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29th August 2022

Prime Minister inaugurates Narmada canal

Context

Recently, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi has led the foundation stone and inaugurated the Narmada canal that will bring water to Kutch from the Narmada Sarovar dam in south Gujarat.

There he also inaugurated a memorial in the memory of the thousands of victims of the 2001 earthquake that devastated Kutch. 

Background
  • After the earthquake, the Gujarat government had focused on the Kutch district, which was then known as “very backward” but the government’s efforts led to massive industrial development across the district. 
  • After several instances of disasters in Gujarat, it became the first State in the country to enact a Disaster Management Act which was replicated nationally.
  • In way of development in the Kutch region and water scare region, the growth and irrigation models are now built. Narmada canal is one among this initiative of the State government.

Need of the initiative

  • To focus on Agriculture: In recent years, Kutch has focused on agriculture and has emerged as the State’s largest region for horticulture, and with the Narmada’s water reaching in the district, farmers could benefit by growing fruits and vegetables.
  • Expanding dairying industry: Kutch holds India’s one of the first commercial milk production brands. Hence, water supplies will increase feedstock production and animal rearing plants.

About Narmada River:

  • The Narmada, the largest Westward flowing river, rises near the Amarkantak range of mountains in Madhya Pradesh.
  • It is the fifth largest river in the country and the largest one in Gujarat.
  • It traverses Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat and meets the Gulf of Cambay.  
  • The total length of the river from source to sea is 1312 kilometres (815 miles).

Narmada canal and branches

  • This project will cover Saurashtra, Kachchh as well as parts of North Gujarat (Ahmedabad, Mehsana, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, and Panchmahal).

Sardar Sarovar Project:

  • The Sardar Sarovar Project is one of the largest water resources projects of India covering four major states – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujrat and Rajasthan.
  • The dam’s spillway discharging capacity (30.7 lakhs cusecs) would be the third highest in the world.
  • The Narmada Main Canal would be the largest irrigation canal in the world.

Why Kutch is strategic for Gujarat?

  • Kutch had the largest cement plants in the world.
  • It stood second in the world in welding pipe manufacturing
  • Also holding world’s second largest textile plant and it also houses Asia’s first Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Mundra.
  • Kandla and Mundra ports handle 30% of India’s cargo, and the district produces 30% of the country’s salt.
  • Kutch produces 2,500 MW of power from solar and wind energy.

Issues in the Project

  • Unequal distribution of water into villages
  • Unreliability to supply
  • Seasonal variations

S. Subhramaniam Balaji vs Tamil Nadu Judgement (the issue of freebies),

Context

Recently, the Supreme Court has referred the issue of political parties making “wild” promises of largesse to a three-judge Bench seeking a judicial direction. The reference is a shift from the court’s own stand in the S. Subramaniam Balaji vs Tamil Nadu judgment of 2013.

About

Balaji case judgment and the present issue:

  • In the Balaji case judgment, Supreme Court had held that making promises in election manifestos does not amount to a ‘corrupt practice’ under Section 123 of the Representation of People Act (RP). The poll promises and freebies are a serious issue that disturbs the level-playing field in elections.
  • The Supreme Court is worried about the freebies promised by political parties to win elections could bleed the public exchequer dry.
  • The Court said that parties who form the government riding the wave created by their pre-poll promises of “free gifts” are bleeding the State finances dry.
  • The Supreme Court has therefore decided to revisit the Balaji verdict.


Important welfare measures

There are certain services such as health, education, water, sewerage, electricity and transport that people cannot organise for themselves. That’s why they elect governments. These are all welfare measures.

Meaning of freebie

Dictionary meaning of freebie is “something that is given to you without you having to pay for it, especially as a way of attracting your support for or interest in something”, there is no clarity on how it should be interpreted in policies.

What do Political Parties have to say in their defense?

  • According to the Political parties, they are not the State and ‘freebies’ is a vague term that has no legal status.
  • The promises implemented by the party after forming the government are an obligation under the Directives Principles of State Policy (DPSP). The State is only doing its duty to promote the welfare of its people.

DPSP in Part IV of the Constitution says the state government should promote the welfare of people who are Below the Poverty Line (BPL) or cannot progress without support. 

  •  The promises are implemented by framing various schemes/guidelines/eligibility criteria etc. as well as with the approval of the legislature.

Issues associated with freebies

Positive side

  • Disrupts state finances and throws governments into a debt spiral
  • Against Equality Principle
  • Against Equality Principle
  • Ensuring basics
  • Helping the marginal section
  • Revival of economy
  • Mitigation of income gaps; reducing inequality

Kedambadi Ramayya Gowda’s statue to be installed in Mangaluru

Context

A bronze statue of Kedambadi Ramayya Gowda, who revolted against the British in a mass insurrection in 1837, will be brought to Dakshina Kannada, Mangaluru, Karnataka.

About

About Kedambadi Ramayya Gowda’s:


  • Kedambadi Ramayya Gowda is said to have revolted against the British in a mass insurrection in 1837.
  • He led the Amara Sullia uprising.   
  • Gowda, opposing payment of tax in cash to the British, had set out from Ubaradka Mithoor in Sullia taluk on March 30, 1837.
  • En route, he had motivated many rulers to join his rebellion against the British.
  • Gowda’s army succeeded in defeating the British army and had lowered the British flag before hoisting the Kodagu Haleri dynasty’s flag in Bavutagudda on April 5, 1837.
  • After the 13th day of hoisting the flag, the rebellion was crushed by the British army.

About the revolt:

  • The ‘Amara Sullia Dange’ or Kodagu- Canara Mutiny took place twenty years before the First War of Independence in 1857.
  • The revolt was against the high land revenue (tax) assessment and the absence of a lucrative market for farm produce.
  • The revolt broke out against the East India Company in the coastal belt during 1830-31.
    • It reached the stage of an armed struggle in 1837.
  • The revolt was against the high land revenue (tax) assessment and the absence of a lucrative market for farm produce.

Outcomes:

  • The revolutionaries lowered the British flag at Bavutagudda, now in the heart of Mangaluru, on April 5, 1837, and hoisted their own flag.
  • The British were defeated. Those who survived retreated to Mangalore (presently known as Mangaluru).
  • Some leaders captured by the British soldiers were later hanged, a few were put under life imprisonment, and some were deported.

India refers to ‘militarization’ of Taiwan Strait in spat with Chinese envoy

Context

In line with its post-Galwan Valley clash policy of calling a spade a spade, India has for the first time used the phrase “militarization of the Taiwan Strait”.

About

Militarization

Broadly defined, militarization is the cultural, symbolic, and material preparation for war. The process of becoming ready for conflict or war is militarization

  • India has registered its pronounced views over the situation in the Taiwan Strait related to China’s military drills.
  • The latest reference to Taiwan came over the visit of the Chinese military tracking vessel Yuan Wang 5 to Hambantota in Sri Lanka.
  • India referred to ‘militarization’ of Taiwan Strait in spat with Chinese envoy.

Taiwan Strait

  • The Taiwan Strait is a 180-kilometer (110 mi; 97 nmi)-wide strait separating the island of Taiwan and continental Asia.
  • The strait is part of the South China Sea and connects to the East China Sea to the north.


  • Recently, the Chinese Ambassador in Sri Lanka referred about the “aggression” faced by Sri Lanka from its “northern neighbor”. India has called it as a violation of basic diplomatic etiquette.
  • Previously the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) did not refer to the “militarization” of the Strait, only saying India was “concerned at recent developments” and “urged exercise of restraint, avoidance of unilateral actions to change status quo, de-escalation of tensions and efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region.”
  • The reaction of other countries: Earlier this month, Foreign Ministers of the G7-Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. has also expressed concerns about China’s military activity in the Strait, referring to “threatening actions” by China.


Why is the visit of a Chinese vessel to Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port controversial?

  • Vessels of the Yuan Wang class are said to be used for tracking and supporting satellites as well as intercontinental ballistic missiles by the People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force.
    • India has expressed its concern over the Chinese vessel visit.
  • China reacted strongly after Sri Lanka, following concerns voiced by India, requested China to defer the visit of the vessel.

Situation in Sri Lanka

  • Sri Lanka is currently navigating its way out of its worst-ever economic crisis, and is balancing the competing influences of India and China.
  • Chinese loans account for about 10% of the nation’s total foreign debt.
  • But since this year, India has also lent about $3.8bn to help Sri Lanka through its economic crisis.

India's stance on the status of Taiwan:

  • India has followed a “One China policy” since it recognized the PRC in 1949, and only maintains trade and cultural relations with Taiwan.
  • India has an office in Taipei for diplomatic functions — India-Taipei Association (ITA) is headed by a senior diplomat. Taiwan has the Taipei Economic and Cultural Center (TECC) in New Delhi.
  • The India-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Forum, established in 2016, is rarely active, and parliamentary visits are largely ad hoc.

Massive demolition exercise in Noida

Context

The demolition of the Supertech Twin towers (Noida) using controlled implosion has highlighted the need for interventions to mitigate pollution and waste, post-demolition.

About
  • The demolition was done by a method known as the ‘waterfall technique’ to minimize damage to the surroundings.
  • The waterfall technique means that the debris will fall like water. Implosion is the method used for such urban demolitions which need controlled detonations.
  • An explosion, on the contrary, would result in debris being flung far across directions.

Areas of concern:

  • Dust: This demolition has produced large amounts of dust. The dust and gases will get diluted in the air and will get dispersed.
  • Particulate Matter: Heavier dust particles will settle down soon but the light particulate matter (PM) will probably remain in the air for weeks.
  • Environmental concerns: Demolition causes lots of environmental degradation, like
    • impact on the ground (shock waves) in case of demolition by the blast
    • noise pollution
    • spread of fine particles in the air
  • Health hazards: Health concerns related to respiratory issues, skin ailments, as well as allergic disorders can come up with the people living in the vicinity.
    • There is an increase in lead, silica, and asbestos in the atmosphere and a tremendous amount of PM10 and PM2.5 particles.
    • Increased lead exposure may lead to headaches, tiredness, irritability and constipation, silicosis, etc.
    • Silt accumulation in drainage systems can lead to problems like water-borne and parasite diseases.
Air Quality: The Air Quality Index (AQI) bulletin issued by the Central Pollution Control Board mentioned Noida’s AQI to be at 120. This is considered to be ‘moderate’.

Russia blocks nuclear treaty agreement over Ukraine reference

Context

Russia has blocked the adoption of a joint declaration by a United Nations conference on nuclear disarmament.

About
  • The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is reviewed by its 191 signatories every five years.
  • It aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
  • The final document needed the approval of all countries at the conference that are parties to the treaty aimed at curbing the spread of nuclear weapons and ultimately achieving a world without them.
Under the NPT's provisions, the five original nuclear powers — the United States, China, Russia (then the Soviet Union), Britain, and France — agreed to negotiate toward eliminating their arsenals someday and nations without nuclear weapons promised not to acquire them in exchange for a guarantee to be able to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Second failure:

  • The NPT review conference is supposed to be held every five years but was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • This marked the second failure of its 191 state parties to produce an outcome document. The last review conference in 2015 ended without an agreement because of serious differences over establishing a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
  • Those differences haven't gone away but are being discussed. So, this was not viewed as a major stumbling block this year.
  • The issue that changed the dynamics of the conference was Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which brought Russian President Vladimir Putin's warning that Russia is a “potent” nuclear power and that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences”.
  • Although later, he rolled back by saying thata nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”.

Global fears of nuclear emergency

  • But Russia's occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine as well as the takeover of the Chernobyl nuclear plant renewed global fears of another nuclear emergency.
  • Last week, the Zaporizhzhia plant was temporarily disconnected from the power grid, raising fears of a possible radiation disaster.
  • The draft final document recognizes Ukraine's loss of control and the International Atomic Energy Agency's inability to ensure the plant's nuclear material is safeguarded. It has also expressed grave concern for military activities.

Concern over Zaporizhzhia and other nuclear Facilities in Ukraine:

  • Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the Nonaligned Movement comprising 120 developing countries, expressed disappointment at the failure.
  • European Union has reaffirmed its unwavering support for Ukraine and condemned Russia's dangerous nuclear rhetoric actions.
  • The NPT has been failing for a long time because it is essentially used by nuclear-armed states to reinforce the validity that they attach to nuclear weapons.

Editorial

SC must undo Justice

Context:

The Supreme Court (SC) issued a notice in a petition challenging the remission of the 11 convicts in the Bilkis Bano case.

Background:

  • In 2003, Bano approached the Supreme Court about the mass murder of her family members and her own gang rape during the widespread communal violence.
  • The SC transferred the trial of the accused in the Bilkis Bano case to Maharashtra.
  • All of them, now set free, was found guilty and convicted.
  • Recently the Gujrat government granted remission to the convicts after the completion of 14 years and five months of their sentence.

Crime against Humanity:

  • The crimes committed against Bilkis Bano would count as crimes against humanity, as they were committed during a period of communal violence against a minority community. The SC has now issued a notice and a PIL by concerned citizens is calling for a quashing of the order of remission.
  • Rome statute is which deals with crimes against humanity. There is a clear indication that such convicts can be granted a sentence of up to 30 years, depending on the context in which the crime occurs. Although India is not a party to the Rome statute, but it does not free any nation-state to prosecute and punish crimes against humanity.
  • Rape is regarded as “an impact crime”. Such a crime is committed not only against the person but also against the community she represents. It’s a message to the community as a whole and sends waves of everlasting fear through it. The message here was clear, this is revenge on you for being a member of the minority community.
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ThinkQ

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QUIZ - 29th August 2022

Mains Question:

Q1. “Nuisance caused by demolition and building sites can damage health and affect the quality of life especially of people living and working in the borough”. Comment (150 words)

Approach 

  • Introduction- briefly discuss the recent massive demolition exercise (Noida’s twin tower)
  • Discuss the impact on environment and human life
    • Air, noise pollution
    • Pollution due to loading and unloading of debris on the trucks
    • health-related issues due to dust
    • structural changes due to air overpressure (pressure caused by a shock wave over and above normal atmospheric pressure)
  • Conclude accordingly 

Verifying, please be patient.

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