18, April 2017

1.Naval ship dedicated to Chennai city

Source: Indian Express

Naval ship ‘INS Chennai’ was formally dedicated to the city

INS Chennai, a ‘P15A Guided Missile Destroyer’ of Indian Navy.

INS Chennai

  • INS Chennai, a Kolkata-class stealth Guided missile destroyer ship was commissioned into Indian Navy’s combat fleet by Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on 21 November 2016 in Mumbai.
  • It is the largest-ever destroyer to be built in India.
  • It is third and last Kolkata-class guided missile destroyers built under Project 15A.
  • The indigenously designed ship has state of the art weapons and sensors, stealth features, an advanced action information system, a comprehensive auxiliary control system, world class modular living spaces, sophisticated power distribution system and a host of other advanced features. The ship is capable of undertaking a full spectrum of maritime warfare.
  • The ship has the formidable prowess of missile technology and has been armed with supersonic surface to surface ‘BrahMos’ missiles and ‘Barak-8’ long-range surface to air missiles.
  • The warship is packed with sophisticated state-of-the-art weapons and sensors such as surface-to-surface missiles and surface-to-air missiles. It is fitted with a modern surveillance radar which provides target data to the gunnery weapons systems.
  • The ship’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities are provided by the indigenously developed rocket launchers and torpedo launchers. It is equipped to fight under nuclear, biological and chemical warfare conditions.
  • According to the statement some of the major indigenised equipment/system on board INS Chennai include combat management system, rocket launcher, torpedo tube launcher, automated power management system, foldable hanger doors and bow-mounted SONAR.

The Project 15A Kolkata class are a class of stealth guided missile destroyers built for Indian Navy. These destroyers are follow-on of the legendary Project 15 ‘Delhi’ class destroyers which entered service in the late 1990s. The class comprises of three ships. INS Kolkata, the first ship of the class got commissioned on August, 2014. The second ship, INS Kochi, got commissioned on September, 2015. The third ship, INS Chennai, got commissioned on November, 2016

2.SC refers anti-defection law issue to larger Bench

Source: The Hindu

Will the anti-defection law apply to expelled members of either Houses of Parliament or Legislative Assemblies?

  • Twenty-one years ago, the Supreme Court had concluded in G. Viswanathan versus Hon’ble Speaker, Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly that a legislator expelled from his party shall be deemed to have “voluntarily given up” his membership of that party who got him elected and nominated him to the House.
  • This legal fiction of deeming him to continue in the party post-election as an “unattached member” makes him therefore vulnerable to disqualification from the House on the ground of defection under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution.

Still susceptible

  • Under the Viswanathan judgment, the expelled legislator would still be susceptible to the “whims and fancies” of the leaders of the party which threw him out despite the fact that subsequently, after his expulsion, he had gone ahead and formed his own political party.
  • In August 2016, the Supreme Court refrained from adjudicating the constitutional question in expelled Samajwadi Party leaders Amar Singh and Jaya Pradha’s case.
  • The court had then found the issue ‘infructuous’ as both leaders had by that time completed their tenure in Parliament.

Question still alive

  • At the centre of the controversy is the Supreme Court’s interpretation of paragraph 2(1) of the Tenth Schedule in the Viswanathan judgment of 1996.
  • The court held that even if a member was thrown out or expelled from the party, for the purposes of the Tenth Schedule he would not cease to be a member of the political party that had set him up as a candidate for the election. He would continue to belong to that political party even if he was treated as “unattached.” The court had held that the act of voluntarily giving up the membership of the political party may be either “express or implied.”
  • “When a person who has been thrown out or expelled from the party which set him up as as a candidate and got elected, joins another [new] party, it will certainly amount to his voluntarily giving up the membership of the political party which had set him up as a candidate for election as such member,” the Viswanathan judgment had held.

Anti-defection law

  • The anti-defection law was passed by parliament in 1985.
  • The 52nd amendment to the Constitution added the Tenth Schedule which laid down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection.
  • A member of parliament or state legislature was deemed to have defected if he either voluntarily resigned from his party or disobeyed the directives of the party leadership on a vote. That is, they may not vote on any issue in contravention to the party’s whip. Independent members would be disqualified if they joined a political party. Nominated members who were not members of a party could choose to join a party within six months; after that period, they were treated as a party member or independent member.
  • The law also made a few exceptions. Any person elected as speaker or chairman could resign from his party, and rejoin the party if he demitted that post. A party could be merged into another if at least two-thirds of its party legislators voted for the merger. The law initially permitted splitting of parties, but that has now been outlawed.

Challenges and Interpretations

The anti-defection law raises a number of questions, several of which have been addressed by the courts and the presiding officers.

Does the law impinge on the right of free speech of the legislators?

  • This issue was addressed by the five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in 1992 (Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachilhu and others).
  • The court said that “the anti-defection law seeks to recognise the practical need to place the proprieties of political and personal conduct…above certain theoretical assumptions.” It held that the law does not violate any rights or freedoms, or the basic structure of parliamentary democracy.

What constitutes “voluntarily” resigning from a party?

  • Various judgements and orders indicate that a member who publicly opposes the party or states his support for another party would be deemed to have resigned from his party. News reports may be used as evidence for this purpose.

Can the decision of the presiding officer be challenged in the courts?

  • The law states that the decision is final and not subject to judicial review. The Supreme Court struck down part of this condition. It held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the presiding officer gives his order. However, the final decision is subject to appeal in the High Courts and Supreme Court.

3.Energy: going where the wind blows

Source: The Hindu

Wind power industry is in the news. Why?

For the first time, wind power installations (windmills) crossed the 5 Gigawatt mark, to reach 5,400 MW in 2016-17. The earlier record was 3,472 MW of 2015-16. The current year might see installations of 6 GW.

Why this optimism?

  • The Indian wind industry has been around since the late 1980s.
  • For many years, it existed only in T.N., the windiest State.
  • In the last decade, it spread to eight other States that have any wind potential — four other southern states, M.P., Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
  • But now, the Centre wants to buy electricity from wind power producers and sell it to electricity supply companies in other states, which are bound by law to buy a portion of their needs from wind and solar sources.

So, are wind power companies mighty excited?

Following the Centre’s example, all states want to determine prices through competitive bidding, and competition hammers down prices

  • Besides, the government has let expire last month the ‘generation-based incentive’, a scheme which paid wind power companies 50 paise for every kWhr they produced, subject to certain caps. Also, the tax-saving ‘accelerated depreciation’ benefit, which engendered the industry in the late ‘80s, is now halved. So, it is a mixed bag for the wind industry.

How important is the sector, anyway?

  • India, with 32,280 MW, has the fourth biggest capacity in the world, after China, the U.S. and Germany.
  • The national target is 60 GW by 2022. Wind accounts for 10% of India’s total power capacity of 3.2 lakh MW; and 4% in terms of electricity produced.

4.RBI to set up computer emergency response unit

Source: The Hindu

The Sub-Committee of the Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC), discussed the setting up of a Computer Emergency Response Team for the Financial Sector (CERT-Fin), the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said.

What are the issues?

  • Issues such as setting up of Computer Emergency Response Team for the Financial Sector (CERT-Fin), roadmap for National Centre for Financial Education (NCFE) and macro-prudential framework in India.
  • The sub-committee reviewed the major developments on the global and domestic fronts that impinge on the financial stability of the country.

Way ahead:

  • The move to set up an emergency response team comes in the backdrop of growing cyberattacks in the financial system.
  • RBI had already created a specialised cell (C-SITE) within its supervision department to conduct detailed IT examination of banks’ cybersecurity preparedness, to identify the gaps and to monitor the progress of remedial measures.
  • More than 30 major banks were to be covered by the detailed IT examination in 2016-17 and all banks are to be covered by 2017-18.

What is Financial Stability and Development Council (FSDC)?

  • Financial sector regulation is a vital service for bringing healthy and efficient financial system in the economy.
  • There are different regulators for various segments of financial sectors, like the RBI for commercial banks and NBFCs, SEBI for capital market etc .

Composition of FSDC

  • The Chairman of the Council is the Finance Minister and its members include the heads of financial sector Regulators (RBI, SEBI, PFRDA, IRDA & FMC {now with SEBI}) Finance Secretary and/or Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Secretary, Department of Financial Services, and Chief Economic Adviser. The Council can invite experts to its meeting if required. The FSDC Secretariat is in the Department of Economic Affairs.
  • The council will act as a co-ordination agency between the various financial sector regulators- the RBI, SEBI, IRDA and the PFRDA. This Council would monitor macro-prudential supervision of the economy, including the functioning of large financial conglomerates, and address inter-regulatory coordination issues.

Function of the FSDC:

  1. It will focus on financial literacy and financial inclusion.
  2. It aims strengthening and institutionalizing the mechanism of financial stability and development.
  3. It will monitor macro-prudential supervision of the economy. It will assess the functioning of the large financial conglomerates.
  4. It will address intra regulatory coordination issues.

The FSDC Sub Committee Chaired by the Governor of the RBI

  • An important wing of the FSDC, in terms of functional responsibility is the Sub committee chaired by the Governor of the RBI.
  • All the members of the FSDC are also the members of the Sub-committee. Additionally, all four Deputy Governors of the RBI and Additional Secretary, DEA, in charge of FSDC, are also members of the Sub Committee.

5.New plant species found in Eastern Ghats

Source: The Hindu

Two researchers from the Botany Department of the Andhra University and the National Remote Sensing Centre, Hyderabad, have found a new plant species in the Eastern Ghats.

The species found on the Galikonda hill, known for its scenic beauty in the Araku valley in the tribal area of Visakhapatnam district, is named Emilia reddyi.

Family of Asteraceae

Belonging to the family of Asteraceae, the plant with light violet plum-coloured flowers blossoms between September and February.

Need for Conservation:

Unlike the Himalayas and the Western Ghats, the Eastern Ghats are largely unexplored and the plant is endemic to the area in which it is found, the researchers observe.

  • The area is limited and the number of plants are few.
  • On application of the criteria of the International Union for Conservation of Nature for new species, they have grouped it under the ‘critically endangered’ category.
  • Using the satellite data from 1973, we could find deforestation due to agricultural expansion, the damage caused by forest fires and the impact on biodiversity by alien species that came to the edge of the forest and could expand further in.

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