# 04 May 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

A. GS1 Related
GEOGRAPHY
1. Over 100 killed in dust storm in U.P., Rajasthan
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Iran to quit n-deal if U.S. walks away
2. AIIB not a threat, can cooperate: ADB president
C. GS3 Related
ECONOMY
1. GST Council to decide on simplifying return filing
2. India gold demand seen rising
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
JUDICIARY
1. Harming the nation
F. Prelims Fact
G. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
H. UPSC Mains Practice Questions


A. GS1 Related

1. Over 100 killed in dust storm in U.P., Rajasthan

• Over 100 people were killed and around 180 injured after a high-velocity dust storm followed by thunder showers wreaked havoc in parts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, leaving behind a trail of destruction.
• Expressing sorrow at the loss of lives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed officials to coordinate with the States to ensure speedy relief and rehabilitation of those affected.
• In Uttar Pradesh, at least 70 people were killed and 83 injured, with Agra accounting for the maximum casualties — 43. Three persons each died in Bijnore and Kanpur Dehat, and two each in Saharanpur, Hamirpur, Kanpur Nagar and Mirzapur districts.
• One casualty each was reported from Bareilly, Pilibhit, Chitrakoot, Raebareli, Unnao, Mathura, Amroha, Kannauj, Banda, Kanpur, Sitapur, Sambhal, Etawah, Allahabad and Rampur.
• In Rajasthan, 16 people died in Bharatpur district, 10 in Dholpur and five in Alwar, while over 100 were injured in the storm that hit the region.

Another storm likely

• The Meteorological Department has issued warnings that another dust storm may hit parts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan in the next 48 hours due to the cyclonic circulation formation in the region.

• Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has issued an advisory ordering all district magistrates to be on high alert. He has asked the district officials to calculate the losses and provide compensation to those affected, a government spokesperson said.

Cyclonic circulation in Haryana could have set off dust storms

• A cyclonic circulation over Haryana was the trigger for the deadly dust storm that swept parts of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, weather experts said on Thursday, estimating that the wind speed during the storm might have gone up to 100 km per hour.
• The winds were so violent that a number of houses collapsed and electricity poles and trees got uprooted, as the severe dust storm swept parts of these states.The phenomenon was restricted to these two states, largely because of external and domestic reasons, experts said.
• There were primarily four reasons that lead to the thunderstorm — excessive heating, availability of moisture, instability in the atmosphere and a trigger for the storm, India Meteorological Department (IMD) Additional Director General Mritunjay Mohapatra said.

Dual sources

• The northern plains have been witnessing temperatures of over 40 degree Celsius. There were two sources of moisture — a western disturbance over north Pakistan and adjoining Jammu and Kashmir and easterly winds from the Bay of Bengal. The cold winds from the western disturbance were making atmosphere unstable.
• The trigger was a cyclonic circulation over Haryana.This led to the formation of two cloud patches. One patch moved to north of Delhi, while another patch moved over the Alwar, Agra, and Dholpur belt, which was more deadly.
• Mohapatra said it was difficult to record the wind speed as the phenomenon was restricted to only small patches. In the National Capital Region, where a milder version of the dust storm and thunderstorm struck, the wind speed was recorded as 69 kmph by the IMD.

B. GS2 Related

• The Supreme Court upheld the validity of the April 9 notification issued by the Medical Council of India (MCI) making changes in the method of admissions to the postgraduate medical courses to arrest the blocking of seats by certain candidates which was detrimental to the interest of meritorious students in the all India quota.
• A Bench of Justices S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao passed the order on a notification issued by the MCI in the Postgraduate Medical Education (Amendment) Regulations, 2018. Admission to postgraduate courses is on the basis of the merit of the candidates in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET-PG) conducted every year. Fifty% seats are earmarked for all India quota and the remaining for the State quota.
• The court observed that there is material on record to suggest that devious methods were adopted by certain candidates to block the seats in the All India quota and resign thereafter from those seats which resulted in reversion of the all India quota seats to the State quota.

Illegal practice

• The Medical Counselling Committee identified about thousand candidates who were indulging in such illegal practice and proposes to take action against them after a thorough inquiry. The court said there was no infringement in the rights of the petitioners, who had challenged MCI’s April 9 notification, in the background of the ongoing counselling for the postgraduate medical admissions after NEET.
• The court said reduction of chances of admission does not entail in violation of any right and added that there was no reason for it to intervene as the intent of the MCI in issuing the notification was to end a devious practice. The petitioners participated in the second round of counselling. No interference is warranted in respect of the all India quota.

1. Iran to quit n-deal if U.S. walks away

• Iran warned on Thursday that it will quit a landmark nuclear deal with world powers if President Donald Trump pulls the U.S. out of the accord.
• “If the United States withdraws from the nuclear deal, then we will not stay in it,” Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign policy adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted as saying by the state television website.
• Velayati also warned against any move to try to renegotiate the deal signed by Iran and six world powers in 2015 curbing Tehran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. “Iran accepts the nuclear agreement as it has been prepared and will not accept adding or removing anything,” he said.

Decision unclear

• Trump has all but decided to withdraw from the nuclear accord by May 12 but exactly how he will do so remains unclear, two White House officials and a source familiar with the administration’s internal debate told Reuters.
• There is a chance that he might choose to keep the U.S. in the international pact, in part because of “alliance maintenance” with France, the source said.
• The White House official said Mr. Trump was “most of the way there toward pulling out of the deal but he hasn’t made the decision” and that he “seems poised to do it but until a decision is made by this President it is not final”. Top aides are not seeking to talk Mr. Trump out of withdrawal because he seems intent on it, a second White House official said.

2. AIIB not a threat, can cooperate: ADB president

• The rise of China-led The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is not seen as a threat to Asian Development Bank (ADB) and in fact, both can cooperate to finance the large infrastructure funding needs, Takehiko Nakao, president of the ADB.

China’s clout

• In 2016, China unveiled the international development bank as Beijing sought to change the unwritten rule of the financing game. With several large countries agreeing to join the bank, despite the United States’ reservation, it reflected China’s growing clout.

Long-term strategy

• ADB has initiated a long-term ‘Strategy 2030’ to address the changing dynamics — the way Asian countries need finances to deal with poverty.
• The ADB president also said that the agency was looking at options on how to fund the ‘one-belt-one road’ initiative, which would connect China with the rest of Eurasia, and was open to collaborate with AIIB.

Regional cooperation

• With regard to the apprehension of a trade war between the United States and China, Mr. Nakao said while that was an area of concern, the recent tensions were yet to have any impact on investment sentiments.

C. GS3 Related

1. GST Council to decide on simplifying return filing

• The main item on the agenda for the GST Council meeting is likely to be the simplification of the return filing system into a single form and a decision on whether businesses can avail of provision credit or not, according to tax analysts.
• According to the GST law, the return filing process involves three forms — two of which have been kept in abeyance to ease the compliance process for businesses. The GST Council is to decide on how best to reduce these into a single form.
• So far, there are two models of return filing under consideration, with the key difference between the two being whether businesses can avail of provisional credit when the supplier has not yet filed returns, or if they can only avail of the credit based on the returns filed.
• Right now, there are at least three return forms as prescribed by the law. That three-stage process is going to be brought down to a one-stage process.
• The debate over that one-stage process is whether the buyer will be able to take the credit irrespective of the seller’s payment of the tax or should the buyer be able to take provisional credit, and later on if the seller does not pay, then the buyer reverses the credit.

• The other issue that could come up for discussion is the revival of the reverse charge mechanism, applicable for registered dealers doing businesses with unregistered dealers.
• There was one provision in the law that when a registered dealer bought from an unregistered dealer, then the registered dealer pays tax on behalf of the unregistered dealer and takes the input tax credit.
• While this was revenue neutral for the buyer, it created a lot of compliance issues for the registered dealers. Therefore, the government kept this in abeyance. After discussion, this is expected to be revived.
• Other issues that could come up for discussion include the delay among certain States in rolling out the e-waybill system for intra-state movement of goods. While the e-waybill system was rolled out across the country for the inter-state movement of goods on April 1, the billing mechanism for the intra-state movement of goods was to be rolled out across States in a phased manner.
• As of April 25, 17 States and Union Territories have implemented the system for intra-state movement, but the rest of the country, including manufacturing States such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, have still not done so. The reasons behind the delay of the roll-out by these States could be a topic of discussion during the meeting, according to tax analysts.

2. India gold demand seen rising

• The demand for gold in India, one of the world’s largest consumers, is expected to improve following a normal monsoon and the government’s efforts to raise rural incomes, the World Gold Council (WGC) said.
• This bodes well for demand from the all-important rural sector, as does the forecast for a normal monsoon this year. Global gold consumption fell to the lowest level in 10 years in the first quarter of 2018 due to subdued gold prices that affected the overall demand and led to a fall in investment demand for gold bars and gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
• According to the latest WGC report, the first three months of 2018 saw the world gold demand pegged at 973 tonnes making it the lowest first quarter since 2008.
• While all major markets like India, China, Germany and the U.S. saw a dip in the demand for gold bars and coins in the first quarter, ETFs registered inflows for the fifth straight quarter but solely due to a growth in North America region.
• The global demand at 973 tonnes was a decrease of 7% compared with 1,047 tonnes in the first quarter of 2017.

India demand dips

• In India, the overall demand in the first quarter at 115.6 tonnes was lower by 12% compared with the year-earlier period. Jewellery demand dipped to the lowest in almost 10 years due to a rise in local gold prices.
• “Government’s focus on unaccounted income continued to crimp this part of the market, with retail investors wary of heightened surveillance,” said the WGC report while referring to the fall in demand for bars and coins in India.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

1. Harming the nation

Why in news?

• From 1977 till 1980, the Supreme Court partly reclaimed its prestige by a series of landmark decisions.
• And now the deliberate refusal to implement the decisions of the collegium is hurting the judiciary.

Background

• The first blow to the independence of the judiciary came in 1973 with the supersession of the three senior-most judges of the Supreme Court because they had ruled against the government.
• Two years later, the setting aside of Indira Gandhi’s election by the Allahabad High Court eventually led to the Emergency and a large number of political opponents being detained without any trial under the infamous Maintenance of Internal Security Act, 1975 (MISA).
• Several high court judges struck down these orders. Sixteen of them were transferred without their consent.
• The names of 40 more judges to be transferred were leaked, clearly indicating that any adverse ruling would not be tolerated.
• On April 28, 1976, in the ADM Jabalpur case, the Supreme Court held that, during the Emergency, no detention could be challenged in any high court even if it was mala fide and illegal.
• Justice H R Khanna dissented from this much criticised majority view and paid the heavy price of being denied the office of Chief Justice of India; he was superseded by Justice M H Beg.
• For thousands of persons, who were detained, the door to judicial relief was closed. They remained in jail without a trial till the Emergency was lifted in 1977.
• After the Emergency, Justice N L Untwalia recorded with “utmost responsibility” that these transfers “had shaken the very foundation and structure of an independent judiciary throughout the country”.
• In addition to damaging the judiciary, the 42nd Amendment drastically cut down the powers of the high courts and the Supreme Court.
• Jurist H M Seervai called this amendment “outrageous” but mercifully, Mrs Gandhi was voted out in 1977 and the new Janata government undid most of the constitutional damage.

From 1977 till 1980;

• The Supreme Court partly reclaimed its prestige by a series of landmark decisions.
• In 1980, Mrs Gandhi came back to power and the assault on the independence of the judiciary was renewed by a controversial letter written by the government itself requiring, as a condition of appointment, the consent of newly appointed judges to be transferred to the other high courts.

First Judges Case:

• The transfer policy was unfortunately upheld in S P Gupta v. Union of India, popularly called the First Judges’ Case, which granted the executive the final say in judicial appointments.
• Armed with this power, Mrs Gandhi effectively rejected the recommendation of the CJI no less than five times in 1983 alone.
• After her untimely demise in 1984, only two recommendations were not accepted between 1985 and 1991.

1993 and NJAC

• Alarmed at the executive interference, the Supreme Court devised the collegium system in 1993, giving itself the primacy and the final say in the appointment of the high court and Supreme Court judges.
• The governments at the Centre and the states also had important consultative roles because, as the Supreme Court noted, it would often be aware of certain antecedents or information relating to the individual candidates, which may require particular recommendations to be reconsidered.
• This process enabled the executive to raise their objections and require the collegium to reconsider the name of the particular candidate.
• However, if the collegium reiterated its recommendation, the candidate has to be appointed without demur.
• This method continued until the 99th Amendment to the Constitution, which proposed a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) to substitute the collegium. Unfortunately, the proposed amendment had several drafting flaws, which led to the NJAC being held unconstitutional and the restoration of the collegium system.

Past Responses

• In the past, judgments, which invalidated any policy or reforms proposed by the government, were responded to by appropriate amendments. This method was rightly followed by Jawaharlal Nehru, amending the Constitution 17 times in 15 years (1950-1965), to overcome adverse judicial verdicts and implement legislation mainly relating to the zamindari abolition and agrarian reforms.
• These amendments, to the credit of the Supreme Court, were mostly upheld. The unfortunate response of Mrs Gandhi was not merely to overrule the judgments but to attack independent judges as well.

Present

• In 2014, the clear majority of the BJP-led alliance provided a golden opportunity to repair the past damage as it was not hamstrung by the compulsions of coalition politics.
• Respecting the judiciary would have enhanced the prestige of the government. Sadly, the new tactics are either deliberate inaction and, in some cases, outright violation of constitutional norms.
• The last few years have seen a huge rise in the number of vacancies reaching a staggering 40 per cent level at the high courts.
• The Supreme Court will soon witness a large number of vacancies as well. It has been reported that more than 140 candidates approved by the collegium are pending with the government.
• Apart from inaction, what is more worrisome is a deliberate refusal to implement the decisions of the collegium.
• An additional judge is recommended to be made permanent by the collegium but the shocking response is to make him an additional judge again even after reiteration.
• When the name of one high court chief justice is recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court, untenable reasons are given for not appointing him particularly when six vacancies exist.
• Strangely, the issue of regional representation and lack of SC/ST candidates was not seen as an objection to the clearance of the candidate from the Bar.
• And the direct correspondence with the Karnataka chief justice to reinvestigate a complaint that had already been found to be untenable by the collegium was a serious transgression of constitutional propriety.
• On May 2, the collegium has sadly deferred the decision of the appointment of Justice K M Joseph despite its earlier decision affirming his suitability.
• The assault on the judiciary between 1973-1984 actually did more harm to the nation. In the end, we cannot today have an independent judiciary unless the collegium system is respected and the decisions of the collegium are implemented without delay.
• If the ruling party finds the collegium system distasteful, the remedy is to pass another constitutional amendment and replace it with a Judicial Appointments Commission that will pass constitutional muster.

Way forward:

• The model recommended by the Venkatachaliah Commission can be implemented to replace the collegium.
• But it is impermissible to not amend the Constitution but simultaneously and consistently adopt a confrontational attitude with the collegium.
• For the present, the collegium must assert its independence before its own importance is eroded by repeated inaction and deliberate defiance.
• Lord Hewart famously remarked that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.
• Under our Constitution, the judiciary must not only be independent, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be independent. And the responsibility for that rests primarily with the collegium.

F. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements about Medical Council of India (MCI):
1. It is a statutory body.
2. Establishment and maintenance of uniform standards for undergraduate medical education is one of the functions of MCI.

Which of the above statements are correct?

1. 1 only
2. 2 only
3. Both 1 and 2
4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Question 2. Consider the following statements about Noctiluca algae:
1. The Noctiluca algae, commonly known as sea tinkle, is a parasite and occurs in patches or ‘blooms’ in the Northern Arabian Sea.
2. They glow at night due bioluminescence (It is the production and emission of light by a living organism) and have earned them the nickname ‘sea sparkle’.

Which of the above statements are incorrect?

1. 1 only
2. 2 only
3. Both 1 and 2
4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Question 3. Consider the following statements about Noctiluca:
1. A warming ocean means greater temperature differences among layers of the sea water and this slows the upward transport of nutrients like silicate from the ocean bottom, lowering its concentration at the surface.
2. Noctiluca consumes one of the most important planktonic organisms at the base of the fish-food chain, namely diatoms, and also excretes large amounts of ammonia, which is linked with massive fish mortalities.

Which of the above statements are correct?

1. 1 only
2. 2 only
3. Both 1 and 2
4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Question 4. Consider the following statements about Red Sanders:
1. It is found in southern Eastern Ghats mountain range of South India.
2. This tree is valued for the rich red colour of its wood.

Which of the above statements are correct?

1. 1 only
2. 2 only
3. Both 1 and 2
4. Neither 1 nor 2

See

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis