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23rd July – Editorials/Opinions Analyses


  1. Another front: On India, Bhutan and China
  2. The significance of Kakrapar-3
  3. Set up a High Court for Puducherry


Focus: GS-II International relations

Why in news?

For the third time China repeated its claim that Bhutan’s eastern boundary was a “disputed” area with Bhutan.

A look at the beginnings of the Claim

  • Chinese representative tried to stop funding for the Sakteng forest reserve at a UNDP-led Global Environment Facility (GEF) conference.
  • The Sakteng forest reserve is in Bhutan’s eastern district of Trashigang, which abuts Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang district.

The claim was surprising for several reasons:

  1. China has not objected earlier to funding provided to the sanctuary at the GEF.
  2. Second, the Trashigang area does not share a boundary with China.
  3. Third, Chinese officials have not raised the eastern boundary in almost 25 rounds of talks with Bhutan, that began in 1980s.

So far, talks have been only about the Pasamlung and Jakarlung valleys in Bhutan’s north, and Doklam and other pasturelands to the west, that come up to the trijunction point with India.

What is China’s position now?

  • China referred to a “package solution” for the dispute, that is believed to refer to an offer made in the 1990s to swap the northern and western areas, something Bhutan rejected given India’s concerns. Bhutan’s response at the start was to reject China’s claim at the GEF, and it was able to secure the funding.
  • Bhutan has now appeared to take a sober view of China’s claims by saying that all disputes would be taken up in the next round of China-Bhutan talks.
  • For Bhutan, the Chinese claim may be seen as a pressure tactic: an attempt to hurry the scheduling of the next meeting, or to gain leverage in the boundary talks.

What is the possible Impact How is India reacting?

  • Despite Beijing’s repeated statements on the boundary issue, both Thimphu and New Delhi have chosen not to react in a rash manner.
  • For India, that is already dealing with Chinese aggression across the Line of Actual Control, the Sakteng claim could be a diversionary tactic, or one aimed at driving a wedge between India and Bhutan.
  • More significantly, by claiming Bhutan’s eastern boundary, China is attempting to double down on its claims over Arunachal Pradesh, neither of which it has lien on or control of.
  • The repetition of its “package” offer is worrying as it implies that Beijing is not giving up its push for the Doklam plateau, where it has consolidated its military infrastructure and would like to inch towards India’s Chumbi valley, a strategically sensitive location.

Click Here to read more about China’s Repeated Claims

Click Here to read more about the Border Dispute, SWS, GEF and India – Bhutan relations

-Source: The Hindu


Focus: GS-III Industry and Infrastructure, Science and Technology

Why in news?

The third unit of the Kakrapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP-3) in Gujarat achieved its ‘first criticality’ — a term that signifies the initiation of a controlled but sustained nuclear fission reaction.

Why is this achievement significant?

  • This is a landmark event in India’s domestic civilian nuclear programme given that KAPP-3 is the country’s first 700 MWe (megawatt electric) unit, and the biggest indigenously developed variant of the Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor (PHWR).
  • The PHWRs, which use natural uranium as fuel and heavy water as moderator, are the mainstay of India’s nuclear reactor fleet.
  • Until now, the biggest reactor size of indigenous design was the 540 MWe PHWR, two of which have been deployed in Tarapur, Maharashtra.
  • The operationalisation of India’s first 700MWe reactor marks a significant scale-up in technology, both in terms of optimisation of its PHWR design and an improvement in the economies of scale.

As India works to ramp up its existing nuclear power capacity of 6,780 MWe to 22,480 MWe by 2031, the 700MWe capacity would constitute the biggest component of the expansion plan.

What does achieving criticality mean?

  • Reactors are the heart of an atomic power plant, where a controlled nuclear fission reaction takes place that produces heat, which is used to generate steam that then spins a turbine to create electricity.
  • Fission is a process in which the nucleus of an atom splits into two or more smaller nuclei, and usually some byproduct particles.
  • When the nucleus splits, the kinetic energy of the fission fragments is transferred to other atoms in the fuel as heat energy, which is eventually used to produce steam to drive the turbines.
  • For every fission event, if at least one of the emitted neutrons on average causes another fission, a self-sustaining chain reaction will take place.
  • A nuclear reactor achieves criticality when each fission event releases a sufficient number of neutrons to sustain an ongoing series of reactions.

History of PHWR in India

  • PHWR technology started in India in the late 1960s with the construction of the first 220 MWe reactor, Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, RAPS-1 with a design similar to that of the Douglas Point reactor in Canada, under the joint Indo-Canadian nuclear co-operation.
  • Canada supplied all the main equipment for this first unit, while India retained responsibility for construction, installation, and commissioning.

Click Here to read more about Nuclear reactors in India

-Source: Indian Express


Focus: GS-II Governance

History of High court necessity in Puducherry

  • In 1962, when Puducherry was merged with India, the jurisdiction of the Madras High Court was extended to it.
  • After several decades, in 2017, the Puducherry legislature unanimously resolved to have its own High Court.

Reasons to have a High Court for Puducherry

  • The Puducherry government spends exorbitant sums of money towards expenses of the large High Court.
  • With not much of a population, this amount can be reduced to less than a quarter of the amount spent with a much smaller High Court for Puducherry.
  • In fact, according to the Constitution, when a common High Court is established for more than one State, administrative expenses have to be paid only from the consolidated fund of the ‘State’ in which the principal seat of the High Court is situated (this provision is breached with respect to Puducherry).
  • On the other hand, administrative expenses of a High Court at the Union Territory shall be drawn from the ‘Consolidated fund of India’ under the Constitution.
  • A Puducherry High Court, with four to five judges, can ensure quick action on pendency of matters of the High Court matters, at least at Puducherry.
  • The number of cases filed and disposed of at Puducherry in 2010 is four times higher than the numbers at Sikkim, Manipur and Goa (with High Courts) put together.
  • Even the exercise of safeguarding fundamental rights involves travel, time and expenses, as litigants from western districts travel the long distance to Chennai.
  • A High Court for Puducherry will also strengthen voices seeking Statehood.

Increasing ratio of judges strength to population

  • In the All India Judges Association And Others vs Union Of India (Uoi) And Ors., the Supreme Court observed that the “time has now come for protecting one of the pillars of the Constitution, namely, the judicial system, by directing increase, in the first instance, in the Judge strength from the existing ratio of 10.5 or 13 per 10 lakhs people to 50 Judges for 10 lakh people”.
  • However, as of 2016, the ratio is only 12 judges for one million population.

Article 241 of Indian Constitution

High courts for union territories:

(1) Parliament may by law constitute a High Court for a Union territory or declare any court in any such territory to be a High Court for all or any of the purposes of this Constitution.

The Parliament also has the power to extend or exclude the jurisdiction of a High Court for a State to, or from, any Union territory or part thereof.

High Court

  • The high courts of India are the principal civil courts of original jurisdiction in each state and union territory.
  • However, a high court exercises its original civil and criminal jurisdiction only if the subordinate courts are not authorized by law to try such matters for lack of pecuniary, territorial jurisdiction.
  • The work of most high courts primarily consists of appeals from lower courts and writ petitions in terms of Article 226 of the constitution.
  • According to the Indian Constitution, Articles 214-231 deals with the provisions of High Courts in India.
  • It provides for separate high courts for separate states but according to 7th constitutional amendment act the same high court can be the court for more than one state.

Click Here to read more about the Hierarchy of Indian Judiciary

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023