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January 28, 2021
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27th January Current Affairs

Why Supreme Court’s ruling on farm laws sets a terrible constitutional precedent?

In News:

The apex court has suspended the implementation of the farm laws, and created a committee to ascertain the various grievances.

What’s the issue now?

The judges’ intervention on the laws has been questioned by the Attorney General on three grounds. He also said that a law can be stayed or struck down only on one of these three grounds. These include:

  • One is that it has been passed without legislative competence.
  • Two that it is violative of fundamental rights.
  • Third that it is violative of other provisions of the Constitution.

So, instead of doing a hearing on the substance-: the possible federalism challenge, it has simply decided to create a committee to hear farmers’ grievances and wade into political territory.

Why this might be a dangerous precedent?

It has set a new precedent for putting on hold laws passed by Parliament without substantive hearings on the content of the laws.

It has muddied all the possible lines of judicial procedure, where it is not clear what the locus standi of different counsel are, what are the specific prayers that need to be addressed and how the court’s remedies address them.

It has not really heard the farmers, whose counsel were not fully heard before the passing of orders.

This is a monumental irony since a court whose own procedures seem to be opaque sets itself up as the arbiter of responsive government.

Conclusion:

The court is, perhaps unintentionally but damagingly, seeking to break the momentum of a social movement.

What are the new Jharkhand Combined Civil Services Examination Rules, 2021?

In News:

Jharkhand has for the first time framed rules pertaining to Jharkhand Civil Services.

Details:

This will supersede the Bihar Civil Services (Executive Branch) and the Bihar Junior Civil Services Recruitment Rules of 1951.

Why was the Jharkhand Combined Civil Services Examination Rules, 2021 needed?

At least 204 petitions related to confusion, corruption in the selection process and irregularities among others were filed in the High Court against the Jharkhand Public Service Commission (JPSC) with more than 30 per cent cases pending in the courts.

In the last examination, the result of the Prelims examinations was declared thrice due to various reasons.

What do the new rules state?

The cadre-controlling department shall calculate the number of vacancies each year on January 1 with respect to the service to be filled in that particular year by direct recruitment and shall provide requisition for appointment to the Commission after roster clearance through the Department of Personnel, Administrative Reforms and Rajbhasha.

Marks obtained in Main (Written Test) Language Paper which is only qualifying in nature will not be added to the aggregate marks for calculation of percentage of marks, or for preparation of merit list for Main (Interview Test), or for preparation of final merit list.

Rules that experts say may create controversy:

Technically there is no reservation in Prelims.

There is no provision in the news rules for the graduation final year/appearing applicants. The UPSC, however, has a provision.

The request for withdrawal of candidature received from a candidate after he has submitted his application will be not entertained by the Commission.

The number of attempts of candidates may also get affected.

National Innovation Foundation (NIF) – India

In News:

Science & Technology minister dedicates an Innovation Portal developed by National Innovation Foundation (NIF) – India to the nation.

Highlights:

Innovation Portal is developed by National Innovation Foundation (NIF) – India, an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The National Innovation Portal (NIP) is currently home to about 1.15 lakh innovations scouted from common people of the country, covering Engineering, Agriculture, Veterinary and Human Health.

In terms of domain areas, presently the innovations cover Energy, mechanical, automobile, electrical, electronics, household, nutraceuticals etc.

About National Innovation Foundation (NIF) – India:

It is an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India.

Set up in February 2000 at Ahmedabad, Gujarat to provide institutional support for scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling up the grassroots innovations across the country.

It is India’s national initiative to strengthen the grassroots technological innovations and outstanding traditional knowledge.

Its mission is to help India become a creative and knowledge-based society by expanding policy and institutional space for grassroots technological innovators.

Why forest fires are common in Himachal Pradesh?

In News:

Himachal Pradesh frequently witnesses forest fires during dry weather conditions.

Recently, a forest fire which started near Kullu raged for several days before being brought under control. Forest fires were also reported in Shimla and other parts of the state.

What is the forest cover of Himachal Pradesh?

Although two-thirds of the total geographical area of Himachal Pradesh is legally classified as forest area, much of this area is permanently under snow, glaciers, cold desert or alpine meadows and is above the tree line.

As per the Forest Survey of India, the effective forest cover is around 28 percent of the total area which amounts to 15,434 square kilometres.

Chir Pine, Deodar, Oak, Kail, Fir and Spruce are some of the common trees found here.

How fire prone are these forests?

Except for periods of precipitation in monsoon and winter, the forests remain vulnerable to wildfires.

In the summer season, forest fires occur frequently in the low and middle hills of the state, where forests of Chir Pine are common.

During the post-monsoon season and in winters, forest fires are also reported in higher areas, including parts of Shimla, Kullu, Chamba, Kangra and Mandi districts, where they usually occur in grasslands.

Causes of the fire:

Natural causes such as lightning or rubbing of dry bamboos with each other can sometimes result in fires, but forest officials maintain that almost all forest fires can be attributed to human factors.

  • Setting up of temporary hearth to cook food by the herdsman and minor forest produce gatherer may leave behind a smouldering fire, it can develop into a forest fire.
  • Also, when people burn their fields to clear them of stubble, dry grass or undergrowth, the fire sometimes spreads to the adjoining forest.
  • A spark can also be produced when dry pine needles or leaves fall on an electric pole.

What is done to prevent and control forest fires?

To prevent and control forest fires the following can be done:

  • Forecasting fire-prone days using meteorological data,
  • Clearing camping sites of dried biomass,
  • Early burning of dry litter on the forest floor,
  • Growing strips of fire-hardy plant species within the forest, and
  • Creating fire lines in the forests are some of the methods to prevent fires (fire lines are strips in the forest kept clear of vegetation to prevent the fire from spreading).

 Way forward:

In 1999, the state government notified forest fire rules which restrict or regulate certain activities in and around forest areas such as lighting a fire, burning agricultural stubble or undergrowth (ghasnis) and stacking inflammable forest produce such as dried leaves and firewood.

For such activities, the state forest department has a fire protection and fire control unit.