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9th May Current Affairs

China – Taiwan relations

(GS-II: Effects of policies of developed nations)

In News:

Taiwan hopes that the world would sanction China like it is sanctioning Russia for its war on Ukraine if Beijing invaded the island.

Details:

Taiwan has joined in Western-led sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

Why war on Ukraine has brought the spotlight on to Taiwan?

Ukraine’s plight has won broad public sympathy in Taiwan due to what many people view as the parallels between what is happening in Ukraine and what could happen if China ever uses force to bring Taiwan it claims as its own under Chinese control.

Taiwan has raised its alert level since the Ukraine war began, wary of China making a similar move, though the government in Taipei has reported no signs of an imminent Chinese attack.

Recent clashes:

China’s armed forces carried out another round of exercises near Taiwan last week to improve joint combat operations.

Taiwan has complained for the past two years about frequent Chinese military activity near it, mostly concentrated in the southern and southwestern part of the island’s air defence identification zone, or ADIZ.

China- Taiwan relations- Background:

China has claimed Taiwan through its “one China” policy since the Chinese civil war forced the defeated Kuomintang, or Nationalist, to flee to the island in 1949 and has vowed to bring it under Beijing’s rule, by force if necessary.

While Taiwan is self-governed and de facto independent, it has never formally declared independence from the mainland.

Under the “one country, two systems” formula, Taiwan would have the right to run its own affairs; a similar arrangement is used in Hong Kong.

Presently, Taiwan is claimed by China, which refuses diplomatic relations with countries that recognise the region.

India’s position on Taiwan:

India’s policy on Taiwan is clear and consistent and it is focused on promoting interactions in areas of trade, investment and tourism among others.

Government facilitates and promotes interactions in areas of trade, investment, tourism, culture, education and other such people-to-people exchanges.

However, India doesn’t have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but both sides have trade and people-to-people ties.

Indo- Taiwan relations:

Although they do not have formal diplomatic ties, Taiwan and India have been cooperating in various fields.

India has refused to endorse the “one-China” policy since 2010.

Coal gasification

(GS-III: Infrastructure – Energy)

In News:

To help India become energy independent, the Ministry of Coal has proposed 50% concession in revenue share to promote coal gasification.

Eligibility:

If the successful bidder consumes the coal produced either in its own plant(s) or plant of its holding, subsidiary, affiliate, associate for coal gasification or liquefaction or sells the coal for coal gasification or liquefaction on an yearly basis, subject to conditions that at least 10% of scheduled coal production as per approved mining plan for that year shall be consumed or sold for gasification or liquefaction, then the bidder can avail of concessions.

What is Coal Gasification?

It is considered a cleaner option compared to burning coal.

It is the process of producing syngas, a mixture consisting of carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2), natural gas (CH4), and water vapour (H2O).

How is it done?

It facilitates utilization of the chemical properties of coal.

During gasification, coal is blown with oxygen and steam while also being heated under high pressure.

During the reaction, oxygen and water molecules oxidize the coal and produce syngas.

Benefits:

Transporting gas is a lot cheaper than transporting coal.

Help address local pollution problems.

Has greater efficiency than conventional coal-burning.

Concerns and challenges:

Coal gasification is one of the more water-intensive forms of energy production.

There are also concerns about water contamination, land subsidence and disposing of waste water safely.

India’s Coal dependency:

India is the second largest importer, consumer and producer of coal, and has the world’s fourth largest reserves (Reference). It mainly imports from Indonesia, Australia and South Africa.

Recent Reforms In Coal Sector:

Commercial mining of coal allowed, with 50 blocks to be offered to the private sector.

Entry norms liberalised as it has done away with the regulation requiring power plants to use “washed” coal.

Coal blocks to be offered to private companies on a revenue sharing basis in place of fixed cost.

Coal bed methane (CBM) extraction rights to be auctioned from Coal India’s coal mines.

Value of the vote of MPs in presidential elections

(GS-II: Appointment to various Constitutional posts, powers, functions and responsibilities of various Constitutional Bodies)

In News:

Due to the absence of a legislative assembly in Jammu and Kashmir, the value of the vote of a Member of Parliament is likely to go down to 700 from 708 in the presidential polls scheduled in July.

Background:

Before it was bifurcated into two union territories of Ladakh, and Jammu & Kashmir in August 2019, the erstwhile state of J&K had 83 assembly seats.

According to the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Act, the Union Territory of J&K will have a legislative assembly, while Ladakh will be governed directly by the Centre.

What is the value of the vote of an MP?

The value of the vote of an MP in a presidential election is based on the number of elected members in legislative assemblies of states and union territories, including Delhi, Puducherry and Jammu and Kashmir.

Value of vote – the trend:

The value of vote of a Member of Parliament for the first Presidential election in 1952 was 494.

It increased marginally to 496 in the 1957 presidential election, followed by 493 (1962), 576 (1967 and 1969).

In the 1974 presidential election, the value of vote of an MP was 723. It has been fixed at 702 for the presidential elections from 1977 to 1992.

How is the President elected?

The Indian President is elected through an electoral college system, wherein the votes are cast by national and State-level lawmakers.

The elections are conducted and overseen by the Election Commission (EC) of India.

Electoral College:

The electoral college is made up of all the elected members of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament (Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MPs), and the elected Members of the Legislative Assemblies of States and Union Territories (MLAs).

What electoral system/process is followed for the election to the office of the President?

The election of the President shall be held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot.

Procedure:

Before the voting, comes the nomination stage, where the candidate intending to stand in the election, files the nomination along with a signed list of 50 proposers and 50 seconders.

These proposers and seconders can be anyone from the total members of the electoral college from the State and national level.

An elector cannot propose or second the nomination of more than one candidate.

What is the value of each vote and how is it calculated?

To calculate the number of voters each legislator represents, the total population of the state is divided by the number of assembly members and then divided by 1,000.

The combined value of all the MPs’ votes is roughly equal to the combined value of all the MLAs’.

Deciding the winner:

The winner of the Presidential election is not the person who gets the most number of votes, but the person who gets more votes than a certain quota.

The quota is decided by adding up the votes polled for each candidate, dividing the sum by 2 and adding ‘1’ to the quotient.

The candidate who polls more votes than the quote is the winner. In case, no one gets more votes than the quota, then the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated.

Then, the eliminated candidates’ ballot papers are distributed between the remaining hopefuls based on those ballot papers’ second preference choice.

The process of counting the total votes for each candidate is then repeated to see if any one polls above the quota.

Lunar eclipse ‘Blood moon’

(GS-III: Awareness in space)

In News:

On 16 May 2022, a total lunar eclipse or Chandra Grahan will occur over South America, most of North America and parts of Europe and Africa.

This will be the second eclipse of the year, after the April 30/May 1 partial solar eclipse that was visible in parts of the southern hemisphere.

During this, the first Blood Moon of 2022 will also become more clearly visible.

What is the Total lunar eclipse?

During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon usually turns a deep, dark red because it is illuminated by light that has passed through the Earth’s atmosphere and has been bent back towards the Moon by refraction.

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon and the Sun are on exact opposite sides of Earth.

Why is it red (Blood Moon)?

The red colour is because of the way light travels through the Earth’s atmosphere. Sunlight is made of several colours and they all have different wavelengths.

Depending on the way they travel through our atmosphere, we see different colours. That’s why the sun and sky have different colours during sunrise and sunset.

Blues and purples have shorter wavelengths and scatter in our atmosphere, giving the sky its inky colour, but reds and oranges have the highest wavelengths and pass through our atmosphere before it is bent or refracted around Earth, hitting the surface of the Moon and making it red.

What is a supermoon?

A supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest to the Earth at the same time that the Moon is full. In a typical year, there may be two to four full supermoons and two to four new supermoons in a row.