Since the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir state into the UTs of J&K and Ladakh, delimitation of their electoral constituencies has been inevitable.
Meaning: Delimitation is the act of redrawing boundaries of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats to represent changes in population so that the population of all seats, so far as practicable, is the same.
The main objective of delimitation is: To provide equal representation to equal segments of a population; fair division of geographical areas so that one political party doesn’t have an advantage over others in an election.
Constitutional provisions: Under Article 82, the Parliament enacts a Delimitation Act after every Census.
Delimitation is carried out by an independent Delimitation Commission.
Once the Delimitation Act is in force, the Union government sets up a Delimitation Commission made up of a retired Supreme Court judge, the Chief Election Commissioner and the respective State Election Commissioners.
The Constitution mandates that its orders are final and cannot be questioned before any court as it would hold up an election indefinitely.
Delimitation Commissions have been set up four times — 1952, 1963, 1973 and 2002 under the Acts of 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2002. There was no delimitation after the 1981 and 1991 Censuses.
Suspension of delimitation:
The southern states that promoted family planning faced the possibility of having their seats reduced. To allay these fears, the Constitution was amended during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency rule in 1976 to suspend delimitation until 2001.
Although the freeze on the number of seats in Lok Sabha and Assemblies should have been lifted after the 2001 Census, another amendment postponed this until 2026.
Legislative Councils (Vidhan Parishads)
The Madhya Pradesh government has indicated that it plans to initiate steps towards creation of a Legislative Council. The ruling Congress is working on a resolution that will be presented in the next Assembly session.
Constitution of India (Article 168 & 169) provides for bi-cameral legislatures in certain States.
Status: Legislative Council is the Upper House of State Legislature. Like the Rajya Sabha it is a permanent House i.e. not subject to dissolution.
Process of establishing it: Under Article 169, Union Parliament has the power to create or abolish the Legislative Council on the basis of resolutions adopted by special majority in the Assembly of the concerned State.
Strength: The maximum strength of the Legislative Council of State is fixed at one-third of strength of the Legislative Assembly of that State and not less than 40.
Present status: Currently, six states have Legislative Councils. Jammu and Kashmir too had one, until the state was bifurcated into the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
Election of Council Members:
Elections to the State Legislative Councils are held under the system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote (Article 171).
One-third of the MLCs are elected by the state’s MLAs, another one-third by a special electorate comprising sitting members of local governments such as municipalities and district boards, 1/12th by an electorate of teachers and another 1/12th by registered graduates. The remaining members are appointed by the Governor for distinguished services in various fields.
Criteria for becoming a member:
Minimum age limit to be a member of Legislative Council is 30 years.
Council members are elected from those possessing special knowledge and experience in the field of Art, Science, Literature, Social Science and cooperative movement.
Tenure: Members are elected for a period of 6 years and one third members retire every second year.
Comparison with Rajya Sabha:
The legislative power of the Councils is limited.
Unlike Rajya Sabha which has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, Legislative Councils lack a constitutional mandate to do so; Assemblies can override suggestions/amendments made to a legislation by the Council.
Again, unlike Rajya Sabha MPs, MLCs cannot vote in elections for the President and Vice President.
The Vice President is the Rajya Sabha Chairperson; an MLC is the Council Chairperson.
In Iceland, the loss of Okjokull glacier was commemorated by people with a plaque.
The Okjokull glacier was officially declared dead in 2014 at the age of 700 by the Icelandic Meteorological Office when it was no longer thick enough to move.
What once was glacier has been reduced to a small patch of ice atop a volcano.
Okjokull is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as glacier.
The plaque is also labelled “415 ppm CO2”, referring to the record level of carbon dioxide measured in the atmosphere last May.
Iceland loses about 11 billion tonnes of ice per year, and scientists fear that all of the island country’s 400-plus glaciers will be gone by 2200.
Parker Solar Probe
On August 12, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe completed a year in service.
Parker Solar Probe is part of NASA’s “Living With a Star” programme that explores different aspects of the Sun-Earth system.
The probe seeks to gather information about the Sun’s atmosphere.
One of Parker’s main objectives is to investigate what mechanism might be driving extreme heating in the sun’s outermost layer, known as the corona.
Scientists are curious as why the corona is over a million degrees Fahrenheit (over 555,000 degrees Celsius), while the solar layers below are only a few thousand degrees Fahrenheit each.
It is the closest a human-made object has ever gone to the Sun.
The mission is likely to last for seven years during which it will complete 24 orbits.
Carbon Dots/Photo-Dynamic Therapy
Researchers in the UK have developed a new technique that could make light-based cancer treatment more effective and safer for patients while reducing its cost.
Light-based or photo-dynamic therapy is already a clinically-approved treatment, which uses drugs that only work when exposed to light to destroy cancer cells.
However, many of these drugs are frequently toxic even without light, causing many side effects in patients and leading to treatment failure.
Now, researchers in the UK have sought to improve these drugs by using small carbon dots as a way to get the drug to the tumour.
Carbon dots are fluorescent nanoparticles with very little toxicity, making them extremely useful for this application.
President Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the underground ‘Bunker Museum’ at the Raj Bhavan in Mumbai.
Maharashtra Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao had discovered the bunker last year, along with two identical cannons, atop the foothills of Raj Bhavan, which is situated at the tip of south Mumbai.
The bunker resembles a fort and is made up of 13 rooms, which can be accessed by passing through a 20-foot-tall gate.
The bunker was created in the 19th century to fire cannons at approaching enemy ships.
The 15,000 square feet underground restored bunker museum has virtual reality booths in which visitors can “time travel” to the 19th century. Another section depicts the history of Raj Bhavan.
The museum will be opened for the general public with an online booking facility later this year.
2 new species of freshwater fish found
Scientists of the Zoological Survey of India have discovered two new species of freshwater fish from the north-eastern and northern parts of the country.
Glyptothorax gopii is a new species of catfish. It was found in Mizoram’s Kaladan river. It is dark brown on its dorsal surface, and its ventral surface is of a yellowish-light brown.
Garra simbalbaraensiswas found in Himachal Pradesh’s Simbalbara river. It has a yellowish-grey colour fading ventrally.
Both fish, measuring less than seven centimetres, are hill stream fauna and are equipped with special morphological features to suit rapid water flow.
Odisha to Set Up Maritime Board
A proposal for establishment of the Odisha Maritime Board for administration, control and management of non-major ports and non-nationalised inland waterways was recently approved by the State Cabinet.
The Board will function as a single window facilitator for the overall maritime development of the State.
The Board will provide policy, guidelines and directions for the integrated development of ports and inland water transport keeping in view of the country’s security and defence related concerns.
Need: Odisha is endowed with a vast coastline of 480 km, having rich, unique and natural port locations and perennial rivers.
Legal Services Authorities
They are statutory bodies constituted in the states of India by the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987, as enshrined by article 39-A of the Constitution of India, for providing free legal services for the citizens.
The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.
In every State, State Legal Services Authority has been constituted to give effect to the policies and directions of the NALSA and to give free legal services to the people and conduct Lok Adalats in the State. The State Legal Services Authority is headed by Hon’ble the Chief Justice of the respective High Court who is the Patron-in-Chief of the State Legal Services Authority.
In every District, District Legal Services Authority has been constituted to implement Legal Services Programmes in the District. The District Legal Services Authority is situated in the District Courts Complex in every District and chaired by the District Judge of the respective district.
Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides that State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disability.
Articles 14 and 22(1) also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before law and a legal system which promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all.
Lok Adalat is a forum where the disputes/cases pending in the court of law or at pre-litigation stage are settled/compromised amicably. The Lok Adalat has been given statutory status under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
Under the said Act, the award made by the Lok Adalats is deemed to be the decree of a civil court and is final and binding on all parties and no appeal lies before any court against its award.
Kurki ban on farm land
Punjab government notified a ban on kurkis by banks in the event of their defaulting on loan payments in 2017. But kurkis are still happening despite the ban by government. ‘Kurki’ is attachment of farmers’ land by banks or arhtiyas/sahukars/traders (commission agents and private money lenders) in the event of non-payment of loan or debt.
Kurkis are executed under Section 60 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908. The land, which is pledged by the farmer to the banks, sahukars (private money lenders, gets registered in their name through court order in the event of non-repayment of the loan amount. The lenders, in turn, either take possession of the land or get it auctioned to recover their money.
The main drawback of that notification was that it covered only cooperative banks and does not the commercial banks, private money lenders/arhatiyas and shadow banks. They are, therefore, obtaining decrees from courts to attach the lands of defaulting farmers”.
The system of making farmers sign pro-notes as a factor responsible for the kurkis. There are numerous cases where farmers have repaid twice or thrice the amount taken on loan. So strict implementation is needed to end kurki cases in the state.