28 Sep 2018: UPSC Exam Comprehensive News Analysis

TABLE OF CONTENTS

A. GS1 Related
B. GS2 Related
POLITY
1. Hearings on Ayodhya title suit
2. Adultery and IPC
C. GS3 Related
D. GS4 Related
E. Editorials
POLITY AND GOVERNANCE
1. Finding an equilibrium
2. Should the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi case be released?
F. Tidbits
1. Rajasthan farmers benefited from solar water pumps: study
2. Sabarimala temple entry verdict today
3. Moratorium on loans in Kerala
4. Amarinder writes to PM on compensation to farmers
5. Railways to roll out smart coaches
6. Kolkata launches first flood forecast system
7. Aircraft leasing: India must tackle key issues for viability
8. Short-term rates fall as RBI eases SLR norms
9. Airline stocks slip on ATF duty
10. Iran sanctions may cost refiners $500 mn
11. Aadhaar: DoT to hold meetings
12. MDR reimbursement pending from banks
13. Customs duty hike can’t tackle rising CAD: Montek
14. Centre appoints search committee for Lokpal
15. Centre steps up grant for disaster fund
16. Uzbek President to invite India to join Afghan rail project
G. Prelims Fact
H. UPSC Prelims Practice Questions
I. UPSC Mains Practice Questions 

A. GS1 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

B. GS2 Related

Category: POLITY

1. Hearings on Ayodhya title suit

 
  • A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court declined to refer the question if a mosque as a place of prayer is an essential part of Islam in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid appeals to a seven-judge Bench.
  • The majority view by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Ashok Bhushan ordered that the hearing in the main Ayodhya title suit appeals should resume.
  • With Chief Justice Misra retiring on October 2, a new three-judge Bench would be constituted.

1994 judgment: Ismail Faruqui case

  • The bone of contention here is an observation made by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the 1994 judgment in the Ismail Faruqui case.
  • It had stated that a mosque is not an essential part of the practice of the religion of Islam and namaz (prayer) by Muslims can be offered anywhere, even in open.

Fundamental rights

  • What is essential or not in a religion can be decided only after studying tenets, beliefs, and doctrines.
  • Justice Nazeer held that the comment has to be examined in the background of the fundamental right against discrimination under Article 15 and the protection guaranteed to practice, profess and propagate religion in Articles 25 and 26 under the Constitution.
  • As the hearings progressed in the appeals, the Muslim appellants had pressed that the place of a mosque in Islam and the importance of the practice of offering prayers inside a mosque should be first decided by a five-judge Bench.
  • Speaking for the majority judgement of himself and the Chief Justice on the issue of referring the question if a mosque as a place of prayer is an essential part of Islam, in the Ramjanmabhoomi-Babri Masjid appeals, to a seven-judge Bench, Justice Ashok Bhushan said references cannot be made to a larger Bench merely because of questionable observations made in an earlier judgment.

Such observations cannot be treated as “governing factors” for a reference, he said.

  • Justice Bhushan said the statement made in the 1994 Faruqui verdict was in the context of whether the mosque, which was acquired by the Ayodhya Act of 1993, had immunity from acquisition.
  • The statement meant that no place of worship, be it a temple, church or mosque, is immune from acquisition. It merely wanted to convey that mosques had “no special immunity from acquisition”.
  • The context had nothing to do with the essentiality of the practice of offering prayers or namaz in a mosque.
  • Acquisition, Justice Bhushan observed, is a sovereign power. The power of acquisition is available for a mosque like any other place of worship.
  • Places of worship of all religions are liable to be acquired by the government under the Doctrine of Eminent Domain.

Doctrine of Eminent Domain

  • Eminent domain or land acquisition is the power of a state, provincial, or national government to take private property for public use.
  • However, this power can be legislatively delegated by the state to municipalities, government subdivisions, or even to private persons or corporations, when they are authorized by the legislature to exercise the functions of public character.
  • Senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan, for the Muslims appellants, had argued that the observation in the Ismail Faruqui judgment has affected the status of mosques in Islam.
  • The majority view also dismissed Mr. Dhavan’s exception to the observation made in the Faruqui judgment that Ayodhya, being the place of birth of Lord Rama, has “particular significance”.
  • The statement that “praying in a mosque is not an essential part of Islam and namaz by Muslims can be offered even in the open” by a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in a 1994 judgment played a role in the Allahabad High Court’s decision to partition the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site, Justice S. Abdul Nazeer held on Thursday.
  • A three-judge Bench of the High Court had partitioned the disputed site among Hindus, Muslims and the Nirmohi Akhara in September 2010.
  • It is this decision which is in appeal now in the Supreme Court.

Dissenting opinion

  • Justice S. Abdul Nazeer observed that the question of what is essential or not in a religion cannot be hastily decided.
  • He held that the question raised on the essentiality of offering prayers in mosques should indeed be examined by a seven-judge Bench before the Ayodhya suit appeals are heard.
  • Justice Nazeer said the questions raised during the Ayodhya appeals’ hearing about the comment made in the Ismail Faruqui judgment require a comprehensive examination by a seven-judge Bench.
  • In his stinging dissent, Justice Nazeer disagreed with the majority opinion of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Ashok Bhushan that the comment made in the 24-year-old Ismail Faruqui judgment of a Constitution Bench has no relevance in the present Ayodhya title suit appeals.
  • Justice Nazeer observed that the remark “permeated” the arguments of the lawyers who fought the Ayodhya title dispute before the High Court.
  • Justice Nazeer gave extracts from the voluminous judgments of the High Court to show the impact made by the remark.
  • Justice Nazeer said the comment cannot be brushed off, especially in the background of an issue as sensitive as the Ayodhya dispute.
  • Justice Nazeer said the Ismail Faruqui judgment should be “brought in line”. The question of essentiality of offering prayers in a mosque should be referred to a seven-judge Bench, which should examine the issue in light of the beliefs, tenets and practice of the faith in question.

2. Adultery and IPC

 Section 497
  • Section 497 of the Indian Penal Code was dealing with Adultery.
  • As per the Indian law, a woman cannot be punished for the offence of adultery.
  • Only a man who has consensual sexual intercourse with the wife of another man without his consent can be punished under this offense in India. If someone “lives in adultery”, the partner can file for divorce.
  • The law became defunct on 27 Sep 2018 by Supreme Court of India.
  • The Supreme Court called the law unconstitutional because it “treats a husband as the master.”
    Section 497 reads as follows:
    Adultery.—Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting to the offense of rape, is guilty of the offense of adultery, and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both. In such case the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.
  • A five-judge Constitution Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, in four separate but concurring opinions held that adultery is not a crime and struck it off the Indian Penal Code.
  • Chief Justice Misra, in an opinion for himself and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, observed that Section 497 (adultery) of the Code “commands” married couples to remain loyal to each other.

A matter of choice

  • Two individuals may part if one cheats, but to attach criminality to infidelity is going too far, the Chief Justice observed.
  • Besides, there is no data to back claims that abolition of adultery as a crime would result in “chaos in sexual morality” or an increase of divorce.
  • How married couples deal with adultery is absolutely a matter of privacy at its pinnacle, the Chief Justice wrote.
  • Loss of moral commitment in a marriage creates a dent in the relationship, but it is left to each individual to deal with the problem — some may forgive while others may seek divorce.
  • Punishing each other or the wife’s lover is unlikely to re-kindle commitment, the judgment said.
  • Section 497 treats a married woman as the commodity of her husband, the Bench held. Adultery is not a crime if the cuckolded husband connives or consents to his wife’s extra-marital affair.
  • Section 497 treats a married woman as her husband’s chattel. The provision is a reflection of the social dominance of men prevalent 150 years ago, the judgment said.
  • Justice D.Y. Chandrachud held that a married woman can make her own sexual choices. By marrying, she has not consented to refrain from relations outside marriage without the permission of her husband.
  • A husband is not the owner of his wife’s sexuality, he said. To be human involves the ability to fulfil sexual desires in the pursuit of happiness, he observed.

C. GS3 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

D. GS4 Related

Nothing here for today!!!

E. Editorials

Category: POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

1. Finding an equilibrium

Note to Students:

Note to the Students: The issue surrounding the constitutional validity of the Aadhar has been an important topic over the past few days. Although we have covered this in our previous coverage of the editorial news analysis, this particular opinion section on the Aadhar raises a few more important points which need to be looked into by UPSC aspirants.  

From a UPSC point of view there are a few important areas to cover in this article. These are: 1) The idea of Aadhar 2) The concept of a Money Bill (Article 110)
3) The issues concerning data privacy of an individual

Here we have suitably signposted the Editorial Analysis into multiple headings.

  • “The News”: This covers the central idea/news which is the subject of our study. This can be the occurrence of a certain event such as the launch of a new Government Scheme, the passage of a particular Act of Parliament, the commencement of an international dialogue, observations made by the Courts of our country, etc.   
  • “Larger Background”: The talks about the broader context of the issue, taking into consideration specific points that may have been featured in previous editions of The Hindu. The thought process behind including this section is to give a ‘storyline’ approach to an aspirant when he/she goes through this topic.

  • “Editorial Analysis”: This particular section gives an insight towards the specific points covered in the specific editorial/opinion section that is the subject of our study.

  • “The Way Forward/Concluding Remarks”: This sections gives aspirants concluding points that are taken from the article in question as well as some forwarding looking points taken from other articles, as and when required.

The important aspect to note here is that the issue being discussed in the news assumes priority over just the article. Thus, such a coverage of an editorial would give aspirants a broader, more comprehensive view of the topic.

  • The News:
  • In a recent judgement by the Supreme Court of India, four out of five judges on a Constitution Bench ruled that the law enabling the implementation of the unique identification programme (Aadhar) does not violate the right to privacy of citizens.
  • The Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and clarified areas in which it cannot be made mandatory.
  • The court is of the view that the project empowers marginalised sections and procures dignity for them along with services, benefits and subsidies by leveraging the power of technology.
  1. Larger Background:

  • It is important to note that the Aadhaar Act was passed as a money bill.
  • The Speaker of the Lok Sabha had classified this bill as a money bill.

What is a Money Bill?   

  • A Bill is said to be a Money Bill if it only contains provisions related to
  1. taxation,
  2. borrowing of money by the government,
  3. expenditure from or receipt to the Consolidated Fund of India. Bills that only contain provisions that are incidental to these matters would also be regarded as Money Bills.
  • A Money Bill may only be introduced in Lok Sabha. This is done so on the recommendation of the President.
  • It must be passed in Lok Sabha by a simple majority of all members present and voting.  Following this, it may be sent to the Rajya Sabha for its recommendations, which Lok Sabha may reject if it chooses to.  
  • If such recommendations are not given within 14 days, it will deemed to be passed by Parliament.

What is a Financial Bill?

  • A Bill that contains some provisions related to taxation and expenditure, and additionally contains provisions related to any other matter is called a Financial Bill. Therefore, if a Bill merely involves expenditure by the government, and addresses other issues, it will be a financial bill.
  • A Financial Bill may only be introduced in Lok Sabha, on the recommendation of the President. The Bill must be passed by both Houses of Parliament, after the President has recommended that it be taken up for consideration in each House.
  • It is important to note that the Rajya Sabha has no power to reject or amend a Money Bill.  However, a Financial Bill must be passed by both Houses of Parliament.
  • The Speaker certifies a Bill as a Money Bill, and the Speaker’s decision is final.

Some Specifics:

  • In recent times, the unique identification programme was projected by sceptics, detractors and activists as an intrusion on citizens’ privacy.
  • Many sceptics were of the opinion that the Aadhar was a grand project to appropriate personal data for commercial exploitation by private parties and profiling by the state.
  • Last year, 2017, a nine-judge Bench had unanimously ruled that privacy is a fundamental right.
  • Ever since this decision by the Supreme Court, opinion began to spread that the unique identification programme was vulnerable in the face of judicial scrutiny.
  • On studying this judgement, one draws the conclusion that the Supreme Court has restored the original intent of the programme, which is to plug leakages in subsidy schemes and to have better targeting of welfare benefits.
  • Over the past few years, the Aadhaar came to play a large role in the lives of ordinary people.
  • The Aadhaar has acquired the shape of a basic identity document that was required to access services, such as:
    a)  birth and death certificates,
  1. b) SIM cards,
  2. c) school admissions,
  3. d) property registrations and
    e) vehicle purchases.

  • The recent judgment of the Supreme Court narrows the scope of Aadhaar but provides a framework within which it can work.
  • This judgement has two views,
    a) The majority opinion
  1. b) The dissenting opinion/judgement  

The majority opinion:

  • The majority opinion has sought to limit the import of the scheme to aspects directly related to welfare benefits, subsidies and money spent from the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Relying on official statistics, the majority favoured the scheme’s continuance for the sake of the 99.76% of people included under the scheme, rather than show anxiety over the 0.24% who were excluded because of authentication failure.
  • The Bench made an important statement by saying that “The remedy is to plug the loopholes rather than axe the project,”.

A few implications of the majority opinion:

  • The various controversial circulars and rules making it mandatory to

link mobile phone numbers and bank accounts to Aadhaar numbers have been declared unconstitutional.

  • Further, Section 57 of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery Of Financial And Other Subsidies, Benefits And Services) Act, 2016, has been struck down to the extent that it authorised body corporates and individuals to use the Aadhaar number to establish someone’s identity.
  • Schools have been barred from making the submission of the Aadhaar number mandatory to enrol children.
  • A few other provisions have also been read down or clarified.

Dissenting Judgement:

  • Justice DY Chandrachud in his dissenting judgement said that the “Aadhaar allows constructing profiles of individuals, which is against the right to privacy and enables potential surveillance,”.
  • Justice Chandrachud said: “Bypassing Rajya Sabha to pass Aadhaar Act amounts to subterfuge and the law can be struck down.”
  • He further observed that the Aadhaar cannot be treated as money bill and passing a bill as money bill which is not a money bill is a fraud on the Constitution,”.
  • Justice Chandrachud said if Aadhaar is seeded with every database then there is chance of infringement of right to privacy. He said there was absence of regulatory mechanism to provide robust data protection.
  • He went on to add that allowing private players to use Aadhaar will lead to profiling which could be used to ascertain political views of citizens.
  • Having said this, he agreed with the majority decision that mobile companies cannot insist on Aadhaar.
  • He also highlighted that biometric authentication failures have led to denial of rights and legal entitlements. He sighted the reason for such failures in the project’s inability to account for and remedy flaws in its network and design.
  • It is important to note that while a dissenting judgement has no force of law, it leaves open the possibility of being referred to a larger bench at a later stage.
  • He further ruled that the denial of benefits arising out of any social security rights is “violative of human dignity and impermissible under our constitutional scheme”.
  • He also observed that there was no institutional responsibility of the UIDAI to protect the data of citizens.

III. Editorial Analysis:

  • Although the Honourable Supreme Court of India had observed that the Right to Privacy would be now recognized as a Fundamental Right under Part III of the Constitution of India.
  • This was observed under the K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (2017) case.
  • But the nine-judge Bench had left open the question of Aadhaar.
  • Crucially, the point before the Court was whether the “national security” perspective and “social welfare state” perspective provided constitutional grounds for “reasonable restrictions” (reasonable because non-arbitrary).

Here, “national security” perspective refers to the vital role of surveillance to curb terror and prevent money laundering and crime financing.

Social welfare state” perspective refers to how Aadhaar ensured that subsidies went to the right people.

The issue of contention: Passing the Aadhar as a Money Bill:

  • From this issue, one thing that has emerged is the question of finality of the Speaker’s decision on what amounts to a Money Bill under Article 110(3) of the Constitution.
  • There are two competing views that emerge here. These are:
    1) An Expansionist View

2) A Contractionist View

  • The Expansionist view, while acknowledging the high constitutional status of the Speaker, suggests that any bill which involves recourse to Consolidated Fund of India is a Money Bill, and the charge levelled is that the finality of the Speaker’s decision is virtually unchallengeable.
  • The Contractionist view suggests that just like all constitutional functionaries, the Speaker is bound to exercise the discretion reasonably;

  • The fact that increasingly one observes that a large number of bills are being tagged as Money Bills sets a dangerous precedent because it removes the rationale for bicameral legislatures.  
  • From a critical standpoint, Justice Chandrachud fully dissents and holds the law invalid as a “fraud on the Constitution”, asserting that it is a colourable exercise of constitutional power.
  • Importantly, Justice Chandrachud holds that the decision to give the Aadhaar Bill the status of a Money Bill violates the principle of bicameralism and an aspect of federalism. It is important to note that the principle of bicameralism is declared as a part of the basic structure of the Constitution of India.  

2. Should the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi case be released?

This is an analysis-based article which presents different perspectives to the reader on whether or not the convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi case should be released or not.
UPSC aspirants would benefit from these points as they can use much of this content to present answers on the topic in case it is asked in the UPSC Mains Examination, be it as a part of the General Studies- II paper or the Essay paper.

Larger Background:

  • The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India, occurred as a result of a suicide bombing in Sriperumbudur, near Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, India on 21st May, 1991.

Analysis- I:

The points mentioned here, agree with the argument that the convicts should be released.

  • This view asserts that any further delay in ordering the release of the seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case will run the risk of the state falling foul of Article 14 of the Constitution which says that it “shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws”.
  • It is important to note that many prisoners who have been convicted of similar crimes have had their sentences pardoned under Article 161.
  • Further, it is important to note that the legal history of these prisoners has endured twists and turns. The mercy petitions of these prisoners were kept undecided for 11 years, between 2000 and 2011, by the highest constitutional offices.
  • In August 2011, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly adopted a resolution recommending commutation of their death sentences.
  • In the Union of India v. V. Sriharan (2015) case, the Supreme Court of India eventually commuted the death sentences to rigorous imprisonment for the remainder of their lives.
  • This action taken by the Supreme Court of India provided a glimmer of hope for further commutation of sentences under Section 435 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
  • It is crucial to note that the division of powers places “public order” under Entry 1 of List II (which is the State List) of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.
  • As a consequence to this, the matter must lie within the exclusive remit of the State government.
  • It is important to also note that the commutation of sentence vide V. Sriharan v. Union of India (2014) automatically brings the Tamil Nadu Prison Rules into play.
  • Rule 341 of the Tamil Nadu Prison Rules states that the Advisory Board of the prison shall deem life imprisonment to be “imprisonment for twenty years” for consideration for premature release or parole. As a consequence to this, it naturally follows that these prisoners in question must be dealt with under the Rules in the same manner as would any other prisoner serving a sentence in a prison in Tamil Nadu. Any divergence from this principle would be ultra vires on the ground of arbitrariness.

The idea of Reformative Justice:

  • It is based on the humanistic principle that even if an offender commits a crime, he does not cease to be a human being.
  • Under this theory, the object of punishment should be the reform of the criminal.
  • He may have committed a crime under circumstances which might never occur again. Therefore an effort should be made to reform him.
  • The object of punishment should be to bring about the moral reform of the offender.
  • It is important to note that in India, the prisons, for all their faults, must ultimately stay loyal to the theory of reformative justice.
  • It is believed that the focus of our prison system should be in bringing about reform in the moral character of each prisoner and enabling him to restart his life outside the jail complex after serving his sentence.

In conclusion, prisoners who have served the prescribed sentence of 20 years in Tamil Nadu must be considered for reintegration into our society.

Analysis- II:

The points mentioned here, doesn’t take a stand on whether or not the convicts must be released; however, these points highlight the fact that certain difficult questions of law and policy are involved, which may have to be resolved first

  • In the Gopal Vinayak Godse v. the State of Maharashtra (1961) case, the Supreme Court ruled that a sentence of imprisonment for life means imprisonment for the rest of one’s natural life.
  • Thus, it is a misconception that upon the completion of 14 years of imprisonment, a life sentence has been served.
  • Having said this, there is always the power of executive remission.
  • Under this power, the appropriate government reduces part of the sentence for the convict’s good behaviour. Remission is also necessary; otherwise overcrowded prisons will overflow with old and ailing prisoners who have no hope of release.

Certain Specifics:

  • In the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the question is, would it be appropriate or not to remit the rest of the sentence?
  • This case involves not only the assassination of a former Prime Minister, but also the deaths of several others in the incident, including policemen and bystanders.
  • Although the family of Rajiv Gandhi may have no objection, but the families of the other victims need to express their preferences.
  • This is because, mercy cannot be extended only because a prominent victim’s family desires it.
  • It is important to note that, it was the intervention of the Gandhi family, among other things, which saw the death sentences being commuted to imprisonment of life.
  • Crucially, since many of those who are currently imprisoned were imprisoned when they were barely in their 20s, they still have a long life ahead of them. Thus the question is, should they be spending their remaining years in prison?
  • Having said this, there are a few factors to be considered. These are:
  1. The perpetrator and the principal conspirator are dead, and that those who were imprisoned were mere pawns, some of whom may not have known the entirety of the enterprise.

Thus, when these circumstances are taken into account, to routinely deny the benefit of remission may not always be appropriate.

  1.  b) Another factor to be considered is the social impact of a remission order, in case it is passed in this case.

The question that it raises is that if people can be freed even after being convicted for the murder of a former Prime Minister in a terror incident, there are bound to be questions which could be asked on whether or not India is a soft state on matters of terrorism.

Analysis- III:

This view subscribes to the opinion that the prisoners should not be released. Crucially, it observes that Pardon is not meant to be exercised without justifiable grounds.

  • It is important to note that Pardon is not a right.
  • Pardon is an act of discretion exercised in specific circumstances where an individual deserving of clemency is examined in the context of his family background.
  • Further, it is important to note that these convicts are political convicts.
    To compound matters, the Supreme Court has cautioned against their release.
  • Given the fact that there was a large political conspiracy involved in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, there does not appear to be any justification for exercising the extraordinary powers of pardon in their case.
  • Taking the present instance into account, the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, which can be interpreted as itself being an act of clemency.

Concluding Remarks:

  • In conclusion, it is important to note that Security has become a key issue not only locally but globally.
  • Further, it is not only our right but our duty as a part of the nation and the world to deal effectively with any attack or infringement or breach of security.
  • Lastly, there exists a twofold objective to anti-terrorist measures.

These are: a) To deter future activity and b) To prevent terrorist activities.

Finally, the reason anti-terrorist laws are made, and are to some extent different from regular laws, is that they address acts that destabilise the country.

F. Tidbits

1. Rajasthan farmers benefited from solar water pumps: study

 

  • A scientific study conducted by Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani, has found mismatch between investment in solar energy sources and employment generation in the sector, but has stated that the farmers in Rajasthan have immensely benefited from the solar photovoltaic (SPV) water pumping systems.

The study

  • Scientist Krishna M. led the study as the principal investigator of a project funded by the Indian Council of Social Science Research for addressing some distinct aspects of renewable and non-renewable energy sources at micro and macro levels.
  • This study deal with the challenges from the existing structure and composition of energy sources and carried out cost-benefit analysis of adopting renewable sources, besides looking into the levels of efficiency.
  • The study’s results were drawn from a field survey of over 125 sample respondents conducted in two districts of Rajasthan.

Observations

  • A micro-level analysis indicated that the SPV water pumping systems had provided some direct benefits to farmers, including the saving from diesel generators.
  • The study has also found a significant decline in the consumption of fuel in the agriculture sector.
  • Farmers used to operate diesel generators for 6 to 7 hours a day, consuming two litres of diesel per hour. The use of SPV pumps has resulted in a drastic reduction of fuel consumption, which was also a cause of greenhouse effect.
  • While the grid-connected electricity is supplied to agriculture sector mostly during the night, the farmers can irrigate the land during daytime with the SPV system, making their access to water easy.
  • Besides, the SPV system has been found to be cost effective because of the State government’s subsidy and the beneficiary’s share is recovered in about four years.
  • Power supply to the agriculture sector in Rajasthan ranges between 5 and 6 hours a day. Facing challenges in the expansion of grid-connected power because of difficult geography, the Rajasthan government has been giving subsidy on SPV water pumping systems since 2011-12.

SPV Pumps

  • A solar photovoltaic (SPV) water pumping system consists of a PV array, a DC/AC surface mounted/ submersible/ floating motor pump set, electronics, if any, interconnect cables and an “On-Off” switch.
  • PV Array is mounted on a suitable structure with a provision of tracking.
  • They are ideally suitable for those areas where conventional grid supply is either erratic or non-existent.
  • Also SPV pumps require only one-time investment with no recurring cost and have a long life.

2. Sabarimala temple entry verdict today

 

  • A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra will pronounce its judgment on petitions to lift the centuries-old prohibition on women in menarche entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala.
  • The Bench has already remarked during the court hearings that a ban on entry of women at the Sabarimala temple is steeped in patriarchy and chauvinism.

Significance

  • If the ban is lifted, the case would be a precedent for future challenges against similar prohibitory practices in places of worship across religions.

Kerala High Court judgement

  • If the court lifts the prohibition, a 27-year-old Kerala High Court judgment would be set aside.
  • The High Court had pointed out that the ‘Naisthik Brahmachari’ nature of the deity in Sabarimala is a vital reason for imposing this restriction on young women.
  • The High Court had upheld the prohibition on women aged between 10 and 50 years.

Arguments

  • The prohibition is not based on misogyny but the celibate nature of the deity.
  • Sabarimala does not practice exclusion. People from all walks of life and from every creed, caste and religion enter and offer their prayers in the temple.
  • It is also physiologically impossible for women to observe the 41-day penance before the pilgrimage.
  • Justice D.Y. Chandrachud had earlier during hearings orally observed that patriarchy is apparent in the belief that the dominant status of a man in society makes him capable of performing austerity while a woman, who is only a chattel of man, is incapable of remaining pure for the 41 days of penance prior to the pilgrimage.
  • Temples are subject to constitutional principles and the bar on entry for women violates their fundamental rights of women as a whole.

3. Moratorium on loans in Kerala

 

  • The Kerala Cabinet has approved a one-year moratorium on loans and a 20% cut in the State’s annual Plan outlay as part of the post-flood rehabilitation and recovery programme.
  • The government had decided to offer the moratorium on repayment of agricultural, dairy and education loans availed by flood victims.
  • The 20% cut in the Plan outlay would not be applicable to Centrally-sponsored schemes, NABARD projects, public works, irrigation and water supply projects, and student scholarship.
  • The government would give priority to the revival of key projects such as the GAIL pipeline, City Gas network, National Highway development and power distribution network that had been affected by the floods.
  • The Chief Secretary would coordinate the efforts to put the projects back on track.
  • The meeting approved the constitution of official-level committees for the preparation of sector-wise packages for rehabilitation of flood victims and reconstruction of damaged assets.
  • The Food Department would be entrusted with the supply of kits containing rice and essential commodities to be supplied to needy flood victims, including priority card holders, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme job card holders, Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, widows, differently abled and the destitute.

4. Amarinder writes to PM on compensation to farmers

 

  • Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reiterating his request for ₹100 per quintal as compensation to farmers for management of paddy straw.
  • The compensation should be given only to those farmers who refrain from burning paddy residue.
  • Capt. Amarinder said farmers were being provided subsidised equipment for the management of crop residue.
  • In addition, individual farmers and custom hiring centres were also making investments in providing equipment for crop residue management.

Why?

  • The task of achieving zero stubble burning in the State is not only a Herculean one but also puts an additional financial burden on farmers.
  • Use of new machines is putting an additional burden of ₹2,500 to ₹3,000 per acre on farmers which they were unable to afford.

Concerns

  • Despite repeated requests from the State, the Centre had not yet taken any decision on compensation to farmers for additional crop residue management.

5. Railways to roll out smart coaches

 

  • The Indian Railways are set to launch their ‘Make in India’ smart coaches with new features like black box and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered CCTVs, matching international standards.
  • Named ‘Smart Trains’, the coaches have been equipped with sensors that can detect defects on bearings, wheels, and the railway track, giving constant inputs to those in the control room to avoid accidents, carry out maintenance, and to improve efficiency of operations.
  • This to improve the safety and security of commuters, and to boost efficiency.

Black box

  • The black box, being introduced for the first time by Indian Railways, has a powerful multi-dimensional communication interface to provide information on passengers and coach condition on real-time basis.
  • The black box will act as a coach control unit with communication interfaces for passenger announcements, GPS-based announcement triggers, emergency intercom for commuters, digital destination boards, train reservation display modules, and CCTVs with remote monitoring.

Other features

  • The modern infotainment system has been installed to locate the train in real time.
  • AI-powered CCTVs will help those in the control room to keep a tab on untoward incidents and on the behaviour of on-board staff.
  • Commuters will also be able to communicate with Railways officials.
  • For wheel, coach and track monitoring, Railways have come up with Internet of things-based system.
  • The vibrating-energy-based sensors will monitor the wheels, bearing and hard spots on the track, and will provide data through GPS/GPRS to the remote server for diagnosis and remedial measures.
  • The Passenger Information and Coach Computing Unit (PICCU), an industrial grade computer, will monitor the coach maintenance and passenger interface.
  • Six cameras installed in the coach will provide live recording. The footage can be accessed from the control room, which will be advantageous for law enforcers.
  • An emergency talk-back system will enable communication between passengers and the guard during a crisis.
  • A Wi-Fi hotspot information system is another innovative feature.
  • Smart coaches are also laden with water-level indicator technology to know whether the water in the coach is sufficient and when it needs to be filled.
  • An SMS will be sent to the next watering station when the water level falls below half the coach capacity.

6. Kolkata launches first flood forecast system

 

  • The Kolkata Municipal Corporation, with the support of the Asian Development Bank, has launched the country’s first flood forecasting and early-warning system, which will provide real-time data on inundation, rainfall intensity, temperature, air quality and other climate-related data.
  • This is expected to help policy-makers make informed decisions during disasters.

7. Aircraft leasing: India must tackle key issues for viability

 

  • Since the Indian government has started exploring the need to establish a home-grown leasing option for Indian airlines, a host of issues need to be sorted out before it becomes a reality, aviation consulting and research firm Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) said.

Background

  • The idea to have domestic aircraft leasing companies has gained currency since Indian commercial airlines have placed orders for more than 1,000 planes worth $50 billion, the third largest aircraft order book in the world behind the U.S. and China.

Why?

  • The vast majority of these aircraft will be taken on lease from offshore lessors and the lease rentals are mostly paid in dollars.
  • By 2050, India’s commercial airline fleet is expected to exceed 5,000 aircraft. An industry of this scale will require an increasingly capable and sophisticated home-grown aviation ecosystem.
  • Developing a viable Indian aircraft leasing industry will be a long-term undertaking. However, given the growth outlook for the sector, it is an initiative that deserves consideration.

8. Short-term rates fall as RBI eases SLR norms

Background

  • (SLR) is the Indian government term for the reserve requirement that the commercial banks in India are required to maintain in the form of cash, gold reserves, government approved securities before providing credit to the customers. Statutory liquidity ratio is determined by Reserve Bank of India maintained by banks in order to control the expansion of bank credit.
  • The SLR is determined by a percentage of total demand and time liabilities. Time liabilities refer to the liabilities which the commercial banks are liable to pay to the customers after a certain period mutually agreed upon, and demand liabilities are such deposits of the customers which are payable on demand.
  • An example of time liability is a six month fixed deposit which is not payable on demand but only after six months.
  • An example of demand liability is a deposit maintained in a saving account or current account that is payable on demand through a withdrawal form such as a cheque.
    The SLR is commonly used to control inflation and fuel growth, by increasing or decreasing it respectively. This counter acts by decreasing or increasing the money supply in the system respectively.
  • Indian banks’ holdings of government securities are now close to the statutory minimum that banks are required to hold to comply with existing regulation. When measured in rupees, such holdings decreased for the first time in a little less than 40 years (since the nationalisation of banks in 1969) in 2005–06.
  • Rates on short-term paper eased after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decided to free up funds for the commercial banks to tide over the present liquidity crunch.
  • Rates for three-month commercial paper fell to 8.7%, down by 30 bps as compared after the RBI eased liquidity coverage ratio norms for banks.
  • Following the fund crunch triggered by the crisis at infrastructure financier IL&FS at the beginning of the month, rates on short-term papers rose by more than 100 bps (basis points) with mutual funds becoming reluctant to lend to the non-banking finance companies.
  • To ease the situation, the central bank had been infusing liquidity through open market operations. As of September 26, banks had availed ₹1.88 trillion through term repos from the Reserve Bank.The system liquidity is in ample surplus.
  • Earlier in the day, RBI decided to allow banks to dip into their statutory liquidity ratio (SLR) reserves by another two percentage points to meet liquidity coverage ratio (LCR) norms.
  • The central bank said that banks could ‘carve out’ up to 15% of holdings under SLR to meet their LCR requirements compared with 13% earlier.
  • SLR is the proportion of funds that banks have to maintain as cash or government securities out of the total deposits that they hold.
  • The RBI said it “stands ready to meet the durable liquidity requirements of the system through various available instruments,’ going forward.

Injecting liquidity

  • State Bank of India’s chief economic adviser Soumya Kanti Ghosh wrote in a report that the move would inject about ₹2 lakh crore of assured liquidity at the repo rate. This would ensure the weighted average call money rate to be about the policy repo rate which is 6.5%.
  • Madhavi Arora, economist, FX & Rates, Edelweiss Securities, said the relaxation would provide immediate relief to the banking system, which had been facing tighter domestic liquidity of more than ₹1 lakh crore. “This should immediately ease off pressure on CD rates and consequently the CP rates,” she said.
  • The SBI report says RBI may raise the policy repo rate by at least 25 bps with a change in the neutral stance in the next monetary policy review scheduled in October.
  • RBI had hiked interest rates in the last two policy review meetings by 25 bps on each occasion.

9. Airline stocks slip on ATF duty

 

  • Stocks of listed airline companies came under intense selling pressure and closed at losses as the government imposed 5% import duty on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) as part of its plans to tackle the rising current account deficit (CAD).

Impact on the aviation sector

  • Analysts viewed the development as negative for the aviation sector which has been reeling under high cost structure and mounting debt due to high oil prices and a depreciating rupee.
  • The analysts said among all Indian carriers, two low-cost airlines would be impacted the most as they imported ATF to meet a part of their requirement.
  • At least 10% of their requirement is met through imports which are currently cheaper than the fuel sold by the oil marketing companies.
  • Furthermore, the depreciating Indian rupee is an additional cost on the Indian carriers.
  • Airlines would find it difficult to pass on the extra burden on passengers due to excess capacity in the market and the resultant intense competition.
  • The imposition of duty on imported ATF is likely to lower the quantity imported as users would switch to domestic produced fuel.

Background

  • An empowered Group of Ministers had, in February, allowed Indian carriers to import ATF as some low cost airlines had approached the government to go for cheaper imports.
  • Now, that lifeline had been snapped with the imposition of import duty.

10. Iran sanctions may cost refiners $500 mn

 

  • Indian refiners are likely to lose as much as $500 million as the U.S. sanctions on Iran kick in from November 5 and Indian refiners will be forced to replace cheap Iranian crude with that from other oil producing nations.
  • India is one of the largest buyers of Iranian crude, accounting for about 30% of total crude exports from Iran during April-August 2018.

Concerns

  • The sanctions on Iranian oil are credit negative for Indian refiners,according to Moody’s Investors Service, which believes that refiners’ exposure to oil price volatility will also increase if they turn to the spot market.
  • Iran used to offer its crude to Indian refiners at a discount of $2-$3 per barrel over international rates.
  • Besides, Iran’s national oil company, National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), also subsidised the freight costs for crude oil delivery and offered extended payment terms to the Indian buyers.
  • Iran used to offer 60 days credit period besides discounts on crude and transportation costs.

What now?

  • They have to diversify crude sourcing.
  • They are ready with alternate arrangements in place but they are not offering as favourable term as Iran.

11. Aadhaar: DoT to hold meetings

 

  • With the Supreme Court striking down the mandatory linking of mobile phone numbers with Aadhaar, officials from the Department of Telecom (DoT) would soon meet representatives of UIDAI, Law Ministry as well as telecom services providers (TSPs) to ensure compliance.

Why?

  • To make sure they are in compliance with the Supreme Court order and to see the way forward.

Background

  • A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court declared that a DOT circular mandating linking of mobile number with Aadhaar was illegal and unconstitutional.

12. MDR reimbursement pending from banks

 

  • The Payments Council of India (PCI) has said that payment service providers and merchant aggregators are yet to received reimbursement for merchant discount rates from banks even after nine months.
  • This is likely to seriously impact the operating ability of merchant aggregators and dent the efforts to promote digital payments.
  • MDR is the fee that a merchant has to pay to a bank for every transaction that is split between the bank which issued the card, the payment service providers, and payment gateways.

Background

  • In December 2017, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, had said that MDRs would be reimbursed by the government on transactions up to ₹2,000.
  • This was applicable on all transactions below ₹2,000 made through debit cards, BHIM UPI or Aadhaar enabled payments systems.

13. Customs duty hike can’t tackle rising CAD: Montek

 

  • Increasing customs duties is not the solution to tackle the increasing current account deficit (CAD), said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Former Deputy Chairman of the erstwhile Planning Commission.
  • His comments come a day after the Centre released a list of 19 categories of items on which it would be hiking import duties, including white goods such as air-conditioners, refrigerators and washing machines as well as non-essential items such as gems, travel bags and aviation turbine fuel (ATF).
  • India is in a situation where CAD was not at an alarming level but it had moved from comfort level to a worrying level.
  • Increasing customs duty is not the solution.
  • Because the depreciation of exchange rate is giving all the support that we need to get imports become more competitive.

14. Centre appoints search committee for Lokpal

15. Centre steps up grant for disaster fund

 

  • The Centre has enhanced its contribution in the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) from 75% to 90% with effect from April 1, the Union Home Ministry has announced.
  • Kerala, which has recently faced the worst floods, will be a major beneficiary of the Centre’s decision.
  • Henceforth all States will be required to contribute 10% to the SDRF.

16. Uzbek President to invite India to join Afghan rail project

 

  • India will be invited to help with a key rail link in Afghanistan, during the visit of Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

Rail link project

  • The rail link of approximately 650 km, connecting the Afghan cities of Mazaar-e-Sharif and Herat, which may later be extended to Kabul, is a major project agreed to by President Ashraf Ghani and President Mirziyoyev last year, and many of the preliminary surveys for the project have already been completed.
  • The project, for which Uzbekistan has already committed $500 million, could become another major regional connectivity project for India, after its construction of the Zaranj-Delaram Highway in Afghanistan and the Shahid Beheshti port in Chabahar, Iran.
  • The rail route to Herat, if extended to Kabul, would also link India’s air corridor, allowing trade, especially dry fruits and agricultural produce to travel along the routes from India to Central Asia and back in much shorter time.
  • Uzbekistan has held talks with Iran, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and China, which is already running a rail route into Uzbekistan under the Belt and Road Initiative, for the same project.

Other projects

  • India is also committed to building another rail route, from Chabahar to Zahedan on the Iran-Afghan border, and President Mirziyoyev is keen to join the transit trade agreement signed by India, Afghanistan and Iran.

Indo-Pak. talks

  • Making a pitch for talks between India and Pakistan, Mr. Nematov said Uzbekistan’s role in regional security is likely to grow as it will take over the Secretary Generalship of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in January 2019.
  • President Mirziyoyev may also discuss peace efforts in Afghanistan and his offer of mediating talks between the Ghani government and the Taliban, during his visit to India.

G. Prelims Fact

Nothing here for today!!!

H. Practice Questions for UPSC Prelims Exam

Question 1. Consider the following statements:
 

  1. Abolition of untouchability is guaranteed by the state against private individuals, under Article 17.

  2. Offences committed on grounds of untouchability lead to disqualification from election to parliament and state legislature.

  3. It is an absolute right guaranteed by the Constitution.

Which of the above statement/s is/are correct?

  1. i) only
  2. iii) only
  3. i) and iii) only
  4. All of the above

See

Answer
Question 2. The Right of a child to free and compulsory education is a Fundamental right under 
Article 21A. Consider the following statements in this regard:
 
  1. Children of the age 6 to 14 years are entitled to free and compulsory education.

  2. It has been enforced in every state.

  3. It is in consonance with the Directive Principle provided under Article 45.

Which of the above statement/s is/are incorrect?

  1. i) only
  2. ii) only
  3. iii) only
  4. None of the above

See

Answer
Question 3. Consider the following statements regarding Article 33:

 

  1. Under this, Parliament is empowered to restrict Fundamental rights of Armed forces.

  2. It includes Court martial also.

Choose the correct option:

  1. Only i) is correct
  2. Only ii) is correct
  3. Both are correct
  4. Both are incorrect

See

Answer
Question 4. Consider the following statements:
  1. Article 23 permits state to impose compulsory service for public purposes.

  2. Article 23 allows gender based discrimination.

Which of the above statement/s is/are incorrect?

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

See

Answer
 
 

I. Practice Questions for UPSC Mains Exam

  1. Supremacy of the Prime Minister’s Office is not good for Indian democracy. Comment.

  2. Suggest measures to control different forms of sexual assault.

Also, check previous Daily News Analysis

 

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