30 April Current Affairs
April 30, 2019
02 May Current Affairs
May 2, 2019
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01 May Current Affairs

Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) of Puducherry

In News:

The Madras High Court has ruled that the Lieutenant-Governor (L-G) of Puducherry could not interfere with the day-to-day administration of the Union Territory when an elected government was in place. The court said incessant interference from the L-G would amount to running a “parallel government.”

Key observations made by the court:

The Central government as well as the Administrator [the term used in the Constitution to refer to the L-G] should be true to the concept of democratic principles. Otherwise, the constitutional scheme of the country of being democratic and republic would be defeated.

Government secretaries were bound to take instructions from the Ministers and the Council of Ministers, headed by the Chief Minister. Government secretaries of the Puducherry administration were required to report to the Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister on all official matters.

Article 239A symbolises the supremacy of the Legislature above the Administrator in case of the Union Territory of Puducherry.

The secretaries are not empowered to issue orders on their own or upon the instructions of the Administrator.

Government officials cannot be a part of social media groups through which the L-G was issuing instructions to them for redress of public grievances. As per rules, they were bound to use only authorised medium of communication when it came to issues related to administration.

What are the powers and sources of LG of Puducherry?

The Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 provides for a Legislative Assembly of Pondicherry (as Puducherry was then called), with a Council of Ministers to govern the “Union Territory of Pondicherry”. The same Act says that the UT will be administered by the President of India through an Administrator (LG).

Section 44 of the Act, which deals with the Council of Ministers and its working, says the Council of Ministers headed by a Chief Minister will “aid and advise the Administrator in the exercise of his functions in relation to matters with respect to which the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory has power to make laws”.

The same clause also allows the LG to “act in his discretion” in the matter of lawmaking, even though the Council of Ministers has the task of aiding and advising him. In case of a difference of opinion between the LG and his Ministers on any matter, the Administrator is bound to refer it to the President for a decision and act according to the decision given by the President. However, the Administrator can also claim that the matter is urgent, and take immediate action as he deems necessary.

Under Section 22 of the Act, prior sanction of the Administrator is required for certain legislative proposals. These include Bills or amendments that the Council of Ministers intends to move in the Legislative Assembly, and which deal with the “constitution and organisation of the court of the Judicial Commissioner”, and “jurisdiction and powers of the court of the Judicial Commissioner with respect to any of the matters in the State List or the Concurrent List”.

Section 23 of the Act also makes it obligatory on the part of the UT government to seek the “recommendation” of the LG before moving a Bill or an amendment to provide for “the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of any tax”, “the amendment of the law with respect to any financial obligations undertaken or to be undertaken”, and anything that has to do with the Consolidated Fund of the UT.

Once the Assembly has passed a Bill, the LG can either grant or withhold his assent; or reserve it for the consideration of the President. He can also send it back to the Assembly for reconsideration.

The manner in which the LG functions vis-à-vis the elected government (Council of Ministers) is also spelt out in the Rules of Business of the Government of Pondicherry, 1963, issued on June 22, 1963.

Under Rule 47, which deals with persons serving in the UT government, the Administrator exercises powers regulating the conditions of service of such persons in consultation with the Chief Minister. In case the LG has a difference of opinion with the Chief Minister, he can refer the matter to the central government for the decision of the President.

Comparison with powers of LG of Delhi:

The powers of the LG of Puducherry are different from the ones of the LG of Delhi, the other UT that has an elected legislature and government.

The LG of Delhi has “Executive Functions” that allow him to exercise his powers in matters connected to public order, police and land “in consultation with the Chief Minister, if it is so provided under any order issued by the President under Article 239 of the Constitution”. Simply put, the LG of Delhi enjoys greater powers than the LG of Puducherry.

While the LG of Delhi is also guided by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, and the Transaction of Business of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Rules, 1993, the LG of Puducherry is guided mostly by the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963.

Articles 239 and 239AA of the Constitution, as well as the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi Act, 1991, clearly underline that Delhi is a UT, where the Centre, whose eyes and ears are the LG, has a much more prominent role than in Puducherry.

Under the constitutional scheme, the Delhi Assembly has the power to legislate on all subjects except law and order and land. However, the Puducherry Assembly can legislate on any issue under the Concurrent and State Lists. However, if the law is in conflict with a law passed by Parliament, the law passed by Parliament prevails.

Source: The Hindu

India’s Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile

In News:

Stating that defence and offensive space technologies are being developed with various aims of spying, gaining control, deactivating service and destroying, French Envoy in India Alexandre Ziegler has supported India’s Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile test as a response to these growing threats.

Details:

Mission Shakti is a joint programme of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

As part of the mission, an anti-satellite (A-SAT) weapon was launched and targeted an Indian satellite which had been decommissioned. Mission Shakti was carried out from DRDO’s testing range in Odisha’s Balasore.

Significance:

India is only the 4th country to acquire such a specialised and modern capability, and Entire effort is indigenous. Till now, only the US, Russia and China had the capability to hit a live target in space.

Why do we need such capabilities?

India has a long standing and rapidly growing space programme. It has expanded rapidly in the last five years. The Mangalyaan Mission to Mars was successfully launched. Thereafter, the government has sanctioned the Gaganyaan Mission which will take Indians to outer space.

India has undertaken more than 100 spacecraft missions consisting of communication satellites, earth observation satellites, experimental satellites, navigation satellites, apart from satellites meant for scientific research and exploration, academic studies and other small satellites. India’s space programme is a critical backbone of India’s security, economic and social infrastructure.

The test was done to verify that India has the capability to safeguard our space assets. It is the Government of India’s responsibility to defend the country’s interests in outer space.

Raising concerns:

Outer space has become an “arena of rivalry between major powers.” At the same time, there was common concern on space debris. Satellites today have to avoid almost 6,00,000 debris of over 1cm travelling at speed faster than a bullet.

As space gets increasingly crowded, there is need to regulate space traffic on the lines of air traffic or railways.

What is space debris?

Space junk is an ever-growing problem with more than 7,500 tonnes of redundant hardware now thought to be circling the Earth. Ranging from old rocket bodies and defunct spacecraft through to screws and even flecks of paint – this material poses a collision hazard to operational missions.

The rising population of space debris increases the potential danger to all space vehicles, but especially to the International Space Station (ISS), space shuttles, satellites and other spacecraft.

Technologies that can tackle the problem in future are:

Moving an object out of the way by altering its orbit is one method of diverting a potential crash, but the sheer amount of debris requires constant observation and prediction – by any means necessary.

Nasa’s Space Debris Sensor orbits the Earth on the International Space Station. The sensor was attached to the outside of the space station’s European Columbus module in December 2017. It will detect millimetre-sized pieces of debris for at least two years, providing information on whatever hits it such as size, density, velocity, orbit and will determine whether the impacting object is from space or a man-made piece of space debris.

REMOVEdebris, satellite contain two cubesats that will release simulated space debris so that it can then demonstrate several ways of retrieving them.

Deorbit mission: There are two emerging technologies being developed under what’s known as the e.Deorbit mission to grasp the wayward space junk, or to catch it.

Other technologies include moving objects with a powerful laser beam. It is important to start doing that soon, current scientific estimates predict that without active debris removal, certain orbits will become unusable over the coming decades.

Way ahead:

Arms race in outer space should not be encouraged. India has always maintained that space must be used only for peaceful purposes. It is against the weaponisation of Outer Space and supports international efforts to reinforce the safety and security of space based assets.

India believes that Outer space is the common heritage of humankind and it is the responsibility of all space-faring nations to preserve and promote the benefits flowing from advances made in space technology and its applications for all.

Source: The Hindu

National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC)

For effective implementation of relief measures in the wake of natural calamities, the Government of India has set up a Standing National Crisis Management Committee with Cabinet Secretary as Chairman.

State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF)

In News:

Advance release of funds from SDRF to State Governments of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

About State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF):

SDRF has been constituted by each state under the provisions of Disaster Management act 2005.

It was constituted based on the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission.

Funding: The government of India contributes 75% and 90% of the total yearly allocation of SDRF to general states and special category states respectively.

Heads: The state executive committee headed by the Chief Secretary is authorized to decide on all matters relating to the financing of the relief expenditure from the SDRF.

Disaster (s) covered under SDRF: Cyclone, drought, earthquake, fire, flood, tsunami, hailstorm, landslide, avalanche, cloudburst, pest attack, frost and cold waves.

Local Disaster: A State Government may use up to 10 percent of the funds available under the SDRF for providing immediate relief to the victims of natural disasters that they consider to be ‘disasters’ within the local context in the State and which are not included in the notified list of disasters of the Ministry of Home Affairs subject to the condition that the State Government has listed the State specific natural disasters and notified clear and transparent norms and guidelines for such disasters with the approval of the State Authority, i.e., the State Executive Authority (SEC).

Features of SDRF:

SDRF is located in the ‘Public Account’ under ‘Reserve Fund’. (But direct expenditures are not made from Public Account.)

State Government has to pay interest on a half yearly basis to the funds in SDRF, at the rate applicable to overdrafts.

The aggregate size of the SDRF for each state, for each year, is as per the recommendations of the Finance Commission.

The share of GoI to the SDRF is treated as a ‘grant in aid’.

Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) can recommend an earlier release of 25% of the central share due to a state in the following year, if the exigencies of the particular calamity so warrants. This advance release is adjusted against future instalments due from the center.

The accretions to the SDRF together with the income earned on investment are to be invested in central government securities or in interest earning deposits with banks, which when needed are liquidated.

The financing of relief measures out of SDRF are decided by the State Executive Committee (SEC) constituted under Section 20 of the DM Act. SEC is responsible for the overall administration of the SDRF. However, the administrative expenses of SEC are borne by the State Government from its normal budgetary provisions and not from the SDRF or NDRF.

The norms regarding the amount to be incurred on each approved item of expenditure (type of disaster) are fixed by the Ministry of Home Affairs with the concurrence of Ministry of Finance. Any excess expenditure has to be borne out of the budget of the state government.

In the wake of natural calamities, a state Government is empowered to undertake necessary relief measures from SDRF, which is readily available with them. If additional financial assistance is required from National Disaster Response Fund ((NDRF) they have to submit a memorandum for the same and in the mean time utilize contingency fund of the State, if SDRF is exhausted.

Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal ministry for overseeing the operation of the SDRF and monitors compliance with prescribed processes.

Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) audit the SDRF every year.

1 May: Labour Day

The Labour Day was observed across the world on May 1, 2019. The day is also known as International Worker’s Day and May Day.

In India, the first celebration of the Labour Day was organised in Madras (now Chennai) by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan on May 1, 1923.

Why 1 May is observed as Labour Day?

The Labour Day is celebrated to commemorate the happenings of May 4, 1886, the Haymarket affair (Haymarket Massacre) in the Chicago.

It was a big event as workers were on the general strike for their eight-hour workday and police were doing their job of dispersing the general public from the crowd. Suddenly, a bomb was thrown over the crowd and police started firing over the workers and four demonstrators were killed.

It was due to the sacrifice of these workers that eight-hours were declared as the legal time for the workers in the National Convention at Chicago in 1884 by the American Federation of Labor.

To commemorate this event, the Second International, a pan-national organisation of socialist and communist political parties, marked 1 May as the Labour Day in 1891.

Goldman Environmental Prize

Six grassroots environmental activists will receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize.

About the Prize:

The Goldman Environmental Prize honors grassroots environmental heroes from the world’s six inhabited continental regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, Islands & Island Nations, North America, and South & Central America.

The Prize recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment, often at great personal risk.

The Goldman Prize views “grassroots” leaders as those involved in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Prize seeks to inspire other ordinary people to take extraordinary actions to protect the natural world.

What the Goldman Prize Provides?

The Goldman Prize amplifies the voices of these grassroots leaders and provides them with:

  • International recognition that enhances their credibility.
  • Worldwide visibility for the issues they champion.
  • Financial support to pursue their vision of a renewed and protected environment.
  • This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Prize founded in 1989 by U.S. philanthropists Rhoda and Richard Goldman. To date, 194 winners from 89 different nations have received this award.

Sanauli

4,000-year-old rice, dal, sacred chambers and coffins found by ASI in Sanauli.

Significance: Three chariots, some coffins, shields, swords and helmets had been unearthed, pointing towards the existence of a “warrior class in the area around 2,000 BCE”. It is contemporary to the last phase of the mature Harappan culture. These findings are important to understand the culture pattern of the Upper Ganga-Yamuna doab.

“Sanauli is located on the left bank of the River Yamuna, 68 km north-east of Delhi which brought to light the largest necropolis of the late Harappan period datable to around early part of second millennium BCE”.

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