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Today’s important articles/news in various newspapers (9th May)

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. SC pulls up Centre for not framing Cauvery scheme

SC pulls up Centre for not framing Cauvery scheme

  • The Supreme Court rapped the Centre for showing sheer contempt of court by not framing the Cauvery draft scheme, but adjourned the case to May 14, well after the crucial polling day for the Karnataka Assembly election.
    • The SC had categorically directed the Centre to frame the draft scheme by May 3 to prove its bona fide resolve to end the 200-year-old dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

    Directive to official

    • The court did not go into pleas and counter-pleas by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka over the release of Cauvery water. The CJI said this may only retard the implementation of the judgment and the nitty-gritty of water-sharing should be looked into by the authority which would be put in place by the Centre as per the scheme.

    What is contempt of court?

    • Contempt of court, often referred to as “contempt”, is the offence of being disobedient towards a court of law and its authorities in the form of behaviour that opposes or defies the dignity of the court.
    • It manifests itself in wilful disregard of the authority of a court of law.
    • There are broadly two categories of contempt: being rude to legal authorities in the courtroom, or willfully failing to obey a court order.
    • When a court decides that an action constitutes contempt, it issues an order called “found” or “held” in contempt which declares a person or organisation is found to have disobeyed the court. This is likely to jeopardise a fair trial. Besides, those found guilty of contempt of court may have to pay a fine or even go to jail.

Cauvery River

  • The Kaveri (Cauvery) is designated as the ‘Dakshina Ganga’ or ‘the Ganga of the South’.
  • The Cauvery River rises at an elevation of 1,341 m at Talakaveri on the Brahmagiri range near Cherangala village of Kodagu (Coorg) district of Karnataka.
  • The total length of the river from origin to outfall is 800 km.
  • The Cauvery basin extends over states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry draining an area of 81 thousand Sq.km.
  • It is bounded by the Western Ghats on the west, by the Eastern Ghats on the east and the south and by the ridges separating it from Krishna basin and Pennar basin on the north.
  • The Nilgiris, an offshore of Western ghats, extend Eastwards to the Eastern ghats and divide the basin into two natural and political regions i.e., Karnataka plateau in the North and the Tamil Nadu plateau in the South.
  • Physiographically, the basin can be divided into three parts – the Westen Ghats, the Plateau of Mysore and the Delta.
  • The delta area is the most fertile tract in the basin. The principal soil types found in the basin are black soils, red soils, laterites, alluvial soils, forest soils and mixed soils. Red soils occupy large areas in the basin. Alluvial soils are found in the delta areas.
  • The basin in Karnataka receives rainfall mainly from the S-W Monsoon and partially from N-E Monsoon. The basin in Tamil Nadu receives good flows from the North-East Monsoon.
  • Its upper catchment area receives rainfall during summer by the south-west monsoon and the lower catchment area during winter season by the retreating north-east monsoon.
  • It is, therefore almost a perennial river with comparatively less fluctuations in flow and is very useful for irrigation and hydroelectric power generation.
  • Thus the Cauvery is one of the best regulated rivers and 90 to 95 per cent of its irrigation and power production potential already stands harnessed.
  • The river drains into the Bay of Bengal. The major part of basin is covered with agricultural land accounting to 66.21% of the total area.

Tributaries of the Cauvery River

  • Left Bank: the Harangi, the Hemavati, the Shimsha and the Arkavati.
  • Right Bank: Lakshmantirtha, the Kabbani, the Suvarnavati, the Bhavani, the Noyil and the Amaravatijoins from right.
  • The river descends from the South Karnataka Plateau to the Tamil Nadu Plains through the Sivasamudram waterfalls (101 m high).
  • At Shivanasamudram, the river branches off into two parts and falls through a height of 91 m. in a series of falls and rapids.
  • The falls at this point is utilized for power generation by the power station at Shivanasamudram.
  • The two branches of the river join after the fall and flow through a wide gorge which is known as ‘Mekedatu’ (Goats leap) and continues its journey to form the boundary between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu States for a distance of 64 km.
  • At Hogennekkal Falls, it takes Southerly direction and enters the Mettur Reservoir.
  • A tributary called Bhavani joins Cauvery on the Right bank about 45 Kms below Mettur Reservoir. Thereafter it enters the plains of Tamil Nadu.
  • Two more tributaries Noyil and Amaravathi join on the right bank and here the river widens with sandy bed and flows as ‘Akhanda Cauvery’.
  • Immediately after crossing Tiruchirapalli district, the river divides into two parts, the Northern branch being called ‘The Coleron’ and Southern branch remains as Cauvery and from here the Cauvery Delta begins.
  • After flowing for about 16 Kms, the two branches join again to form ‘Srirangam Island’.
  • On the Cauvery branch lies the “Grand Anicut” said to have been constructed by a Chola King in 1st Century A.D.
  • Below the Grand Anicut, the Cauvery branch splits into two, Cauvery and Vennar.
  • These branches divide and sub-divide into small branches and form a network all over the delta.

Cauvery Kaveri River Basin

2. Purifying water using sunlight

New technology that uses the sunlight to purify water with near-perfect efficiency has been developed.

  • By draping black, carbon-dipped paper in a triangular shape and using it to both absorb and vaporise water, researchers have developed a method for using sunlight to generate clean water with near-perfect efficiency.
  • The low-cost technology could provide drinking water in regions where resources are scarce, or where natural disasters have struck. The technique has many advantages.
  • It is simple, and the power source – the sun – is available just about everywhere. However, even the latest solar still models are somewhat inefficient at vaporizing water.
  • Most groups working on solar evaporation technologies are trying to develop advanced materials, such as metallic plasmonic and carbon-based nanomaterials.

3. Commission approves modern animal-free testing for drugs

Commission approves modern animal-free testing for drugs

New mandate

  • With the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission’s new mandate, the pyrogen test will be replaced by a bacterial endotoxin test or a monocyte activation test which can be carried out in test tubes. Vaccine manufacturers can apply for the waiver for the abnormal toxicity test by getting a compliance certificate from the National Control Laboratory instead.
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has been pushing for doing away with the cruel methods of testing on animals for the past several years.
  • Tests like the one for abnormal toxicity have been removed by the U.S. and European pharmacopoeia as they are not an efficient marker.

4. For a fair trial: on shifting the Kathua rape and murder case

The case of the abduction and gang rape of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua district in Jammu and Kashmir has been shifted to Pathankot in the neighbouring State of Punjab

The Supreme Court has done this to ensure a fair trial.

Why was it done?

Unfortunately, some saw the incident along sectarian lines.

Even support was rendered to those arrested by the police in the form of protests and heckling the police

The SC saw the atmosphere to be too vitiated for a free trial to be conducted

Demand for CBI investigation

Sections of society- political parties and lawyers- demanded that the Crime Branch investigation was not fair and that it should be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The Supreme Court denied such handing over as it saw that the investigation was conducted in a fairly quick manner and the charge sheet was ready within two months.

In the normal course, only deliberate inaction on the part of the State police is a reasonable ground for shifting the probe to another agency.

SC has the sole power

  • The transfer of a criminal trial from one State to another is an extraordinary step that the Supreme Court alone is empowered to take.
  • Reflection of state’s handling of law and order.
  • In the present case, it’s no reflection on J&K. Only for a speedy and fair trial

Further directions

  1. Day-to-day hearings
  2. No unnecessary adjournments
  3. No delay between the examination of witnesses and their cross-examination
  4. A departure from the rule: The apex court has allowed J&K to appoint a public prosecutor to conduct this case.
  5. The trial will also be in camera.
  6. The court’s directions should inspire confidence in the justice system and instil courage among the witnesses.

5. Reviving ‘Neighbourhood First’

The GoI is not shying away from making bold decisions in foreign policy sphere, as also making course corrections

Latest signs of revival and challenge

  • The informal summit at Wuhan, China
  • A visit to Nepal this month
  • The big challenge: providing a sense of direction to the policy on Pakistan

The China outreach

2014-15 à personalised diplomacy– despite the ongoing stand-off in Chumar in eastern Ladakh.

Spoilsport: 

  • In mid-2016, China blocked India’s bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) despite a meeting between the two leaders in Tashkent on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.
  • China vetoing Masood Azhar’s listing as a terrorist in the UN Security Council even though the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) is a banned entity.
  • Hydrological data sharing stopped amid reports of diversion of Brahmaputra river waters.
  • Stand-off at Doklam last year and accompanying rhetoric.

Indian response: Voicing scepticism regarding Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), stepping up maritime engagement with the U.S. and Japan and reviving the Quad (with Australia).

Pragmatic

Realised the risks of the downward spiral of confrontation

Understood the need to restore a degree of balance to the relationship.

The ground was prepared: Visits by Foreign Secretary, Foreign minister, NSA and Defence Minister

  1. Not attending events commemorating 60 years of Dalai Lama’s exile
  2. Declining Australia’s intent to join Malabar naval exercise

Outcomes of the informal summit

No agenda was set

A customary Joint Statement:

  1. Army to improve communications and understanding and prevent the stand-offs that were becoming frequent.
  2. Agreed to undertake a joint project in Afghanistan.
  3. No softening of Chinese position on the NSG or India’s reservations on the BRI was visible

Rebuilding trust with Nepal

2014 had generated considerable goodwill with PM’s visit, but…..

  • India’s public display of unhappiness with Nepal’s new Constitution and support for the Madhesi cause created ill-will.
  • The economic impact caused by the disruption of supplies of essential items such as liquefied petroleum gas, petroleum products and medicines fed the anti-Indian sentiment which K.P. Oli effectively exploited to score a decisive electoral victory late last year.

Delhi was disappointed with the election outcome but decided that the relationship with Nepal was too important to let past misunderstandings fester.

A new beginning

  1. Phone calls between Mr. Modi and Mr. Oli
  2. Foreign Minister was in Kathmandu even before Mr. Oli was sworn in as Prime Minister to convey congratulations
  3. An invitation from Mr. Modi to visit India, to which Mr. Oli responded positively — A surprise one-on-one meeting with Mr. Modi on the first day provided the two leaders an opportunity to clear the air about the past and rebuild a degree of trust.
  4. A return visit by Mr. Modi to Nepal within a month (on May 11-12) indicates that both sides are keen to show positive movement.

The Pakistan challenge

  1. Relations stalled in 2016 following the Pathankot and Uri attacks.
  2. Firing across the Line of Control (LoC) has intensified leading to higher casualties on both sides, both civilian and military.
  3. In September 2016, India launched ‘surgical strikes’ as retaliation for the Uri attack but this has not reduced infiltration.
  4. Since Burhan Wani’s death, local recruitment by radical groups is also on the rise.
  5. India has successfully stalled the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit since 2016
  6. Mr. Trump’s tweets criticising Pakistan have given Delhi satisfaction.

Limits of isolating Pakistan

Mr. Sharif’s dismissal and disqualification for life from politics by the Supreme Court makes it clear that the Army is determined to control the political transition. Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa has, on more than one occasion, emphasised the need for improving relations with both India and Afghanistan.

The resumption of the stalled Track II Neemrana Dialogue last month in Islamabad indicates that a shift may be likely. Pakistan realises that the time frame for a shift is limited before India goes into election mode.

Forward movement on issues flagged by India can go a long way— curbing the Lashkar-e-Toiba and JeM, the Kulbushan Jadhav and 26/11 trials, etc.

6. Forging peace in Nagaland

The Framework Agreement signed on August 3, 2015 between Union government and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah), or NSCN-IM.

ØRaised expectations among the Naga people but also apprehension in neighbouring Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur– any attempt at rearranging duly considered boundaries is discomforting.

Other issues

  1. Secrecy around the Framework Agreement– terms need to be discussed and debated.
  2. Most in Nagaland speak with derision about the NSCN-IM because it is led by Th. Muivah, a Tangkhul Naga from Manipur.
  3. NSCN-IM had, for several decades, used the gun to silence its detractors, and indulged in large-scale extortion and imposed its diktat on the Nagas. NSCN-IMà goal of wresting an “honourable settlement” for the Naga people from the Government of India.

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