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11th November Current Affairs

What is Leonids Meteor Shower?

(GS-I: Important Geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes, Tsunami, Volcanic activity, cyclones etc)

In News:

The annual Leonids Meteor Shower has begun. This year’s shower is active between November 6 and 30, with peak activity expected on November 17.

What is Leonids Meteor Shower?

The debris that forms this meteor shower originates from a small comet called 55P/Tempel-Tuttle in the constellation Leo, which takes 33 years to orbit the sun.

The Leonids are considered to be a major shower that features the fastest meteors, which typically travel at speeds of 71 km per second.

Meteor Shower vs Storm:

Every 33 years, a Leonid shower turns into a meteor storm, which is when hundreds to thousands of meteors can be seen every hour.

A meteor storm should have at least 1,000 meteors per hour. In 1966, a Leonid storm offered views of thousands of meteors that fell through the Earth’s atmosphere per minute during a period of 15 minutes.

The last such storm took place in2002.

What are meteor showers?

Meteors are bits of rock and ice that are ejected from comets as they manoeuvre around their orbits around the sun.

Meteor showers are witnessed when Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by a comet or an asteroid.

What Are the Differences Between An Asteroid, Comet, Meteoroid, Meteor and Meteorite?

Asteroid: A relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun.

Comet: A relatively small, at times active, object whose ices can vaporize in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas.

Meteoroid: A small particle from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun.

Meteor: The light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporizes; a shooting star.

Meteorite: A meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and lands upon the Earth’s surface.

General consent to CBI

(GS-II: Statutory, regulatory and various quasi-judicial bodies)

In News:

The Supreme Court has expressed concern over a submission by the CBI that since 2018, around 150 requests for sanction to investigate have been pending with eight state governments that have withdrawn general consent to the agency.

Background:

The CBI had filed the affidavit after the court inquired last month about the bottlenecks it faced, and the steps it had taken to strengthen prosecutions.

Which states have withdrawn general consent, and why?

Eight states have currently withdrawn consent to the CBI: Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, and Mizoram. All except Mizoram are ruled by the opposition.

Centre’s response:

State governments do not have any “absolute” power to keep the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from investigating crimes inside the State.

Not even the Union government”, has the authority to rattle the autonomy of the premier agency to conduct investigations.

Also, withdrawal of general consent would not stand in the way of constitutional courts entrusting the CBI with the cases “where it is found that the State Police would not effectively conduct a fair and impartial investigation”.

Besides, the CBI was empowered to probe cases concerning any of the Central subjects enumerated in the Union List in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

Why is consent necessary?

The CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act that makes consent of a state government mandatory for conducting investigation in that state.

There are two kinds of consent:

Case-specific and general– Given that the CBI has jurisdiction only over central government departments and employees, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or a violent crime in a given state only after that state government gives its consent.

“General consent” is normally given to help the CBI seamlessly conduct its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state.

What does withdrawal mean?

It simply means that CBI officers will lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them.

The decision means the CBI will now have to get consent from the state government for every case it registers in Maharashtra.

Under what provision can general consent be withdrawn?

In exercise of power conferred by Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the state governments can withdraw the general consent accorded.

Can withdrawal mean that the CBI can no longer probe any case?

No. The CBI would still have the power to investigate old cases registered when general consent existed. Also, cases registered anywhere else in the country, but involving people stationed in states which have withdrawn consent, would allow CBI’s jurisdiction to extend to these states.

Calcutta High Court verdict:

Calcutta High Court recently ruled in a case of illegal coal mining and cattle smuggling being investigated by the CBI, that the central agency cannot be stopped from probing an employee of the central government in another state. The order has been challenged in the Supreme Court.

In Vinay Mishra vs the CBI, Calcutta HC ruled in July this year that corruption cases must be treated equally across the country, and a central government employee could not be “distinguished” just because his office was located in a state that had withdrawn general consent.

The HC also said that withdrawal of consent would apply in cases where only employees of the state government were involved.

Warrior woman Onake Obavva

(GS-I: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues)

In News:

From this year, the Karnataka government has decided to celebrate ‘Onake Obavva Jayanti’ on November 11 throughout the state.

Who is Onake Obavva?

Onake Obavva is a woman warrior who fought the forces of Hyder Ali single-handedly with a pestle (‘onake’ in Kannada) in Chitradurga in the 18th century.

She died protecting the Chitradurga Fort, which was ruled by Madakari Nayaka in the 18th century.

Legacy and relevance today:

Obavva is considered to be the epitome of Kannada pride and celebrated along with other women warriors of Karnataka state.

Onake Obavva’s courage and quick thinking have been praised by the people of Karnataka, especially in the Chitradurga region, where a stadium is named after her.

Inspired by Onake Obavva, in 2018, the Chitradurga police started ‘Obavva Pade’, a squad of women police constables to protect and educate women in the district. This was later extended to Bangalore.

MPLAD Scheme

(GS-II: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these)

In News:

Citing economic recovery, the Union Cabinet has restored the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) that was suspended in April 2020 subsuming the funds for the scheme in the consolidated fund of India. However, the MPs will get ₹2 crore instead of the annual approved ₹5 crore.

Background:

The government had in April, 2020 decided not to operate MPLADS for the Financial Years 2020-21 and 2021-22; and place the MPLADS funds for these two-years at the disposal of the Ministry of Finance to meet the emergent needs of people.

From ₹5,012 crore spent during 2018-19, an expenditure of just ₹2,491.45 crore was taken up under the scheme in 2019-20.

How was this fund utilised?

The government has said that the funds saved from the MPLAD Scheme have been utilised to enhance the allocation of funds for improving health infrastructure, provide free ration under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, and free vaccination for the people.

About MPLAD scheme:

Launched in December, 1993.

Seeks to provide a mechanism for the Members of Parliament to recommend works of developmental nature for creation of durable community assets and for provision of basic facilities including community infrastructure, based on locally felt needs.

The MPLADS is a Plan Scheme fully funded by Government of India.

The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 5 crore.

Special focus:

MPs are to recommend every year, works costing at least 15 per cent of the MPLADS entitlement for the year for areas inhabited by Scheduled Caste population and 7.5 per cent for areas inhabited by S.T. population.

Release of Funds:

Funds are released in the form of grants in-aid directly to the district authorities.

The funds released under the scheme are non-lapsable.

The liability of funds not released in a particular year is carried forward to the subsequent years, subject to eligibility.

The MPs have a recommendatory role under the scheme.

The district authority is empowered to examine the eligibility of works, sanction funds and select the implementing agencies, prioritise works, supervise overall execution, and monitor the scheme at the ground level.

At least 10% of the projects under implementation in the district are to be inspected every year by the district authority.

Recommendation of works:

The Lok Sabha Members can recommend works in their respective constituencies.

The elected members of the Rajya Sabha can recommend works anywhere in the state from which they are elected.

Nominated members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha may select works for implementation anywhere in the country.