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Current Affairs – 29 September 2021

Anti-defection Law

The Indian Express

GS 2: Polity

Context:

  • Jignesh Mewani, an independent MLA from Gujarat, has said he has joined the Congress.

About:

  • The Tenth Schedule of the Constitution or anti-defection law specifies the circumstances under which changing of political parties by legislators invites action under the law.
  • It includes situations in which an independent MLA, too, joins a party after the election.

The 3 scenarios:

The law covers three scenarios with respect to shifting of political parties by an MP or an MLA.

  1. When a member elected on the ticket of a political party “voluntarily gives up” membership of such a party or votes in the House against the wishes of the party.
  2. When a legislator who has won his or her seat as an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
  3. In both these instances, the legislator loses the seat in the legislature on changing (or joining) a party.
  4. This scenario relates to nominated MPs. In their case, the law gives them six months to join a political party, after being nominated. If they join a party after such time, they stand to lose their seat in the House.

Covering independents

  • In 1969, a committee chaired by Home Minister Y B Chavan examined the issue of defection.
  • It observed that after the 1967 general elections, defections changed the political scene in India: 176 of 376 independent legislators later joined a political party. However, the committee did not recommend any action against independent legislators.
  • A member disagreed with the committee on the issue of independents and wanted them disqualified if they joined a political party.
  • In the absence of a recommendation on this issue by this committee, the initial attempts at creating the anti-defection law (1969, 1973) did not cover independent legislators joining political parties.
  • The next legislative attempt, in 1978, allowed independent and nominated legislators to join a political party once.
  • But when the Constitution was amended in 1985, independent legislators were prevented from joining a political party and nominated legislators were given six months’ time.

Disqualification

  • The power to decide the disqualification of an MP or MLA rests with the presiding officer of the legislature.
  • The law does not specify a time frame in which such a decision has to be made.
  • As a result, Speakers of legislatures have sometimes acted very quickly or have delayed the decision for years — and have been accused of political bias in both situations.
  • Last year, the Supreme Court observed that anti-defection cases should be decided by Speakers in three months’ time.

 

Burden of Climate Change on Children

The Indian Express and Down to Earth

GS 3: Health

Context:

  • Born into the Climate Crisis: Why we must act now to secure children’s rights has been published by non-profit Save the Children.
  • Researchers have found that children born today will be hit much harder by extreme climate events than today’s adults.

About:

  • These children will face on average twice as many wildfires; 2.8 times the exposure to crop failure; 2.6 times as many drought events; 2.8 times as many river floods and 6.8 times more heatwaves across their lifetimes compared to a person born in 1960.
  • The study, done in in collaboration with an international team of climate researchers led by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).
  • According to them, children of many low- and middle-income countries would continue to bear the brunt of worsening climate change.
  • The report calculated the exposure of an average person to climate impacts across their lifetime in 178 countries.
  • The study is based on data from the Inter-sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISIMIP).
  • This is a community-driven climate-impacts modelling initiative that assess the differential impacts of climate change.
  • The ISIMIP data were used alongside country-scale, life-expectancy data, population data and temperature trajectories from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Way ahead:

  • Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will reduce the additional lifetime exposure of new-borns to heatwaves by 45%; droughts by 39%; river floods by 38%; crop failures by 28% and wildfire by 10%.
  • The impact of reducing the frequency of extreme weather events through cutting emissions will help keep more children in school, avoid increase in malnutrition and ultimately save the lives of several of the world’s most vulnerable children.
  • Recognise children as equal stakeholders and key agents of change, scaling up social protection systems and taking bolder action to limit warming.

 

35 Crop Varieties with Special Traits

News on Air

GS 3: Agriculture

Context:

  • Prime Minister dedicated 35 crop varieties with special traits to the nation through video conferencing.

About:

  • The crop varieties with special traits have been developed by the ICAR to address the twin challenges of climate change and malnutrition.
  • 35 such crop varieties with special traits like climate resilience and higher nutrient content have been developed in 2021.
  • These include:
    • Drought tolerant variety of chickpea, wilt and sterility mosaic resistant pigeonpea,
    • Early maturing variety of soybean,
    • Disease resistant varieties of rice and
    • Biofortified varieties of wheat, pearl millet, maize and chickpea, quinoa, buckwheat, winged bean and faba bean.
    • Anti-nutritional factors found in some crops that adversely affect human and animal health.

National Institute of Biotic Stress Management:

  • The Prime Minister dedicated to the nation the newly constructed campus of National Institute of Biotic Stress Management Raipur.
  • It has been established to take up the basic and strategic research in biotic stresses, develop human resources and provide policy support.
  • The institute has started PG courses from the academic session 2020-21.

Green Campus Awards:

  • On the occasion, the Prime Minister distributed Green Campus Award to Agricultural Universities.
  • The Green Campus Awards has been initiated to motivate the State and Central Agricultural Universities to develop or adopt such practices that will render their campuses more green and clean, and motivate students to get involved in ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’, ‘Waste to Wealth Mission’ and community connect as per the National Education Policy-2020.

 

White Shipping Information

PIB

GS 2: Defence and Security

Context:

  • Indian navy and Royal Navy of Oman signed an MOU on white shipping information exchange.

About:

  • In shipping terminology, white shipping information is about the exchange of advance information on the identity and movement of commercial, non-military merchant ships.
  • The signing of the MoU between Royal Navy of Oman and Indian Navy would facilitate information exchange on merchant shipping traffic, through IFC-IOR, India and MSC, Oman and contribute to enhanced maritime safety and security in the region.
  • The MoU was signed at Maritime Security Center (MSC), Muscat. The MSC was commissioned in 2013.

 

Exposure to Floods

Down to Earth

GS 1: Geographical Phenomenon

Context:

  • The report published in the journal Nature stated that “At least 213 million people were shown to be exposed to flooding in south and southeast Asia alone.”
  • The latest estimates are 10 times higher than previous models. More than 255 million people were affected at least once by major floods in that period.

About:

  • The number of people living in floodplains across the world increased by 58-86 million during 2000-2015, according to a new estimate. This indicates a 20-24% growth in the period.
  • The growth spread over 70 countries was concentrated in low- and middle-income countries, mostly in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Causes:

  • Migration and urbanisation are major factors behind this growth. Most of those moving to flood-prone areas may be “the most vulnerable, marginalised populations” who had nowhere else to go.
  • Reclassification of land following major floods and rising sea levels is another cause for the increase in population in these regions.

Methodology:

  • Researchers from NASA, the University of Colorado, the University of Arizona, Columbia University, the University of Washington, the University of Texas and the University of Michigan analysed satellite data of 913 large flood events across 169 countries over 20 years.
  • Flood models based on satellite observations go beyond the risk perspective and estimating the impacts of flood risk on populations.
  • Satellite imagery can help us understand things like the impact on households, income, wealth, and human health after a flood.
  • These data sets consider dam breaks and snowmelt that were not part of past models.
  • The findings have been made available at Global Flood Database by Cloud to Street, a collaborative project dedicated to flood risk assessment and science-based action.

Way ahead:

  • Blue lining’ or the unofficial demarcation of flood-prone areas by financial institutions has led to “underinvestment in flood mitigation infrastructure” and increased risks.
  • The term draws from ‘red lining’ which is a malpractice leading to racist housing policies towards specific communities in neighbourhoods.
  • To circumvent these hurdles, the researchers called on city planners and government agencies to use the database and NASA’s new sea level projection tool to determine the best action to protect against future flooding.
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