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Current Affairs 18 March 2023

 

Contents:

  1. Endless delay on the conduct of Governors
  2. PM Gati Shakti identifies critical infrastructure gap projects
  3. Artificial sweetener can help treat autoimmune disease
  4. Forest Rights Act (FRA)

Endless delay on the conduct of Governors


Context:

The Supreme Court of India is all set to hear a petition from the Telangana government, seeking a direction to the Governor, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan, to grant assent to Bills passed by the State Assembly.

Relevance:

GS Paper 2: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers.

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key points
  2. What is the issue?
  3. What should be done rightly by the Governor?
  4. Other cases
  5. Appointment and removal of Governor
  6. Governor’s role
  7. Recommendations from a number of commissions

Key points:

  • The conduct or inaction of Governors comes up for judicial scrutiny very frequently.
  • This reflects the poor relation between incumbents in Raj Bhavans and the respective Chief Ministers.
  • A more common tendency seen in the recent years is that the Governors making use of the absence of a time-frame in the Constitution to indefinitely delay decisions.
    • This tactic effectively stalls the elected regime’s legislative agenda.

What is the issue?

  • The Governor of Telangana accused the Chief Minister has boycotted her and that her queries are not being answered. Her recent tweet implies that the government is unfriendly and discourteous to her.
  • The State government, for its part, is apparently upset that she may be trying to act independent of the Cabinet.

What should be done rightly by the Governor?

  • Constitutional Provisions:
    • Article 200 of the Indian Constitution deals with the powers of the Governor with regard to assent given to bills passed by the State legislature and other powers of the Governor such as reserving the bill for the President’s consideration.
    • Article 201 pertains to ‘Bills Reserved for Consideration’.
    • The Governor of India enjoys absolute veto, suspensive veto (except on money bills) but not the pocket veto.
  • The issue mentioned above does not matter on constitutional issues.
  • The Governor can either grant assent to a Bill or decline it, or reserve it for the President’s consideration.
  • In suitable cases, it may also be returned for reconsideration.
  • However, none of this should be based on the Governor’s personal view on the Bill’s content.
  • On occasional basis, if the Governor finds a bill seemingly violates fundamental rights, but a relevant question that requires an authoritative pronouncement from the court is whether the Governor should decide on its legality or the legislature’s competence each time a Bill is presented for assent.
  • As the Supreme Court remarked recently, dialogue between constitutional functionaries should not become a race to the bottom.
  • Constitutional functions should not be held hostage to political and personal differences.

Other cases:

  • In most non-BJP States, the elected governments and the Governor’s office have been on a constant collision course.
  • Examples include:
  • Governor Arif Mohammad Khan in Kerala asking 11 Vice-Chancellors to resign, which was met with resistance from the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front government.
  • Governor B. S. Koshiyari and the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in Maharashtra clashing over the choice of the Assembly Speaker.
  • Recently, the apex court disposed of a petition from the Punjab Government that was aggrieved by an alleged delay in the Governor summoning the Assembly.

Appointment and removal of Governor

  • According to Articles 155 and 156 of the Constitution, a Governor is appointed by the President and holds office during the President’s pleasure.
  • If the President’s pleasure is withdrawn before the end of the five-year term, the Governor must resign.
  • As the President works with the assistance and advice of the Prime Minister and the council of ministers, the Governor is effectively appointed and removed by the central government.
  • Although the Governor’s duties and responsibilities are state-specific, there is no provision for impeachment.

Governor’s role

  • Article 163 of the Constitution states that the Governor will normally be assisted and advised by the Council of Ministers except in those functions that require his discretion.
  • Therefore, the Governor is envisioned as an apolitical head who must act on the advice of the council of ministers.
  • However, governor enjoys certain pow   ers granted by the Constitution, including: o giving or withholding assent to a Bill passed by the state legislature; o assenting to the convening of the National Assembly; o assenting

Recommendations from a number of commissions

  • Throughout the years, a number of panels and commissions have recommended reforms to the appointment and function of governors. These include the 1968 Administrative Reforms Commission, the 1988 Sarkaria Commission, and the 2001 National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution, led by retired CJI M N Venkachaliah.
  • The Sarkaria Commission recommended that governors should not be removed from office prior to the completion of their five-year term, except in exceptional and compelling circumstances.
  • There have also been recommendations for an impeachment provision by the Assembly, but none of these have been implemented.

-Source: The Hindu 


PM Gati Shakti identifies critical infrastructure gap projects


Context:

As per the recent official statement by the Government, as many as 156 critical infrastructure gaps to ports and for movement of bulk commodities such as coal, cement, fertilizers and foodgrains, have been identified for intervention under the PM Gati Shakti initiative.

  • To facilitate wider adoption of the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan, a series of regional workshops are being organised across all States and Union Territories.

Relevance:

GS II- Welfare schemes

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About PM Gati Shakti
  2. PM GatiShakti is based on six pillars

About PM Gati Shakti:

  • It will incorporate the infrastructure schemes of various Ministries and State Governments like Bharatmala, Sagarmala, inland waterways, dry/land ports, UDAN etc.
  • Economic Zones like textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, fishing clusters, agri zones will be covered to improve connectivity & make Indian businesses more competitive.
  • It will also leverage technology extensively including spatial planning tools with ISRO imagery
  • developed by BiSAG-N (Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics).    
  • The multi-modal connectivity will provide integrated and seamless connectivity for movement of people, goods and services from one mode of transport to another.
  • It will facilitate the last mile connectivity of infrastructure and also reduce travel time for people.
  • PM GatiShakti will provide the public and business community information regarding the upcoming connectivity projects, other business hubs, industrial areas and surrounding environment.
  • This will enable the investors to plan their businesses at suitable locations leading to enhanced synergies.
  • It will create multiple employment opportunities and give a boost to the economy.
  • It will improve the global competitiveness of local products by cutting down the logistics costs and improving the supply chains, and also ensure proper linkages for local industry & consumers.

PM GatiShakti is based on six pillars:

1. Comprehensiveness: It will include all the existing and planned initiatives of various Ministries and Departments with one centralized portal. Each and every Department will now have visibility of each other’s activities providing critical data while planning & execution of projects in a comprehensive manner.

2. Prioritization: Through this, different Departments will be able to prioritize their projects through cross–sectoral interactions.

3. Optimization: The National Master Plan will assist different ministries in planning for projects after identification of critical gaps. For the transportation of the goods from one place to another, the plan will help in selecting the most optimum route in terms of time and cost.

4. Synchronization: Individual Ministries and Departments often work in silos. There is lack of coordination in planning and implementation of the project resulting in delays. PM GatiShakti will help in synchronizing the activities of each department, as well as of different layers of governance, in a holistic manner by ensuring coordination of work between them.

5. Analytical: The plan will provide the entire data at one place with GIS based spatial planning and analytical tools having 200+ layers, enabling better visibility to the executing agency.

6. Dynamic: All Ministries and Departments will now be able to visualize, review and monitor the progress of cross-sectoral projects, through the GIS platform, as the satellite imagery will give on-ground progress periodically and progress of the projects will be updated on a regular basis on the portal. It will help in identifying the vital interventions for enhancing and updating the master plan.

-Source: The Hindu


Artificial sweetener can help treat autoimmune disease


Context:

According to the recent study, the dampening effect of artificial sweetener on immune response could help treat autoimmune disease.

Relevance:

GS: III – Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key findings of the recent study:
  2. What are T-Cells?
  3. What is an autoimmune disease?

Key findings of the recent study:

  • Sucralose:
    • Sucralose is an artificial sweetener, about 600 times sweeter than sugar, that is commonly used in drinks and food.
    • Like many other artificial sweeteners, the effects of sucralose on the body are not yet fully understood.
    • However, recent studies have shown that sucralose can impact human health by affecting the microbiome.
  • The study suggests that the dampening effect of sucralose could be leveraged to mitigate over-active T-cells in autoimmune disease in humans. No effect was seen on other types of immune cells
  • It also finds out that a high-dose of sucralose impacted intracellular calcium release in response to stimulation, and therefore dampened T-cell function.

What are T-Cells?

  • T cells are central players in the immune response to viral infection.
  • For your immune system to fight off any kind of invader, such as a virus, you need a kind of white blood cell called a B cell, which makes antibodies, and a similar-looking white blood cell called a T cell.
  • T cells can play different roles altogether.
  • They can act as “killer cells”, attacking cells which have been infected with a virus or another kind of pathogen, or they can act as “helper cells” by supporting B cells to produce antibodies.

How do they function?

  • Alongside antibodies, the immune system produces a battalion of T cells that can target viruses.
  • Some of these, known as killer T cells (or CD8+ T cells), seek out and destroy cells that are infected with the virus.
  • Others, called helper T cells (or CD4+ T cells) are important for various immune functions, including stimulating the production of antibodies and killer T cells.
  • T cells do not prevent infection, because they kick into action only after a virus has infiltrated the body. But they are important for clearing an infection that has already started.
  • In the case of COVID-19, killer T cells could mean the difference between a mild infection and a severe one that requires hospital treatment.

What is an autoimmune disease?

  • The immune system usually guards against bacteria and viruses.
  • When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them.
  • Usually, the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells.
  • In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part of your body, like your joints or skin, as foreign. It releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack healthy cells.
  • Some autoimmune diseases target only one organ. Type 1 diabetes damages the pancreas. Other diseases, like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), or lupus, can affect the whole body.

-Source: The Indian Express


Forest Rights Act (FRA)


Context:

  • In Karnataka, over 83.8 per cent—received under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) from Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers were rejected till November 2022.
  • Forest department officials say that several claims under FRA are filed with the intention of encroaching on forest land.

Relevance:

GS III- Environment and Ecology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Forest Rights Act, 2006
  2. Importance of Forest Rights Act, 2006
  3. Challenges

About Forest Rights Act, 2006:

 

  • Schedule Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers Act or Recognition of Forest Rights Act came into force in 2006.
  • The Nodal Ministry for the Act is Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • It has been enacted to recognize and vest the forest rights and occupation of forest land in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers, who have been residing in such forests for generations, but whose rights could not be recorded.
  • This Act not only recognizes the rights to hold and live in the forest land under the individual or common occupation for habitation or for self-cultivation for livelihood, but also grants several other rights to ensure their control over forest resources.
  • The Act also provides for diversion of forest land for public utility facilities managed by the Government, such as schools, dispensaries, fair price shops, electricity and telecommunication lines, water tanks, etc. with the recommendation of Gram Sabhas.
  • Rights under the Forest Right Act 2006:
    • Title Rights- ownership of land being framed by Gram Sabha.
    • Forest management rights– to protect forests and wildlife.
    • Use rights- for minor forest produce, grazing, etc.
    • Rehabilitation– in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement.
    • Development Rights– to have basic amenities such as health, education, etc.

Importance of Forest Rights Act, 2006:

  • It broadens the scope of the Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution, which safeguard  the claims of indigenous communities over tracts of land or forests they inhabit.
  • One of the causes of the Naxal movement, which had an impact on states like Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Jharkhand, was the alienation of tribes.
  • By recognising community rights to forest resources, it has the potential to democratise forest governance.
  • The act will guarantee that people have the opportunity to manage their forests independently, which will limit official exploitation of forest resources, enhance forest governance, and improve management of tribal rights.

Challenges

  • Governments find it expedient to undermine FRA or give up on it altogether in favour of monetary gains because tribals do not constitute a significant vote bank in the majority of states.
  • Unawareness at the Lower level of forest officials who are supposed to help process forest rights claims is high and majority of the aggrieved population too remains in the dark regarding their rights.
  • The FRA was intended as a welfare programme for tribal members, but the forest bureaucracy misinterpreted it as a tool to legalise expansion.
  • Some environmentalist groups express worry that the FRA favours individual rights more than community rights, leaving less room for the latter.
  • Community Rights effectively gives the local people the control over forest resources which remains a significant portion of forest revenue making states wary of vesting forest rights to Gram Sabha.
  • The forest bureaucracy worries that it will lose the significant influence it already has over land and people, while corporations worry that they would lose their easy access to priceless natural resources.
  • Gram Sabha, which occasionally lacks technical know-how and is educationally incompetent, creates rough maps of community and individual claims.

-Source: The Indian Express


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