Daily Current Affairs : 21st January 2022

Daily Current Affairs for UPSC CSE

Topics Covered

  1. OBC reservation in Local bodies
  2. Space Debris & Anti Satellite Missile
  3. IAS Officers and Central Posting
  4. Facts for Prelims

1 . Reservation to OBCs in local bodies 

Context : The apex court’s latest order in Rahul Ramesh Wagh v. State of Maharashtra &Ors. makes it mandatory that the principles laid down by the Supreme Court for providing reservation to OBCs in local bodies shall be followed across the country.

About the case

  • Maharashtra had constituted a Commission to ascertain the backwardness of OBCs in June 2021. But without waiting for an empirical report, an ordinance was promulgated to amend the Maharashtra Zilla Parishads Act, Panchayat Samitis Act and the Maharashtra Village Panchayat Act so as to conduct local body elections with OBC reservation. This was struck down by the Supreme court.
  • Reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in local body elections sans empirical base can no more be sustainable in law and the apex court’s latest order in Rahul Ramesh Wagh v. State of Maharashtra &Ors. makes it mandatory that the principles laid down by the Supreme Court for providing reservation to OBCs in local bodies shall be scrupulously followed across the country.
  • The latest order arises out of the challenge made to the ordinance promulgated on the teeth of the Supreme Court judgments by the Governor of Maharashtra to conduct the local body elections by providing 27% reservation to OBCs.

3 Conditions for Providing Reservation in Local Bodies

  • A five-judge Constitution Bench in the K. Krishnamurthy (Dr.) v. Union of India (2010) judgment said that barriers to political participation are not the same as barriers to education and employment. Though reservation to local bodies is permissible, the top court declared that the same is subject to three conditions:
    • 1) to set up a dedicated Commission to conduct empirical inquiry into the nature of the backwardness in local bodies
    • 2) to specify the proportion of reservation required to be provisioned local body-wise
    • 3) such reservation shall not exceed aggregate of 50% of the total seats reserved for SCs/STs/OBCs taken together.

2 . Space Debris & Anti Satellite Missile

Context : A Chinese satellite had a near collision with one of the many chunks of debris left by the fallout of a recent Russian anti-satellite missile test, state media reported.

About the issue

  • Moscow blew up one of its old satellites in November in a missile test that sparked international anger because of the space debris it scattered around the Earth’s orbit.
  • U.S. officials accused Moscow of carrying out a “dangerous and irresponsible” strike that had created a cloud of debris and forced the International Space Station’s crew to take evasive action.
  • Russia dismissed those concerns and denied that the space debris posed any danger but a new incident with a Chinese satellite suggests otherwise.
  • In the latest encounter, China’s Tsinghua Science Satellite came as close as 14.5 m from a piece of debris.

About Space Debris

  • Space debris is defunct artificial objects in space—principally in Earth orbit—which no longer serve a useful function. These include derelict spacecraft—nonfunctional spacecraft and abandoned launch vehicle stages—mission-related debris, and particularly numerous in Earth orbit, fragmentation debris from the breakup of derelict rocket bodies and spacecraft.
  • LEO is an orbital space junk yard. There are millions of pieces of space junk flying in LEO. Most orbital debris comprises human-generated objects, such as pieces of space craft, tiny flecks of paint from a spacecraft, parts of rockets, satellites that are no longer working, or explosions of objects in orbit flying around in space at high speeds.
  • Most “space junk” is moving very fast and can reach speeds of 18,000 miles per hour, almost seven times faster than a bullet. Due to the rate of speed and volume of debris in LEO, current and future space-based services, explorations, and operations pose a safety risk to people and property in space and on Earth.

What is an anti-satellite missile test?

  • Anti-satellite weapons provide the capability to shoot down enemy satellites in orbit
  • It is the technological capability to hit and destroy satellites in space through missiles launched from the ground.
  • The technology is aimed at destroying, if necessary, satellites owned by enemy countries.
  • Satellites are extremely critical infrastructure of any country these days. A large number of crucial applications are now satellite-based. These include navigation systems, communication networks, broadcasting, banking systems, stock markets, weather forecasting, disaster management, land and ocean mapping and monitoring tools, and military applications.
  • Destroying a satellite would render these applications useless. It can cripple enemy infrastructure, and bring it down on knees, without causing any threat to human lives

Concerns on Anti Satellite Missile Weapons

  • A satellite that is destroyed by a missile disintegrates into small pieces, and adds to the space debris. The threat from the space debris is that it could collide with the operational satellites and render them dysfunctional. According to the ESA, space debris is one of the principal threats to satellites.
  • When China carried out its first anti-satellite missile test in 2007, destroying its Fengyun-1C weather satellite, it created more than 2,300 large pieces of space debris, and an estimated 1.5 lakh pieces of objects that were larger than 1 cm in size. Each of them could render a satellite useless on collision.

What is Mission Shakti

  • ‘Mission Shakti’ was India’s first Anti-Satellite Missile System (ASAT) mission which destroyed a Low Earth Orbit Satellite that was launched by ISRO
  • Mission was jointly undertaken by ISRO and DRDO in 2019

Countries having the Anti Satellite missile

  • There are many countries which have this capability, but only four countries — including India — have demonstrated their ASAT capabilities.
  • The US first tested ASAT technology in 1958,
  • The USSR followed in 1964
  • China in 2007.
  • In 2015, Russia tested its PL-19 Nudol missile and followed it up with other tests.

3 . Central deputation of IAS officials

Context :The Centre has proposed amendments to the IAS (Cadre) Rules in order to exercise greater control in central deputation of IAS officials, which has often been at the centre of tussles between the Centre and the states.

What is current rule on deputation?

  • Central deputation in the Indian Administrative Service is covered under Rule-6 (1) of the IAS (Cadre) Rules-1954, inserted in May 1969. It states: “A cadre officer may, with the concurrence of the State Governments concerned and the Central Government, be deputed for service under the Central Government or another State Government or under a company, association or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not, which is wholly or substantially owned or controlled by the Central Government or by another State Government.
  • Provided that in case of any disagreement, the matter shall be decided by the Central Government and the State Government or State Governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government.”

What are the proposed amendments?

  • On December 20, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) wrote to various state governments that “… various state/joint cadres are not sponsoring adequate number of officers for central deputation, as part of the Central Deputation Reserve. As a result of this, the number of officers available for central deputation is not sufficient to meet the requirement at Centre.”
  • The letter proposed to insert an additional condition in Rule 6(1): “Provided that each State Government shall make available for deputation to the Central Government, such number of eligible officers of various levels to the extent of the Central Deputation Reserve prescribed under Regulations referred to in Rule 4(1), adjusted proportionately by the number of officers available with the State Government concerned vis-à-vis the total authorized strength of the State cadre at a given point of time. The actual number of officers to be deputed to the Central Government shall be decided by the Central Government in consultation with State Government concerned.”
  • To the existing condition that “in case of any disagreement… the State Government or State Governments concerned shall give effect to the decision of the Central Government”, the proposed amendment adds the words “within a specified time”.
  • It has written that “in specific situations, where services of cadre officers are required by the Central Government in public interest, the Central Government may seek the services of such officers for posting under the Central Government.” A few states have responded, including West Bengal, which has raised objections

Objections from States

  • Proposals are “against the spirit of cooperative federalism” and “will affect administration of the state”. “By insisting on officers to be made available for deputation through the proposed amendment, not only will the administration of States be affected but also it would become impossible to assess and plan the administration of a State – by engaging such officers who form part of the Central Deputation Reserve, fraught with the uncertainty of their sudden deputation by the Centre,” she has written.

How are officers sent on central deputation today, and how could the amendments affect it?

  • The Centre asks every year for an “offer list” of officers of the All India Services (IAS, IPS and Indian Forest Service) willing to go on central deputation, from which it selects officers.
  • While Rule 6(1) says that in case of disagreement, the state shall give effect to the decision of the Centre, this has not been possible in several cases of conflict.
  • Even the proposed amendment leaves the state with an escape route by stating that the number of officers to be sent on deputation shall be decided by the central government “in consultation with the State Government concerned”. And while the Centre mandates the state governments to provide a list of officers, the officer too must be willing, with Rule 6(2) stating: “no cadre officer shall be deputed to any organisation or body of the type referred to in item (ii),
    except with his consent”. Item (ii) covers certain kinds of organisations.

4 . Facts for Prelims

Vikas Engine

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully fired the high thrust Vikas engine that would power India’s first rocket that would carry humans
  • VIKAS (an acronym for Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai) is a family of liquid-fuelled rocket engines conceptualized and designed by the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre since the 1970s.
    The early production VIKAS engines used imported French components which were later replaced by domestically produced equivalents.
  • It is used in the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) series of expendable launch vehicles for space launch use. VIKAS engines are used to power the second stage PSLV, boosters and second stage of GSLV Mark I and II and now the first stage of GSLV Mark III (LVM3).

Recent Changes in Capital of countries

  • In 1997, Kazakhstan shifted its capital from Almaty to Astana, like many new capitals, a planned city. Then Astana was itself renamed in 2019 to Nur-Sultan, in homage to long-term former President Nursultan Nazarbayev (currently facing the ire of protesters amid the recent unrest).
  • Myanmar in 2005 shifted its capital from Yangon to another planned city, Naypyidaw. Strategic reasons were cited as one possible explanation for the military regime’s decision.
  • Indonesia’s Parliament recently approved a bill to relocate the country’s capital from Jakarta to a new city to be built on the island of Borneo, named as Nusantara.

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