A Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit finalised three cardinal issues for examining whether the 103rd Constitutional Amendment, which provides 10% quota to economically weaker sections (EWS) of society in government jobs and educational institutions, violates the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
THE 3 QUESTIONS
The court will examine
- whether the amendment breaches the Basic Structure by permitting the state to make special provisions, including reservation, based on economic criteria;
- whether it violates the Basic Structure by allowing the state to make special provisions in relation to admissions to private unaided institutions, and lastly,
- whether the Basic Structure is trampled upon by the constitutional amendment by excluding SEBC/OBC/SC/ST communities from the scope of the EWS quota.
Chief Justice Lalit said the three questions of law would form the foundation of the court’s examination and lawyers could expand on them while arguing.
OPERATION LONDON BRIDGE
Queen Elizabeth II’s death kicked off Operation London Bridge, a detailed plan, put in place in the 1960s, which meticulously lists the procedures that roll out moments after her death and culminate with her funeral 10 days later.
ABOUT THE OPERATION
Operation London Bridge (also known by its code phrase London Bridge is Down) is the name of a funeral plan for Queen Elizabeth II.
The plan includes the announcement of her death, the period of official mourning, and the details of her state funeral. The plan was first created in the 1960s and revised many times in the years before her death in 2022.
As well as Operation London Bridge, there is an additional plan called Operation Unicorn, which details what would happen if the Queen were to die in Scotland.
Running concurrently with Operation London Bridge is Operation Spring Tide, which addresses the accession of King Charles III to the throne and his first trip to the countries of the UK.
THE CONCEPT OF COMMONWEALTH
- The Commonwealth of Nations, or simply the Commonwealth, is a group of 56 member countries, the vast majority of which are former British colonies.
- They are mostly in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific. Three European nations are part of the Commonwealth: Cyprus, Malta, and of course, the UK itself.
- Fourteen of these 56 countries — along with the UK — constitute the “Commonwealth realms”.
They are Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.
- The British monarch — now King Charles III, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II — is the head of state of these countries.
- Of the remaining 41 member states of the Commonwealth, 36 are republics — this group includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The other five — Brunei Darussalam, Lesotho, Malaysia, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and Tonga — have their own monarchs.
INDIA CHINA TROOPS DISENGAGEMENT
- Indian and Chinese troops kicked off disengagement from Patrolling Point-15 (PP 15) in the larger Gogra-Hot Springs area of eastern Ladakh.
- The move comes ahead of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan next week, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to participate.
- On September 08, 2022, according to the consensus reached in the 16th round of India China Corps Commander Level Meeting, the Indian and Chinese troops in the area of Gogra-Hot Springs (PP-15) have begun to disengage in a coordinated and planned way.
INDO CHINA BORDER
- 2020: Chinese and Indian troops clashed at Nathu La. Tensions grew in the Galwan valley in Ladakh area. Issue: India’s construction of a road from Darbuk to Daulat Beg Oldi via Shyok. India retaliated by banning Chinese apps in India.
PERSISTING CHALLENGES IN THE LADAKH REGION
- The big problem for India remains the major encroachment by the PLA in the Depsang Bulge.
- The PLA has been actively blocking Indian soldiers in Depsang, around 18-km inside what India considers its own territory, from even going to their traditional PPs-10, 11, 12, 12A and 13 in the area since April-May 2020.
- Military experts believe Depsang imbroglio (complexity) can be resolved only through top political intervention.
PM TB MUKT BHARAT
The President of India virtually launched the Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyan.
WHAT IS TUBERCULOSIS?
Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain.
Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick.
HOW IS TB SPREAD?
ABOUT TB MUKT BHARAT
The Pradhan Mantri TB Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan has been envisioned to bring together all community stakeholders to support those on TB treatment and accelerate the country’s progress towards TB elimination.
According to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, all nations have set the goal of eradicating TB by the year 2030. But the Government of India has set the target of eradicating TB by the year 2025.
TB causes the largest number of deaths among all other infectious diseases in India. India has a little less than 20 percent of the world’s population, but has more than 25 percent of the total TB patients of the world.
EXPORT BAN ON BROKEN RICE
This has been done in order to ensure adequate availability of broken rice for consumption by domestic poultry industry and for other animal feedstock and to produce ethanol for successful implementation of EBP (Ethanol Blending Programme).
About 50-60 Lakh Metric Tonnes of broken rice is produced annually in India which is mainly used as poultry feed and feed for other animals.
It is also used as a feedstock by the grain-based distilleries for producing ethanol which is supplied to Oil Marketing Companies for blending with petrol.
RICE EXPORTS FROM INDIA
There are four categories of rice exports. Out of these, exports in the case of two –
- basmati rice and
- parboiled non-basmati rice – are still freely allowed.
The curbs are only for the other two:
- raw (white) and
- broken non-basmati rice
INDO PACIFIC ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK
India has for now opted to stay out of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework’s (IPEF) trade pillar.
The IPEF has four pillars with the member nations given flexibility to choose which pillars they want to be part of. These are:
- fair and resilient trade,
- supply chain resilience,
- infrastructure and decarbonization, and
- tax and anticorruption.
According to an insight paper on IPEF put out by the US Congressional Research Service, the IPEF is not a traditional trade agreement.
ORIGIN OF IPEF
Biden first spoke about the IPEF at the October 2021 East Asia Summit.
At this summit, he said that the United States will explore with partners the development of an Indo-Pacific economic framework.
This framework will define our shared objectives around:
Trade facilitation, standards for the digital economy and technology, supply chain resiliency, decarbonization and clean energy, Infrastructure, worker standards, and other areas of shared interest.
- The fair and resilient trade module will be led by the US Trade Representative and include digital, labour, and environment issues, with some binding commitments.
- The IPEF will not include market access commitments such as lowering tariff barriers, as the agreement is more of an administrative arrangement.
MEMBER COUNTRIES AND THEIR TRADE WITH CHINA
INDIA & IPEF
India decided to join three pillars of IPEF
India has joined the supply chain, decarbonisation and infrastructure, and anti-tax and corruption pillars of the IPEF
However, it has decided to remain out of the trade pillar.
Reasons for India not joining the trade pillar
So far, official reason has not been given.
However, trade experts say India may have some genuine concerns regarding certain aspects of the trade pillar that perhaps go beyond WTO obligations.
PM GARIB KALYAN ANNA YOJANA
Many States, cutting across party lines, have asked the Central government to extend the PM-GKAY scheme beyond September 30, 2022.
The sixth phase of the scheme began in April 2022 and set to end in September 2022.
ABOUT PM GARIB KALYAN ANNA YOJANA
PM-GKAY is a food security welfare scheme announced by the Central Government in March 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is a part of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) to help the poor fight the battle against Covid-19.
Objective: To feed the poorest citizens of India by providing grain through the Public Distribution System, to all the priority households (ration card holders and those identified by the Antyodaya Anna Yojana scheme).
Implementing Agency: Department of Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution
More than 80 crore beneficiaries are provided 5 kg free wheat/rice per person per month.
This is in addition to the 5 kg food grains already provided to the beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act, 2013.
The NFSA, 2013 legally entitled up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidized food grains under Targeted Public Distribution system.
It is known as the largest food security programme in the world.
- To alleviate the Covid-19 pandemic induced distress, initially, the scheme was announced for a period of six months only i.e. April-September 2020. However, the scheme was extended several times, with its sixth phase ending September 2022.
- By September 2022 the total expenditure under PM-GKAY to nearly 3.40 Lakh Crore.
- Till Phase V (i.e. till March 2022), the Government had allocated about 759 LMT of free foodgrains under the PM-GKAY.
Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has significantly abated and economic activities are gathering momentum, this PM-GKAY extension has ensured that no poor household goes to bed without food during this time of recovery.
SHOULD THE PROGRAM BE EXTENDED FURTHER?
- The Union Budget 2022 had pegged the fiscal deficit, which is the difference between government revenue and expenditure, at 4% or Rs. 16.61 lakh crore.
- In its monthly report, the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance cited the adverse financial position – due to the below mentioned measures – of the Central government has created serious fiscal situation:
- Continuation of PM-GKAY,
- Huge increase in fertiliser subsidy burden (both urea and non-urea),
- Re-introduction of subsidy on cooking gas,
- Reduction of excise duty on petrol and diesel and customs duty on various products.
The Department in its report has made an observation that the scheme should not be extended beyond September as it could strain government finances.
INCLUSION OF NEW TRIBES IN SCHEDULED TRIBE
The Union Cabinet has approved the addition of four tribes to the list of Scheduled Tribes.
- Hattee community of the Trans-Giri region of Himachal Pradesh’s Sirmaur district.
- Narikoravar and Kuruvikaran community from Tamil Nadu
- Binjhia in Chhattisgarh
(Binjhia were listed as ST in Jharkhand and Odisha but not in Chhattisgarh.)
- Gond community residing in 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh.
ST IN INDIA
According to the 2011 Census, the Scheduled Tribes account for 104 million representing 8.6% of the country’s population.
No community has been specified as Scheduled Tribe in the State of Haryana and Punjab and UTs of Chandigarh, Delhi and Puducherry.
Government of India set up Ministry of Tribal Affairs in 1999 after the bifurcation of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
THE LIST OF ST
Article 342 provides for specification of tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which are deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or UT.
In pursuance of these provisions, the list of Scheduled Tribes is notified for each State or Union Territory.
These lists are valid only within the jurisdiction of that State or UT and not outside.
A community declared as a Scheduled Tribe in a State need not be so in another State.
The inclusion of a community as a Scheduled Tribe is an ongoing process.
CRITERIA FOR INCLUSION IN THE LIST
The criteria presently followed for specification of a community as a Scheduled Tribe are:
- Indications of primitive traits;
- Distinctive culture;
- Geographical isolation;
- Shyness of contact with the community at large; and
However, these criteria are not spelt out in the Constitution.
PROCESS OF INCLUSION
The process to include tribes in the ST list begins with the recommendation from the respective State governments.
These recommendations are then sent to the Tribal Affairs Ministry, which reviews and sends them to the Registrar General of India for approval.
This is followed by the approval of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes before the list is sent to the Cabinet for a final decision.
GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has signed a Memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Secretary General of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on the mechanism of consultations between India and the GCC.
The External Affairs Minister is on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia from 10-12 September. This is his first trip to the Kingdom as India’s External Affairs Minister.
The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, also known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is a regional, intergovernmental, political, and economic union comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
The council’s main headquarters is located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
The Charter of the GCC was signed on 25 May 1981, formally establishing the institution.
PRICE CAP ON RUSSIAN OIL BY G7
Finance Ministers of all G7 countries as well as the European Union announced their plan to implement a price cap on oil exports from Russia.
G7 ORIGIN OF G7 AND ITS PRESENT COMPOSITION
- The origin of G7 lies in the oil shocks of 1973 and the corresponding financial crisis.
- In order to address the situation after oil shock, the heads of the world’s six leading industrial nations decided to hold a meeting in 1975.
These six nations were – US, UK, France, Germany (West), Japan and Italy.
- These countries were joined by Canada in 1976 and G7 came into existence.
- In 1998, Russia was formally inducted in the group, which transformed G7 into G8. However, Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. As a result, it was suspended from the grouping. Hence, the group became G7 again in 2014.
- The European Union is also represented within the G7.
G7, G8 & G20
THE PRICE CAP PLAN
The introduction of a price cap on Russian oil means countries that sign up to the policy will only be permitted to purchase Russian oil and petroleum products that are sold at or below the price cap.
The price cap is being designed to limit Russia from profiting from its war of aggression while limiting the impact on global energy prices.
G7 officials have been trying to convince countries including India, China and Turkey to join the coalition or to at least support the price cap.
As per them, price cap is in the interests of all oil buyers from Russia as it will give them leverage to lower purchase prices.
Western countries have tried to pressurised India by asking it:
- to change its uncritical stance on Russia at the United Nations,
- to cut down oil imports,
- to stop defence and other purchases from Russia, and
- to avoid the rupee-rouble payment mechanism that circumvent their sanctions.
However, so far, India has not obliged, and there is little indication that New Delhi is likely to, just yet.
India’s oil intake from Russia, which was minuscule prior to the war has soared 50 times over. India has become the second biggest destination for Russian Oil exports.
Indian government’s stand is believed to be driven by its national interest which, at this moment, is to provide affordable oil to Indian consumers.
INDIA’S DAIRY SECTOR
India’s dairy sector is characterised by production by masses rather than mass production, as it employs more than 8 crore families in the country.
This was said by PM Modi while inaugurating the International Dairy Federation World Dairy Summit 2022 in Greater Noida recently.
He also stated that the central government, in collaboration with various state governments, is working hard to control the spread of lumpy skin disease (LSD).
DAIRY IN INDIA
- India is self-sufficient in milk and the world’s top milk producer as well as consumer.
- Milk is India’s single largest agricultural commodity in terms of value amounting to approximately USD 118 billion.
- It has a very rich reservoir of genetic diversity and possesses some of the best breeds of cattle and buffaloes in the world.
- The Indian dairy industry is unique because it is based on a cooperative model that empowers small and marginal dairy farmers, especially women (70% representation in the workforce of India’s dairy sector).
- It provides a stable cash flow as compared to crop cultivation, as around 60-70% of consumer rupee flows back to producers, which is highest in the world.
ACHIEVEMENTS OF INDIA’S DAIRY SECTOR
- The Government of India (Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying) has taken multiple steps for the betterment of the dairy sector resulting in an increase in milk production by more than 44% in the last eight years.
- The success story of the Indian dairy industry, accounting for about 23% of global milk, producing around 210 million tonnes annually, and empowering more than 8 crore dairy farmers.
LUMPY SKIN DISEASE
LSD is caused by the lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV), which is a virus of the capri poxvirus genus in the poxviridae family.
The LSDV mainly affects cattle – cow and its progeny, and the Asian water buffaloes.
HOW IS IT SPREAD?
The LSDV spreads through blood-sucking vectors like ticks and mites like houseflies, mosquitoes, etc. It also spreads through contaminated water, fodder and feed.
HOW DOES IT IMPACT?
LSDV attacks the circulatory system of an animal and causes inflammation of blood vessels and lesions in various organs like liver, lungs, spleen, lymph nodes etc.
In turn, it causes epidermis, which leads to formation of lumps or nodules on an animal’s body. Other symptoms include fever, increased mucus secretion, loss of appetite, etc.
CAN IT SPREAD TO HUMANS?
The good news is that the disease cannot spread among humans or cannot be transferred from the infected animals to humans.
DOES IT IMPACT THE DAIRY PRODUCE?
Moreover, reports show that the disease does not affect the products of animals as well so you can consume dairy products without any worry.
INDIA SRI LANKA IN UNHRC
India called Sri Lanka out at United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for lack of measurable progress on the latter’s commitments for a political solution to the ethnic Tamil minority issue.
The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system.
Based in Geneva, the council was created in 2006 by the UNGA.
It is made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.
WHAT IS THE TAMIL ISSUE IN SRI LANKA?
- 1948: Britishers left SL (Ceylon). Sinhalese Citizenship Bill passed. The bill disqualified 11% population who migrated during the British era.
- 1954: Nehru Kotelawala Pact Nehru agreed to provide citizenship to those who voluntarily wanted Indian citizenship and not to those who were not eligible for SL citizenship.
- 1956: Sinhala Only Act was passed by the Ceylon Parliament.
- 1964: Shastri Sirimavo pact signed. 9,75,000 people of Indian origin were identified. 5,25,000 people had to be given Indian citizenship; 3,00,000 were to be given SL citizenship and the fate of 1,50,000 was to be decided.
But India was too slow in granting citizenship.
- 1972: The Constitution was enacted and provisions therein favoured the Sinhalese language people. This did not go well with Tamilians.
- 1976: LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) was formed to fight for rights of Tamilians.
- 1983-84: The Civil War started. (Tamils V/s Sinhalese)
Area claimed by LTTE:
- 1987: India intervened directly after it faced opposition from Tamilians and flooding of refugees. A peace accord was signed and SL amended its Constitution (13th Amendment Act).
SL promised to give an autonomous provincial council with land, finance and law & order power to Tamilians. Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) was controlling the regional council and called for various other militant outfits to disarm. SL government also requested GoI to send Indian Army so that disarmament of Tamil militant forces could happen. Hence India sent Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) and named it Operation Pawan.
LTTE rejected the Peace accord because they opposed the Chief Administrative Officer of the regional council to be from EPRLF. LTTE proposed its candidate as CAO which was rejected by India. Now the conflict was between IPKF and LTTE. IPKF assassinated the leader of LTTE.
- 1989: IPKF was withdrawn. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by LTTE.
- 2003: SL govt granted citizenship rights to Tamilians.
- 2005: Mahenda Rajapakse becomes the President of SL.
- 2009: SL army controlled and seized the last area controlled by Tamil Tiger rebels. India became part of rehabilitation and reconstruction. (Demining, development of infrastructure, etc)
WHY SRI LANKA FACES HEAT AT UNHRC?
Over 13 years since the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, survivors continue demanding justice and accountability for war-time crimes.
It is claimed that during Sri Lankan civil war tens of thousands of civilians were killed and disappeared.
In the post-war years, concerns were raised over persisting militarisation, especially in the Tamil-majority north and east; repression, and the shrinking space for dissent.
In latest report on Sri Lanka, the U.N. Human Rights Chief said that “embedded impunity for past and present human rights abuses, economic crimes and corruption was among the underlying factors that led to the country’s devastating economic crisis”.
Since 2009, India has voted thrice in favour of the U.N. resolution on Sri Lanka — two were critical — and abstained twice, in 2014 and 2021.
Over the last 3 years, the gene-editing technology with near unlimited potential has produced flawless results in clinical trials.
India has approved a 5-year project to develop CRISPR to cure sickle cell anaemia.
WHAT IS SICKLE CELL ANAEMIA?
Sickle cell anemia is a form of the inherited blood disorder, sickle cell disease. Sickle cell anemia affects your red blood cells, turning them from round flexible discs into stiff and sticky sickled cells.
Sickled cells keep red blood cells from doing their job, which is carrying oxygen throughout your body. Sickled cells also don’t live as long as normal red blood cells. As a result, you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells and you develop anaemia.
WHAT IS CRISPR?
- CRISPR is short for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, which is a reference to the clustered and repetitive sequences of DNA found in bacteria, whose natural mechanism to fight some viral diseases is replicated in this gene-editing tool.
- Its mechanism is often compared to the ‘cut-copy-paste’, or ‘find-replace’ functionalities in common computer programmes.
- A bad stretch in the DNA sequence, which is the cause of disease or disorder, is located, cut, and removed — and then replaced with a ‘correct’ sequence. And the tools used to achieve this are not mechanical, but biochemical — specific protein and RNA molecules.
The sixth edition of Japan India Maritime Exercise 2022 (JIMEX 22) hosted by Indian Navy commenced in the Bay of Bengal on 11 September 2022.
JIMEX 22 involves two Phases; exercises at sea and a harbour phase at Visakhapatnam.
This edition marks the 10th anniversary of JIMEX, which began in Japan in 2012.
It also coincides with the 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Japan.
JIMEX 22 seeks to consolidate the high degree of interoperability that exists between maritime forces of the two countries, through complex exercises in the surface, sub-surface and air domains.
CHEETAHS REINTRODUCTION IN INDIA
The Prime Minister of India will soon release 8 Cheetahs (3 male and 5 female) into an enclosure at Madhya Pradesh’s Kuno National Park to initiate the species’ reintroduction in India.
- The Cheetah (a carnivore) is the world’s fastest land animal historically ranging throughout most of Sub-Saharan Africa and extending eastward to India.
- The Cheetah plays an important part in the ecosystem. They maintain prey species healthy (by killing the weak and old) and control the population of prey, helping plants-life by preventing overgrazing.
- Today, Cheetahs are found in only 9% of their historic range, occurring in a variety of habitats such as Savannahs in the Serengeti, Arid mountain ranges in the Sahara and Hilly desert terrain in Iran.
- Namibia has the largest population of Cheetahs in the world, earning it the title “The Cheetah Capital of the World.”
- Currently, Cheetahs (African) are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, as there are fewer than 7,100 adult and adolescent Cheetahs in the wild.
HISTORY OF CHEETAH IN INDIA
Historically, Asiatic Cheetahs had a very wide distribution in India, occurring from as far north as Punjab to Tirunelveli district in southern Tamil Nadu, from Gujarat and Rajasthan in the west to Bengal in the east.
Thus, the Cheetah’s habitat was very diverse – scrub forests, dry grasslands, savannas and other arid and semi-arid open habitats.
In 1952, the cheetah was declared officially extinct in the country.
CHEETAH REINTRODUCTION PLAN
Discussions to bring the Cheetah back to India were initiated in 2009 by the Wildlife Trust of India.
Kuno Palpur National Park (KNP) in Madhya Pradesh: Amongst the surveyed sites of the central Indian states, KNP has been rated the highest, because of its suitable habitat and adequate prey base.
It is assessed to be capable of supporting 21 Cheetahs and is likely the only wildlife site in the country where villages have been completely relocated from within the park.
Kuno also provides the possibility of harbouring four of India’s big cats – tiger, lion, leopard and Cheetah, enabling them to coexist as they have in the past.
WHY CHEETAHS ARE BEING BROUGHT FROM AFRICA?
The locally extinct Cheetah-subspecies of India is found in Iran and is categorised as critically endangered.
Since it is not possible to source the critically endangered Asiatic Cheetah from Iran without affecting this subspecies, India will source Cheetahs from Southern Africa.
Southern African Cheetahs have the highest observed genetic variety among extant Cheetah lineages, which is critical for a founding population stock.
Furthermore, Southern African Cheetahs have been determined to be the ancestors of all other Cheetah lineages, making them suitable for India’s reintroduction programme.