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22 July, 2019

4 Min Read

Paper Topics Subject
GS-II Kashmir Mediation
How India intends to make its dams safer
GS-III Sucking up surplus Economic Issues
Successful Launch of Chandrayan 2.
GS-II :
Kashmir Mediation

GS-II Paper: Kashmir Mediation

Context

Facing a furore in Parliament over the issue, the government has clarified in no uncertain terms that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not request U.S. President Donald Trump to “mediate or arbitrate” on the Kashmir issue.

Response by government

  • Addressing Parliament, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said India remains committed to its policy of discussing all outstanding issues with Pakistan only bilaterally, and assured the House that Mr. Modi did not raise this with Mr. Trump at their recent meeting in Osaka during the G-20 summit.
  • In making the claim that has been roundly denied by New Delhi, Mr. Trump breached several well-laid diplomatic protocols, including one against discussing privileged conversations with a leader, during a public conversation with another.

 New Realities

  • For New Delhi, it may be time to recognise that Mr. Trump’s comments are a sign of new realities in international diplomacy, where leaders care less about niceties and more about open communication.
  • Mr. Modi will have to prepare accordingly for some plain-speaking when he visits the U.S. and meets with Mr. Trump, as he is expected to, in September this year.
  • In the short term, the government’s decision to address the claim by Mr. Trump will have nipped any repercussions in the bud.

  • Way Forward

The government should pursue the issue through diplomatic channels with the U.S. government, and determine whether Mr. Trump made the comments out of confusion or deliberately.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-II :
How India intends to make its dams safer

GS-II: How India intends to make its dams safer

News

The Dam Safety Bill was recently introduced in the Lok Sabha.

Dam Safety Bill,2019

  • The Bill provides for surveillance, inspection, operation and maintenance of dams to prevent disasters, and institutional mechanisms to ensure safety.
  • It applies to over 5,000 dams across the country, many of which are currently in poor conditions.
  • It has been met with significant opposition, particularly from several states that claim the bill oversteps the Centre’s mandate.

Which dams are covered?

  • All dams in India with a height above 15 metres come under the purview of the bill.
  • Dams between 10 to 15 metres of height are also covered but only if they meet certain other specifications in terms of design and structural conditions.

National Dam Safety Authority

  • The bill provides for the formation of a NDSA which will be responsible for implementing the policies of the NCDS, and will resolve issues between State Dam Safety Organisations (or SDSOs) and dam owners.
  • The NDSA will also specify regulations for the inspection of dams and will provide accreditation to the various agencies working on the structure of dams and their alteration.

State Dam Safety Organisations (SDSOs)

  • The bill will also result in the establishment of SDSOs, and State Committees on Dam Safety (SCDSs).
  • The jurisdiction of the SDSOs will extend to all dams in that specific state.

How does Bill change the functioning of dams?

  • If the bill is made into a law, then dam owners will have to provide a dam safety unit in each dam.
  • The dam safety unit will be required to inspect the dam before and after the monsoon session, and also during and after natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods.
  • The bill requires dam owners to prepare emergency action plans. Risk-assessment studies will also have to be undertaken by owners.

Issues with bill

  • The primary objection to the bill is that is unconstitutional, as water is one of the items on the State List.
  • Tamil Nadu, which currently possesses four dams situated in Kerala, is opposed to the Bill as it would result in the four dams falling under the NDSA.
  • This will be doing away with Tamil Nadu’s rights over the maintenance of the dam.
  • The Bill states that the NCDS will be chaired by the Central Water Commissioner, but the Supreme Court has ruled in the past that such a scenario is prohibited, as it involves the CWC, an advisor, functioning both as a regulator and the head of the NCDS.

Source: Indian Express

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GS-III : Economic Issues
Sucking up surplus

GS-III Paper: Sucking up Surplus

SEBI needs financial autonomy to remain effective as the chief markets regulator.

Context

The Centre’s decision to clip the wings of the Securities and Exchange Board of India has not gone down too well with its members. Yet, the Centre is refusing to budge. In a letter dated July 10, SEBI Chairman Ajay Tyagi said the Centre’s decision to suck out SEBI’s surplus funds will affect its autonomy.

Background

  • As part of the Finance Bill introduced in Parliament, the Centre had proposed amendments to the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992 that were seen as affecting SEBI’s financial autonomy.
  • To be specific, the amendments required that after 25% of its surplus cash in any year is transferred to its reserve fund, SEBI will have to transfer the remaining 75% to the government.
  • On Friday, the government rejected the plea from SEBI’s officials asking the government to reconsider its decision, thus paving the way for further conflict.
  • Prima facie, there seems to be very little rationale in the government’s decision to confiscate funds from the chief markets regulator.

Impacts

  • For one, it is highly unlikely that the quantum of funds that the government is likely to receive from SEBI will make much of a difference to the government’s overall fiscal situation.
  • So the amendment to the SEBI Act seems to be clearly motivated by the desire to increase control over the regulator rather than by financial considerations.
  • This is particularly so given that the recent amendments require SEBI to seek approval from the government to go ahead with its capital expenditure plans.
  • A regulatory agency that is at the government’s mercy to run its financial and administrative operations cannot be expected to be independent.
  • Further, the lack of financial autonomy can affect SEBI’s plans to improve the quality of its operations by investing in new technologies and other requirements to upgrade market infrastructure.

Long term Impacts

  • This can affect the health of India’s financial markets in the long run. In the larger picture, this is not the first time that the government at the Centre has gone after independent agencies.
  • The Reserve Bank of India and the National Sample Survey Office have come under pressure in recent months, and the latest move on SEBI adds to this worrisome trend of independent agencies being subordinated by the government.
  • The Centre perhaps believes it can do a better job of regulating the economy by consolidating all existing powers under the Finance Ministry.
  • But such centralisation of powers will be risky.

 Conclusion

Regulatory agencies such as SEBI need to be given full powers over their assets and be made accountable to Parliament. Stripping them of their powers by subsuming them under the wings of the government will affect their credibility.

Source: The Hindu

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GS-III :
Successful Launch of Chandrayan 2.

GS-III: Successful Launch of Chandrayan 2.

Context

  • The 640-tonne GSLV Mk-III rocket successfully injected the 3,850-kg Chandrayaan-2 composite module into the Earth’s orbit.
  • With the successful launch all eyes are now on September 7 when the lander and rover modules of the spacecraft will make a soft landing on the surface of the moon.

Chandrayaan-2: India’s first lander mission

  • Chandrayaan-2 consists of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover, all equipped with scientific instruments to study the moon.
  • The Orbiter would once again watch the moon from a 100-km orbit, while the Lander and Rover modules will separate and make a soft-landing on moon’s surface.
  • ISRO has named the Lander module as Vikram, after Vikram Sarabhai, the pioneer of India’s space programme, and the Rover module as Pragyaan, meaning wisdom.
  • Once on the moon, the rover, a six-wheeled solar-powered vehicle, will detach itself from the lander, and would slowly crawl on the surface, making observations and collecting data.

Tasks to be accomplished

  • The mission will be equipped with two instruments, and its primary objective would be to study the composition of the moon’s surface near the landing site, and determine its abundance of different elements.
  • One of the instruments will also look out for seismic activity on lunar surface.
  • While the lander and rover are designed to work for only 14 days (1 lunar day), the Orbiter, a 2379-kg spacecraft with seven instruments on board, would remain in orbit for a year.
  • It is equipped with different kinds of cameras to take high-resolution 3D maps of the surface.
  • It also has instruments to study the mineral composition on the moon and the lunar atmosphere, and also to assess the abundance of water.

Chandrayaan-2 to enter uncharted territory

  • With Chandrayaan-2, India will become only the fourth country in the world to land a spacecraft on the moon.
  • So far, all landings human as well as non-human, on the moon have been in areas close to its equator.
  • That was mainly because this area receives more sunlight that is required by the solar-powered instruments to function.
  • Earlier this year, in January, China landed a lander and rover on the far side of the moon, the side that is not facing the earth. This was the first time that any landing had taken place on that side.

What differentiates Chandrayaan 2 with others?

  • Chandrayaan-2 will make a landing at a site where no earlier mission has gone, near the South pole of the moon.
  • It is a completely unexplored territory and therefore offers great scientific opportunity for the mission to see and discover something new.
  • Incidentally, the crash-landing of the MIP from the Chandrayaan-1 mission had also happened in the same region.
  • The south pole of the moon holds the possibility of the presence of water, and this is one aspect that would be probed meticulously by Chandrayaan-2.
  • In addition, this area is also supposed to have ancient rocks and craters that can offer indications of history of moon, and also contain clues to the fossil records of early solar system.

Source: Indian Express

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