ASPIRANTS DAILY CURRENT AFFAIRS + PIB SUMMARY 01 FEB 2022

Table of Contents:

GS Paper 1:

  • Bomb Cyclone

GS Paper 2:

  • Indian Constitution – Judgment and cases-issues related to SC’s & ST’s
  • Important International institutions -United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)
  • Second ASEAN Digital Ministers meeting

GS Paper 3:

  • Ethanol as an alternate fuel
  • Economic survey 2022:concerns and suggestion

GS Paper - 1

Bomb cyclone:

Why in News?

 Recently, ‘Bomb cyclone’ hits eastern US, which triggers transport chaos, outages.

What is a Bomb Cyclone?

  • About:
    • A bomb cyclone is a large, intense midlatitude storm that has low pressure at its center, weather fronts and an array of associated weather, from blizzards to severe thunderstorms to heavy precipitation.
    • Bomb cyclones put forecasters on high alert, because they can produce significant harmful impacts.
  • Reasons for the Formation:
    • This can happen when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters. The formation of this rapidly strengthening weather system is a process called bombogenesis.
    • It occurs when a midlatitude cyclone rapidly intensifies, dropping at least 24 millibars over 24 hours.
    •  A millibar measures atmospheric pressure.

How does a Bomb Cyclone differ from a Hurricane?

  • Hurricanes tend to form in tropical areas and are powered by warm seas. For this reason, they’re most common in summer or early fall, when seawater is warmest.
  • Bomb cyclones generally occur during colder months because cyclones occur due to cold and warm air meeting. During the summer, there’s generally not much cold air across the atmosphere; this means a bomb cyclone is much less likely to occur.
  • Hurricanes form in tropical waters, while bomb cyclones form over the northwestern Atlantic, northwestern Pacific and sometimes the Mediterranean Sea

GS Paper 2

Indian Constitution-Judgment and cases-issues related to SC’s & ST’s:

Why in News

 Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) refused to lay down the “yardstick” for determining the inadequacy of representation for granting reservation in promotions for Scheduled Caste (SC)/Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates in government jobs.

The court’s judgment came in a batch of petitions from across the country seeking further clarity on the modalities for granting reservation in promotion.

Key Points:-

  • SC’s Ruling:
  • Cadre for Collecting Data:
  • It held ‘cadre’ and not class, group or the entire service as the unit for the purpose of collection of quantifiable data for giving promotion quotas.
  • It said otherwise the entire exercise of reservation in promotions would be rendered meaninglessif data pertaining to the representation of SCs and STs was done with reference to the entire service.
  • No Yardstick:
    • The question of adequate representation of an SC/ST community ought to be left to the respective States to determine and it cannot lay down any yardstick for determining the inadequacy of representation.
  • Set Aside the Judgment in B.K. Pavithra Case (2019):
    • With the recognition of ‘cadre’ as the unit for collection of quantifiable data, the court set aside its earlier judgment in theK. Pavithra case.
    • SC held that the conclusion of this court approving the collection of data on the basis of groups and not cadres is contrary to the lawlaid down by the SC in Nagaraj and Jarnail Singh judgments.
    • The court held that theNagaraj judgment would have “prospective effect.”
  • Review Ordered:
    • The SCordered that a review had to be conducted regarding the data for the purpose of determining the inadequacy of representation in promotions.
    • However,the court left it to the Union government to fix a “reasonable” time for the States to conduct the review.
  • Background:
  • Reservation in Promotions:
    • The Central and the State Government since the 1950s have been following a policy of reserving seats in promotions in favours of SC and ST communities on the ground that they are not adequately represented at the decision making level of public services.
  • Indra Sawhney Case 1992:
    • This policy was held to be unconstitutional and void by the SC in Indra Sawhney v. Union Of India 1992case on the ground that under Article 16(4) the State is provided with the power to make reservations in favour of backward classes of citizens only at the entry level that is at the time of recruitment into public services but not subsequently.
    • The Parliament responded by enacting the77th Constitutional Amendment Act which introduced Article 16(4A).
  • M Nagaraj Case 2006:
    • In this case applying the creamy layer concept in SC/ST reservation in promotions, the SC reversed its earlier stance in the IndraSawhney case (1992),in which it had excluded the creamy layer concept on SCs/STs (that was applicable on OBCs).
    • The SC had upheld the Constitutional amendments by which Articles 16 (4A) and 16 (4B) were inserted, saying they flow from Article 16 (4) and do not alter its structure.
  • It also laid down three conditions for promotion of SCs and STs in public employment.
    • The SC and ST community should be socially and educationally backward.
    • The SC and ST communities are not adequately represented in Public employment.
    • Such a reservation policy shall not affect the overall efficiency in the administration.
  • The court held that the government cannot introduce a quota in promotion for its SC/ST employees unless it proves that the particular community was backward, inadequately represented and providing reservation in promotion would not affect the overall efficiency of public administration.
    • The opinion of the government should be based on quantifiable data.
  • Jarnail Singh Case 2018:
    • Later in 2018, in the Jarnail Singh case, SC modified the Nagaraj judgment to the extent that State need not produce quantifiable data to prove the “backwardness” of a Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe community in order to provide quota in promotion in public employment.
    • The court had given a huge fillip to the government’s efforts to provide “accelerated promotion with consequential seniority” for Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) members in government services.
  • Constitutional Provisions for Promotion in Reservation
  • Article 16 (4): Provides that the State can make any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens who, in the opinion of the state, are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
  • Article 16 (4A): Provides that the State can make any provision for reservation in matters of promotion in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes if they are not adequately represented in the services under the State.
  • Article 16(4B): Added by the81st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2000 which enabled the unfilled SC/ST quota of a particular year to be carried forward to the next year.
  • Article 335:It recognises that special measures need to be adopted for considering the claims of SCs and STs to services and posts, in order to bring them at par.
  • 82nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 2000 inserted a condition at the end of Article 335 that enables the state to make any provision in favour of the members of the SC/STs for relaxation in qualifying

United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL):

Context:

  The Economic Survey 2021-22 has highlighted the need for a “standardized framework for cross-border insolvency” that will help lenders of debt-ridden companies to claim and recover the corporations’ assets and liabilities on foreign shores also. 

What needs to be done now?

   The survey mentioned the report of the Insolvency Law Committee, which had recommended the adoption of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) with certain modifications to bring the foreign assets under the insolvency process.

 Need for:

  The IBC currently does not allow for automatic recognition of any insolvency proceedings in other countries” and the present provisions “leads to uncertainty of outcomes of claims for creditors, debtors and other stakeholders as well.

About UNCITRAL:

  • It provides a legislative framework that can be adopted by countries with modifications to suit the domestic context of the enacting jurisdiction.
  • It has been adopted by 49 countries, including Singapore, UK, US and South Africa.
  • UNCITRAL allows foreign professionals and creditors direct access to domestic courts and enables them to participate in and commence domestic insolvency proceedings.
  • It allows recognition of foreign proceedings and enables courts to determine relief accordingly.

Second ASEAN Digital Ministers meeting:

Why in News

Recently, the 2nd ASEAN Digital Ministers’ (ADGMIN) Meeting with India virtually, where two sides finalized India-ASEAN Digital work plan 2022 for future collaboration in the field.

Key Points:-

  • About:
    • ADGMIN is an annual meeting of telecom ministers of 10 ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) countries and dialogue partner countries—Australia, Canada, China, EU, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Russia, UK and US.
      • ASEAN nations include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • India-ASEAN Digital Work Plan 2022:
    • India and ASEAN nations have jointly approved a work plan under which they will develop a system to combat use of stolen and counterfeit mobile handsets.
    • Other areas of cooperation include wifi access network interface for nationwide public internet.

    • Emphasis will also be given on the capacity building and knowledge sharing in emerging areas in the field of information and communication technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, advanced satellite communication, cyber forensics.
  • Significance of the ICT:
    • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) enables and strengthens democratic systems and institutions through enhanced engagement between citizens and the state.
    • Use of ICTs promote free speech, human rights and the free flow of information besides expanding citizens’ opportunities to participate in decision-making processes and have potential to transform lives of people living in rural areas.
    • Technology has emerged as a powerful tool to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which is not just a challenge for the public health system but is also adversely impacting the economy and social order of the countries.
  • Related Steps taken by India:
    • The telecom ministry in December 2019 had launched a portal to help people in Delhi-NCR block and trace their stolen or lost mobile phones.

Other Related Groupings

  • ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus:
    • It is an annual meeting of Defence Ministers of 10 ASEAN countries and eight dialogue partner countries.
    • The ADMM-Plus countries include ten ASEAN Member States and eight Plus countries, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, and the United States (same as in the EAS).
  • ASEAN Regional Forum:
    • Established in 1994, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is an important platform for security dialogue in the Indo-Pacific.
    • It comprises 27 members: the 10 ASEAN member states, the 10 ASEAN dialogue partners (Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and the United States); Bangladesh, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Timor-Leste; and one ASEAN observer (Papua New Guinea).

  • East Asia Summit (EAS):
    • Established in 2005, it is a forum of 18 regional leaders for strategic dialogue and cooperation on the key political, security, and economic challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region.
    • It comprises the ten member states of the ASEAN which are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, along with 8 other countries namely Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia and the USA.

GS Paper - 3

Ethanol as an alternate fuel:

Context:

Although the country has made steady progress in raising the share of ethanol in auto-fuels, having increased it to 8.1% in Ethanol Supply Year (ESY) 2020-21 (December-November) from 5% a year earlier, several issues will need to be addressed if the target of 20% blending by 2025 is to be achieved. 

Significance of ethanol blending:

  • Since most petroleum products are used in transport, a successful E20 (20% ethanol blended petrol) programme can potentially save the country $4 billion per annum.
  • Use of E20 leads to an estimated loss of 6-7% in the fuel efficiency of four-wheelers originally designed for regular petrol.

Background:

Government has been promoting use of ethanol as a blend stock with main automotive fuel like petrol in line with the National Policy on Biofuels (NBP) -2018 under the Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Programme.

  • This policy envisages an indicative target of blending 20% ethanol in petrol by 2030.

 Factors limiting the extent of ethanol blending:

Lack of adequate quality feedstock and sporadic availability of ethanol across the country — as feedstock supply is primarily concentrated in sugar-producing states at present.

 Efforts by the Government in this regard:

  1. Government has allowed production of ethanol from sugarcane and food grain based raw-materials.
  2. The Government has fixed the ex-mill price of ethanol from sugarcane based raw-materials.
  3. Remunerative prices of ethanol produced from different feedstock has been fixed.
  4. The government has notified interest subvention schemes for setting up of molasses and grain based new distilleries or expansion of existing distilleries.

Ethanol:

  • Ethanol can be produced from sugarcane, maize, wheat, etc which are having high starch content.

  • In India, ethanol is mainly produced from sugarcane molasses by fermentation process.
  • Ethanol can be mixed with gasoline to form different blends.
  • As the ethanol molecule contains oxygen, it allows the engine to more completely combust the fuel, resulting in fewer emissions and thereby reducing the occurrence of environmental pollution.
  • Since ethanol is produced from plants that harness the power of the sun, ethanol is also considered as renewable fuel

Economic survey 2022: concerns and suggestion

Why in News?

Recently, the Economic Survey 2021-22 was tabled in Parliament by the Finance Minister soon after the President’s address to both Houses of Parliament.

What are the Key Challenges highlighted by Economic Survey 2022?

  • Increased Inflation:
    • The Survey notes that supply chain disruptions and slow economic growth have contributed to an increase in inflation. The withdrawal of stimulus in developed economies in the upcoming fiscal (2022-23) is likely to affect capital flows into the country.
    • The surge in energy, food, non-food commodities, and input prices, supply constraints, disruption of global supply chains, and rising freight costs across the globe stoked global inflation during the year (2021-22).

    • Stimulus spending in developed economies and pent up demand during the pandemic could lead to “imported inflation” (Inflation due to increases in the prices of import) in India.
  • Volatility in Capital:
    • The economic survey noted that major economies had begun the process of withdrawing liquidity that was extended during the pandemic in the form of stimulus checks and relaxed monetary policy to stimulate an economic recovery. Higher inflation has led to a winding down of pandemic related stimulus.
    • The likely withdrawal of liquidity by major central banks over the next year may also make global capital flows more volatile,” the survey said, noting that this may adversely affect capital flows, putting pressure on India’s exchange rate and slow economic growth.
    • India’s large and rising imports are also likely to put pressure on India’s exchange rate if capital flows to India decrease as a result of a withdrawal of stimulus in developed countries.
  • Employment:
    • A lack of jobs also continues to be among the primary concerns for the Indian economy with unemployment levels and labour force participation rates remaining worse than pre-pandemic levels.

    • According to data from the PLFS, while the unemployment rate and labour force participation rate have improved somewhat from the start of the pandemic, they have still not recovered to pre-pandemic levels.

What are the Major Suggestions?

  • The Survey calls for emphasis on developing a supply-side strategy to deal with the long-term unpredictability of the post-Covid world, emanating mainly from factors such as changes in consumer behaviour, technological developments, geopolitics, climate change, and their potentially unpredictable interactions.
  • It calls for a “diversified mix of sources of energy of which fossil fuels are an important part”, but simultaneously calls for focus on building storage for intermittent electricity generation from solar PV and wind farms to ensure on-demand energy supply.
    • It asks the government to focus on the pace of the shift from conventional fossil fuel-based sources, and encourage R&D to ensure an effortless switch to renewable sources of energy.
  • It also has called for a standardised framework for Cross-Border insolvency as the Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code (IBC) at present does not have a standard instrument to restructure the firms involving cross border jurisdictions leading to several issues.
  • It proposes use of the Agile approach to policy making with 80 high-frequency indicators in an environment of “extreme uncertainty”.
  • The approach, used in project management and technology development, assesses outcomes in short iterations while constantly making incremental adjustments. The suggestion is based on the availability of a “wealth of real-time data” to take feedback-based decisions.

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