22nd May 2023 – Current Affairs
May 25, 2023
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23rd May 2023 – Current Affairs

Kutch Harappan graveyard : life & times of buried  

  • A shell bangle, pottery fragments, stone knives, and even human skeletal remains were discovered recently, in a 16-hectare stretch on the borders of Khatiya village in Gujarat’s Kutch district.

Key highlights:

  • The16-hectare burial site in Khatiya village in Gujarat is the largest pre-urban Harappan cemetery, with unexpected finds such as shell bangles, pottery shards, stones blades, and human skeletal remains.

Discovery of Harappan Graves:

  • A multi-disciplinary international team of archeologists has discovered500 graves and excavated 197 of them, but deep below.
  • Led by Rajesh S V, Assistant Professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Kerala, the researchers are looking for clues to see if the cemetery, believed to be 5,000 years oldwas a big human settlement or a common facility for a cluster of smaller settlements.
  • The cemetery is believed to be 5,000 years old and belongs to the ‘pre-urban’ phase of the Harappan civilisation.

Harappan Civilisation –

  • TheHarappan civilisation, one of the oldest in the world, flourished along the banks of the river Indus from 5,000 BC to 1,000 BC.
  • The 2,500-year-long period from 5,000 BC to 2,600 BC is known as the ‘pre-urban’ Harappan phase, while between 2,600 BC and 1,900 BC is the ‘urban’ Harappan phase.
  • The fragment of a shell bangle collected from the Khatiya cemetery was found to be dating back to 2,850 BC.
  • The pottery found as burial goods at the Khatiya site was comparable to the pre-urban Harappan pottery of Sindh, Balochistan and North Gujarat.

About: Khatiya village of Gujrat

  • The soil in Khatiya is acidic, making it difficult to extract DNA from samples excavated.
  • This could help answer the mystery of the people buried in these graves and where they came from.
  • Khatiya is located on the banks of the Gandi, a stream that drains into the Great Rann of Kutch (GRK).
  • Dhoro Chhelo:A pond was dug on the south-western periphery of the ancient burial site in 2016 as part of the government’s initiative to harvest the water of Dhoro Chhelo.

Recent theory about Dholavira:

  • Dholavira is aUNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the biggest metropolises of the Harappan civilisation, but it is 150 kilometres away from Khatiyamaking it unlikely that people in the urban settlements of Dholavira were buried there.
  • Harappan sites in western Kutch: Desalpar and Khirsara, Kotda Bhadli and Nadapaare the other well-known Harappan sites in western Kutch.
    • But each of them is a site of urban and post-urban periods of the Harappan civilisation and more than50 km away from Khatiya.
    • Being a pre-urban Harappan cemetery, there is a possibility that either there was a big settlement in Khatiya or there were smaller settlements around Khatiya and the cemetery was acommon burial ground for them.


The tussle over “Services” in Delhi

Context :
  • The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023 was passed by the President on May 19th to make a fresh claim of power over the services in the capital.

 Key Highlights:

  • It forms a “permanent” National Capital Civil Service Authority(NCCSA) with the Chief Minister as chairperson, the Chief Secretary and Principal Home Secretary as Member and Member Secretary respectively.
  • TheNCCSA exercises authority over civil service officers working in all Delhi government departments except those in public order, police and land.
  • The Lieutenant Governor’s decision, in case of a difference of opinion, would be final.
  • The Ordinance is based on the argument that theSupreme Court has acknowledged the superior authority of Parliament to make laws for the national capital.

What was the May 11 judgment by the Supreme Court?

  • The court limited the role of the Lieutenant Governor (LG) over bureaucrats in the capital to three specific areas – public order, police and land.
  • Government of India:The Centre turned the tables on the judgment and promulgated the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023 to make a fresh claim of power over the services in the capital.
  • Objective:The aim of the Ordinance is to balance the local and domestic interests of the people of Delhi with the democratic will of the entire nation reflected through the President of India.

What does the Ordinance say?

  • Power over the services:It required the LG to consult the Chief Minister only at his “discretion”.
    • The notification had excluded Entry 41 (services) of the State List from the scope of powers of the Delhi government.
  • National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA):The Ordinance forms a “permanent” National Capital Civil Service Authority (NCCSA) with the Chief Minister as chairperson, and the Chief Secretary and Principal Home Secretary as Member and Member Secretary, respectively.
  • The NCCSA exercises authority over civil service officers working in all Delhi government departments except those in public order, police and land.
  • It would decide transfers, postings, prosecution sanctions, disciplinary proceedings, vigilance issues, etc, of civil service officers deputed to Delhi government departments by majority of votes of the members present and voting.
  • The Lieutenant Governor’s decision, in case of a difference of opinion, would be final.
  • This throws open a scenario in which bureaucrats in the NCCSA could possibly veto the Chief Minister.
  • The Ordinance explains that the Chief Secretary would represent “the will of the officers of GNCTD” (Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi).

The Top Court Say:

  • The Supreme Court had envisaged a “neutral civil service” carrying out the day-to-day decisions of the Council of Ministers.
  • The NCCSA attempts to bring civil service officers out of the administrative control of the elected Ministers, who embody the will of the people, and transform them into a power lobby.
  • The NCCSA negates the intrinsic link between government accountability and the principle of collective responsibility highlighted in the judgment.
  • The Ordinance, by creating the NCCSA, skirts the emphasis laid down in the judgment on the “triple chain of command” in the governance of Delhi.
  • The court had held that the civil services were accountable to the Ministers of the elected government, under whom they function.
  • The Ministers were in turn accountable to the legislature and the legislature ultimately to the people of Delhi.
  • The chain of command was forged by the Supreme Court toensure democratic accountability.
  • The Ordinance also does not heed the President’s own Transaction of Business Rules of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, 1993.
  • Balakrishnan Committee:The court had also dismissed the K. Balakrishnan Committee’s specific recommendation that the “services” should not be included within the legislative and executive ambit of the NCTD.
    • The court held that the committee report was not relevant as it preceded the insertion ofArticle 239AA – the provision that deals with the governance structure of Delhi, in the 69th Constitution Amendment, 1991.

Does the Ordinance go against the Supreme Court judgment?

  • Under the constitutional scheme envisaged in Article 239AA(3), NCTD was given legislative power which though limited, in many aspects is similar to States.
  • In that sense, with the addition of Article 239AA, the Constitution created an “asymmetric federal model” with the Union of India at the centre, and the NCTD at the regional level.
  • The court had held that the executive power of the Delhi government was “coextensive” with its legislative power.
  • That is, the executive arm of the government covers all the subjects, including services, except public order,police and land, for which the legislative arm can make laws.

What does the Ordinance and the judgment say about the LG’s powers?

  • The Ordinance has put the LG back in the driver’s seat by giving him the power to take a final call on any decision taken by the NCCSA regarding services.
  • TheLG was bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers under Article 239AA(4) while exercising executive powers in relation to matters falling within the legislative domain of the legislative assembly of NCTD.
  • The court had held that even the “limited discretionary power” afforded to the LG “ought to be exercised in a careful manner in rare circumstances such as on matters of national interest and finance.
  • The Lieutenant Governor could not refer every matter to the President”.

Way ahead:

  • AnOrdinance is not beyond judicial review of the apex court. If the 2023 Ordinance is challenged separately, the Union would have to prove the “extraordinary or emergent situation” which necessitated it to promulgate an Ordinance merely days after a Constitution Bench settled the law.
  • A Constitution Bench inDC Wadhwa versus State of Bihar had held that the power of the Executive to promulgate an Ordinance should not be “perverted to serve political ends”.


FIPIC summit in Papua New Guinea

  • Recently, Prime minister of India meets with Pacific Island nation leaders on sidelines of FIPIC Summit in Papua New Guinea.

Key highlights:

  • The third forum forIndia-Pacific islands co-operation (FIPIC Summit), which was held recently at Port Moresby was jointly hosted with Papua New Guinea.
  • India’s engagement with the14 Pacific Island Countries (PICs) is part of New Delhi’s Act East Policy.
  • Prime minister of India co- chaired the summit with PM of Papua New Guinea.
  • The discussions encompassed various areas of cooperation, including commerce, technology, healthcare, and climate change.

About FIPIC:

  • Forum for India-Pacific Island cooperation (FIPIC) is a multinational grouping for cooperation between India and 14 Pacific Islands nations.
  • It include 14 islands named-Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
  • All Head of state/head of government of the above countries met in Suva, Fiji in November 2014 for the first time where the annual summit was conceptualised.
  • The FIPIC initiative marks a serious effort to expand India’s engagement in the Pacific region.
  • A major part of India’s engagement with these countries is through development assistance underSouth-South Cooperation, mainly in capacity building (training, scholarships, grant-in-aid and loan assistance) and community development projects.
  • In 2015, FIPIC Trade Office at Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) to promote Trade & Investment opportunities between India & Pacific Island Countries.