Insights Daily Current Events, 08 July 2015
Ministers make a plea on Sec. 8
The A. P. Government has urged President Pranab Mukherjee to ensure the enforcement of provisions under Section 8 of the AP Reorganisation Act.
- A delegation of Ministers of the A. P. State Cabinet recently called on the President and submitted a representation on the problems faced by the Government ‘owing to the confrontationist attitude adopted by the Telangana Government’.
- The delegation apprised Mr. Mukherjee of the alleged tapping of telephones of 120 important functionaries of the AP Government and the TDP by the Telangana Government.
What is Section 8 all about?
- Section 8 of AP Reorganisation Act, 2014 empowers the governor to have control over administration of law and order in Hyderabad.
- It gives the Governor in the common capital area (Hyderabad) the special responsibility for the security, life, liberty and property of all those who reside in the area.
- The Section grants special powers to the governor to ensure security in Hyderabad, the shared capital of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, for 10 years.
- The provisions were incorporated by the UPA government to address the concerns of people hailing from Andhra and Rayalaseema but residing in the common capital.
- Section 8 says the governor can, after consulting the council of ministers of Telangana, use his personal judgment and take action in matters relating to law and order, including police transfers in the shared capital.
- The police commissioners of Hyderabad, Cyberabad and the SP of the neighbouring district of Ranga Reddy are also required to furnish reports on law and order frequently to the governor.
- The Act says the governor’s decision is final and the validity of anything he or she does cannot be called into question.
Why it is in news?
The issue has come to the fore again following the allegations of the AP government that the phones of its leaders have been illegally tapped by the Telangana police.
Sources: The Hindu, TOI.
Kalpakkam breeder reactor to go on stream
The 500-MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor at Kalpakkam is getting ready to be commissioned in September.
- When the reactor goes critical, it will signal India’s triumphant entry into the second stage of its three-stage nuclear power programme.
About the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR):
- It is a 500MWe fast breeder nuclear reactor presently being constructed at the Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, India.
- It will use plutonium-uranium oxide as fuel and 1,750 tonnes of liquid sodium as coolant.
- The Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) is responsible for the design of this reactor.
- Total costs, originally estimated at 3500 crore are now estimated at 5,677 crore.
- The PFBR is part of the three-stage nuclear power program.
- A breeder reactor is one that breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes.
What is India’s 3-Phase Nuclear Power Programme?
The Indian nuclear power programme, launched in 1954, envisaged a three-stage development of nuclear power generation from the country’s uranium and thorium resources.
- The first stage programme consists of setting up of pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs). PHWRs are natural uranium-fuelled, heavy water moderated and cooled. The uranium reserves in the country are adequate to support the first stage nuclear power programme of 10,000 MWe through PHWRs. In addition to generating power, PHWRs progressively make available plutonium as a by-product. The technologies for the reprocessing of plutonium from spent PHWR fuel and for fabrication of plutonium bearing fuels have been systematically established in India through research and development over the past several years.
- The second stage of the nuclear power programme consists of effective utilisation of plutonium in Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) which will provide the key to full utilisation of the country’s uranium resources and prepare the way for the long-term utilisation of the more abundant thorium reserves. FBRs enable generation of more fresh fissile material than is consumed for power production. With the deployment of FBRs, the depleted uranium and plutonium generated in the first stage will permit an additional power potential to the extent of 3,50,000 MWe.
- During the later part of the second stage programme, it is proposed to use thorium as blanket material in FBRs to generate U-233, another fissile material for use in the third stage programme based on U-233 fuelled reactor systems.
The 3-stages of Nuclear Power Programme are:
- Stage-I: envisages, construction of Natural Uranium, Heavy Water Moderated and Cooled Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs). Spent fuel from these reactors is reprocessed to obtain Plutonium.
- Stage-II: evisages, construction of Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) fuelled by Plutonium produced in stage-I. These reactors would also breed U-233 from Thorium.
- Stage-III: would comprise power reactors using U-233 / Thorium as fuel.
Sources: The Hindu, PIB, Wiki.
India on track in cutting poverty: MDG report
Recently released Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Report 2015 shows that India has halved its incidence of extreme poverty, from 49.4% in 1994 to 24.7% in 2011 ahead of the deadline of 2015 set by the United Nations.
Details of the report:
- The report has set the limit for extreme poverty as those living on $1.25 or less a day.
- India’s reduction in poverty is still less than that achieved by several of India’s poorer neighbors. Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh have each outstripped India in poverty reduction over comparable time periods.
- India still remains home to one quarter of the world’s undernourished population, over a third of the world’s underweight children, and nearly a third of the world’s food-insecure people
- The report says that India has already achieved 11 out of 22 parameters in the report—spanning issues like education, poverty, health, and education— and is on track to achieve one more by the end of 2015.
- On the environment front, India is one of the few countries that has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions in relation to its GDP. India emitted 0.65 kg of carbon dioxide per $1 of GDP in 1990, which fell to 0.53 kg in 2010.
MDGs: What are they?
These are eight international development goals that were established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. They were set to be achieved by 2015.
- These are time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions-income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion-while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability.
- They are also basic human rights-the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security.
- Since the adoption, there has been significant progress in many of the goals. But the progress has not been uniform. The progress differs from country to country and even within the country.
The eight millennium development goals are:
- Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty
- Achieve Universal Primary Education
- Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
- Reduce Child Mortality
- Improve Maternal Health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
- Ensure Environmental Sustainability
- Develop a Global Partnership for Development
- Each goal has specific targets, and dates for achieving those targets.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, MDGs, UNDP.
Fergusson College wins heritage status
Pune’s Fergusson College has been accorded the special heritage status by the University Grants Commission (UGC). It was founded in 1885.
- With this status comes financial assistance for its upkeep.
- The college, with buildings of gothic architecture on its leafy, 65-acre campus, has long been regarded as a landmark educational institution in Maharashtra.
- The college, named after James Fergusson, the then Governor of Bombay Presidency, had been moulded by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Gopal Ganesh Agarkar, R.G. Bhandarkar and M.G. Ranade.
- The alumni include two Prime Ministers, theatre and film artists and writers.
- The college is among the 19 institutions in the country to get the heritage status.
The idea of granting the heritage tags was mooted by the Centre in 2013 to enable the universities to receive financial grants worth Rs 8-10 crore per annum from the government for the improvement and upgradation of their respective campuses and other academic disciplines.
Sources: The Hindu, TOI.
Why can’t we bring you under RTI, asks SC
In a step towards making political parties publicly accountable for their financial assets, the Supreme Court recently asked six national parties, including the BJP and the Congress, to come clean and explain their hesitation in disclosing complete details of their income, expenditure, donations and funding, including donor details, to the public under the Right to Information Act.
- The court has given the political parties six weeks to file their responses on why they should not be declared as “public authorities” under the Right to Information Act 2005, making them liable to disclose their financial assets to the public.
- The CIC had declared all national and regional political parties to be public authorities under the RTI in its 2013 order. In March this year, it had reiterated the order as “final and binding.”
The order came based on a petition. The petition was filed by noted RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agarwal, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, and NGO Association for Democratic Rights (ADR.
- The petition argues that political parties should come under the RTI as they play a core role in governance, and, in fact, enjoy a “stronghold” over their elected MPs and MLAs under Schedule 10 of the Constitution. The Schedule makes it compulsory for MPs and MLAs to abide by the directions of their parent parties.
- It contends that it would be within the average voter’s fundamental right to information to know the financial details of political parties.
- the petition says that under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 all political parties must affirm their allegiance to the Constitution of India and such allegiance is made compulsory for the purpose of registration under sub-section (7) of Section 29A. Therefore, political parties so registered must furnish information to the public under the right of information under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India, since right of information has been held to be a part of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a).
- It also contends that the Law Commission of India in its 170th Report on ‘Reform of the Electoral Laws’ in May 1999 had recommended transparency in the functioning of political parties.
Sources: The Hindu.
Five States seek time to roll out Food Security Act
The government will soon take a call on extending the September 30 deadline for implementation of the National Food Security Act as most States are not yet ready to roll out the programme.
- Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and Kerala have sought over a year to implement the Act while UP has asked for six months.
What the states say?
- Tamil Nadu says that the State has a universal public distribution system and limiting priority beneficiaries under the NFSA will “open a Pandora’s box.”
- Bihar protested the number of beneficiaries fixed for the State under the Food Security Act and said over one crore poor had been left out making it difficult to identify beneficiaries.
- J&K sought at least a year as it was still reeling under the impact of the floods that wreaked havoc in the State last year.
- Gujarat says that the State government was planning to connect PDS beneficiary data, NREGA card holders and Socio-Economic Caste Census statistics for which it required at least a year.
- Kerala has also sought a year as it was having problems with computerisation.
About the National Food Security Act, 2013:
- Also called as the Right to Food act, this act aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people.
- It extends to the whole of India.
- Under the provisions of this act, beneficiaries are able to purchase 5 kilograms per eligible person per month of cereals at the following prices:
- Rice at 3 Rupees per kg
- Wheat at 2 Rupees per kg
- Coarse grains (millet) at 1 rupee per kg.
- 75% rural and 50% of the urban population are entitled for three years from enactment to five kg food grains per month at 3 Rupees , 2 Rupees, 1 Rupee per kg for rice, wheat and coarse grains (millet), respectively.
- The states are responsible for determining eligibility.
- Pregnant women and lactating mothers are entitled to a nutritious “take home ration” of 600 Calories and a maternity benefit of at least Rs 6,000 for six months.
- Children 6 to 14 years of age are to receive free hot meals or “take home rations”.
- The central government will provide funds to states in case of short supplies of food grains.
- The state government will provide a food security allowance to the beneficiaries in case of non-supply of food grains.
- The Public Distribution System is to be reformed.
- The eldest woman in the household, 18 years or above, is the head of the household for the issuance of the ration card.
- There will be state- and district-level redress mechanisms and State Food Commissions will be formed for implementation and monitoring of the provisions of the Act.
- The poorest who are covered under the Antodaya yojana will remain entitled to the 35 kg of grains allotted to them under the mentioned scheme.
- The cost of the implementation is estimated to be $22 billion(1.25 lac crore), approximately 1.5% of GDP.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, NFSA, PIB.
No mining, polluting units in eco-sensitive zones, says Javadekar
Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar recently held a review meeting with State Environment and Forests Ministers to review the progress of demarcation of Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) in the Western Ghats region.
- He also discussed the further course of action in keeping with the recommendations of the 2013 Kasturirangan Committee report. As per the report, commercial mining and polluting industries would be strictly banned in areas identified as eco sensitive zones.
- The environment Ministers of six States viz. Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat attended the meeting.
The Kasturirangan panel was set up to study the Gadgil committee report on the Western Ghats. The Gadgil panel report had faced unanimous opposition from state governments for recommending that almost three-fourth of the hills, including plantations, cultivated lands and large habitations, be turned into a restricted development zone with an over-arching authority to regulate the region superseding the elected authorities’ role.
- Around 60,000 sq km of Western Ghats, spread across six states, should be turned into a no-go area for commercial activities like mining, thermal power plants, polluting industries and large housing plans.
- It has suggested that 90% of the natural forests left in the Western Ghats complex – adding upto 60,000 sq km and constituting 37% of the entire hilly belt — be conserved under the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) provisions of the green law. The forest area falling within the ESA would also cover 4,156 villages across the six states.
- The panel has said, “The villages falling under ESA will be involved in decision making on the future projects. All projects will require prior-informed consent and no-objection from the gram sabha (village council) of the village.”
- The panel has recommended that there should be a complete ban on mining activity in this zone and current mining activities should be phased out within five years, or at the time of expiry of the mining lease. It has banned development of any township or construction over the size of 20,000 sq m in the ESA zone.
- It has not recommended a ban on hydroelectric projects in the zone, but put a regime of stricter clearances for dams and other projects.
- The report suggests doing away with the complete moratorium on industrial and mining activity in the two Maharashtra districts of Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri. It has suggested persisting with the ban only on the area of the two districts falling within the ESA and a strict regulation in the rest.
- The report has steered clear from demanding a strict ecological control over the Western Ghat complex requiring changes and regulations on agricultural practices the way Gadgil committee report had suggested.
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, TOI, PIB.
Insights Secure Prelims 2015
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Consider the following statements regarding the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR), used in India:
- It uses plutonium-uranium oxide as fuel.
- It uses liquid sodium as coolant.
- The PFBR is part of the three-stage nuclear power program in India.
Which of the above statements is/are CORRECT?Correct
The eight Millenium Development Goals, set by the United Nations, include:
- Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty
- Eradicate Child Labour
- Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
- Reduce Child Mortality
- Improve Maternal Health
Choose the correct answer using the codes given below:Correct
With reference to the National Food Security Act, consider the following statements:
- Under the Act, the central government will provide funds to states in case of short supplies of food grains.
- Under the Act, the state government will provide a food security allowance to the beneficiaries in case of non-supply of food grains.
- According to this Act, the poorest who are covered under the Antodaya yojana will remain entitled to the 35 kg of grains allotted to them under the Antodya yojana.
Which of the above statements is/are Correct?Correct
Which schedule of the Indian Constitution contains provisions regarding anti-defection?Correct