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Current Affairs 11 March 2023

CONTENTS

  1. Deputy Speaker
  2. H3N2 Virus
  3. Hypersonic missile: Kinzhals
  4. Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols mission

Deputy Speaker


Context:

Constitutional experts and opposition parties have termed the ‘non-election for the post of deputy speaker’ as unprecedented and unconstitutional.

Relevance:

GS II: Polity and Governance

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What does the Constitution say about the Deputy Speaker?
  2. What is the historical context and role of Deputy Speaker in the Indian parliamentary system?
  3. Do the powers of the Speaker extend to the Deputy Speaker as well?
  4. Can the courts intervene in cases of a delay in electing the Deputy Speaker?

What does the Constitution say about the Deputy Speaker?

  • Article 93 : The House of the People shall, as soon as may be, choose two member to be Speaker and Deputy Speaker and, so often as the office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker becomes vacant, the House shall choose another member
  • Article 178: It contains the corresponding position for Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of a state.
    • Constitutional experts point out that both Articles 93 and 178 use the word “shall”, indicating that the election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker is mandatory under the Constitution.
Election of Deputy Speaker
  • Articles 93 and 178 require Deputy Speaker election “as soon as may be” but don’t specify time frame
  • In Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, Speaker is usually elected during first session, while Deputy Speaker is elected in second session
  • Election of Deputy Speaker not delayed unless there are genuine and unavoidable constraints
  • Rule 8 of The Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha allows Speaker to fix date for Deputy Speaker election
Tenure of Deputy Speaker
  • Once elected, Deputy Speaker usually continues in office for entire duration of House
  • According to Article 94 (Article 179 for state legislatures), Deputy Speaker must vacate office if they cease to be a member of the House
  • Deputy Speaker may also resign or be removed from office by House resolution passed by majority of all members

What is the historical context and role of Deputy Speaker in the Indian parliamentary system?

Historical Context of Deputy Speaker

  • In 1941, H V Kamath argued that if Speaker resigns, resignation should be addressed to President and not Deputy Speaker because latter holds a subordinate office
  • Dr B R Ambedkar disagreed and said Speaker and Deputy Speaker are chosen by House, so resignations should be addressed to House

Role of Deputy Speaker

  • If Speaker resigns, resignation addressed to either Speaker or Deputy Speaker as they represent the House
  • When Neelam Sanjiva Reddy resigned as Speaker in 1969, he addressed resignation to Deputy Speaker
  • If Deputy Speaker post is vacant, House is informed of Speaker’s resignation by Deputy Speaker or Secretary-General
  • Resignation is notified in Gazette and Bulletin per Rules for Presiding Officers of Lok Sabha

Do the powers of the Speaker extend to the Deputy Speaker as well?

  • Article 95(1) says: “While the office of Speaker is vacant, the duties of the office shall be performed by the Deputy Speaker”.
  • In general, the Deputy Speaker has the same powers as the Speaker when presiding over a sitting of the House.
  • All references to the Speaker in the Rules are deemed to be references to the Deputy Speaker when he presides.
  • It has been repeatedly held that no appeal lies to the Speaker against a ruling given by the Deputy Speaker or any person presiding over the House in the absence of the Speaker.

Can the courts intervene in cases of a delay in electing the Deputy Speaker?

  • In September 2021, a petition was filed before the Delhi High Court, which argued that delay in the election of the Deputy Speaker violated Article 93 (Pawan Reley v. Speaker, Lok Sabha & Ors).
  • However, there is no precedent of a court forcing the legislature to elect the Deputy Speaker.
  • Courts usually don’t intervene in the procedural conduct of Parliament.
  • Article 122(1) says: “The validity of any proceedings in Parliament shall not be called in question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure.”
  • However, experts said that the courts do have jurisdiction to at least inquire into why there has been no election to the post of Deputy Speaker since the Constitution does envisage an election “as soon as may be”.

-Source: Indian Express


H3N2 Virus


Context:

India has recorded deaths of two people, one each in Karnataka and Haryana, due to the Influenza A subtype H3N2 virus, the government said on Friday. It added that around 90 cases of this virus have been reported across the country.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the H3N2 virus?
  2. What are the symptoms of H3N2?

What is the H3N2 virus?

  • Influenza viruses, which cause the infectious disease known as flu, are of four different types: A, B, C and D. Influenza A is further classified into different subtypes and one of them is the H3N2.
  • According to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), H3N2 caused the 1968 flu pandemic that led to the death of around one million people globally and about 100,000 in the US.
  • A 2020 study, published in the journal Nature Communications, found that the strains of the virus have dramatically evolved in the past five decades as people born in the late 1960s and 1970s got infected by it as children.

What are the symptoms of H3N2?

  • Its symptoms are similar to that of any other flu.
  • They include cough, fever, body ache and headache, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose and extreme fatigue.
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea have been seen in very few cases.
  • According to the Indian Medical Association (IMA), an infection caused by H3N2 generally lasts for five to seven days and the fever starts going away after three days.
  • However, the coughing can persist for up to three weeks.
  • As per the IMA, this virus usually preys on individuals below the age of 15 years or above 50 years of age. Children and those with co-morbidities like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, weakened immune systems and neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions are at a higher risk.

-Source: Indian Express


Hypersonic Missile: Kinzhals


Context:

Out of the 81 missiles that Russia fired across Ukraine, six were hypersonic missiles, known as Kinzhals, or Daggers. Capable of flying at least at five times the speed of sound, these missiles are very difficult to detect and shoot down.

Relevance

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a hypersonic missile?
  2. The Case of Kinzhal

What is a hypersonic missile?

  • A hypersonic missile, such as Kinzhal, is capable of flying at least at the speed of Mach 5, i.e. five times the speed of sound, and is manoeuvrable.
  • The manoeuvrability of the hypersonic missile is what differentiates it from a ballistic missile, as the latter follows a set course or a ballistic trajectory.
  • Thus, unlike ballistic missiles, hypersonic missiles do not follow a ballistic trajectory and can be manoeuvred to the intended target.
  • This makes them extremely lethal because by the time they are detected by ground-based radars, they are already quite near to their target.
  • There are two types of hypersonic weapons systems: Hypersonic Glide Vehicles (HGV) and Hypersonic Cruise Missiles.
  • The HGVs are fired from a rocket before gliding to the intended target while the hypersonic cruise missile is powered by air-breathing high-speed engines or ‘scramjets’ after acquiring their target.
Benefits of Hypersonic Missiles

Hypersonic missiles are becoming an increasingly important weapon in modern warfare.

  • Responsive, long-range strike options: Hypersonic missiles can provide a way to strike distant, defended, or time-critical threats when other forces are unavailable, denied access, or not preferred.
  • Kinetic energy: Conventional hypersonic weapons use only kinetic energy to destroy unhardened targets or even underground facilities.

The Case of Kinzhal

Kinzhal is a hypersonic missile developed by Russia that has received a lot of attention in recent years. Here’s what we know about it:

  • Capable of Mach 10 speeds: Kinzhal can reach speeds of Mach 10 and greater, with a range of about 1,250 miles.
  • Nuclear-capable: The missile is believed to be nuclear-capable and is usually launched by MiG-31 warplanes.
  • Not a game-changer: According to experts, the use of Kinzhal in the conflict with Ukraine in 2022 was not enough to radically change the war’s outcome in Russia’s favor.
  • Accuracy issues: US defence forces believed that Kinzhal underperformed due to accuracy issues and could not cause significant destruction or deaths in Ukraine.

The Threat of Hypersonic Missiles

  • While Kinzhal may not have been a game-changer in the conflict with Ukraine, many analysts now believe that hypersonic missiles can pose a massive threat to missile defense systems.
  •  According to Dee Dee Martinez, comptroller of the US Missile Defense Agency, the development and deployment of missile defense systems to counter these advanced threats present unique but surmountable challenges that require further development and technology investments.

-Source: Indian Express


Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols mission


Context:

Recently, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced on Wednesday that it is partnering with the Italian Space Agency ASI (Agenzia Spaziale Italiana) to build and launch the MAIA mission.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols
  2. Target Areas

Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols

  • The Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) is a joint mission between NASA and the Italian Space Agency ASI.
  • The mission’s primary objective is to investigate the health impacts of air pollution in major cities across the world.
Collaboration for Societal Health:
  • Epidemiologists and public health researchers will work directly on the development of the satellite mission to benefit societal health.
  • The PLATiNO-2 satellite, provided by ASI, will be equipped with a science instrument built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to achieve the mission objectives.
Observatory and Data Collection:
  • The MAIA mission will collect and analyse data from the observatory, sensors on the ground, and atmospheric models.
  • The JPL hosts a pointable spectropolarimetric camera that captures images from multiple angles in the ultraviolet, visible, near-infrared, and shortwave infrared portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Target Areas:

  • During the three-year mission, MAIA will focus on 11 primary target areas, including major urban centres across the world such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, Boston, Rome, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Barcelona, Spain, Beijing, Johannesburg, New Delhi, Taipei, Taiwan, and Tel Aviv.
  • The selection of these target areas reflects their high population density and varying levels of air pollution.
Launch and Timeline:
  • The MAIA observatory is set to launch before the end of 2024.
  • The mission will continue for three years, during which time data will be collected, analysed, and studied to gain insights into the health impacts of air pollution in major cities worldwide.

-Source: Indian Express


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