Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE
- Monument of National Importance
- National Export Cooperative Society
- Inflation Targetting
- Collegium System
- Facts for Prelims
1 Monument of National Importance
Context: The Supreme Court recorded that the government is in the process of considering the question of declaring Ram Setu a ‘national monument’.
What is Monument of National Importance
- A monument or a site is declared to be of National Importance by the Archaeological Survey of India provided it meets the following requirements:
- The monument or archaeological site is not less than 100 years old.
- It has special historical, archaeological or artistic interest, making it worthy of declaration as of national importance.
- It qualifies under specified provisions of definition of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
- The interested public do not have major objections to such declaration.
- The authenticity and integrity of the ancient monument or archaeological site and remains have not been damaged.
- It is free from major encumbrances.
- The central government maintains national monuments, while the state government maintains state monuments.
About National Monument Authority?
- National Monuments Authority (NMA) under the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India has been setup as per provisions of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains AMASR (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010 which was enacted in March 2010.
Functions and powers of National Monument Authority
- Make recommendations to the Central Government for grading and classifying protected monuments and protected areas declared as of national importance under sections 3 and 4, before the commencement of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010.
- Make recommendations to the Central Government for grading and classifying protected monuments and protected areas which may be declared after the commencement of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010, as of national importance under section 4;
- Oversee the working of the competent authorities;
- To suggest measures for implementation of the provisions of this Act;
- To consider the impact of large-scale development projects, including public projects and projects essential to the public which may be proposed in the regulated areas and make recommendations in respect thereof to the competent authority;
- To make recommend actions to the competent authority for grant of permission
About Ram Setu
- Ram Setu, also known as Adam’s bridge, is a chain of limestone shoals between Pamban Island or Rameswaram Island, off the south-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, and Mannar Island, off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka.
- The structure has significance in both Hindu and Muslim mythology -– while Hindus believe this is the bridge (setu) built by Lord Ram and his army to cross to Lanka and fight Ravan, as per Islamic legend, Adam used this bridge to reach Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka, where he stood on one foot for 1,000 years in repentance.
- Scientists believe Ram Setu is a natural structure formed due to tectonic movements and sand getting trapped in corals. However, over the years, “evidence” has been offered to claim that the bridge is man-made.
- In 2003, space-based investigations, using satellite remote sensing imagery, by researchers at the Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad concluded that Ram Setu is not man-made, “but comprises 103 small patch reefs lying in a linear pattern with reef crest, sand cays and intermittent deep channels”. Cays, also known as keys, refer to low-elevation islands situated on surfaces made of coral reef.
- Thus, it is reasonable to assume that Ram Setu is a linear ridge made of coral reefs and forms a shallow part of the ocean that is being constantly impacted by sedimentation processes.
- The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal project aims to create a shipping route between India and Sri Lanka by building an 83-km-long deep water channel, which would also reduce travel time between the eastern and western coasts of India, as ships would no longer have to circle Sri Lanka to travel between the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. Versions of this project have been proposed from as far back as the 1860s.
- The Sethusamudram project has been opposed on environmental grounds and Mythological grounds, with some claiming that it will harm marine life, and that dredging of the line of shoals will make India’s coast more vulnerable to tsunamis.
Need for protection
- The coral reef platforms between Thoothukudi and Rameswaram in the Gulf of Mannar were notified as a marine biosphere reserve in 1989.
- More than 36,000 species of flora and fauna reportedly live there, flanked by mangroves and sandy shores which are considered conducive for turtles to nest. This is also a breeding ground for fish, lobsters, shrimps and crabs.
- Of the 600 recorded varieties of fish in the region, 70 are said to be commercially important.
- This area is already threatened by discharge from thermal plants, brine run-off from salt pans, and illegal mining of corals.
- The SSCP, if it becomes a reality, will be the final blow to this sensitive environment and to the livelihoods of the people there.
- India’s ‘tryst with destiny’ does not begin at Harappa or the Vedic Period; it goes back billions of years when the Indian tectonic plate moved thousands of kilometres from the south of the equator to its present location.
- The Ram Setu carries the unique geological imprints of an eventful past.
- Therefore, it needs to be preserved not just as a national heritage monument, but also as a geoheritage structure as defined from a scientific perspective.
About the News
- Controversial Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project (SSCP) can be traced back to the British, who proposed creating a channel to link the Palk Strait with the Gulf of Mannar, it was only in 2005 that the project was inaugurated. The matter had reached the apex court, which in 2007 had stayed the work for the project on the Ram Setu.
- Dr. Swamy former member of the parliament had raised the issue of declaring Ram Setu as a national monument in his PIL against the controversial Sethusamudram Ship Channel project, initiated by the UPA-I government.
2 . National Export Cooperative Society
Context: Nano fertilizers produced by IFFCO and dairy products from Amul will be among the first few products that are expected to be exported by the first-ever National Export Co-operative Society that was approved by the Union Cabinet on January 11. The Society’s registration will be complete in the next few days and the first consignment will be exported in three months.
About National Export Cooperative Society
- National multi-state cooperative export society will be established under the Multi State Cooperative Societies (MSCS) Act, 2002,
- The export cooperative will have five promoters — Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), the Amul brand’s promoter; National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED); National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC); Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO); and Krishak Bharati Co-operative Limited (KRIBHCO).
- The proposed national multi-state cooperative export society, to be established under the Multi State Cooperative Societies (MSCS) Act, 2002, will have a paid-up capital of Rs 2,000 crore. Initially, these five promoters will invest Rs 100 crore each.
- This will be the largest of the three proposed national cooperative societies to be established under the MSCS Act
Scope of the Society
- The focus will be on exporting the surplus available in the country in the cooperative sector.
- The Society will be different from the Export Promotion Council under the Ministry of Commerce that only acts as a facilitator and provides information about the potential markets that can be tapped for a particular product.
- Society will provide end-to-end services to the cooperatives. It will open foreign bank accounts and complete all the formalities, including necessary permissions for exporting a product.
- Society will hire consultants in foreign countries who will help expand its footprint across continents
- Society will provide thrust to exports from cooperative sector by acting as an umbrella organisation for carrying out and promoting exports.
- It will help unlocking export potential of Indian cooperatives in global markets.
- It will also help cooperatives in getting benefits of various export related schemes and policies of different ministries of Government of India in a focussed manner through ‘Whole of Government Approach’.
- This will also help in achieving the goal of “Sahakar-se-Samriddhi” through the inclusive growth model of cooperatives where the members would benefit both by a realization of better prices through the export of their goods and services and by dividends distributed out of the surplus generated by the society.
- Higher exports through the society will increase production of goods and services by the cooperatives at various levels thus leading to more employment in the cooperative sector.
- Processing of goods and enhancing the services to match international standards will also generate additional employment.
- Increased export of cooperative products would, in turn, also promote “Make in India” thus leading to Atmanirbhar Bharat.
Multi State Seed Cooperative Society
- The proposed national multi-state seed cooperative will have an authorised share capital of Rs 500 crore. However, it will be established with an initial paid-up share capital of Rs 250 crore. It will have five promoters. These include three national cooperatives —IFFCO, KRIBHCO and NAFED — and two statutory bodies — National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and the NCDC.
National-level cooperative society for organic products
- The proposed national-level cooperative society for organic products will have an authorised share capital of Rs 500 crore, an official said. Five cooperative bodies — GCMMF; NAFED; and National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India Limited (NCCF); NDDB; and NCDC — have come forward to take the initiative of the ministry to set up an organic cooperative society. The society will have an authorised share capital of Rs 500 crore. It will have an initial paid-up share capital of Rs 100 crore.
About Nano Urea
- Nano urea is a fertilizer patented and sold by the Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd. (IFFCO).
- It has been approved by the government for commercial use because of its potential to substantially reduce the import bill.
- A small bottle (500 ml) of nano urea is equivalent to one 50-kg bag of granular urea currently used by farmers.
- IFFCO’s nano urea contains nitrogen, an element critical for plant development, in the form of granules that are a hundred thousand times finer than a sheet of paper. At this nano scale, which is about a billionth of a meter, materials behave differently than in the visible realm.
- Chemically packaged urea is 46% nitrogen, which means a 45-kg sack contains about 20 kg of nitrogen.
- Contrastingly, nano urea sold in 500-ml bottles has only 4% nitrogen (or around 20 g).
- How urea works:
- Urea is highly water soluble and already reaches the lowest form of concentration when absorbed.
- Unlike the coarse particles that farmers throw onto the soil during sowing, the nano particle form of nano urea, when applied on to the leaves, stimulates enzymes such as nitrase and nitrite reductase, which help plants metabolize nitrogen.
- Different parts of the plant contain nitrogen in varying proportions and because nano particles are so small and numerous, they have a lot more surface area relative to their volume, compared with the millimeter-size grains of urea that plants are exposed to nearly 10,000 times more in nitrogen.
3 . Inflation Targeting
Context: The Reserve Bank of India’s 2023 monetary policy objective is to hold inflation within the mandated tolerance band and guide it towards the medium-term target of 4% by 2024, officials said in an article published in the monthly bulletin.
Findings of the RBI report
- The Reserve of India report stated that “with consumer price-based inflation (CPI) easing below the upper tolerance band of 6 percent, the focus for 2023 is to tether inflation at those levels and further align it to the target of 4 percent by 2024”
- The government has mandated the central bank to keep inflation at 4 per cent with a +/- 2 per cent band.
- The report said the country’s macroeconomic stability is getting bolstered with inflation being brought into the tolerance band.
- The report was prepared by RBI’s deputy governor Michael Patra and other RBI officials. The views expressed in the report are of the authors and not of the institution, the report said.
- Authors said the prospect of India as a bright spot amidst 2023’s encircling gloom is burnished by most recent history and current developments. By cross-country standards, the country’s economy exhibited resilience through 2022 in the face of the triad of shocks – war; monetary policy tightening; and recurring waves of the pandemic.
- The report said the country’s macroeconomic stability is getting bolstered with inflation being brought into the tolerance band.
- In April 2023, India’s population will be the largest in the world, projected at 1.4 billion. A sixth of the increase of the world’s population of working age (15-64) people between 2023 and 2050 will be Indians.
- “Coupled with a median age of 28, this is India’s chance to seize the demographic dividend and herald its emergence as an economic powerhouse of the future” the report said.
What is Inflation Targeting?
- Inflation targeting is a central banking policy that revolves around adjusting monetary policy to achieve a specified annual rate of inflation.
- The inflation target is defined as a medium-term average rather than as a rate (or band of rates) that must be always held.
- The principle of inflation targeting is based on the belief that long-term economic growth is best achieved by maintaining price stability, and price stability is achieved by controlling inflation.
- Inflation targeting primarily focuses on maintaining price stability but is also believed by its proponents to support economic growth and stability.
- Inflation targeting can be contrasted to other possible policy goals of central banking, including the targeting of exchange rates, unemployment, or national income.
India’s Inflation Targeting
- In 2016, the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, was amended to provide a statutory basis for the implementation of a flexible inflation-targeting framework, where the Centre and the RBI would review and agree upon a specific inflation target every five years.
- Under this, 4% was set as the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation target for the period from August 5, 2016, to March 31, 2021, with the upper tolerance limit of 6% and the lower tolerance limit of 2%.
- MPC being accountable for failure to establish and achieve the nominal anchor. The failure defined as the inability to achieve the target of 4 percent (+/- 2 per cent) for 3 successive quarters. Such failure requires MPC to issue a public statement
- To the extent that ensuring price stability is its primary goal, the RBI through its MPC must constantly assess not just current levels of inflation and prices of various goods and services in the economy, but also take into consideration inflation expectations both of consumers and financial markets so as to use an array of monetary tools, including interest rates, to contain inflation within its target range.
How does inflation targeting work?
- The central bank forecasts the future path of inflation and compares it with the target inflation rate (the rate the government believes is appropriate for the economy).
- The difference between the forecast and the target determines how much monetary policy must be adjusted.
- Some countries have chosen inflation targets with symmetrical ranges around a midpoint, while others have identified only a target rate or an upper limit to inflation. Most countries have set their inflation targets in the low single digits.
Cons of Inflation Targeting
- A major advantage of inflation targeting is that it combines elements of both “rules” and “discretion” in monetary policy. This “constrained discretion” framework combines two distinct elements: a precise numerical target for inflation in the medium term and a response to economic shocks in the short term.
- Some analysts believe that a focus on inflation targeting for price stability creates an atmosphere in which unsustainable speculative bubbles and other distortions in the economy, such as that which produced the 2008 financial crisis, can thrive unchecked (at least until the inflation trickles down from asset prices into retail consumer prices).
- Some believe that it encourages inadequate responses to terms-of-trade shocks or supply shocks.
- Critics argue that exchange rate targeting or nominal GDP targeting would create more economic stability.
4 . Collegium System of Appointment
Context: Dismissing reports of differences with the judiciary on the process of appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and in High Courts, Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju on Thursday said the Collegium system will prevail, in the absence of alternative mechanisms and legislations enacted by the Parliament.
About the news
- Earlier Union Minister of Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju wrote a letter to Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud to suggest a nominee of the Union government in the Supreme Court Collegium and a State representative in each of the High Court collegiums
- Speaking to a gathering after laying the foundation stone for a lawyers’ chamber at the Integrated Court Complex in Puducherry, the minister said that in the absence of alternative mechanisms or legislations brought in by Parliament for a new system, the Collegium system will continue but needs updation and restructuring. He also emphasized the need for cooperation between the executive, judiciary, and legislature.
Appointment of Chief Justice & Judges
- The CJI and the Judges of the SC are appointed by the President under clause (2) of Article 124 of the Constitution.
- The appointment of judges to the higher judiciary is done by the collegium system and the appointment is made by the President, with the executive head holding the power to appoint the CJI under Article 124.
- As per Memorandum of Procedure of appointment of judges appointment to the office of the Chief Justice of India should be of the seniormost Judge of the Supreme Court considered fit to hold the office.
- The Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs would, at the appropriate time, seek the recommendation of the outgoing Chief Justice of India for the appointment of the next Chief Justice of India.
- Whenever there is any doubt about the fitness of the seniormost Judge to hold the office of the Chief Justice of India, consultation with other Judges as envisaged in Article 124 (2) of the Constitution would be made for appointment of the next Chief Justice of India.
- After receipt of the recommendation of the Chief Justice of India, the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs will put up the recommendation to the Prime Minister who will advise the President in the matter of appointment.
- This established convention was violated in 1973 and 1977 when A N Ray and M U Beg was appointed as the Chief Justice of India by superseding senior judges.
- Judges of the higher judiciary are appointed only through the collegium system
About the collegium system
- It is the system of appointment and transfer of judges that has evolved through judgments of the Supreme Court, and not by an Act of Parliament or by a provision of the Constitution.
- The Supreme Court collegium is headed by the Chief Justice of India and comprises four other seniormost judges of the court.
- A High Court collegium is led by its Chief Justice and four other seniormost judges of that court.
- Names recommended for appointment by a High Court collegium reaches the government only after approval by the CJI and the Supreme Court collegium.
- Judges of the higher judiciary are appointed only through the collegium system — and the government has a role only after names have been decided by the collegium.
- The government’s role is limited to getting an inquiry conducted by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) if a lawyer is to be elevated as a judge in a High Court or the Supreme Court.
- It can also raise objections and seek clarifications regarding the collegium’s choices, but if the collegium reiterates the same names, the government is bound, under Constitution Bench judgments, to appoint them as judges.
Constitutional Provisions regarding Appointment of Judges
- Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts are appointed by the President under Articles 124(2) and 217 of the Constitution. The President is required to hold consultations with such of the judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts as he may deem necessary.
- Article 124(2) says: “Every Judge of the Supreme Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with such of the Judges of the Supreme Court and of the High Courts in the States as the President may deem necessary for the purpose and shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty-five years. Provided that in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of India shall always be consulted.”
- And Article 217: “Every Judge of a High Court shall be appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, the Governor of the State, and, in the case of appointment of a Judge other than the Chief Justice, the Chief Justice of the High Court.”
Evolution of Collegium System
- The collegium system has its genesis in a series of judgments called “Judges Cases”. The collegium came into being through interpretations of pertinent constitutional provisions by the Supreme Court in the Judges Cases.
- First Judges Case: In S P Gupta Vs Union of India, 1981, held that the proposal for appointment to a High Court can emanate from any of the constitutional functionaries mentioned in Article 217 and not necessarily from the Chief Justice of the High Court. The Constitution Bench also held that the term “consultation” used in Articles 124 and 217 was not “concurrence” — meaning that although the President will consult these functionaries, his decision was not bound to be in concurrence with all of them. The judgment tilted the balance of power in appointments of judges of High Courts in favour of the executive.
- Second Judges Case: In The Supreme Court Advocates-on-Record Association Vs Union of India, 1993, a nine-judge Constitution Bench overruled the decision in S P Gupta and devised a specific procedure called ‘Collegium System’ for the appointment and transfer of judges in the higher judiciary. The majority verdict accorded primacy to the CJI in matters of appointment and transfers while also ruling that the the term “consultation” would not diminish the primary role of the CJI in judicial appointments. Ushering in the collegium system, the court said that the recommendation should be made by the CJI in consultation with his two seniormost colleagues, and that such recommendation should normally be given effect to by the executive. It added that although it was open to the executive to ask the collegium to reconsider the matter if it had an objection to the name recommended, if, on reconsideration, the collegium reiterated the recommendation, the executive was bound to make the appointment.
- Third Judges Case: In 1998, President K R Narayanan issued a Presidential Reference to the Supreme Court over the meaning of the term “consultation” under Article 143 of the Constitution (advisory jurisdiction). In response, the Supreme Court laid down 9 guidelines for the functioning of the coram for appointments and transfers. This opinion laid down that the recommendation should be made by the CJI and his four seniormost colleagues, instead of two. It also held that Supreme Court judges who hailed from the High Court for which the proposed name came, should also be consulted. It was also held that even if two judges gave an adverse opinion, the CJI should not send the recommendation to the government.
How does it discharge its functions?
- The Collegium’s functioning has been criticised for being opaque.
- Its resolutions and recommendations are hosted on the Supreme Court’s website, giving relevant information about its decisions.
- However, the nature of the deliberations and whether there are any internal differences of opinion on the suitability of a particular candidate are unknown.
- It functions mainly through the system of adopting resolutions and sending them to the Union Law Ministry for further action.
- If a proposal for appointment of a judge is returned for reconsideration, the Collegium may either drop it or reiterate it.
- When the Collegium reiterates its decision after reconsideration, it is binding on the government.
Why is Collegium system being criticised?
- Critics also argue that the system is non-transparent, since it does not involve any official mechanism or secretariat. It is seen as a closed-door affair with no prescribed norms regarding eligibility criteria or even the selection procedure. There is no public knowledge of how and when a collegium meets, and how it takes its decisions. Lawyers too are usually in the dark on whether their names have been considered for elevation as a judge.
- The Central government has criticised it saying it has created an imperium in imperio (empire within an empire) within the Supreme Court.
- The Supreme Court Bar Association has blamed it for creating a “give-and-take” culture, creating a rift between the haves and have-nots. While politicians and actors get instant relief from courts, the common man struggles for years for justice.
About 99th Constitutional Amendment Act
- The five-judge decision invalidated the 99th Constitutional Amendment (new Article 124A, 124B, and 124C) and the accompanying Act (the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2015) because of the glaring violation of the basic structure doctrine on the constitutional rule of law and independence of the judiciary.
- The NJAC also empowered the Union Minister of Law and Justice and two eminent persons from civil society (one of the eminent persons to be nominated from SC/ST/OBC/minorities or women) — a majority in the commission — to veto a recommendation, thus cancelling judicial primacy.
5 . Facts for Prelims
- Tunnels built horizontal to the ground instead of digging vertically are known as surangas. It uses gravitational force for extraction of the underground water and collect into a storage tank.
- It is like the technology of quanats which is still prevalent in the parts of Iran.
- The only cost of a surangam is the initial cost of digging which was done by local workmen who were familiar with the geology, soil, slope etc.
- A typical suranga can run from anywhere between 30 metres to 300 metres through a hill. This is one of the most sustainable water management systems that have been in use in and around the Kasaragod district for generations.
- In these tunnel wells, the flow is systematically channelised so as to collect water in a mud reservoirs.
- There are two types of surangas –
- Dug in the hillocks with the help of galvanized pipes in a horizontal direction, from where the water percolates out known as addaboru in Kannada
- Horizontally dug tunnel like structures which are as high as the height of a man, from where the water percolates out and collects into a water tank.
- The construction of surangas are carried out by people who have this indigenous knowledge, which is passed on from one generation to another.
- Detection of the water flow is done by taking into account the slope and elevation, growth of certain hydrophilic plants like dhoopada mara, basari mara and uppalige mara, termite mounds and the texture of the soil.
- Recently C. Kunhambu, 72, of Kundamkuzhi in Bedadka, who was well known for his skills to construct ‘Surangas’ (horizontal tunnels) through laterite hills to tap drinking water was found dead at his home
Fair Remunerative price
- What is FRP? -It is the minimum price that the sugar mill owners must pay to sugarcane farmers
- It was implemented in the year 2009 to replace statutory minimum price.
- It is fixed by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs based on the recommendations made by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP)
- The following factors were considered while determining the FRP
- a) cost of production of sugarcane;
- return to the growers from alternative crops and the general trend of prices of agricultural commodities;
- availability of sugar to consumers at a fair price
- price at which sugar produced from sugarcane is sold by sugar producers;
- recovery of sugar from sugarcane;
- the realization made from sale of by-products viz. molasses, bagasse and press mud or their imputed value
- reasonable margins for the growers of sugarcane on account of risk and profits
- Difference between MSP and FRP- According to the Sugarcane (Control) Order of 1966, FRP is the minimum price that sugar mills must pay to sugarcane farmers, while MSP is the minimum sale price of sugar that they get helping them recover their cost of production.