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20 Jul, 2020

59 Min Read

Assam’s Flood and Management

GS-I : Human Geography Floods management

Assam’s Flood and Management

GS-PAPER -1 Geography – Flood Management

The recent flood in Assam has led to heavy casualties, displacement of people and animals and destruction of property and the environment. It has also led to the inundation of 80% of the area of Kaziranga National Park.

The reason behind Floods:

  • Ill-maintained or poorly constructed river embankments are the main reason behind the flooding. One major feature of flood management in Assam is total dependence on embankments.
  • Assam began constructing embankments in the 1960s and most of them have outlived their utility. Many of these started breaching or collapsing in the 1990s, more seriously from the 2000s. Massive deforestation in catchment areas of rivers or release of waters by dams upstream.
  • Climate change is also a factor behind floods.
  • Destruction of forests and ecosystems.
  • Urbanisation.

Floods in Kaziranga’s Ecosystem:

  • Experts believe that floods are necessary for Kaziranga by virtue of its riverine ecosystem. The system won’t survive without water.
  • Kaziranga National Park and Tiger Reserve (KNPTR) is sandwiched between the Brahmaputra river and the Karbi Anglong Hills. The entire area is formed by alluvial deposits from the Brahmaputra and its tributaries.
  • The regenerative nature of floods helps replenish Kaziranga’s water bodies and maintain its landscape, which is a mix of wetlands, grasslands and semi-evergreen deciduous forests.
  • The floodwaters function as a breeding ground for fish, which are carried away by the receding waters into the Brahmaputra. i.e the Kaziranga’s floods replenish the Brahmaputra’s stock of fish.
  • The waters also help get rid of unwanted plants such as water hyacinths which collect in huge masses in the landscape.

Issues Involved:

Frequent Floods: Earlier, a big flood would come once in ten years, now they come every other year.

NH-37: When the flood water hits a certain level, the animal moves towards safer, higher ground in the Karbi Anglong hills. However, they have to cross NH-37 which cuts across the park, which leads to the killing of animals in road accidents. Animals are also killed by poachers who take advantage of their vulnerability.

Human-animal Conflict: Animals also move towards villages in floods, this leads to human-animal conflict.

Steps taken during Floods:

  • The authorities keep a track of updates from the Central Water Commission, and monitor water levels of the Brahmaputra tributaries upstream in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Camps are organised to create awareness against poaching and harming wild animals that are rendered vulnerable during the floods.”
  • When the floods hit, Section 144 of CrPC is imposed along NH-37, speed limits are enforced and fines levied. Barricades are also placed to help animals cross over to Karbi Anglong.


In the absence of long-term alternatives, the government has to invest in strong, durable embankments to ensure that the situation does not deteriorate every year. Kaziranga, with its rich grassland habitats, has a primary role to play in supporting the wildlife populations.

Emphasis needs to be put on securing animal corridors and ensuring a safe passage to the Karbi hills. Need for a landscape-scale conservation approach that recognises the value of the Karbi Anglong hills. The highlands of Karbi Anglong, where the animals take refuge, are the lifeline of the park during the floods.

Source: TH

Earthquakes management

GS-I : Human Geography Earthquake

Earthquakes management

GS-Paper-1 Geography- Earthquake (PT)

According to a recently published study, researchers have developed a new way to improve the prediction of earthquakes.

Seismic Waves

Vibrations from an earthquake are categorised as P (primary) and S (secondary) waves. They travel through the Earth in different ways and at different speeds. They can be detected and analysed.

    • P-waves:
      • These are the first waves detected by seismographs (instruments used to detect and record earthquakes).
      • These are longitudinal waves which means they vibrate in the same direction as they travel.
      • Other examples of longitudinal waves include sound waves and waves in a stretched spring.
    • S-waves:
      • These waves arrive at the detector after primary waves.
      • These are transverse waves which means they vibrate at a right angle to the direction in which they travel.
      • Other examples of transverse waves include light waves and water waves.
  • Both types of seismic waves can be detected near the earthquake centre but only P-waves can be detected on the other side of the Earth. P-waves can travel through solids and liquids (since they are longitudinal waves) whereas S-waves can only travel through solids (as they are transverse waves). This means the liquid part of the core blocks the passage of S-waves.
  • The earthquake events are scaled either according to the magnitude or intensity of the shock.
    • The magnitude scale is known as the Richter scale. The magnitude relates to the energy released during the earthquake which is expressed in absolute numbers, 0-10.
    • The intensity scale or Mercalli scale takes into account the visible damage caused by the event. The range of intensity scale is from 1-12.


Earthquakes usually occur along faults (fractures between rocks which can range from a few millimetres to thousands of kilometres). When two blocks of earth slip past one another, seismic waves are generated in a short span of time and earthquakes occur. The waves travel to the surface causing destruction and are difficult to predict, making it challenging to save lives.

Earlier Attempts

Scientists have attempted to recreate the faults and their sliding in laboratories to try and understand the conditions in them during earthquakes.

However, the actual conditions are so complex that it is difficult to recreate them with full accuracy which makes the prediction of earthquakes difficult.

New Method:

  • Researchers have now used a different approach for earthquake prediction by trying to predict the frictional strength of phyllosilicates.
  • Frictional Strength: It is the force required to cause movement along a fault.
  • Phyllosilicates: Minerals in the form of thin plates are found along the weakest part of the faults where earthquakes occur.
  • The researchers analysed artificial fault zones on a microscopic scale to identify processes that occurred during the experiment.
  • A set of equations were then formulated to predict how the frictional strength of phyllosilicate changes, along with a change in conditions such as humidity or the rate of fault movement.
  • This made it easier for modellers to simulate fault movement in natural conditions, including earthquakes.
  • The new model predicts that movement along phyllosilicate-rich fault zones becomes more difficult as it becomes faster and this has been consistent with experiments.
  • This behaviour of movement becoming more difficult prevents earthquakes and suggests minerals other than phyllosilicates play an important role in causing earthquakes.
  • However, more work and research are needed to clearly explain it and to understand the relation between the force that holds a fault together and the force needed to move the fault.

Source: DTE

Remission to Convicts by States

GS-II : Indian Polity President

Remission to Convicts by States

GS-paper-2 President and its power (PT-MAINS)

Recently, the Supreme Court of India referred to a seven-judge bench the issue of whether states can grant the benefit of remission to convicts under the Constitution by laying down a common policy.

  • The legal issue has arisen before the Supreme Court (SC) while hearing the bail plea of a murder case convict Pyare Lal.
  • The SC was told that Pyare Lal has been released from the jail after being granted the benefit of remission by the Haryana Governor under Article 161 of the Constitution, as per a 2019 policy of the state government.
  • According to the policy, those entitled to get relief included:
      • Male convicts who have been sentenced to life in a murder case are 75 years of age and completed eight years of the sentence.
      • Female convicts who have been sentenced to life in a murder case are 65 years of age and completed six years of the sentence.
    • The policy also included that the conduct of such prisoners has to remain satisfactory during confinement and they must not have committed any major jail offence in the last two years.
    • Article 161 of the Constitution deals with the judicial power of the Governor to pardon a convict. Such power is also exercised by the President under Article 72 of the Constitution.
  • The larger bench will also look into whether states can exercise such powers without placing "facts and materials" of each case before the Governor.
    • The SC noted that in the case of Pyare Lal, the Haryana government had placed no facts or material before the Governor and that the benefit was conferred by the Executive itself in terms of the Policy.
    • The Governor did not have the occasion to look into the issues such as the severity of the crime or the manner in which the crime was committed or the impact of the crime on Society.
  • In the Maru Ram vs Union of India 1980 case, the SC had ruled that no separate order for each individual case would be necessary for granting the benefit of remission but a general order must be clear enough to identify the group of cases.
  • However, decisions of SC rendered since the Maru Ram case, shows that the relevant material (without any political vendetta or party favouritism) must be placed before the Governor in order to enable him to exercise the power under Article 161, failure on that count could result in quashing of the concerned orders of remission.
  • The larger bench will also look into whether the exercise of granting remission by states can override the requirements under Section 433-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Under Section 433-A of CrPC, a person, serving a life term, cannot be granted remission benefit without serving 14 years in prison.

Pardoning Power of President and Governor

  • Article 72 and Article 161 empowers the President and the Governors respectively, the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence.
  • The pardoning power of the President extends to the:

Punishment or sentence for an offence against a Union Law,

Punishment or sentence is by a court-martial (military court), and

Punishment is a Death sentence.

The pardoning power of the Governor extends to the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any State law. The Governor cannot pardon the death sentence and sentence of a Court Martial. The scope of the pardoning power of the President under Article 72 is wider than the pardoning power of the Governor under Article 161.

  • The meaning of the terms:
    • Pardon: It removes both the sentence and the conviction and completely absolves the convict from all sentences, punishments, and disqualifications.
    • Commutation: It denotes the substitution of one form of punishment with a lighter form of punishment. For example, a death sentence may be commuted to rigorous imprisonment.
    • Remission: It implies reducing the period of the sentence without changing its character. For example, a sentence of rigorous imprisonment for five years may be remitted to rigorous imprisonment for one year.
    • Respite: It denotes awarding a lesser sentence in place of one originally awarded due to some special fact, such as the physical disability of a convict or the pregnancy of a woman offender.
    • Reprieve: It implies a stay of the execution of a sentence (especially that of death) for a temporary period. Its purpose is to enable the convict to have time to seek pardon or commutation from the President.

Source: TH

Anti Defection Law and Issues

GS-II : Indian Polity Anti Defection Law

Anti Defection Law and Issues

GS-paper-2 Polity (PT-MAINS)

Recently, the 19 rebel MLAs of Rajasthan's ruling party (Congress) have filed a petition before the High Court challenging the disqualification notices issued to them by the Assembly Speaker under Anti Defection Law.

The disqualification notice was issued on MLAs’ absence from successive Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meetings and a “conspiracy to bring down the government”.

Rebel MLAs Arguments:

In their writ petition, citing violation of their freedom of speech and expression the legislators argued that they had neither given up their membership of the House nor did their failure to attend the two CLP meetings render them liable for disqualification on the ground of defection.

Therefore they challenged Clause 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution, and the validity of the Rajasthan Assembly Members (Disqualification on the Grounds of Changing Party) Rules, 1989.

Clause 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule states that a member may be disqualified “if he has voluntarily given up his membership” of a political party.

They also contended that they could not be disqualified merely for disagreeing with the decisions and policies of some leaders outside the Assembly.

Supreme Court's Ruling: The Supreme Court in the Kihoto Hollohan versus Zachillu and Others, 1992 has said that judicial review cannot be available at a stage prior to the making of a decision by the Speaker/Chairman.
Nor would interference be permissible at an interlocutory stage of the proceedings. The only exception for any interlocutory interference (decree or judgment) being cases of interlocutory disqualifications or suspensions which may have grave, immediate and irreversible repercussions and consequences. Therefore, Constitutional courts cannot judicially review disqualification proceedings under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution until the Speaker or Chairman makes a final decision on merits.

Reason for Limited Role of Courts: The Bench explained that the reason for limiting the role of courts in ongoing defection proceedings is that the office of the Speaker is held in the highest respect and esteem in parliamentary traditions.

Judicial Review: It had said that even the scope of judicial review against an order of a Speaker or Chairman in anti-defection proceedings would be confined to jurisdictional errors, that is infirmities based on violation of constitutional mandate, mala fide actions and non-compliance with rules of natural justice.

Disqualification under the Tenth Schedule

  • The Anti-Defection Law was passed in 1985 through the 52nd amendment to the Constitution. It added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution. The main intent of the law was to combat “the evil of political defections”.
  • According to it, a member of a House belonging to any political party becomes disqualified for being a member of the House, if: He voluntarily gives up his membership of such political party; or He votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party without obtaining prior permission of such party and such act has not been condoned by the party within 15 days.

Exceptions to the Disqualification on the Ground of Defection

  • If a member goes out of his party as a result of a merger of the party with another party. A merger takes place when two-thirds of the members of the party have agreed to such a merger.
  • If a member, after being elected as the presiding officer of the House, voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or rejoins it after he ceases to hold that office. This exemption has been provided in view of the dignity and impartiality of the office.

Powers of Speaker with regard to Anti-Defection Law

  • Any question regarding disqualification arising out of defection is to be decided by the presiding officer of the House.

Source: TH

Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2020


Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2020


Recently, Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2020 was released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI). The data of the index is based on the study of poverty trends in 75 countries.

Global Scenario:

  • 1.3 billion people are still living in multidimensional poverty. More than 80% are deprived in at least five of the ten indicators used to measure health, education and living standards in the global MPI.

Multidimensional Poverty Index

  • The Multidimensional Poverty Index was launched by the UNDP and the OPHI in 2010.
  • MPI is based on the idea that poverty is not unidimensional (not just depends on income and one individual may lack several basic needs like education, health etc.), rather it is multidimensional.
  • The index shows the proportion of poor people and the average number of deprivations each poor person experiences at the same time.
  • MPI uses three dimensions and ten indicators which are:
    • Education: Years of schooling and child enrollment (1/6 weightage each, total 2/6);
    • Health: Child mortality and nutrition (1/6 weightage each, total 2/6);
    • Standard of living: Electricity, flooring, drinking water, sanitation, cooking fuel and assets (1/18 weightage each, total 2/6)
  • A person is multidimensionally poor if she/he is deprived in one third or more (means 33% or more) of the weighted indicators (out of the ten indicators). Those who are deprived in one half or more of the weighted indicators are considered living in extreme multidimensional poverty.
  • MPI is significant as it recognizes poverty from different dimensions compared to the conventional methodology that measures poverty only from the income or monetary terms.
  • The burden of multidimensional poverty disproportionately falls on children - half of multidimensionally poor people are children under age 18.
  • 65 out of 75 countries studied significantly reduced their multidimensional poverty levels between 2000 and 2019.
  • About 84.3% of multidimensionally poor people live in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
  • 67% of multidimensionally poor people are in middle-income countries.

Indian Scenario:

  • India lifted as many as 270 million people out of multidimensional poverty between 2005-06 and 2015-16.
  • Neighbourhood Scenario: In China, 70 million people left multidimensional poverty between 2010 and 2014, while in Bangladesh, the numbers declined by 19 million between 2014 and 2019.
  • Impact of Covid-19: Covid-19 is having a profound impact on the development landscape. The study finds that on average, poverty levels will be set back 3 to 10 years due to Covid-19.
  • Sustainable Development Goals: The index emphasises on measuring and monitoring progress under the goals to reach ‘zero poverty by 2030-Goal 1 of the SDGs’.

The index with its information on both the level and composition of poverty – provides the data needed to pinpoint where and how poverty manifests itself. Therefore, it will incite action in solidarity with the poor, so that nations like India can ‘build better’. Reflecting progress before the coronavirus pandemic, it suggests that the progress is at risk and stake-holders need to look beyond income to tackle poverty in all its forms. Hence, there is a need to take action to redress the rise of under-nutrition and children leaving school.

Source: TH

Zonal Master Plan for the Bhagirathi Eco-Sensitive Zone 


Zonal Master Plan for the Bhagirathi Eco-Sensitive Zone

GS-Paper-3 Environment (PT-MAINS)

Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has approved the Zonal Master Plan for the Bhagirathi Eco-Sensitive Zone to pave the way for faster execution of Char Dham Road Project.

Background: In 2012, the MoEF&CC issued a gazette notification declaring the watershed area along the stretch of river Bhagirathi, covering 4,179.59 sq km from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi, an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ). ESZs are the ecologically important areas designated to be protected from industrial pollution and unregulated development under the Environment Protection Act of 1986.

The 2012 notification was issued keeping in view the requirements of the local people without affecting their rights and privileges and also ensuring eco-friendly development for their livelihood security. It sought to protect the entire fragile Himalayan region by restricting hydropower projects of over 2 MW, riverbed mining and change of land use.

However, it was amended in 2018 following Uttarakhand government’s objection that the notification was ‘anti-development.’ The 2018 amendment approved land use change to meet the local needs including civic amenities and other infrastructure development in larger public interest and national security with the prior approval of State Government with due study of environmental impacts. It also allowed cutting of hills in eco-sensitive areas with proper study and construction on steep slopes in exceptional cases for the benefit of the community.

Zonal Master Plan (ZMP):

  • The Bhagirathi Eco-Sensitive Zone notification mandates the State Government of Uttarakhand to prepare ZMP to be implemented under the supervision of the Monitoring Committee.
  • The ZMP is based on watershed approach and includes governance in the area of forest and wildlife, watershed management, irrigation, energy, tourism, public health and sanitation, road infrastructure, etc.
  • Watershed development approach is based on participatory planning following a bottom-up approach for developing a context appropriate plan for execution, strengthening of local level institution, conservation and appropriate management of watershed’s natural resources.
  • Watershed is a geo-hydrological unit draining into a common point by a system of drains.
  • The approval of ZMP is expected to give a boost to conservation and ecology of the area and also to undertake developmental activities as permitted under ZMP.

Char Dham Road Project:

The Char Dham project proposes to provide all-weather connectivity to Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath, and has 53 projects of 826 km length, involving an investment of Rs. 12,000 crore. Bhagirathi is the source stream of Ganga. It emanates from Gangotri glacier at Gaumukh at an elevation of 3,892 m.


  • In a report prepared after the Kedarnath disaster (2015), the Geological Survey of India stated that road construction in mountains reactivates landslides as it disturbs the ‘toe of the natural slope of the hill’.
  • The Himalayas is the region where Indian tectonic plate goes under the Eurasian tectonic plate.
  • Himalayas are in seismic zone V, thus a major earthquake can happen anytime.

Source: PIB

Legacy waste: Brahmapuram Dumping Site


Legacy waste: Brahmapuram Dumping Site

GS-PAPER-3 Environment: Solid waste

Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued an order pertaining to the case of legacy waste (old municipal solid waste) piling up at the Kochi Corporation’s Brahmapuram dumpsite.

The NGT Judgement:

  • The Chairman and Member Secretary of the Kerala State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) will be held liable if they fail to initiate prosecution and recover compensation from those responsible for the unscientific handling of waste at Brahmapuram.
  • The progress (remediation of waste) appears to be very slow and is disregardful of the statutory and constitutional obligation of providing a clean environment.
  • Further, the tribunal asked why there should be a bar on a single tender considering the critical situation.
  • The government decided to float fresh tenders as only one agency had met the minimum eligibility criteria when an e-tender for biomining of legacy waste at Brahmapuram was floated on 20th March, 2020.
  • The Bench suggested that other available options (besides biomining) be considered for compliance with Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016.
  • The tribunal expressed doubts on whether the leachate (dark liquid that gets generated within the solid waste) generated at the dumping yard could be treated in an ordinary septage treatment plant as it contained heavy metals.

Brahmapuram Dumpsite:

  • Only 1% of the recyclable plastic waste is recovered while the remaining 99% ends up as heaps in the dumping yard.
  • The leachate from the waste treatment plant at Brahmapuram is a major source of pollution of the river Kadambrayar.
  • Legacy waste was found to be a reason for the fire outbreaks. In 2020, the government took over the task of scientific management of legacy waste accumulated at Brahmapuram waste dumping yard from the Kochi corporation by invoking the provision under Section 24(e) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Municipal Solid Waste Management

  • Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) Management is one of the most serious challenges to environment protection and although Solid Waste Management Rules have been framed in 2016, their implementation remains a problem.
  • The local authorities are responsible for the development of infrastructure for collection, storage, segregation, transportation, processing and disposal of MSW.
  • There are two major challenges of solid waste management:
    Managing the continuous flow of solid waste on a daily basis.

Dealing with the legacy of neglect which has resulted in garbage heaps having built at dumpsites that were meant for waste processing and landfills.

  • In July 2019, the NGT directed that each local body would have to pay a compensation of Rs. 10 lakh per month (for population of above 10 lakh); Rs. 5 lakh a month (for population between 5 lakh and 10 lakh), and Rs. 1 lakh per month for other local bodies for non-compliance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 from 1st April, 2020 till compliance.
  • This compensation is equally applicable to local bodies found erring on the issue of remediation of legacy waste (to be completed by 7th April, 2021 statutorily).
  • If local bodies are unable to bear financial burden, the liability will be of state governments to take remedial action against the erring bodies.
  • An environment monitoring cell may be set up in the office of chief secretaries of all states/UTs for compliance.
  • Remediation process is expected to be done as per the guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Remediation of waste will help in unlocking the land occupied by waste sites which then can be used for setting up of biodiversity parks/buffer zones. Some parts can even be monetized. Further, protecting the environment is a constitutional mandate. Kochi needs to learn from success stories of urban local bodies like Thiruvananthapuram corporation, which is bigger in terms of population but is effectively managing waste with hundreds of Thumboormuzhy bins, material recovery centres and a mobile application.

Source: TH

Basmati and GI tag

GS-III : Economic Issues GI Indicators

Basmati and GI tag


India is the only producer of premium Basmati and it has been grown from time immemorial in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) area of India and 18 districts of Pakistan’s Punjab. It had been a tough battle for the country to protect Basmati name from the encroachment of various nations which all came out with their own versions of Basmati.

    • APEDA got GI tag for the region located in IGP below the foothills of the Himalayas, spread across seven states (Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Western Uttar Pradesh (26 districts) and Delhi) in May 2010.
    • Reasons Given: The origin and reputation of Basmati rice as a ‘long-grain, aromatic rice’ from the IGP is found in tradition, folklore, scientific and culinary literature and political-historical records.
      • Dehraduni Basmati, Amritsar Basmati and Tarawari Basmati are few varieties which have become famous over the period of hundreds of years.

Claims and Efforts Made by Madhya Pradesh:

    • MP claims that its rice possesses the same characteristics and qualities as that of the rice grown in the IGP.
    • It also claims that nearly 80,000 farmers of the state are growing Basmati in 13 districts and exporting worth Rs. 3,000 crore annually.
    • MP appealed in Madras High Court where its plea was rejected in February 2020.
    • In 2016, Intellectual Properties Appellate Board (IPBA) in Chennai had given the decision in favour of the APEDA.
    • Despite these orders, MP has been repeatedly agitating and raising banter through political and bureaucratic channels.
  • Basis of Rejection:
    • Under the World Trade Organisation Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (WTO TRIPs) agreement, physical attributes are not enough for a product to earn a GI tag.
    • As per the Goods (Registration and Protection) Act in 2003, ‘reputation’ to a geographical area is central to the recognition of a GI product and only seven states have that reputation.
    • MP falls in the Madhya Bharat Pathar (plateau) and started cultivation of varieties of Basmati rice only around the middle of the first decade of this century.
    • Even if the rice grown in MP has all the required characteristics it would not still entitle such rice to qualify as Basmati.
  • Possible Effects of Inclusion of MP in GI list:
    • It will nullify APEDA’s efforts to secure and protect Indian Basmati since 1995 by taking up over 1,000 legal actions in nearly 50 countries.
    • APEDA has spent around Rs. 250 crores in promoting Basmati rice, defending its GI status and shaping it into a global brand.
    • If MP gets permission, Pakistan and China will grab the opportunity to start sowing Basmati. All those 50 and more nations who had been restricted from calling any of their aromatic rice with even ‘Basmati-like’ names will also start growing it and contend for its status.
    • It will deprive over 20 lakh farmers of seven states from the economic premium of growing this unique product. Therefore, the commercial considerations cannot be sacrificed for expanding the area of GI.

Source: IE

Dr. Anil Kakodkar Committee


High Level Safety Review Committee (Railways)

  • The Ministry of Railways had appointed a High Level Safety Review Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Anil Kakodkar to review the safety of the Indian Railways and recommend improvements.
  • The Committee recently presented its report. The Committee recommends a total financial investment of Rs 1,00,000 crore over a five year period.
  • If the Committee’s recommendations are accepted, the total financial implication over the five year period is likely to be Rs 1,00,000 crore.

Recommendations of the Committee are listed below:

  1. In the present situation, the three vital functions (rule making, operations and the regulation) are all vested in the Railway Board. There is need for an independent mechanism for safety regulation. The Committee recommends the creation of a statutory Railway Safety Authority with enough powers to have a safety oversight on the operational mode of Railways.
  2. The Research Design and Standards Organization (RDSO), the apex technical wing of the Railways, is highly constrained. This has hampered the ability of the system to internalize emerging technologies. The Committee recommends restructuring of RDSO for greater empowerment. It also recommends that a Railway Research and Development Council (RRDC) be set up directly under the government.
  3. The Committee recommends the adoption of an Advanced Signalling System (akin to the European Train Control System) for the entire trunk route length of 19,000 km within 5 years. This is estimated to cost Rs 20,000 crore.
  4. All Level Crossings (both manned and unmanned) should be eliminated over five years. An estimated expenditure of Rs 50,000 crore will be required for achieving this target. The Committee is of the belief that this amount will be recovered within 7-8 years through savings in maintenance costs and improved train operations.
  5. The Committee also recommends a switch over from the ICF design coaches to the much safer LHB design coaches. This is likely to cost Rs 10,000 crore over the next five years.
  6. Other Committee recommendations on the maintenance of safety related infrastructure are estimated to cost about Rs 20,000 crore.

Source: WEB

ASPIRE Portal for Automotive Industry

GS-III : Economic Issues Education

ASPIRE Portal for Automotive Industry


The International Centre of Automotive Technology (ICAT) is developing a technology platform for the automotive industry called ASPIRE - Automotive Solutions Portal for Industry, Research and Education.

The Portal is expected to help in developing a strong and self-reliant automotive industry in India which is in tune with the vision of Make in India and Atmanirbhar vision of the Government of India.

The Portal is being developed in line with the initiative by the Department of Heavy Industry (DHI) under the Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises. DHI has taken an initiative to promote innovation and to develop the related ecosystem.

Objective: To enhance the technological capability of the Indian automotive sector through the exchange of knowledge & expertise, in order to make them self-reliant and to facilitate the growth of the automobile sector and overall socio-economic progress of the country.

Functioning: It will facilitate the Indian auto industry, R&D institutions and academia (colleges & universities) to come together for R&D, technology development, shop floor/quality/warranty issue resolution, and expert opinions on issues involving technology advancements. The portal will also host grand challenges in line with the need of the industry as will be identified from time to time, for the development of key automotive technologies.

International Centre for Automotive Technology

  • ICAT is a leading world class automotive testing, certification and R&D service provider under the aegis of NATRiP (National Automotive Testing and R&d Infrastructure Project), Government of India. NATRiP is a fully Government of India-funded project with a total project cost of Rs. 3727.30 crores. The vision is to create state-of-art research and testing infrastructure to drive India into the future of global automotive excellence.
  • It was established in 2006 at Manesar, Haryana.

Source: IE

Kayapo Tribe

GS-I :

Kayapo Tribe

  • They live alongside the Xingu River in the eastern part of the Amazon rainforest, in several scattered villages ranging in population from one hundred to one thousand in Brazil.
  • The Kayapo use intricate black body paint covering their entire bodies. They believe that their ancestors learned their social skills from insects, so they paint their bodies to mimic them and to better communicate with the Spirit that exists everywhere.
  • Older generations of Kayapo men wear disks on their lower lips.

Source: TH

Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (NMML)

GS-I : Art and Culture Art and Culture

Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (NMML)

  • It was established in memory of Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • It is an autonomous institution under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.
  • It is located in the majestic Teen Murti House, the official residence of the first Prime Minister of India.
  • It has four major constituents namely:
  1. A Memorial Museum,
  2. A Library on Modern India,
  3. A Centre for Contemporary Studies and
  4. Nehru Planetarium.

Source: TH/WEB


GS-II : Indian Polity Lok Sabha


GS-Paper-2 Governance (PT-MAINS)

The Tenth Schedule, technicalities and also the Anti-Defection Law would be cited during the crisis. Ultimately the matter could also end up in the Supreme Court.

What is the anti-defection law?

The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution in 1985 by the 52nd Amendment Act.

  • It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.
  • The decision on the question as to disqualification on the ground of defection is referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, and his decision is final.

The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.


If a member of a house belonging to a political party:

  • Voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party, or
  • Votes, or does not vote in the legislature, contrary to the directions of his political party. However, if the member has taken prior permission, or is condoned by the party within 15 days from such voting or abstention, the member shall not be disqualified.
  • If an independent candidate joins a political party after the election.
  • If a nominated member joins a party six months after he becomes a member of the legislature.

Exceptions under the law:

Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances.

  • The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger.
  • In such a scenario, neither the members who decide to merge nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.

The decision of the Presiding Officer is subject to judicial review:

The law initially stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not subject to judicial review. This condition was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court. However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.

Advantages of anti-defection law:

  • Provides stability to the government by preventing shifts of party allegiance.
  • Ensures that candidates remain loyal to the party as well the citizens voting for him.
  • Promotes party discipline.
  • Facilitates merger of political parties without attracting the provisions of Anti-defection
  • Expected to reduce corruption at the political level.
  • Provides for punitive measures against a member who defects from one party to another.

Various Recommendations to overcome the challenges posed by the law:

  1. Dinesh Goswami Committee on electoral reforms: Disqualification should be limited to the following cases:

A member voluntarily gives up the membership of his political party

A member abstains from voting or votes contrary to the party whip in a motion of vote of confidence or motion of no-confidence. Political parties could issue whips only when the government was in danger.

  1. Law Commission (170th Report)

Provisions which exempt splits and mergers from disqualification to be deleted.

Pre-poll electoral fronts should be treated as political parties under anti-defection

Political parties should limit the issuance of whips to instances only when the government is in danger.

  1. Election Commission:

Decisions under the Tenth Schedule should be made by the President/ Governor on the binding advice of the Election Commission.

Source: TH

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