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Daily Current Affairs

20-November-2023

1. Kerala to expand farming of GI-tagged Onattukara sesame

Topic: GS3 – geography indications

Context:

  • Efforts underway to expand cultivation of GI-tagged Onattukara sesame in Alappuzha, Kerala.
  • Incentive scheme announced in Thekkekara Krishi Bhavan limits, offering ₹40 for a cent of land to farmers.

GI-tagged Onattukara sesame:

  • Onattukara sesame is a unique and high-quality sesame seed variety grown in the Onattukara region of Kerala, 
  • It is known for its distinctive nutty flavor, high oil content, and rich nutritional value.
  • Onattukara sesame has been granted a Geographical Indication (GI) tag, recognizing its unique characteristics and origin.
  • The GI tag helps protect the reputation and authenticity of Onattukara sesame and promotes its marketability.
  • Onattukara sesame is used in various culinary preparations, such as sesame oil, sweets, and savory dishes.
  • It is also valued for its medicinal properties and believed to have health benefits.

2. The role of the Governor in legislature

Topic: GS2 – Indian polity.

Context:

  • The Tamil Nadu Governor, R. N. Ravi, has “withheld” assent for certain Bills passed by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, prompting the Supreme Court to express “serious concern” over gubernatorial inaction on presented Bills.
  • Similar delays by Governors in Telangana, Punjab, and Kerala also drew the Court’s displeasure.

Constitutional Framework (Article 200):

  • Article 200 of the Constitution delineates the Governor’s options when presented with a State Legislature Bill, allowing assent, withholding assent (rejecting the Bill), returning for reconsideration, or reserving for the President.
  • As per Supreme Court rulings in Shamsher Singh Case (1974), Governors are expected to act on ministerial advice when withholding assent or returning a Bill. Withholding assent may occur for Private Members’ Bills or in case of a government change.
  • The return of Bills to the State Legislature is typically based on ministerial advice. However, past instances, like the Tamil Nadu Governor’s action on the online gambling prohibition Bill, reveal discretionary use.
  • Reserved Bills, especially those reducing High Court powers, are to be considered by the President. Governor discretion is rare, primarily exercised when provisions contravene the Constitution.
  • Recommendations from the Sarkaria Commission (1987) emphasize limited Governor discretion, mostly reserved for President consideration in exceptional cases of unconstitutionality.
  • The Punchhi Commission (2010) recommends a decision timeframe of six months for Governors on presented Bills and suggests impeachment by the State Legislature for uncooperative Governors.
  • The politicization of the gubernatorial post is identified as an issue, with leaders, including Annadurai and Nitish Kumar, advocating for the abolition of the Governor’s post.
  • Proposed constitutional amendments include Chief Ministers’ consultation before Governor appointments and removal through State Legislature impeachment, aiming to foster responsible cooperation.
  • The Supreme Court calls for introspection by Governors and Chief Ministers and recommends constitutional amendments to ensure responsible cooperation in Governor appointments and functioning.

Conclusion

  • Striking a balance between a nominal head for the State executive and federalism is crucial, with proposed amendments aiming to enhance cooperation between Central and State Governments.

Question: Explain the provisions of Article 200 of the Indian Constitution regarding a Governor’s role in State Legislature Bills. Discuss the recommendations of the Sarkaria and Punchhi Commissions and the Supreme Court’s concerns.

3. IAF chief stresses need to invest in new technologies

Topic: GS3 – defence modernisation.

Context:

  • Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari emphasized the crucial need to invest in new and disruptive technologies.
  • Chaudhari stressed the imperative of investing in new technologies and finding innovative solutions for their application in the aerospace domain.

Importance of investing in new technologies in defence sector:

  • Maintaining a technological edge: Investing in new technologies allows a country to maintain a technological edge over its adversaries, which is essential for deterring aggression and defending national security.
  • Enhancing operational effectiveness: New technologies can significantly enhance the operational effectiveness of armed forces, making them more capable of carrying out their missions. This can include improvements in areas such as situational awareness, precision targeting, and communication.
  • Adapting to evolving threats: The nature of warfare is constantly evolving, and new technologies are often required to adapt to these changes. Investing in research and development can help a country stay ahead of the curve and prepare for future threats.
  • Boosting industrial competitiveness: Investing in defense technologies can also have a positive spillover effect on the civilian economy, by boosting industrial competitiveness and creating new jobs.
  • Supporting national innovation: The defense sector is often at the forefront of technological innovation, and investing in this area can help to support national innovation and competitiveness.

Challenges in defence innovation in India:

  • Lack of funding:The Indian government spends a relatively small amount of money on defense research and development (R&D), as a percentage of GDP. This lack of funding makes it difficult for Indian companies to develop new technologies.
  • Bureaucratic hurdles:The Indian defense procurement process is complex and bureaucratic, which can make it difficult for innovative companies to do business with the government.
  • Lack of collaboration:There is a lack of collaboration between the Indian military, academia, and industry, which can hinder the development of new technologies.
  • Limited access to technology:Indian companies often have limited access to the latest technologies, which can make it difficult for them to compete with foreign companies.
  • Brain drain:India has a significant brain drain of talented engineers and scientists, many of whom are drawn to higher salaries and better opportunities abroad.

Question: Despite India’s growing recognition of the need for a strong domestic defense industry, innovation in the sector remains a challenge. Discuss the key hurdles to innovation and suggest potential solutions.

4. IMA, nurses’ association honoured with Indira Gandhi Peace Prize

Topic: GS1 – awards

Context:

  • The Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development, 2022 was jointly awarded to the Indian Medical Association and the Trained Nurses Association of India.
  • The award was presented to Sharad Kumar Agarwal, president, Indian Medical Association, and Roy K. George, president, Trained Nurses Association of India.

Indira Gandhi Peace Prize:

  • Established in 1986, it is an annual award named after the former Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi.

Purpose and Recognition:

  • Awarded for promoting international understanding and goodwill, recognizing individuals or organizations’ outstanding contributions to global peace.

Diverse Awardees:

  • Given to individuals, organizations, or movements involved in activities such as disarmament, development, and fostering better international relations.

Prominent Recipients:

  • Notable awardees include individuals like Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations, and organizations like the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Symbolic Significance:

  • Holds symbolic significance in acknowledging efforts toward global peace and harmony.

5. Chimaeras – hosts to multiple genotypes, and maybe human organs

Topic: GS2 – environmental diversity

  • Chimaeras are organisms composed of cells of more than one distinct genotype.
  • Chimerism can occur naturally,as in the case of the anglerfish, or be induced in the laboratory, as in the case of rat-mouse, human-pig, and human-cow chimaeras.
  • A recent study has reported the successful generation of a live chimaera in non-human primates – Cynomolgus monkeys.
  • The chimeric monkey had to be euthanised after ten days for health reasons,but its genome-sequencing investigations showed a high degree of chimerism in its tissues.
  • This study opens new doors for scientists to use non-human primates to create chimaeras that could become models for basic and translational biomedical applications in the near future.
  • As with other advances in science,this study is not without limitations and ethical quandaries, which must be addressed before thinking about the human biomedical applications.

6. Why HC struck down Haryana’s private sector job quota

Topic: GS2- Polity

Context:

  • Recently, the Punjab and Haryana High Court struck down a 2020 Haryana government law that required a 75% state resident reservation in private employment.
  • The court ruled that the law violated the fundamental rights guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination against people by their state of origin by the government.

Details:

  • Enacted in January 2022, the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020, allocated 75% of private sector positions with a monthly wage below Rs 30,000 to Haryana residents.
  • The Faridabad Industries Association and other associations located in Haryana opposed the bill, claiming that it violated the fundamental right to work wherever in India and breached constitutional rights by instituting a policy of “sons of the soil”.

Legal Challenge and Grounds:

  • The Faridabad Industries Association filed the lawsuit, arguing that workers’ fundamental right to work anywhere in the nation is violated and that private sector jobs are skill-based.
  • They argued that the rule went against the federal structure described in the Constitution by requiring employers to hire local candidates.
  • Citing Article 16(4) of the Constitution, which gives the state the authority to reserve employment for members of any underprivileged class, the Haryana government supported the rule.

Scope and Exemptions of the Law:

  • The law was applied to a wide range of organizations, including partnerships, societies, corporations, and trusts with ten or more employees.
  • Organizations under state or central control were not covered by the Act.
  • The rule mandated that firms hire employees using a certain web portal; although there was a procedure for exemptions, it was thought to be cumbersome by some.

High Court’s Ruling and Criticisms:

  • Sections 6 and 8 of the Act, which required quarterly reporting and verification procedures, were condemned by the High Court in its 83-page verdict for being similar to an “Inspector Raj.”
  • With its protections and provisions, it stated, the law gave the state “absolute control over a private employer,” a situation that was considered inappropriate for private employment.

Future Course of Action:

  • The government of Haryana declared its intention to appeal the ruling, claiming that after carefully reviewing the High Court’s ruling, they would file a Special Leave Petition (SLP) with the Supreme Court.
  • The High Court was given four weeks to determine whether the law was still legitimate after the Supreme Court had already overturned the temporary injunction.
  • The decision has a big impact on the argument between individual employment rights and regional quotas.

7. BDS MOVEMENT

Topic: Prelims, GS2- IR

Context:

  • The entire Finding Committee for Documenta 16, a prestigious German art exhibition slated for 2027, resigned after Indian poet and curator Ranjit Hoskote tendered his resignation.
  • According to a German newspaper, Hoskote resigned in response to charges of “anti-Semitism” and purported support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

Overview of BDS Movement:

  • Initiated in 2005 by more than 170 Palestinian organizations, the BDS movement seeks to mobilize public support for Palestinian rights.
  • BDS, which calls itself an “inclusive, anti-racist human rights movement,” is against all kinds of prejudice, including Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
  • In order to achieve its goals which include putting an end to the occupation of some areas, recognizing the rights of Arab-Palestinian residents in Israel, and permitting the return of Palestinian refugees, the movement supports applying nonviolent pressure to Israel.

BDS Campaign Strategies:

  • Boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movements are used to put pressure on organizations that back the Israeli government, including universities, sports teams, and cultural centers.
  • The movement promotes cutting ties with foreign and Israeli businesses that violate human rights.
  • Campaigns for sanctions aim to put pressure on governments to enforce their legal duties and put an end to what BDS refers to as “Israeli apartheid.”
  • The movement also calls for Israel’s expulsion from international organizations including the UN and FIFA.

Israeli Government’s Response:

  • 2014 saw Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, associate BDS with anti-Semitism, claiming that the movement’s founders wanted to see the Jewish state destroyed.
  • He insisted that boycotters must be shown as “classical anti-Semites in modern garb” and stressed the need of opposing them.
  • In response, BDS emphasized the right to criticize a state’s behavior and made it clear that criticism of Israel’s transgressions of international law should not be mistaken for anti-Semitism.

Impact on Israel’s Economy:

  • Even if BDS has forced some companies and celebrities to stop doing business or giving concerts in Israel, it’s still difficult to estimate the total economic damage.
  • While acknowledging the strong Western support for Israel, BDS says it has the potential to be a forceful tool to stop support for “Israeli apartheid and settler colonialism.”

Conclusion and Ongoing Dynamics:

  • The debate surrounding the resignation of Ranjit Hoskote and the subsequent departure of the committee illuminates the intricate relationship between politics, art, and activism.
  • The BDS movement is still a divisive force, provoking discussions about its effectiveness and possible repercussions for foreign support of Israel.
  • The episode highlights the difficulties in managing geopolitical sensitivities in the context of esteemed cultural events.

8) The other oil imports

Topic: GS3- Economy

Context:

  • According to the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA), edible oil imports into India increased by about 1.5 times in the last ten years, to a record 16.5 million tonnes in the year that ended in October 2023.
  • Due to a worldwide price collapse, import values decreased to $16.7 billion and Rs 138,424 crore, respectively, in both dollars and rupees.

Import Trends and Historical Perspective:

  • From 11.6 million tonnes valued at Rs 60,750 crore in 2013–14 to 16.5 million tonnes valued at Rs 138,424 crore in 2022–23, imports have doubled in the last 10 years when compared to a decade earlier.
  • The previous three years have seen a more noticeable increase in this.
  • Self-sufficiency has decreased as a result of the increasing reliance on imports.

Dwindling Self-Sufficiency and Domestic Production:

  • India produced about 10.3 million tonnes of edible oil domestically from oilseeds and other sources in 2022–2023.
  • There were 16.5 million tonnes of imports, 26.8 million tonnes of total availability, and only 38.6% of the total was produced domestically.
  • In comparison, from 2004 to 2005, domestic production surpassed imports, resulting in approximately 60% self-sufficiency.

Profile of Domestic Oils:

  • The two main ingredients that go into making edible oil in India are mustard and soybean.
  • On the other hand, less oil is being produced from sesame, coconut, sunflower, and safflower.
  • Driven by genetically modified Bt technology, cottonseed oil production grew, but recently has declined because of things like decreasing cotton productivity.
  • Crude oil imports, namely those of palm, soybean, and sunflower oils, account for a sizeable amount of the total.

Vulnerability to International Price Fluctuations:

  • Due to their heavy reliance on imports, businesses and consumers are now more susceptible to changes in global prices.
  • India’s edible oil inflation has closely tracked worldwide patterns, with notable volatility in the vegetable oils price index reported by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Addressing Import Dependency:

  • Increased domestic production through technological advancements—including genetically engineered hybrids is necessary to reduce reliance on imports.
  • Support from the government is crucial, whether it takes the form of tariffs or procurement laws.
  • Because only wheat and paddy are now eligible for guaranteed minimum support prices (MSP), farmers have little incentive to concentrate on oilseeds or pulses.
  • Policymakers must take into account steps to encourage domestic production of edible oil and lessen the effects of excessive volatility in global prices.

9 . Debate over appropriate age of admission to Class 1: rules in India, world

Topic: Education

Context:

  • Delhi’s Directorate of Education officials have announced that schools in New Delhi will continue admitting students to Class 1 below the age of 6, despite the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 recommending a “5+3+3+4” structure, which would align the age of entry to Class 1 with three years of early childhood education (ages 3 to 5).
  • The foundational, preparatory, middle, and secondary stages which correspond to various age groups are emphasized as being crucial in NEP 2020.

Age Discrepancy Across States:

  • States’ age requirements for entry to Class 1 differed significantly, according to a response from the Center in March 2022.
  • While some states allow pupils to enroll as early as age five, others adhere to the standard age of six.
  • The Union Education Ministry has consistently asked states to align the entry age at six years in order to address this anomaly.
  • For the current academic year, Delhi has chosen to keep its current policies in place.

RTE Act and Entry Age:

  • From the age of six to fourteen, education is guaranteed by the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
  • The age of six for admission to Class 1 is in line with international standards, according to academicians involved in the Act’s formulation.
  • Experts emphasized that there is uncertainty regarding the proper age for Class 1 entrance because certain states have not followed the RTE Act’s prescribed entry age.

Research Findings on School Starting Age:

  • According to Cambridge University researchers introducing kids to formal literacy instruction at the age of five may actually be harmful rather than beneficial for their development as readers.
  • Research comparing New Zealand kids who began formal literacy at ages 5 and 7 revealed no variation in reading proficiency by the time they were 11 years old.
  • Furthermore, a global study of children aged 15 revealed no statistically significant correlation between school entry age and reading achievement.

International Practices:

  • Primary schooling typically begins at age six in East Asia and most European countries, with younger children attending preschool.
  • Children usually start school at age five in the US and the UK, but age seven in Scandinavian countries.
  • Globally, there are differences in the minimum age requirements for formal education, and Delhi’s decision to keep accepting pupils less than six years old is at odds with the RTE Act’s and NEP 2020’s regulations.

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