29 Oct 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
HEALTH ISSUES
1. Acute Critical Care Course (ACCC)
GOVERNMENT SCHEMES
1. Swachh Nyayalaya project
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka
C. GS3 Related
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
1. Robot trucks to help airlines save on ATF
ECONOMY
1. Depreciation and Exporters
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY
1. Siberian visitors: Amur Falcons
2. Moths are key pollinators in Himalayan ecosystem
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
GOVERNANCE
1. Institutional Crisis in CBI
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
1. Sri Lankan democracy in peril
F. Tidbits
G. Prelims Fact
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: HEALTH ISSUES

1. Acute Critical Care Course (ACCC)

Context:

  • The Acute Critical Care Course (ACCC), developed in the early 1980s in Europe, has come as a boon for medical institutions abroad by reducing the death rate of patients by nearly 10%, even in serious health complications including sepsis.
  • The two-day course has become mandatory for surgical trainees both in the U.S. and the U.K., which annually lose over four lakh and 98,000 patients, respectively, due to medical errors.

India’s Case

  • With nearly 50,00,000 Indians dying due to medical negligence every year, experts claim that a specialised course for doctors and hospital staff focusing on how a critically ill or injured patient should be handled could bring down the figure by almost 50%.
  • A study by the Harvard University last year showed that nearly 50 lakh deaths occur in India annually due to medical errors triggered by lack of practical knowledge among the doctors and nurses to handle patients when brought to the hospital.

How will ACCC help?

  • The ACCC aims to train the medicine specialists and the surgeons of various specialisation such as surgical, gynaecology, orthopaedics and emergency to suspect and identify patients at a risk of deterioration.
  • Implementing the course in Indian hospitals, especially in the rural areas, can bring down the mortality rates due to medical negligence by nearly 50%.
  • The comprehensive course includes imparting training to the new and existing doctors of a hospital receiving critical care patients either on a high fidelity simulation or preserved dead bodies to make them understand the crucial steps to prevent errors.
  • ACCC is specially designed for those hospitals where doctors do not have practical knowledge about handling patients that require critical care.
  • This course takes care of prevention of small mistakes that make it life-threatening for the patient, be it administering IV fluids in patients, minor surgeries or anything else.
  • In many cases of medical negligence in India, delay in taking care of breathing leads to organ dysfunction and poorer outcome even if given the best treatment.
  • The fundamentals, Mr. Sharma added, taught as part of the course are not just confined to general surgery, but also to the cases of gynaecology, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and pulmonary.
  • Most of the new doctors are not well-versed in identifying and managing unexpected adverse events which have an enormous impact on the outcome of a patient’s health.
  • Sharma and his team have trained medical specialists at various Indian hospitals in ACCC since 2012, when the course was introduced in India.
  • However, ACCC has not spread far and wide in India with only 450 doctors across the country completing the course.
  • The concept of ACCC came into existence after England’s Hillsborough disaster, a fatal human crush during an FA Cup semi-final match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989 when over 96 people were killed and nearly 800 injured.
  • According to the experts, the death toll could have been much lower if adequate medical arrangements were available in hospitals.

Category: GOVERNMENT SCHEMES

1. Swachh Nyayalaya project

 

  • With a view to extend the Centre’s flagship Swachh Bharat campaign to courts, the Supreme Court of India is set to launch the “Swachh Nyayalaya” project. Chief Justice of India Justice Ranjan Gogoi to launch the project on the occasion of Law Day on November 26.
  • The vision of the project was presented by Supreme Court judge, Justice Madan B Lokur at the pre-launch function of the project.
  • It would be undertaken by NITI Aayog and the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation along with the NITI Aayog and the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation along with the Department of Justice.
  • The Supreme Court will oversee the implementation of the same.
  • A ₹700-crore project has been proposed to have clean courts, right from the Supreme Court and the High Courts to the 3,388 lower courts.
  • At a pre-launch function of the ‘Swachh Nyayalaya’ project, Supreme Court judge Madan B. Lokur said that besides construction and maintenance of wash-rooms in over 16,000 court rooms, a mechanism needed to be devised to deal with garbage, and to weed out old case files.
  • The Swachh Nyayalaya project will be undertaken by NITI Aayog and the Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation along with the Department of Justice. The Supreme Court will oversee the same.
  • The project involves a clean-up of all court rooms and buildings and facilitation of amenities like house-keeping, which will take care of cleanliness, white-washing, renovations etc. The Public Works Departments of states have been called upon to ensure the same.
  • Given the space crunch that is characteristic of most court rooms, the project will also involve weeding out of unnecessary case files.
  • Construction of toilets for both male and female lawyers and litigants – a facility that many courts sorely lack – is also being planned. These toilets will be equipped with vending machines that will dispense sanitary napkins, toilet paper, band-aids, etc. Garbage segregation in courts is also being planned.
  • Addressing the need to renovate court buildings, it has been identified that the estimated amount for renovation is around Rs. 15-20 lakh per court. This would require a total outlay of Rs. 700 crore, to be provided by the Central government.
  • The need to adhere to timelines for the Swacch Nyayalaya project has also been identified; it has been suggested that District Collectors be involved to ensure that these timelines are met. If all timelines are met, it is expected that the project will take one year to complete after the formal launch.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka

Context:

  • President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Mr. Wickremesinghe, replacing him with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The President subsequently prorogued Parliament for over two weeks, deferring the possibility of a floor test until November 16.

Speaker’s role in prorogation

  • The Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament, Karu Jayasuriya, urged President Maithripala Sirisena to protect the rights and privileges of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe until his majority in the House was challenged by another member.
  • Further, citing possible serious consequences of the President’s decision to suspend Parliament till November 16, he pressed Mr. Sirisena to reconvene the House.
  • The prorogation should be done in consultation with the Speaker. Mr. Jayasuriya said the move would have serious and undesirable consequences for the country and urged Mr. Sirisena to reconsider the decision.
  • Rajapaksa said he had accepted Mr. Sirisena’s invitation to assume charge as Prime Minister as he was aware that the people expected our leadership and protection, at this moment of national peril.
  • In the statement, signed as the ‘Prime Minister of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,’ Mr. Rajapaksa said the primary objective of leaders and lawmakers who had joined him and Mr. Sirisena was to ensure early conduct of provincial and parliamentary elections.

What are the reasons for replacement of PM?

  • Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena claimed that there is no constitutional violation in his recent appointment of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in place of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
  • In a televised address, Mr. Sirisena sought to justify his decision — to abruptly induct Mr. Rajapaksa as PM and then prorogue Parliament until November 16.
  • He cited sharp political and cultural differences with Mr. Wickremesinghe, with whom he formed Sri Lanka’s first national unity government in January 2015, among the factors.
  • Sirisena tied two main reasons to his falling out with Mr. Wickremesinghe — corruption related to the bond scam at the Central Bank and the alleged assassination plot targeting him.
  • Sri Lanka police functions under the Law and Order Ministry, helmed by a Minister from Mr. Wickremesinghe’s United National Party. The manner in which authorities probed the assassination plot was the most proximate and powerful reason for appointing Mr. Rajapaksa.
  • Meanwhile, Mr. Rajapaksa said that he accepted the invitation to assume charge as PM as he was aware that the people expected our leadership and protection at this moment of national peril.
  • The primary objective was to ensure an early holding of provincial and parliamentary elections, he said in a statement that he signed off as the ‘Prime Minister of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka’.

India’s concerns

  • India did not have a broad array of options regarding the situation.India should stay focussed on long-term priorities like bilateral and regional connectivity and trade ties with Sri Lanka, and allow the situation in Colombo to work itself out.
  • India reminded Sri Lanka of constitutional process, following the ongoing political crisis that erupted after President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. India’s response came as both the leaders began an outreach to the global diplomatic community.
  • This was the first time that India commented on the situation in Colombo which has turned into a stand-off between Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe.
  • Sri Lankan President appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa, his former rival, Prime Minister, but Mr. Wickremesinghe has said that he has the required parliamentary strength to continue in the post.
  • The friction between Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe began with a strong statement from the latter during his visit to Delhi, which seemed to target the President for delay in India-backed projects.
  • Wickremesinghe met select Colombo-based diplomats. The group, according to diplomatic sources, is said to have included those from the European Union, the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, Italy, France, Switzerland, South Africa and India.
  • India’s Deputy High Commissioner attended the meeting. Many of the countries had put out similar sounding statements and tweets, underscoring the need to respect due constitutional process and democracy.
  • The countries are loosely identifying themselves as being like-minded on this development.

C. GS3 Related

Category: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

1. Robot trucks to help airlines save on ATF

Background: TaxiBots
  • The Taxibot is a semi-robotic towbarless aircraft tractor developed by the Lahav Division of Israel Aerospace Industries. The tractor can tow an aircraft from the terminal gate to the take-off point (taxi-out phase) and return it to the gate after landing (taxi-in phase).
  • The TaxiBot eliminates the use of airplane engines during taxi-in and until immediately prior to take-off during taxi-out, significantly reducing aircraft fuel usage and the risk of foreign object damage.
  • The TaxiBot is controlled by the pilot from the cockpit using the regular pilot controls.

AVIATION FUEL

  • Aviation fuel is the fuel used to power aircraft in flight. It must satisfy the unique requirements of both the engine and the airframe of the aircraft.
  • Currently, the great majority (more than 99%) of aviation fuel used in both civil and military aircraft is jet fuel.
  • A small quantity of aviation gasoline is still used in small aircraft. Early aircraft used motor gasoline to power their spark ignition engines because the aviation and auto worlds shared the same early engines. 
  • Aviation fuel is a specialized type of petroleum-based fuel used to power aircraft.
  • It is generally of a higher quality than fuels used in less critical applications, such as heating or road transport, and often contains additives to reduce the risk of icing or explosion due to high temperature, among other properties.
  • Most current commercial airlines and military aircraft use jet fuel for maximum fuel efficiency and lowest cost.
  • These aircraft account for the vast majority of aviation fuel refined today, which is also used in diesel aircraft engines.
  • Other aviation fuels available for aircraft are kinds of petroleum spirit used in engines with spark plugs (e.g., piston and Wankel rotary engines).
  • Specific energy is the important criterion in selecting an appropriate fuel to power an aircraft.
  • Much of the weight of an aircraft goes into fuel storage to provide the range, and more weight means more fuel consumption.
  • Aircraft have a high peak power and thus fuel demand during take-off and landing. 

Context: In news

  • Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport is set to be the first airport in the country to commence commercial use of TaxiBots — semi-robotic tow trucks — to help airlines reduce use of air turbine fuel during taxiing.
  • SpiceJet and Jet Airways will carry out a live test with these tow trucks on Monday, following which the aviation regulator DGCA will grant approval for their use.
  • TaxiBot India introduced two semi-robotic tow trucks to IGI in September, which have since undergone several trials. Once the live performance evaluation with passengers onboard the aircraft is successful, the firm will sign commercial contracts with SpiceJet and Jet Airways.
  • The advanced tow trucks will be used for narrow-body planes of the two airlines and will initially be deployed only for flights departing from IGI.
  • The company is also in talks with Mumbai and Bengaluru airports for introducing similar operations.
  • Planes taxi from parking bay to runway or vice versa using their own engines to provide thrust. However, an aircraft can be steered with both its engines off with the help of a TaxiBot, which lifts and holds the aircraft’s nose wheel and transports it from the terminal to runway and back.

Soaring costs

  • This can help airlines save jet fuel, one of the largest expenses for an airline, accounting for nearly 30% of total operational costs.
  • It is estimated that at the current ATF rates, cost of fuel burnt during taxiing is ₹1,600 per minute for a narrow-body plane and ₹3,500 per minute for a wide-body plane.
  • According to an analysis by former vice-president of Delhi International Airport Limited Ashwani Khanna, an average 15 minutes of taxiing at six of the busiest airports in the country is likely to cost airlines collectively ₹20 billion annually by 2021.
  • These airports — Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Kolkata — handle nearly 65% of the air traffic in the country.

Category: ECONOMY

1. Depreciation and Exporters

Context:

  • Exports contracted by 2.34% in September, albeit on a high base, despite the rupee averaging more than 72 a dollar during that month.
  • Over August and September, when the rupee averaged 70.8 per dollar, India’s average export growth stood at 8.5%. Compare this to the 16.8% export growth rate in the same period of the previous year, when the rupee averaged a much stronger 64.2 to the dollar.
  • A combination of higher input costs, uncertainty over tariffs, and the fact that the government has said it would not be refunding them the Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST) they have paid, has meant that exports contracted in September for the first time in six months.

Concerns of Exporters

  • Exporters in India are not happy with the current policy and exchange rate situation even though they should be cheering the depreciating rupee.
  • A depreciating rupee should ideally be good for exporters, since it means that India’s exports are relatively cheaper than they were before.
  • However, export bodies such as the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) have said that this benefit is not passing through to exporters.
  • According to FIEO, the depreciation has resulted in an increase in the cost of imported capital goods, inputs and various services used by exporters paid in foreign currency.
  • Apart from this, the exporters say that depreciating currencies in some of their biggest export destinations such as West Asia, Africa, and certain parts of Asia, has meant that buyers in these areas have also begun asking for discounts.
  • While these factors are not completely in the government’s control, exporters complain that there are other issues where decisive government policies could go a long way in improving confidence in the sector and easing their financial troubles.

Generalised System of Preferences

  • The GSP is a system where the U.S. allows certain eligible countries to export about 3,500 commodities to the U.S. on a duty-free basis.
  • Earlier this year, the U.S. said it would be reviewing India’s eligibility for this benefit.
  • In the meantime, while the Indian government has maintained that India’s exporters are still eligible for the GSP benefits until the review is completed, major export bodies have said their exporters have not received these benefits since December 2017.
  • Several exporters have complained that the confusion surrounding India’s eligibility for the U.S. Generalised System of Preferences has meant that many advance orders, which ordinarily would have gone to Indian companies, are now being diverted to exporters in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Vietnam.
  • Further compounding this issue is that there is a complete lack of clarity among exporters on whether India’s exports currently can get the GSP benefits or not.
  • Others, however, say that they are receiving the benefits. It is up to the Indian government to clarify this situation with the U.S. government.
  • The Commerce Ministry has also been somewhat casual about this issue, the exporters say, with officials shrugging the issue off by saying that Indian businessmen have been canny enough to invest in countries that are still eligible for GSP benefits, and so they have been able to indirectly avail of those benefits through that route.

IGST refunds

  • The government has also maintained a stubborn stance on IGST refunds, say exporters. The Centre argues that since the exporters have been receiving duty drawback on input taxes paid, they are not eligible for IGST refunds.
  • Exporters say this view lack skews the playing field in favour of exporters operating in a single State. An exporter with operations in one State is eligible for Central GST and State GST refunds, but an exporter with operations across States gets no IGST refund.
  • Many of them say the bulk of their working capital — in many cases more than 50% — is tied up in IGST refunds.

Category: ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

1. Siberian visitors: Amur Falcons

 

  • Umru village on the Assam-Meghalaya border sees a flock of Amur falcons, the world’s longest travelling raptors.
  • Doyang Lake near Nagaland’s Wokha district is better known as a stopover for the Amur falcons during their annual migration from their breeding grounds in Mongolia and northern China to warmer South Africa, a flock has been seen since 2010 in Umru.

  • The lack of an access road is not the only problem faced by the villagers. Umru is in one of 12 disputed areas along the Assam-Meghalaya border, since Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972.
  • Assam claims the village is under Baithalangso Assembly constituency of East Karbi Anlong district while Meghalaya asserts it is under Mawhati Assembly constituency of its Ri-Bhoi district.
  • The 50-odd Gorkha households in the village prefer to be in Assam while the 30 Khasi tribal households want to be in Meghalaya.
  • But these disputes are forgotten when the village welcomes the falcons in mid-October, uniting to ensure a safe stay for the birds. Both communities have made common cause in protection of the Amur falcons and have fixed a fine of ₹25,000 for anyone caught ensnaring or killing the birds.

Conservation Efforts

  • The Tyrso Valley Wildlife Protection Society is an NGO formed by the villagers of the eponymous Meghalaya village adjoining Umru.
  • The group has been organising the Amur Falcon Festival since 2015 to celebrate the birds that have made this back-of-beyond area famous.
  • The festival is scheduled on November 7-8, a fortnight before the birds are expected to soar for the next destination.
  • People here have become sensitive about the birds because of awareness campaigns. They are also opening up to the idea of homestays for birdwatchers and nature lovers who come here for the Amur falcons.

Construction of Road

  • And the lack of a road had cramped their plans to open up to birdwatchers. The former government in Meghalaya under Mukul M. Sangma had sanctioned a nine km road from nearest roadhead, Liarbang, and the villagers hope work on the road will begin soon.
  • The Umru-Tyrso area, about 75 km northeast of Shillong, however, is a relatively recent pit stop for the falcons. The birds used to flock to Umwang, also in the Block II disputed area, from 1998-2009 before human interference made them shift base.
  • Wildlife officials in Nagaland also point out that the birds used to roost in large numbers in the Changtongya Community Conservation Reserve but moved on to Pangti and Yaongyimchen, a lesser roosting site.
  • Efforts are on to revive the Changtongya area, about 100 km north of Pangti, for the migratory raptors.
Background: Amur Falcon

Quick Facts

  • Scientific Name: Falco amurensis
  • Breeds in South-east Russia and northern China.
  • Migrates west through India and across the Arabian Sea to Southern Africa
  • Feeds on dragonflies that follow a similar migration path over Arabian Sea.
  • 22,000 km journey (longest sea crossing of any raptor)
  • Flyway: East-Asian Australasian and African Eurasian
  • Population of more than 1,000,000 breeding individuals

Main Threats  

  • Over harvesting from trapping
  • Habitat loss from grassland degradation

 

  • The Amur Falcon is a migratory raptor. Every year, the small, resilient birds make the daring voyage from breeding grounds in Russia and China to winter in southern Africa.
  • It is supposed that the falcons cross the Arabian Sea during their migration, but much is still unknown about the patterns of their estimated 22,000 km migration.

  • Because of the long journey, stopover sites are important for Amur Falcons to maintain stamina. In 2012 an estimated 120,000 to 140,000 birds were trapped in nets and killed while passing through a remote part of the Indian Nagaland region.
  • This prompted a swift response from the Indian Government and the Nagaland Forest Department, which used patrols and education initiatives for villagers as a means to halt trapping. In 2013, no falcons were trapped.
  • The Amur Falcon exemplifies the threat of illegal trapping and killing during migration, which harms countless bird species each year.
  • Besides this, the birds are prone to habitat loss from agricultural practices and land reclamation. Only international cooperation from organizations and governments working together will help preserve these species as they become increasingly vulnerable. 

2. Moths are key pollinators in Himalayan ecosystem

Context:

  • Moths are widely considered as pests.
  • A recent study by scientists of Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has revealed that these group of insects are pollinators to a number of flowering plants in the Himalayan ecosystem.
  • Scientists are looking at a new group of insects (moths) as pollinators. Usually bees, wasps and butterflies are considered as prominent pollinators.
  • About 90% of the world’s flowering plants are pollinated by animals. Therefore, pollinators are essential for the genetic exchange among flowering plants and the biodiversity among plants. In India, estimates put the number of moth species at nearly 12,000.

Details of the Study

  • Under the project titled “Assessment of Moths (Lepidoptera) As Significant Pollinators in the Himalayan Ecosystem of North Eastern India”, scientists collected moth samples from different ecosystem.
  • The analysis of proboscis, a long and thread-like organ used to suck flower sap, of a dozen moth species’ revealed the presence of pollen grains.
  • Most of the studies on plant pollinators or plant-pollinator network are focused on diurnal interactions between the insects and plants. This particular study is based on plant- moth interactions, as a nocturnal phenomenon.
  • The study was carried out in states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and West Bengal. According to Dr. Singh, proboscis of different moth families, such as Erebidae and Sphingidae, were found to contain pollen of several flowering plants, including Rhododendron.
  • What came as a bigger revelation was the structure of the proboscis in different moth species.
  • On observing the proboscis under scanning electron microscope, it was observed that these structures are not only meant for sap-sucking, but are morphological designed for pollination.
  • In some species of moths, the organ is found to be modified into a spine-like structure and in others, a lateral canal to arrest and disperse pollen.
  • Experts also pointed out that similar studies on ascertaining the role of moths in pollination are underway in different parts of the world.
  • Researchers have pointed out that almost two-thirds of common large moth species have declined over a period of 40 years in many parts of the world.
  • One of the main reasons for the decline is the increase in ecological light pollution, especially in areas inhabited by moths.

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: GOVERNANCE

1. Institutional Crisis in CBI

Context:

  • The country’s premier investigation agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation, is facing the biggest credibility crisis ever since it was formed as a special police force in 1941.
  • At the centre of the controversy are two high ranking officials — special director Rakesh Asthana and director Alok Verma.
  • In a first of sorts, the CBI has registered a first information report against Asthana for allegedly accepting a Rs 3-crore bribe to settle a case against meat exporter Moin Quereshi.
  • On his part, Asthana has levelled bribery allegations in more than a dozen cases against his boss.

Role of CVC with respect to CBI

  • The CVC is not an investigating agency. The only investigation carried out by the CVC is that of examining Civil Works of the Government which is done.
  • Corruption investigations against government officials can proceed only after the government permits them. The CVC publishes a list of cases where permissions are pending, some of which may be more than a year old.
  • The Ordinance of 1998 conferred statutory status to the CVC and the powers to exercise superintendence over functioning of the Delhi Special Police Establishment, and also to review the progress of the investigations pertaining to alleged offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 conducted by them.
  • In 1998 the Government introduced the CVC Bill in the Lok Sabha in order to replace the Ordinance, though it was not successful.
  • The Bill was re-introduced in 1999 and remained with the Parliament till September 2003, when it became an Act after being duly passed in both the Houses of Parliament.
  • The CVC has also been publishing a list of corrupt government officials against which it has recommended punitive action.
  • In 2004, GoI authorised the CVC as the “Designated Agency” to receive written complaints for disclosure on any allegation of corruption or misuse of office and recommend appropriate action.

Latest changes in CVC Act

  • The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 has amended some provisions of CVC Act, 2003 and the Commission has been empowered to conduct preliminary inquiry into complaints referred by Lokpal in respect of officers and officials of Groups B, C & D, besides Group A officers.
  • The Commission’s additional functions would include conducting preliminary inquiry into the complaints referred by Lokpal in respect of Gr. ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’& ‘D’ officials for which a Directorate of Inquiry for making preliminary inquiry is to be set up in the Commission.
  • The preliminary inquiry reports in such matters referred by Lokpal in respect of Group A and B officers are required to be sent to the Lokpal by the Commission. Further, as per mandate, the Commission is to cause further investigation into such Lokpal references in respect of Gr. ‘C’& ‘D’ officials and decide on further course of action against them.

Hawala Case judgement: The landmark verdict of SC on CVC

  • The Hawala Case From 1964 to 1993, for nearly three decades, the CVC rolled along without making any visible dent on the problem of corruption in the country.
  • A very important milestone in its history occurred when the Supreme Court pronounced its judgement in what is popularly known as the Hawala Case.
  • The gist of allegations made in the writ petitions filed on 4 October 1993 was that:
    1. financial support was given to terrorists by clandestine and illegal means using tainted funds obtained through hawala transactions;
    2. the CBI and other agencies failed to investigate these properly and prosecute those who were involved in committing the offences; and
    3. this was done deliberately to protect persons who were influential and powerful.

SC Judgment and CVC

  • In this judgment court declared the Single Directive null and void and gave directions to establish institutional and other arrangements aimed at insulating the CBI and the Directorate of Enforcement of the Ministry of Finance from outside influences.
  1. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) shall be given statutory status.
  2. Selection for the post of Central Vigilance Commissioner shall be made by a Committee comprising the Prime Minister, Home Minister and the Leader of the Opposition from a panel of outstanding civil servants and others with impeccable integrity, to be furnished by the Cabinet Secretary.
  • The appointment shall be made by the President on the basis of the recommendations made by the Committee. This shall be done immediately.
  1. The CVC shall be responsible for the efficient functioning of the CBI. While Government shall remain answerable for the CBI’s functioning, to introduce visible objectivity in the mechanism to be established for overviewing the CBI’s working, the CVC shall be entrusted with the responsibility of superintendence over the CBI’s functioning.
  • The CBI shall report to the CVC about cases taken up by it for investigation; progress of investigation; cases in which charge-sheets are filed and their progress.
  • The CVC shall review the progress of all cases moved by the CBI for sanction of prosecution of public servants which are pending with the competent authorities, especially those in which sanction has been delayed or refused.
  1. The Central Government shall take all measures necessary to ensure that the CBI functions effectively and efficiently and is viewed as a non-partisan agency.
  2. The CVC shall have a separate section in its Annual Report on the CBI’s functioning after the supervisory function is transferred to it.

 

  1. Recommendations for appointment of the Director, CBI shall be made by a Committee headed by the Central Vigilance Commissioner with the Home Secretary and Secretary (Personnel) as members.
  • The views of the incumbent Director shall be considered by the Committee for making the best choice.
  • The Committee shall draw up a panel of IPS officers on the basis of their seniority, integrity, experience in investigation and anti-corruption work. The final selection shall be made by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) from the panel recommended by the Selection Committee.
  • If none among the panel is found suitable, the reasons thereof shall be recorded and the Committee asked to draw up a fresh panel.
  1. The Director, CBI shall have a minimum tenure of two years, regardless of the date of his superannuation.
  • This would ensure that an officer suitable in all respects is not ignored merely because he has less than two years to superannuate from the date of his appointment.
  1. The transfer of an incumbent Director, CBI in an extraordinary situation, including the need for him to take up a more important assignment, should have the approval of the Selection Committee.
  2. The Director, CBI shall have full freedom for allocation of work within the agency as also for constituting teams for investigations. Any change made by the Director, CBI in the Head of an investigative team should be for cogent reasons and for improvement in investigation, the reasons being recorded.

Present Scenario : Intervention of Supreme Court

  1. The Supreme Court stepped into the institutional crisis engineered by the forcible transfer of the Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) earlier in the week.
  2. Given the patent illegality of the “forcible leave” of CBI Director Alok Verma, and the need to maintain the Bureau’s legal independence guaranteed by law, the Supreme Court has chosen to attempt to sort out this mess.
  3. Legally, the straightforward thing to do would have been for the Supreme Court to act according to the black and white law, and reinstate Mr. Verma, the CBI Director, and leave it there.

What are the Transfer rules?

  • Section 4B of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act doesn’t allow the government to transfer the CBI Director during the two-year fixed tenure without the previous consent of the high powered committee consisting of the Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition (or a member of the largest Opposition party in the Lok Sabha).
  • This was introduced in 2013 by the Act constituting the Lokpal. Till then, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) was a part of the committee mentioned in Section 4B. It isn’t any longer, and thus has no role in asking the government to divest the CBI Director of his powers.
  • The Supreme Court has tread more cautiously — but given the administrative breakdown, prudently.
  • It has not immediately reinstated the CBI Director and instead has clipped the wings of the “interim” Director, restraining him from making any policy or major decisions, except those that are routine and essential for the CBI to function.
  • The interim order also said that his decisions thus far will be reviewed by the Supreme Court, and must be submitted to it. All transfers, including of one officer to Port Blair, will be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
  • The CBI, in essence, is now under the Supreme Court’s administration. The investigations being undertaken by the Director, Special Director, and all the transferred officers will likely stand frozen.
  • Important decisions by investigating officers or decisions to be taken in critical cases will not be taken. It is unclear what the ‘routine’ decisions essential to the CBI functioning are, but the “interim” Director should be loathe to act with the alacrity and brutality he deployed in the first hours when he took office.
  • His authority stands severely diminished, and were he to take any major action, one can expect a challenge to it in court.
  • While taking pains to point out that it is not commenting on the functioning of the government, the Supreme Court has also taken over the powers of the CVC in this case.
  • It is the CVC’s note to the government that was the ostensible provocation for the government to wield its axe at midnight.
  • The CVC’s reasonings in that note to the government, which is challenged in the Supreme Court, were obviously not accepted by the court, and retired Supreme Court judge Justice A.K. Patnaik has been appointed, pending his formal consent, to supervise the investigation into the complaints against Mr. Verma.
  • That the CVC requires supervision by the Supreme Court reveals the shocking state of disrepair in the system.
  • Although the court did not mention the causes of its anxiety, the CVC’s note makes apparent the Supreme Court’s disquiet.
  • It labours to explain why the complaint forwarded to it by the Cabinet Secretary must remain anonymous, but must be answered, though its allegations have not been independently verified, or prima facie
  • It repeatedly points out that there is no wrongdoing found in the investigation of Rakesh Asthana, the CBI Special Director, by the CBI, but reminds the CBI that it must conduct the investigation fairly, and questions whether there should be an investigation at all without sanction from the competent authority.
  • Other notes from the CVC are also seemingly in order to remind the CBI of Mr. Asthana’s rights.
  • Another refers to allegations found in a secret note submitted by Mr. Asthana which in itself is derived from a secret, apparently undivulged, source.
  • Any defence lawyer worth her salt will tell you that a ‘counter blast’ against the other side is not an effective strategy, especially when made after you have been accused first.
  • The nature of the CVC’s demands reveals a bias. The CBI has dithered in providing records to the CVC, no doubt, but there is no matter of such great concern or exigency mentioned in the note that required immediate interim measures or a midnight cabinet meeting to wield the axe.
  • The CVC’s past history is also revealing. It usually acts as a postbox for forwarding complaints to the requisite government departments, without even bothering to ask for a reply from the department concerned.
  • In this case, it hadn’t even received the CBI’s report on Mr. Asthana, which it had requested, when it voted in favour of the selection committee recommending him as CBI Special Director.
  • Its explanation that Mr. Verma thumbed his nose at its supervisory role, leading to his removal, doesn’t hold water.
  • And if that was the extent of the problem, far less egregious measures, consistent with its powers, were possible — including actually summoning the CBI Director instead of the records, and registering a case against him, which has still not been done.
  • The sanction to investigate, required under Section 17A of the Prevention of Corruption Act, as amended in 2018 by the government, was designed to protect officials from perceived investigative harassment, but it is hardly the CVC’s job to tell the CBI that its investigation is without the sanction of the law.
  • This case continues the trend of the Supreme Court stepping into the executive’s domain. It has, never, however, done so to this extent. Two principal agencies in the fight against corruption, the CBI and the CVC, will function under its scrutiny.

Under the circumstances

  • The Supreme Court, thus, has chosen to act according to its ideas of fairness, or equity, rather than the strict confines of the law.
  • It has waded into the administrative crises trying to fashion a solution, but as an interim measure it has indicated that it will have to consider each decision of the “interim” CBI Director, and thus each decision of the officer transferred in every investigation.
  • Justice Patnaik will have to supervise an investigation, within two weeks, into the vague and secret allegations against Mr. Verma. Both are woefully under-equipped for a task that requires fact-finding of such magnitude.
  • However, as an interim measure, it is hard to think what else would have sufficed.

Category: INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

1. Sri Lankan democracy in peril

Context

  • Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to withdraw his faction from the ruling coalition and replace Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has plunged the country into a political crisis.
  • This was further complicated, a day later, by the President’s move to suspend Parliament till November 16.
  • Sirisena’s fast-deteriorating relationship with Mr. Wickremesinghe was an open secret, and there were indications that he could be negotiating a possible partnership with Mr. Rajapaksa.
  • And before the details and implications of the political drama that was unfolding could sink in, Mr. Rajapaksa had been sworn in Prime Minister, beaming as he greeted the President, his chief rival until days ago.
  • Wickremesinghe has termed his replacement “unconstitutional” and maintains that he remains Prime Minister.
  • Confident of a majority, he has challenged the Rajapaksa-Sirisena combine to take a floor test in the 225-member House.

How does this affect the normal life in Srilanka?

  • By suspending Parliament, Mr. Sirisena is seen to have exposed his own insecurity about garnering the required strength.
  • The next two weeks will be crucial, with attempts at horse-trading and assertions of political loyalty amid uncertainty. None of these is uncommon in Sri Lankan politics, but the circumstances, which are entirely of Mr. Sirisena’s making, have led to a political upheaval that was avoidable.
  • All this has come at a time of economic fragility, with a plummeting rupee, soaring unemployment and rising living costs.

Abuse of Executive powers

  • The best forum to test political clout in a democracy is the legislature.
  • An extra-parliamentary power struggle, that too using illegal means, heightens the risk of political thuggery and unrest.
  • Sirisena’s appointment of Mr. Rajapaksa even before voting out Mr. Wickremesinghe on the floor of Parliament is nothing but blatant abuse of his executive powers.
  • Guided by narrow political interests, the President’s actions betray an utter disregard for the parliamentary process.
  • In resorting to these emergency measures, he has not only put democracy in serious peril but also let down Sri Lankans, including a sizeable section of the Tamil and Muslim minorities that backed him in the critical 2015 election.
  • Still recovering from the violence and bloodbath during its nearly three-decade-long civil war, and grappling with the economic and social challenges in its aftermath, Sri Lanka cannot afford to recede from the democratic space that opened up in 2015.
  • Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe had come together in an exceptional political alliance that promised to put the country back on the path of democracy, after a decade of Mr. Rajapaksa’s authoritarian rule.
  • Leaving aside the irony of Mr. Sirisena joining hands with Mr. Rajapaksa, who he had left and subsequently unseated from office, his desire to consolidate power by hook or by crook is extremely unfortunate.
  • Though much damage has been done already, a fair vote must be ensured when Parliament reconvenes, if possible before November 16.

F. Tidbits

Nothing here for today!!!

G. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements:
  1. The Swachh Nyayalaya project will be undertaken completely by NITI Aayog.
  2. The Swachh Nyayalaya project involves a clean-up of all courtrooms and buildings and facilitation of amenities like house-keeping, which will take care of cleanliness, white-washing, renovations, etc.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 2. Consider the following statements:
  1. The Taxibot is a semi-robotic towbarless aircraft tractor.
  2. The TaxiBot eliminates the use of airplane engines during taxi-in and until immediately prior to take-off during taxi-out.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements:
  1. Aviation fuel is the fuel used to power aircraft in flight.
  2. Aviation fuel is not a  petroleum-based fuel.

Which of the above statements are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. None of the above

See

Answer

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Implementing the Acute Critical Care Course (ACCC) course in Indian hospitals, especially in the rural areas, can bring down the mortality rates due to medical negligence by nearly 50%. Comment.
  2. India should stay focussed on long-term priorities like bilateral and regional connectivity and trade ties with Sri Lanka, and allow the situation in Colombo to work itself out. Critically analyse this statement with respect to the present democratic crisis in Srilanka.

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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