Current Affairs 22nd January, 2019

PAPER – 1

Topics covered

1. World physical features

Krech Strait

Image result for kerch strait

What to read?

Prelims – Its geographical location

Two ships carrying Indian, Turkish and Libyan crew members have caught fire in the Kerch Strait separating Crimea from Russia, killing at least 11 persons.

Krech Strait is a strait connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, separating the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea in the west from the Taman Peninsula of Russia's Krasnodar Krai in the east.

  • The most important harbor, the Crimean city of Kerch, gives its name to the strait, formerly known as the Cimmerian Bosporus.

  • Russia had started the construction of a major cargo port near Taman, the most important Russian settlement on the strait.

PAPER – 2

Topics Covered

1. Polity

Tripura, Meghalaya and Manipur – Statehood day on January 21

What to read?

Prelims and Mains - Article 3 of Indian Constitution and Redrawing of map after 1950s

ARTICLE 3 : FORMATION OF NEW STATES AND ALTERATION OF AREAS, BOUNDARIES OR NAMES OF EXISTING STATES

Parliament may by law –

(a) form a new State by separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State;

(b) increase the area of any State;

(c) diminish the area of any State;

(d) alter the boundaries of any State;

(e) alter the name of any State:

Provided that no Bill for the purpose shall be introduced in either House of Parliament except on the recommendation of the President and unless, where the proposal contained in the Bill affects the area, boundaries or name of any of the States, the Bill has been referred by the President to the Legislature of that State for expressing its views thereon within such period as may be specified in the reference or within such further period as the President may allow and the period so specified or allowed has expired.

Note - Article 3 original provision was amended by Constitution (fifth amendment) Act, 1955 on 24 December 1955.

State Reorganisation in North East India

There are several components of Government of India’s repose to insurgencies in the North East India. These include:

  • Meeting the political aspirations of the ethnic groups by giving them autonomy

  • Economic development of the area;

  • Improving governance

  • Engaging the outfits in peace dialogues and

  • Coordinating operations with the neighbouring countries and lastly use of force.

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Greater Statehood in North East

The government has given considerable attention to reduce the conflicts by conferring greater statehoods in the north east. At the time of Independence, India’s north east region was made of three entities as follows: Assam since 1912 as

  • Assam Province of British India.

  • Princely states of Manipur and Tripura

  • North eastern frontier Provinces

Manipur and Tripura became Union Territories in 1949. The fifth entity in North East emerged on 1 December 1963 as Nagaland via the State of Nagaland. sixth schedule of the constitution. On 21 January 1972, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura were given status of fully fledged states via the North East Reorganization Act 1972. Meanwhile in 1972, Mizo Hills region of Assam was converted into a Union Territory. After the Mizoram Peace Accord (1986), Mizoram emerged as a full-fledged state of India in 1987. NEFA was first converted to a Union Territory in 1972 and then full-fledged state in 1987.

Assam 1912 as Assam Province in British India is redrawn into the following

  • Nagaland 1 December 1963

  • Manipur 21 January 1972

  • Meghalaya 21 January 1972

  • Tripura 21 Jan. 1972

  • Sikkim 16 May 1975

  • Mizoram 20 February 1987

  • Arunachal Pradesh  20 February 1987


PAPER – 2

Topics Covered

1. Electoral Process

2. Constitutional Bodies – ECI

Electoral Voting Machines

What to read?

Prelims – ECI, EVMs

Mains – Advantages and disadvantages of EVMs

Election Commission of India

  • It was established on January 25, 1950. The major aim of election commission of India is to define and control the process for elections conducted at various levels, Parliament, State Legislatures, and the offices of the President and Vice President of India. It can be said that the Election Commission of India ensures smooth and successful operation of the democracy.

  • According to Article 324 of Indian Constitution, the Election Commission of India has superintendence, direction, and control of the entire process for conduct of elections to Parliament and Legislature (state legislative assembly & state legislative council) of every State and to the offices of President and Vice-President of India.

  • Initially, the commission had only a Chief Election Commissioner. Presently, it consists of a Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners. For the first time, two additional Commissioners were appointed on 16th October 1989 but they had a very short term till 1st January 1990. Afterwards, on 1st October 1993 two additional Election Commissioners were appointed. The concept of multi-member Commission has been in operation since then, with decision-making power by majority vote.

EVMs

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What is an EVM and how exactly does it work?

EVMs or electronic voting machines provide the voter with a button for each choice which is connected by a cable to an electronic ballot box.

An EVM consists of two units–control unit and balloting unit–and these two are connected by a five-meter cable. When a voter presses a button against the candidate he/she wishes to vote for, the machine locks itself.

This EVM can be opened only with a new ballot number. This way, EVMs ensure that one person gets to vote only once.

When were EVMs first used in elections?

The use of EVM started back in 1982 Kerala Assembly elections. Prior to this only ballot papers and ballot boxes were allowed.

Why is India using EVMs?

Holding free, fair, and fast elections is a cornerstone of democracy and is guaranteed by the Constitution. Introduction of EVMs by due process of consultation and constitutional amendment in the 1980s and ’90s was a step in the right direction to further strengthen the democratic process in India, which is by far the largest democracy in the world with more than 800 million voters.

Using EVMs means doing away with paper ballots, and in turn, saving millions of trees from being cut.

  • It makes the entire process of voting simpler-a click on the button and your vote is registered.

  • EVMs, in the long-run, have turned out to be cost-effective as well.

  • These machines don’t require electricity and run on batteries.

  • At the same time, the EVMs are lighter and portable compared to the huge ballot boxes.

  • And most importantly, EVMs have made the vote-counting process much faster, delivering results in hours as against manual counting of votes which could take days

Arguments that are in favour of Paper Ballot

Image result for paper ballot india

Following arguments question the EVM system and support Paper ballot.

  • We invariably come across reports of malfunctioning EVMs.

  • The only way an EVM can be tampered with is by physically opening it up and replacing the chipset inside it. The chipset used is non-reprogrammable and data is ‘burnt’ into the device. So, today it is possible to replace the chip if we have access to EVMs

  • On the VVPAT (voter verifiable paper audit trail) front too, there are reports of malfunctioning. Also, as per the rules, paper ballots and VVPAT machines are not counted until the Returning Officer asks for it.

  • The outcome of the recent Uttar Pradesh civic polls suggests that tampering could be happening.

  • Oldest democracy, US, still uses paper ballot system for the presidential elections as Americans feel safer in using paper ballots as compared to electronic voting machines.

However, there are problems of paper ballot.

  • Transporting them and guarding them is a problem.

  • Ballot boxes can be captured.

Arguments in support of significance of EVMs

  • EVMs led to a significant decline in electoral fraud, particularly in politically sensitive States as rigging elections became extremely expensive.

  • Research has shown a link between luminosity and growth rate, suggesting that EVMs contribute to development.

  • EVMs empowered those from the weaker sections of society who were victims of political or electoral violence. In particular, women, lower castes, and those less educated were more likely to participate in the electoral process when EVMs were used.

  • EVMs made the electoral process more competitive.

  • There has been a significant decline in the incidence of re-election, and winning margins have reduced dramatically.

However, this does not imply that we lower our guards. The very idea of democracy is based on trust and belief in the fairness of the electoral process where the losing party lives to fight another day. Any erosion of this trust and belief would be an irreversible process with an uncertain outcome.


PAPER – 3

Topics Covered

1. Conservation of Environment

19 Amphibian Species – Critically Endangered

Fejervarya goemchi, a species recently discovered in Goa.Special ArrangementSpecial Arrangement

What to read?

Prelims – IUCN Classification, Zoological Survey of India

Mains – Highlights of the study

An updated list of Indian amphibians was released on the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) website last week, with 19 species being treated as critically endangered and 33 species as endangered.

The list also notes if the species are in danger, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

IUCN Classification

Image result for iucn classification upsc

Zoological Survey of India

  • The Zoological survey of India is a subordinate organization of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Govt. of India.

  • It was established in 1916 as a national centre for fauna survey and exploration of the resources.

  • The headquarters is at Kolkata.

The main activities of the ZSI are:

  • Study of the fauna of states

  • Fauna of conservation areas

  • Fauna of important ecosystems

  • Status survey of endangered species

  • Fauna of India and

  • Ecological Studies & Environmental impact assessments.

Highlights of the study

  • The current list bears the names of 432 amphibian species from India, the year of discovery and their IUCN ‘red list’ conservation status.

  • Among the amphibians listed, 19 species are treated as critically endangered and 33 species as endangered

  • It is high time that India assess the IUCN status for the Indian ‘not assessed’ amphibians (169 species) based on species-specific field exploration


Paper 2 and 3:

Topics Covered:

1. Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

2. Food security related issues.

Smart Food Executive Council

Image result for Smart Food Executive Council

What to read?

Prelims and Mains: Smart Food Executive Council- features, composition, objectives and significance, about Smart Food Initiative.

Associations including the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF), Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) together have formed the Smart Food Executive Council.

About Smart Food Executive Council:

Formed under the aegis of the Smart Food Initiative that was launched in 2013.

Need:

Stemmed from the strategic thinking around the need for food that fulfils the criteria of being good for the consumer, good for the planet and good for the farmer.

Objective:

To diversify staples which can have the strongest impact on nutrition, the environment and farmer welfare.

Significance:

Given that staples may typically constitute 70% of a meal and are often eaten three times a day, diversifying them can have a pronounced impact on overcoming malnutrition and poverty and coping with climate change and environmental degradation.

Related image

This would contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for overcoming poverty and hunger (SDG 1 and 2), responsible consumption and production (SDG 12), along with adaptation to climate change (Goal 13). The approach taken will include gender equality (SDG 5) and action through partnerships (SDG 17).