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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (13th April)

Dear aspirants, following are the links of various articles taken from various newspapers. Click the link to read further. To get notification, follow the blog. Thank you

1. Heed the federal framework

he Finance Commission must respect principles of equity and fairness in allocating resources between Centre, States.

15th Finance Commission: Is it just a South India vs North India debate?

Fifteenth Finance Commission’s terms of reference (ToR)

  1. The Fifteenth Finance Commission’s terms of reference (ToR) have evoked a sharp response from southern states
  2. The ToR mandates the Commission to use 2011 population for tax sharing and devolution of resources instead of 1971 population as was the practice in the past
  3. Between 1971 and 2011, except Telangana, population shares of four southern states in total declined from 22.01% to 18.16%
  4. Use of 2011 population for sharing resources means a decline in the flow of resources to these states

Beyond southern states

  1. Between 1971 and 2011, population share has declined in 10 states other than the four southern states
  2. These are Assam, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab and West Bengal
  3. Thus, use of 2011 population would also affect economically less prosperous states like Assam, Odisha and West Bengal

Tax-sharing formula

  1. In the past, the tax-sharing formula was a combination of factors reflecting equity, need and efficiency
  2. Population being a neutral indicator of need has been used by all 14 finance commissions

Fundamental question about the use of population

  1. Any finance commission is required to assess fiscal needs of states for tax sharing and grants
  2. Binding Commission’s work to a particular reference population is arbitrary and unfair to all the stakeholders including the Commission

Policy on resource sharing

  1. The policy on resource sharing needs to make a distinction between tax sharing and grants
  2. Tax sharing is to correct the vertical and horizontal imbalances arising due to constitutional assignment of tax powers and expenditure responsibilities between the Union and states
  3. Also, as per the Article 270 of the Indian Constitution, tax share recommended by the Finance Commission does not form part of the consolidated fund of the Union government, implying this is not a component of Union budget

Way forward

  1. Any incentive or reward should be done through a grant mechanism instead of horizontal tax sharing
  2. It is too early to conclude the outcome of the use of 2011 population on resource sharing
  3. The ultimate outcome would depend on how the Commission treats various factors in the horizontal allocation of resources

2. Why we should trust science

Crisis for science

  1. It has been a time of crisis for science over the past several years
  2. In cases where society and policy need inputs from science, there is now a widely prevalent view that the conclusions of scientific inquiry can be challenged for economic or ideological reasons

Development of science

  1. Science is the organized method developed to understand nature
  2. The method has developed over centuries
  3. The knowledge gained has proved to be so effective that human history and the human condition over the past several centuries have been dominated by the knowledge and mechanisms made available by science

Three pillars of science

  1. Science and academics rest on three pillars, which are an interdependent set of facts, logic and reason
  2. Facts relate to the patterns we observe and the evidence we collect
  3. Logic stitches together observations and determines the rules to understand the evidence
  4. Reason constructs hypotheses and these are tested for consistency against logic and fact
  5. Reason encompasses imagination, creativity, mathematical thinking and other abilities of the human mind, which also helps understand facts
  6. This triangular structure lies at the heart of the scientific method

Faith and science

  1. It is not possible for science to be in literal or metaphorical agreement with immutable words of religious origin
  2. This is so because science is always transforming our view of the world
  3. The contradiction is in the impossibility of the constant to be the same as the ever transforming

Why scientific consensus should be trusted

  1. Working scientists are always challenging each other about ideas, facts and results
  2. When contradictions arise the issue is settled based on other independent work by unrelated parties
  3. Finally, at some point, the contradiction is resolved and the reasons for the contradictions understood
  4. This is the strength of the method of science and the reason why it is virtually impossible to discredit scientific consensus

3. Nasa’s new planet hunting probe set to search for alien life

The satellite, developed by scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US, aims to discover thousands of nearby exoplanets, including at least 50 Earth-sized ones

Satellite for exoplanet discovery

  1. A National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) satellite, which will hunt for exoplanets that have the potential to harbor alien life, is on schedule to launch next week
  2. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) will discover a number of planets whose atmospheric compositions hold potential clues to the presence of life

About the satellite

  1. The satellite aims to discover thousands of nearby exoplanets, including at least 50 Earth-sized ones
  2. The spacecraft will be looking for a phenomenon known as a transit, where a planet passes in front of its star, causing a periodic and regular dip in the star’s brightness
  3. Nasa’s Kepler spacecraft used the same method to spot more than 2,600 confirmed exoplanets

Exoplanets

  1. An exoplanet or extrasolar planet is a planet outside our solar system that orbits a star
  2. The nearest exoplanet is Proxima Centauri b, located 4.2 light-years (1.3 parsecs) from Earth and orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun
  3. Almost all of the planets detected so far are within the Milky Way
  4. The discovery of exoplanets has intensified interest in the search for extraterrestrial life

4. India moves to auction its first offshore wind power project

India has called for expression of interest for the first offshore wind power project in the country that is being set up in Gulf of Khambat, Gujarat

Step for boosting India’s clean energy commitments

  1. The National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) (an autonomous body under the ministry of new and renewable energy ) has called for ‘Expression of Interest’ (EoI) for the first offshore wind energy project of India
  2. The project will be set up in the Gulf of Khambat, off the coast of Gujarat
  3. High potential: As per official estimates, the Gujarat coastline has the potential to generate around 106,000MW of offshore wind energy and Tamil Nadu about 60,000MW

Why is this step important?

  1. The development assumes significance given the 1,000 megawatts (MW) size of the project, with the government’s plan to set up at least 5 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity by 2022
  2. India plans to leverage scale to bring down offshore energy tariffs by harnessing the enormous wind power potential along its 7,600km coastline

Offshore wind energy projects are more efficient

  1. At global level, it has been observed that, offshore wind energy while being better than onshore wind in terms of efficiency is also becoming competitive and comparable in terms of tariffs
  2. With a large energy market in India, the EoI is expected to evince keen interest from leading players of offshore wind turbine manufacturers and developers
  3. Indian industry can also participate along with suitable tie up with global players

Other steps taken by the government in the same direction

  1. In 2015, the Union cabinet had cleared the National Offshore Wind Energy Policy
  2. The policy involves wind energy mapping of the country to identify high-potential locations to be offered to firms for development through a bidding process

5. Can blockchain solve land record problems?

While blockchain could ensure the integrity and indisputability of future changes, it cannot resolve the differences that exist today

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