Daily Current Affairs : 21st and 22nd January

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

  1. NIA Act
  2. Non Proliferation Treaty
  3. FATF Grey List
  4. Thermal Screening
  5. Xenobot
  6. Registrar General of India (RGI)
  7. Preamble
  8. India-Brazil Strategic Action Plan
  9. Disqualification Power of Speakers
  10. Thirty Meter Telescope
  11. East Asian Observatory
  12. Facts for Prelims : Kuki and Naga

1 . National Investigation Agency


Context : The Supreme Court on Monday asked the government’s response on a petition challenging the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Act of 2019, saying the law concentrated police powers in one centralised agency which would act on the “whims and fancies” of the Central government.

Details of the Petition

  • According to the petition legislations aimed at countering terrorism, often employ specific phrases such as ‘national security’, ‘national integrity’, ‘sovereignty’, so as erase any scope for arbitrary exercise of powers by the enforcement agencies. In the instant case, no attempt has been made to provide for a structured definition of the term, in the absence of which, the same would be open to enlarged interpretation, thus arbitrary and violative of the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution,
  • As per the petition the Amendment Act introduced additional offences such as human trafficking which were at odds with NIA’s fundamental objective to counter terrorism.
  • With this Act, the NIA could encroach into the jurisdiction of the States’ police forces to investigate crimes within their jurisdiction. “This is wholly in contravention of the principles of co-operative federalism
  • The Amendment Act did away with the prosecution’s law in registration and probe of offences. Section 6(8) of the Act confers the Centre with powers to direct the NIA to register a case and probe anything which occurred outside the country, which in the government’s opinion, formed a scheduled offence. “Resultantly, the agency would work as an organ at the behest and whims and fancies of the Central government, which is empowered to selectively direct the agency registration and investigation of cases, providing ample scope for misuse and arbitrary exercise of powers,” the petition said.

About NIA

  • The NIA was created by an Act of the Parliament of India in 2008 following Mumbai Terror Attack of November 2008.
  • According to the NIA Act, the Agency is an investigation agency at the national level to investigate and prosecute offences affecting the sovereignty, security and integrity of India, security of State, friendly relations with foreign States and offences under Acts enacted to implement international treaties, agreements, conventions and resolutions of the United Nations, its agencies and other international organisations and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto for investigation and prosecution of offences affecting sovereignty, security and integrity of India. NIA plays the role of the national counter terrorism law enforcement agency.
  • The NIA was established in a concurrent jurisdiction framework, with provisions for taking up specific cases under specific Acts for investigation and prosecution. Hence, it was “not an Agency to deal with offences under all the laws”, but “with only eight laws”:
    • The Atomic Energy Act, 1962 (33 of 1962);
    • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967);
    • The Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 (65 of 1982);
    • The Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act, 1982 (66 of 1982);
    • The SAARC Convention (Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1993 (36 of 1993);
    • The Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002 (69 of 2002);
    • The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005 (21 of 2005);
    • Offences under— Chapter VI of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) [sections 121 to 130 (both inclusive)]; Sections 489-A to 489-E (both inclusive) of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).
  • Under two circumstances the NIA takes up a case “to investigate and prosecute offences”.
    • It could be on reference from the State where a Scheduled offence has taken place. On receipt of report from the State Government, the Central Government shall determine on the basis of information made available by the State Government or received from other sources, within 15 days from the date of receipt of the report, whether the offence is a fit case to be investigated by the NIA
    • The Central Government may also, suo motu, direct the Agency to investigate a Scheduled offence if it is of the opinion that the offence is required to be investigated under the NIA Act

About the Amendments

  • Scheduled offences:  The amendment bill seeks to allow the NIA to investigate the following offences, in addition:
    • Human trafficking,
    • Offences related to counterfeit currency or bank notes
    • Manufacture or sale of prohibited arms
    • Cyber-terrorism
    • Offences under the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.       
  • Jurisdiction of the NIA: The amendment bill states that in addition, officers of the NIA will have the power to investigate scheduled offences committed outside India, subject to international treaties and domestic laws of other countries.  The central government may direct the NIA to investigate such cases, as if the offence has been committed in India.  The Special Court in New Delhi will have jurisdiction over these cases. 
  • Special Courts: The Act allows the central government to constitute Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.  The Bill amends this to state that the central government may designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.  The central government is required to consult the Chief Justice of the High Court under which the Sessions Court is functioning, before designating it as a Special Court.  When more than one Special Court has been designated for any area, the senior-most judge will distribute cases among the courts.  Further, state governments may also designate Sessions Courts as Special Courts for the trial of scheduled offences.

2 . Non Proliferation Treaty


Context : Iran said it will consider withdrawing from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) if a dispute over its atomic programme goes before the UN Security Council.

About Non Proliferation Treaty

  • The NPT is a multilateral treaty aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons including three elements:
    • Non-proliferation
    • Disarmament
    • Peaceful use of nuclear energy.
  • These elements constitute a “grand bargain” between the five nuclear weapon states and the non-nuclear weapon states.
    • States without nuclear weapons will not acquire them;
    • States with nuclear weapons will pursue disarmament;
    • All states can access nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, under safeguards.
Nuclear & Non-Nuclear Weapon States
  • (Article IX): The Treaty defines nuclear weapon states (NWS) as those that had manufactured and detonated a nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967. All the other states are therefore considered non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS).
  • The five nuclear weapon states are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Nonproliferation
  • (Articles I, II, III): Nuclear weapon states are not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons and not to assist, encourage, or induce any NNWS to manufacture or otherwise acquire them. 
  • Non-nuclear weapons states are not to receive nuclear weapons from any transferor, and are not to manufacture or acquire them.
  • NNWS must accept the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on all nuclear materials on their territories or under their control.
Disarmament
  • (Articles VI): All Parties must pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
Peaceful Use
  • (Article IV): The Treaty does not affect the right of state parties to develop, produce, and use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, provided such activities are in conformity with Articles I and II.
  • All state parties undertake to facilitate, and have a right to participate, in the exchange of equipment, materials, and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Verification and Compliance

  • The IAEA verifies NNWS compliance with commitments under the NPT not to acquire nuclear weapons.
  • Article III requires NNWS to conclude agreements with the IAEA to safeguard all nuclear materials in all peaceful nuclear activities. Negotiation of such an agreement should begin immediately after the NNWS’ accession to the NPT and enter into force within 18 months.
  • In case of non-compliance with IAEA safeguards, the IAEA Board of Governors (BOG) calls upon the state to remedy the situation and reports the non-compliance to the UN Security Council (UNSC) and UN General Assembly (UNGA).
  • The BOG may also impose specific penalties, such as curtailment or suspension of assistance, return of materials, or suspension of privileges and rights. The UNSC may impose sanctions and approve other measures.
  • The IAEA BOG has found six states in non-compliance with their safeguards agreements: Iraq, Romania, North Korea, Libya, Iran, and Syria. There are no verification provisions for nuclear disarmament commitments under the NPT.

Non Signatory Countries

  • With its near-universal membership, the NPT has the widest adherence of any arms control agreement, with only South Sudan, India, Israel, and Pakistan remaining outside the treaty.
  • In order to accede to the treaty, these states must do so as NNWS, since the treaty restricts NWS status to nations that “manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967.”
  • For India, Israel, and Pakistan, all known to possess or suspected of having nuclear weapons, joining the treaty as NNWS would require that they dismantle their nuclear weapons and place their nuclear materials under international safeguards. South Africa followed this path to accession in 1991.

3 . FATF Grey List


Context : Pakistan has urged the U.S. to support its bid to exit from the grey list of the FATF ahead of a key meeting of the international terror financing watchdog in Beijing, in which it will scrutinise Islamabad’s efforts to adopt stricter laws against terror financing and money laundering.

Background

  • The FATF in October decided to keep Pakistan on its ‘Grey’ list for failure to curb funnelling of funds to terror groups LeT, JeM and others. If not removed off the list by April, Pakistan may move to a blacklist of countries that face severe economic sanctions, such as Iran.

About FATF

Covered Under June Current Affairs


4 . Thermal Screening


Context : Health Ministry asks for thermal screening at international airports

About Thermal Imaging Scanners

  • The thermal imaging scanner, first introduced during the SARS outbreak and has become the first choice for many countries to screen people

How it Works

  • It works on the principle that any object above the non-zero temperature radiates electromagnetic waves of different wavelengths, including infrared.
  • The thermal imaging scanner picks up the IR emitted by a body.
  • In other words, thermal imaging scanner picks up IR emitted by a body, much like an ordinary camera picks up visible light reflected by a body.
  • The scanner picks up IR in the 8-14 micrometre range, which corresponds to a room temperature of 25-30 degrees Celsius. Though the normal body temperature is 37 degrees Celsius, the tail of the bell shaped curve formed by human body temperature will be seen at the 8-14 micrometre window of the scanner.

How diseases are detected

  • All the organs of a person are not at the same temperature. For instance, eyes are the coldest and groin is the hottest region in a human.
  • The stomach becomes warmer when digestion takes place So what we get to see is a thermal map of a human body.
  • Different temperatures are assigned different colours. When a person with fever is scanned, the IR emitted by that person will be higher and the tail of the bell shaped curve will be elevated.
  • Hence the same part of the body of a person with fever would show up brighter. A scanner looks for such changes.

Advantage

  • The biggest advantage is that screening can be done quickly and does not require any physical contact with a person. With the possibility of studying temperature differences of even 0.1-0.2 degrees Celsius, thermal imaging can easily identify people with fever.

Limitations

  • Since clothing can alter the thermal image produced, only the exposed parts of the body can reveal the real body temperature.
  • It doesnt provide the exact cause of disease it only shows the abnormality
  • Certain diseases only show symptoms after 48 to 72 hours that means an infected person will not have symptoms before that and hence will be missed by thermal imaging scanners. But an infected person can spread the virus even before symptoms show up.

5 . Xenobot


Context : Scientists in the United States have created the world’s first “living machines” — tiny robots built from the cells of the African clawed frog, that can move around on their own.

About Xenobot

  • Scientist have named the millimetre-wide robots “xenobots” — after the species of aquatic frog found across sub-Saharan Africa from Nigeria and Sudan to South Africa, Xenopus laevis.
  • “Scientists have repurposed living cells scraped from frog embryos and assembled them into entirely new life-forms
  • The xenobots “can move toward a target, perhaps pick up a payload (like a medicine that needs to be carried to a specific place inside a patient) — and heal themselves after being cut
  • Novel living machines were “neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal”, but “a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism”.
  • The new creatures were designed on a supercomputer at the university, and then assembled and tested by biologists at Tufts University.
  • The latest research is a breakthrough because it designs, for the first time ever, “completely biological machines from the ground up”, the researchers wrote in their paper.

Applications

  • Searching out nasty compounds or radioactive contamination, gathering microplastic in the oceans, travelling in arteries to scrape out plaque can be some of its uses

6 . Social Mobility Index


Context : India has been ranked very low at 76th place out of 82 countries on a new Social Mobility Index

About the Index

  • Social Mobility Index is compiled by the World Economic Forum

What is Social Mobility

  • Social mobility can be understood as the movement in personal circumstances either “upwards” or “downwards” of an individual in relation to those of their parents.
  • In absolute terms, it is the ability of a child to experience a better life than their parents. On the other hand, relative social mobility is an assessment of the impact of socio-economic background on an individual’s outcomes in life.
  • It can be measured against a number of outcomes ranging from health to educational achievement and income.

Importance of the Index

  • The index considers what a country can do holistically to foster relative social mobility for all citizens, which is markedly different from other methodologies.
  • Historically, indices have analysed social mobility across generations by comparing earnings of children with those of their parents. Others have focused on outcomes, and as such, struggled to provide timely insights. The more academic tend to look at tracking income inequality. The problem with these approaches is that they capture the effect of measures that were taken 30-40 years ago.
  • The Global Social Mobility Index, however, focuses on drivers of relative social mobility instead of outcomes. It looks at policies, practices and institutions. This allows it to enable effective comparisons throughout regions and generations. It uses 10 pillars, which in turn are broken down into five determinants of social mobility – health, education, technology access, work opportunities, working conditions and fair wages and finally, social protection and inclusive institutions.
  • One of its key recommendations is the need for a new standard, which the report argues could be used to identify priority policy actions and business practices that would improve social mobility.

Key Findings

  • The Global Social Mobility Index reveals that there are only a handful of nations with the right conditions to foster social mobility. Furthermore, most countries underperform in four areas: fair wages, social protection, working conditions and lifelong learning.
  • The index also reveals that achieving higher levels of social mobility needs to be perceived as an important element of a wider move towards a stakeholder-based model of capitalism.
  • Looking at all economies and average income levels, those children who are born into less affluent families typically experience greater barriers to success than their more affluently born counterparts. Furthermore, inequalities are rising even in countries that have experienced rapid growth.
  • In most countries, individuals from certain groups have become historically disadvantaged and poor social mobility perpetuates and exacerbates such inequalities. In turn, these types of inequalities can undermine the cohesiveness of economies and societies.

Country Ranking

  • Most economies need to bridge their social mobility gap. Overall however, the Nordic countries are the best performers. Denmark tops the rankings with a social mobility score of 85.2, closely followed by Finland (83.6), Norway (83.6), Sweden (83.5) and Iceland (82.7). These nations combine access, quality and equity in education, while also providing work opportunities and good working conditions, alongside quality social protection and inclusive institutions.
  • Among the G7 economies, Germany is the most socially mobile, ranking 11th with 78 points followed by France in 12th position. Canada ranks 14th followed by Japan (15th), the United Kingdom (21st), the United States (27th) and Italy (34th).
  • Among the world’s large emerging economies, the Russian Federation is the most socially mobile of the BRICS grouping, ranking 39th with a score of 64 points. Next is China, which ranks 45th, followed by Brazil (60th), India (76th) and South Africa (77th).

6 . Registrar General of India (RGI)


Registrar General of India

  • Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, founded in 1961 by Government of India Ministry of Home Affairs, for arranging, conducting and analysing the results of the demographic surveys of India including Census of India and Linguistic Survey of India.
  • The responsibility of conducting the decennial Census rests with the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India under Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

Background

  • It may be of historical interest that though the population census of India is a major administrative function; the Census Organisation was set up on an ad-hoc basis for each Census till the 1951 Census.
  • The Census Act was enacted in 1948 to provide for the scheme of conducting population census with duties and responsibilities of census officers.
  • The Government of India decided in May 1949 to initiate steps for developing systematic collection of statistics on the size of population, its growth, etc., and established an organisation in the Ministry of Home Affairs under Registrar General and ex-Officio Census Commissioner, India.
  • This organisation was made responsible for generating data on population statistics including Vital Statistics and Census. Later, this office was also entrusted with the responsibility of implementation of Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 in the country.
  • Census was the duty of Census Commissioners from 1881 Census to 1941 Census and thereafter Registrar General and Census Commissioner, India from 1949 onwards
  • Facts for Prelims
    • First Census Commissioner – 1881   Mr. W. W. Plowden
    • First Registrar General and Census Commissioner – 1949 Mr. M W M Yeatts
    • First India Registrar General and Census Commissioner – (1949 – 1953 ) Mr. R. A. Gopalaswami

7 . Preamble


Context : Maharashtra government has made it compulsory to recite the Preamble to the Constitution in all schools starting January 26.

What is a Preamble, and what is the history of the Preamble to India’s Constitution?

  • A preamble is an introductory statement in a document that explains the document’s philosophy and objectives. In a Constitution, it presents the intention of its framers, the history behind its creation, and the core values and principles of the nation.
  • The ideals behind the Preamble to India’s Constitution were laid down by Jawaharlal Nehru’s Objectives Resolution, adopted by the Constituent Assembly on January 22, 1947.
  • Although not enforceable in court, the Preamble states the objects of the Constitution, and acts as an aid during the interpretation of Articles when language is found ambiguous.

The Preamble reads:

“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:

 A preamble is an introductory statement in a document that explains the document’s philosophy and objectives.

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;

and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.”

What do the key words in the Preamble stand for?

  • The words, “We, the people of India…” indicate the ultimate sovereignty of the people of India. Sovereignty means the independent authority of the State, not being subject to the control of any other State or external power.
  • The text declares India to be a “Republic” — indicating a government by the people and for the people.
  • It states “social, economic, and political justice” as an objective. Nehru had said in 1956, “Democracy has been spoken of chiefly in the past, as political democracy, roughly represented by every person having a vote. But a vote by itself does not represent very much to a person who is down and out, to a person, let us say, who is starving and hungry. Political democracy, by itself, is not enough except that it may be used to obtain a gradually increasing measure of economic democracy, equality and the spread of good things of life to others and removal of gross inequalities.”
  • “Liberty”, “equality”, and “fraternity” have also been made ideals. Dr B R Ambedkar, in his concluding speech in the Constituent Assembly, had said, “Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy. What does democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognises liberty, equality and fraternity which are not to be treated as separate items in a trinity. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy. Liberty cannot be divorced from equality, equality cannot be divorced from liberty. Nor can liberty and equality be divorced from fraternity.”
  • The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1976, replaced the words “sovereign democratic republic” to “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic”. It also changed “unity of the nation” to “unity and integrity of the nation”.

What do the Preambles to the world’s other Constitutions say?

UNITED STATES (adopted 1787)

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Ireland (1937)

“In the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, from Whom is all authority and to Whom, as our final end, all actions both of men and States must be referred,

We, the people of Éire,

Humbly acknowledging all our obligations to our Divine Lord, Jesus Christ, Who sustained our fathers through centuries of trial,

Gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain the rightful independence of our Nation,

And seeking to promote the common good, with due observance of Prudence, Justice and Charity, so that the dignity and freedom of the individual may be assured, true social order attained, the unity of our country restored, and concord established with other nations,

Do hereby adopt, enact, and give to ourselves this Constitution.”

Japan (1947)

GERMANY (1949)

“Conscious of their responsibility before God and man,

Inspired by the determination to promote world peace as an equal partner in a united Europe, the German people, in the exercise of their constituent power, have adopted this Basic Law.

Germans in the Länder of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia have achieved the unity and freedom of Germany in free self-determination. This Basic Law thus applies to the entire German people.”

FRANCE (1958)

“The French people solemnly proclaim their attachment to the Rights of Man and the principles of national sovereignty as defined by the Declaration of 1789, confirmed and complemented by the Preamble to the Constitution of 1946, and to the rights and duties as defined in the Charter for the Environment of 2004.

By virtue of these principles and that of the self-determination of peoples, the Republic offers to the overseas territories which have expressed the will to adhere to them new institutions founded on the common ideal of liberty, equality and fraternity and conceived for the purpose of their democratic development

Article 1 : France shall be an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of origin, race or religion. It shall respect all beliefs. It shall be organised on a decentralized basis.

Statutes shall promote equal access by women and men to elective offices and posts as well as to position of professional and social responsibility.”

UN Charter


8 . India-Brazil Strategic Action Plan


Context : India and Brazil will upgrade their strategic partnership with an “action plan” and sign a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) when Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visits as the Chief Guest of the Republic Day celebrations from 24-27.

About Strategic Action Plan

  • According to the officials, the Strategic Partnership Action Plan will serve as an “umbrella agreement”, for plans between the two countries to increase defence cooperation, technology sharing and a logistics agreement.

Bilateral Investment Treaty

  • The Bilateral Investment treaty will be one of the first that the Modi government will sign since 2015, when it decided to scrap all existing treaties with 83 countries, and brought in a new “Model BIT”.
  • Since then India has been able to sign BITs with Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, has concluded an agreement with Cambodia, and is negotiating treaties with about a dozen other countries.

Social Security Agreement

  • Brazil and India will also exchange a Social Security Agreement (SSA), first signed in March 2017, to allow investments in each other’s pension funds, to help business processes and encourage the flow of investment.
  • In 2018 Indian investments in Brazil were around U.S.$ 6 billion and Brazilian investments in India are estimated at U.S.$ 1 billion, bilateral trade stands at about $8 billion.

9 . Disqualification power of Speakers


Context : The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Parliament to amend the Constitution to strip Legislative Assembly Speakers of their exclusive power to decide whether legislators should be disqualified or not under the anti-defection law.

Powers of Speaker with regard to Anti-Defection Law

  • Any question regarding disqualification arising out of defection is to be decided by the presiding officer of the House.
  • After Kihoto Hollohan versus Zachilhu case (1993), the Supreme Court declared that the decision of the presiding officer is not final and can be questioned in any court. It is subject to judicial review on the grounds of malafide, perversity, etc.

About the News

  • This is the second time in as many months the court has highlighted the issue of taking away the disqualification power under the Tenth Schedule from Speakers.
  • In a 109-page judgment by a three-judge Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana in the Karnataka MLAs’ disqualification case, the court had held that a Speaker who cannot stay aloof from the pressures and wishes of his political party does not deserve to occupy his chair. This judgment of November last, also urged Parliament to “reconsider strengthening certain aspects of the Tenth Schedule, so that such undemocratic practices are discouraged”.
  • In a 31-page judgment, a three-judge Bench led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman questioned why a Speaker, who is a member of a particular political party and an insider in the House, should be the “sole and final arbiter” in the disqualification of a political defector. “It is time Parliament had a rethink on whether disqualification petitions ought to be entrusted to a Speaker as a quasi-judicial authority when such Speaker continues to belong to a particular political party either de jure or de facto,” the court said.

What Court Suggested

  • Court asked why disqualification proceedings under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) should be kept in-house and not be given to an “outside” authority. Even the final authority for removal of a judge is outside the judiciary and in Parliament
  • Disqualification petitions under the Tenth Schedule should be adjudicated by a mechanism outside Parliament or the Legislative Assemblies. The court suggested a permanent tribunal headed by a retired Supreme Court judge or a former High Court Chief Justice.

Need of an independent Authority

  • As per the Judgement only swift and impartial disqualification of defectors would give “real teeth” to the Tenth Schedule, Justice Nariman wrote in the judgment for the Bench, also comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and V. Ramasubramanian.

10 . Thirty Meter Telescope


Context : India, a partner in the construction of one of the largest telescopes in the world, has said it wants the project to be moved out of the proposed site at Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii.

Issue

  • $2 billion project has been marred by protests for over a decade. The proposed site is considered sacred to indigenous Hawaiians, and also has too many observatories for one more such massive establishment to come up, say groups that have contested the site.
  • Protests at the site last year saw scientists unable to access other telescope facilities in Mauna Kea. The project has been delayed by nearly five years and should have begun operations by 2025.
  • India has committed $200 million, which is about a tenth of the proposed cost. The telescope needs 492 precisely polished mirrors and India is to contribute 83 of them. The project delay has meant that these manufacturing contracts have also been delayed.

About Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)

  • The Thirty Meter Telescope is a new class of extremely large telescopes that will allow us to see deeper into space and observe cosmic objects with unprecedented sensitivity.
  • With its 30 m prime mirror diameter, TMT will be three times as wide, with nine times more area, than the largest currently existing visible-light telescope in the world.
  • This will provide unparalleled resolution with TMT images more than 12 times sharper than those from the Hubble Space Telescope.
  • When operational, TMT will provide new observational opportunities in essentially every field of astronomy and astrophysics.  Observing in wavelengths ranging from the ultraviolet to the mid-infrared, this unique instrument will allow astronomers to address fundamental questions in astronomy ranging from understanding star and planet formation to unraveling the history of galaxies and the development of large-scale structure in the universe.
  • TMT’s high resolution will extend scientists’  capability to detect and investigate black holes that reside in the center of many distant galaxies, as well as study in detail the black hole in the center of our own Milky Way.

Who is Building it

  • The Thirty Meter Telescope is being designed and developed by the TMT International Observatory LLC (TIO).
  • The TIO is a non-profit international partnership between the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, the National Institutes of Natural Sciences of Japan, the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Department of Science and Technology of India, and the National Research Council (Canada).
  • The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a TIO Associate and major funding for TMT has been provided by the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation. The TIO will also run the TMT operations once the telescope is completed.

Way Forward

  • Though Hawaii is TMT’s chosen site, the challenges over the past several years have led the TMT International Observatory Board to develop a ‘Plan B’, a secondary Northern Hemisphere site on which to construct the observatory.  This is La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain
  • Hanle, in Ladakh, was also in the running to host the TMT, but lost out to Mauna Kea, which is considered a superior site due to the imaging possibilities it offers, its stable weather, and also because it has the necessary infrastructure to manage telescopes, already being host to several telescopes.

11 . East Asian Observatory


Context : India is in preliminary discussions to be a part of the East Asian Observatories Consortium of eight countries

About East Asia Observatory Consortium

  • The EAO (East Asian Observatory) is formed by EACOA (East Asian Core Observatories Association) for the purpose of pursuing joint projects in astronomy within the East Asian region.
  • The intention of EAO is to build and operate facilities, which will enhance and leverage existing and planned regional facilities. The intention of EAO is to raise funding and to build an observatory staff, separate from that of the EACOA institutions.
  • The consortium now consists of China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea as full members and Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia as ‘observers’, could mean the establishment of new kinds of telescopes — one proposed being in Tibet — that could aid the observation of new black holes and throw light on cosmic phenomena. The consortium is committed to build large telescopes and pool resources.

12 . Facts for Prelims


3 Capitals of Andhra

  • A special session of the Andhra Pradesh Assembly passed the A.P. Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020 and the A.P. Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Repeal Bill, 2020
  • The Bills will facilitate the development of Amaravati, Visakhapatnam and Kurnool as legislative, executive and judicial capitals respectively.

Kuki and Naga

  • Umbrella organisations of two tribes have called a truce in Manipur after almost four decades of violence and uneasy existence.
  • The conflict between the Nagas and the Kukis in 1993 had claimed more than 230 lives and displaced 1,00,000, mostly Kukis.
  • The working committee of the Naga National Political Groups (NNPGs) and the Kuki National Organisation (KNO) have signed a declaration to settle contentious issues and inter-community differences peacefully.
  • The NNPGs, which has been in talks with New Delhi since 2017, comprises the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Unification), the NSCN (Reformation), the NSCN (Khango), the Naga National Council and two of its factions, and the Federal Government of Nagaland.
  • The KNO, which is seeking a territorial council in Manipur, is the umbrella body of 17 militant outfits now engaged in peace talks with the Centre.

Global Investment Trend Monitor report

  • Global Investment Trend Monitor report is compiled by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
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