon-system-to-india/article30787461.ece


Draft national policy on rare diseases published, Centre tells Madras HC

About the draft Policy:

-       Draft policy had categorised rare disorders amenable to one-time curative treatment such as Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) and disorders that were amenable to organ transplantation into one group.

-       Victims could be provided with financial support.

-       A maximum of ₹15 lakh could be provided to each patient under the umbrella scheme of Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi

-       The beneficiaries would not be limited to families below the poverty line.

-       Instead, support would be extended to 40% of population in accordance with the norms of the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/draft-national-policy-on-rare-diseases-published-centre-tells-madras-hc/article30788174.ece


Sabarimala case: Supreme Court upholds referring religious questions to larger Bench, frames 7 questions of law

Court observation:

-       A Bench engaged in the review of a particular judgment could indeed refer other questions of law to a larger Bench.

-       The Bench also framed seven questions of law, which the nine-judge Bench would decide now.

-       The Bench (led by Justice Gogoi) has not prejudicially affected anybody’s rights.

-        It may be the most innovative idea, but it has not affected any rights

Framed questions are:

-       What is the scope and ambit of religious freedom under Article 25 of the Constitution?

-       What is the interplay between religious freedom and rights of religious denominations under Article 26 of the Constitution?

-       Whether religious denominations are subject to fundamental rights?

-       What is the definition of ‘morality’ used in Articles 25 and 26?

-       What is the ambit and scope of judicial review of Article 25?

-       What is the meaning of the phrase “sections of Hindus under Article 25 (2) (b)?

-       Whether a person not belonging to a religious group can question the practices, beliefs of that group in a PIL petition?

Challenges to these larger benches:

-       Fundamental to judicial process is apply law to the facts of cases and not decide the law before looking into the facts.

-       Gogoi Bench’s sole task was to review the Sabarimala judgment of September 2018.

-       The court could not declare law in thin air.

-       The Review Bench had recorded no errors apparent or miscarriage of justice in the 2018 verdict.

-       The President, and not the CJI, consults the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution on questions of law and facts.

-       When Ayyappa devotees was not found to be a separate denomination, then these reference questions on Article 25 (religious freedom) are purely an academic exercise.

Support to matter pertaining to larger bench:

-       The highest court of the land, had unlimited jurisdiction.

-       The fact that it was reviewing Sabarimala judgment does not preclude it from referring other questions of law and cases with similar issues to a larger Bench.

-       The objections raised against the November 14 reference to a larger Bench were based on “inherently faulty premise”.

-       No technical fetter prevents the Supreme Court from doing complete justice.

Reference: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sabarimala-case-supreme-court-upholds-referring-religious-questions-to-larger-bench-frames-7-questions-of-law/article30780943.ece

Supreme Court upholds amendments made to nullify own judgment diluting provisions of SC/ST Act

Supreme Court Earlier judgement vs New Judgement

-       In the March 20, 2018 judgment, the Supreme Court laid down safeguards, including provisions for anticipatory bail and a “preliminary enquiry” before registering a case under the Act.

-       In Review Judgement, the Bench said Section 18 was enacted to instil a sense of deterrence and relied on Kartar Singh (1994) case judgement in which the court had held that denial of anticipatory bail does not violate Article 21.

-       Neither an FIR will be immediately registered nor will arrests be made without a preliminary inquiry by an SSP. In the review judgement, Court observed, public servants already have a remedy in false cases under CrPC Section 482 and can get such FIRs quashed by High Courts. Need of an SSP’s approval for arrest was rejected.

-       In 2018, the court had said that even if a preliminary inquiry is held and a case registered, arrest is not necessary, and no public servant should be arrested without the written permission of the appointing authority. In the review judgement, the decision on arrest will be taken by the investigating authority, not by the appointing authority.

About 2018 act:

-       It had nullified a March 20 judgment of the Supreme Court, which allowed anticipatory bail to those booked for committing atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes members.

-       The original 1989 Act bars anticipatory bail.

SC-ST atrocity Act:

The SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was formed to prevent offences against members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes group.

-       This act seeks to stop people from committing such oppression and providing victims with special rights and privileges.

-       Establishment of A fast-track court for complaints made by anyone from the SC and ST community

-       Public servant (non SC/ST) neglecting his duties related to SCs/STs will be punished with imprisonment for a term of 6 months to 1 year.

-       Ministry of Social Justice is the nodal ministry to enforce the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.