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26 September, 2019

15 Min Read

GS-II :
Impeachment of a US President

GS-II: Impeachment of a US President.

News

The speaker of US House of Representatives announced that it would launch an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

Trump is accused for his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, Trump’s potential rival in the 2020 elections.

Impeachment in US:

  • Impeachment is a provision that allows Congress to remove the President of the United States.
  • Under the US Constitution, the House of Representatives (Lower House) has the “the sole power of impeachment” while the Senate (Upper House) has “the sole power to try all impeachments”.
  • The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court has the duty of presiding over impeachment trials in the Senate.

Grounds for impeachment:

  • The President can be removed from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.
  • What constitutes these “high crimes” and “misdemeanors” (misdemeanors), however, is not clearly spelt out.
  • Essentially, it means an abuse of power by a high-level public official. This does not necessarily have to be a violation of an ordinary criminal statute.
  • Historically, in the US, it has encompassed corruption and other abuses, including trying to obstruct judicial proceedings.

The Process:

House Vote:

  • It begins with an investigation by a House committee.
  • In the Nixon and Clinton cases, the House Judiciary Committee held that investigation and recommended articles of impeachment to the full House.
  • In Trump’s case, six committees are investigating him on impeachable offences.

Senate Trial and Vote:

  • The Senate holds a trial, overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court.
  • A team of lawmakers from the House, known as managers, play the role of prosecutors.
  • The President has defence lawyers, and the Senate serves as the jury.
  • If at least two-thirds of the Senators present find the President guilty, he is removed and the Vice President takes over as President.

Source: THE HINDU

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GS-II :
Peekaboo, guess who

GS-II: Peekaboo, guess who

Context

The Supreme Court, responding to a plea by Facebook, has expressed serious concern about the electronic Wild West that internet technology has opened up. It directed the government to file an affidavit within three weeks outlining a strategy to get social media platforms to share information with law enforcement without compromising the privacy of citizens.

What the court said

It asked why citizens must suffer being trolled and maligned with the impunity conferred by anonymity, and without hope of easy legal remedy.

What are the problems in handling the issue

  • The society has become eager to both give and take offence.
  • There are countervailing claims of different rights.
  • None of the stakeholders involved have practised fully ethical practices.
  • The government itself permits the rampant misuse and abuse of the law against citizens who speak out online.
  • Some governments have stooped to using the instrument directly against their own people.
  • Supreme Court ruling in Shreya Singhal vs Union of India said that “It is clear that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions.” In the judges’ view, Section 66A suffered from the deficit of “vagueness”, encouraging arbitrariness.
  • The guidelines which the government is required to produce may be as arbitrary in practice, because perceptions of right and wrong are socially determined, rather than legally.
  • The social media platforms which would follow these guidelines have not consistently been ideal guardians of the balance between privacy and accountability.

Way Forward:

The court, has, over the years has expanded the contours of free speech. It may finally rely on existing laws and processes. If applied prudently and morally, they should suffice the purpose.

Source: Indian Express

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GS-III :
IPCC report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.

GS-I: IPCC report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.

News

With representatives from nearly 200 countries at the UN Climate Summit underway in the United States, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made public a special report. It underlined the dire changes taking place in oceans, glaciers and ice-deposits on land and sea.

About the report

  • The ‘Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ was prepared following an IPCC Panel decision in 2016 to prepare three Special Reports.
  • It follows the Special Reports on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR1.5), and on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL).

Unprecedented conditions ahead:

  • Over the 21st century, the ocean is projected to transition to unprecedented conditions with increased temperatures, further ocean acidification, marine heatwaves and more frequent extreme El Niño and La Niña events,” according to the report.
  • It is virtually certain that the global ocean has warmed unabated since 1970 and has taken up more than 90% of the excess heat in the climate system (high confidence).
  • Since 1993, the rate of ocean warming has more than doubled.
  • Marine heatwaves have very likely doubled in frequency since 1982 and are increasing in intensity, the report notes.
  • The Southern Ocean accounted for 35%–43% of the total heat gain in the upper 2,000 m global ocean between 1970 and 2017, and its share increased to 45%–62% between 2005 and 2017.

Sea level rise:

Globally sea levels are estimated to rise 1.1 metre by 2100, if countries are not able to restrict emissions “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

This is likely to have a direct impact on the lives of 680 million people living in low-lying coastal zones.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):

  • The IPCC is an intergovernmental body of the UN dedicated to providing the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change, its natural, political and economic impacts and risks, and possible response options.
  • The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and was later endorsed by the UNGA.
  • Membership is open to all members of the WMO and UN.
  • The IPCC produces reports that contribute to the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the main international treaty on climate change.
  • In addition to climate assessment reports, the IPCC publishes Special Reports on specific topics.

Source: THE HINDU

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GS-III :
Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy

GS-III: Draft National Resource Efficiency Policy

News

Against the backdrop of resource depletion in India the MoEFCC has drafted a National Resource Efficiency Policy (NREP).

About the Policy

  • It aims to double the recycling rate of key materials to 50% in the next five years and enable upcycling of waste.
  • The agenda is to develop a circular economy.
  • This can be achieved by two measures:
  • By recycling the materials, and
  • By increasing the efficiency of use of these resources.
  • The draft has proposed significant policy instruments like addressing regulatory gaps in implementation of waste laws, landfill taxes, high tipping fees especially for bulk generators of waste, etc.

National Resource Efficiency Authority

The draft policy envisions setting up a National Resource Efficiency Authority which will help develop resource efficiency strategies for different sectors and adopt them into a three-year action plan.

To begin with, seven key sectors have been identified automobile, plastic packaging, building and construction sector, electrical and electronic equipment sector, solar photo-voltaic sector, and steel and aluminium sector.

Why need such Policy?

Linear production and consumption is leading to a lot of wastage in the entire value chain.

Opportunities exist at each and every stage of the product cycle which can be utilized, especially at a time, when the economy is going through a rough patch.

For various sectors

The Automobile Sector

  • The NGT had imposed ban on diesel vehicles more than ten years old in the National Capital Region in view of the rising pollution levels.
  • Following which, more vehicles will end up as end-of-life vehicles.
  • Under the policy, the government plans to set up centres to collect such vehicles and carry out the deregistration process, and shredding centres which would segregate materials for recycling.
  • As many as 20 official dismantlers would be established across major urban centres by 2020.
  • The plan is to ensure 75% recycling rate for vehicles made before 1990, 85% recycling rate for vehicles made between 1990 and 2000, and 90% recycling rate for vehicles made after 2000.

Plastic wastes

Another concern is plastic waste, contributing 8% of the total solid waste.

The draft policy aims to achieve a 100% recycling and reuse rate polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic by 2025.

Construction materials

The draft policy also aims to gradually reducing dependence on virgin materials and enhance re-use of construction and demolition waste.

There will be emphasis on developing codes and standards for quality of secondary raw materials to ensure confidence in the product, so that by 2025, at least 30% of total public procurement of construction materials can be from recycled materials.

Source: Live Mint

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GS-III :
Quantum Supremacy

GS-III: Quantum Supremacy.

News

A draft research paper claimed Google researchers have achieved a long-ought-after goal in physics called “quantum supremacy”.

Quantum Supremacy:

  • It refers to a quantum computer solving a problem that cannot be expected of a classical computer in a normal lifetime.
  • This relates to the speed at which a quantum computer performs.
  • The phrase “quantum supremacy” was coined in 2011 by John Preskill, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the California Institute of Technology in a speech.
  • According to reports the quantum processor took 200 seconds to perform a calculation that the world’s fastest supercomputer, Summit, would have taken 10,000 years to accomplish.
  • The draft paper is believed to be an early version of a paper that has been submitted to a scientific journal.

What is quantum computing?

  • Quantum computing takes advantage of the strange ability of subatomic particles to exist in more than one state at any time.
  • Due to the way the tiniest of particles behave, operations can be done much more quickly and use less energy than classical computers.

How is Quantum computer different from a traditional computer?

  • What differentiates a quantum computer from a traditional computer is the way the two store information.
  • Quantum computers perform calculations based on the probability of an object’s state before it is measured instead of just 1s or 0s which means they have the potential to process exponentially more data compared to classical computers.
  • Classical computers carry out logical operations using the definite position of a physical state.
  • These are usually binary, meaning its operations are based on one of two positions. A single state – such as on or off, up or down, 1 or 0 is called a bit.
  • In quantum computing, operations instead use the quantum state of an object to produce what’s known as a qubit.
  • These states are the undefined properties of an object before they’ve been detected, such as the spin of an electron or the polarisation of a photon.

Source: Indian Express

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