- Southwest monsoon is early
- Delhi HC calls out misuse of UAPA
- Revised subsidies to spur EV demand
- ‘Southern Ocean’ recognized as globe’s fifth ocean
The monsoon hit the Kerala coast two days behind schedule in 2021, but has already covered two-thirds of the country.
GS-I: Geography (Important Geophysical Phenomenon, Climatology)
Dimensions of the Article:
- How far has the monsoon progressed?
- Why is it early this year?
- Is this early onset of Monsoon unusual?
- Does early onset mean more rainfall overall?
How far has the monsoon progressed?
- Across some areas of south peninsular and central India, the monsoon has arrived 7 to 10 days ahead of its scheduled date.
- So far, the entire country except West Bengal and the Northeast, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, Kerala, and Gujarat had received cumulative rainfall in excess (20%-59%) or large excess (60% or more) of normal.
Why is it early this year?
- Cyclone Yaas, formed in the Bay of Bengal during the third week of May, helped the monsoon make a timely arrival over the Andaman Sea on May 21.
- Despite a two-day delay from its normal onset over Kerala, the southwest monsoon made fast progress in subsequent days. This was mainly due to strong westerly winds from the Arabian Sea, and also the formation of a low-pressure system over the North Bay of Bengal on June 11 that currently lies over eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
- The monsoon currents strengthened and it advanced into the Northeast, West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar and parts of Chhattisgarh.
- An off-shore trough, prevailing for a week between Maharashtra and Kerala, has helped the monsoon arrive early over Karnataka, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra and southern Gujarat.
Is this early onset of Monsoon unusual?
- In the last one decade since 2011, the monsoon has covered the entire country in June itself on four occasions — 2020 (June 1–26) , 2018 ( May 28–June 29), 2015 (June 5–26) and 2013 (June 1–16).
- In all the other seven years, arrivals were delayed over major cities or regions. Cyclone Vayu in 2019 and Cyclone Mora in 2017 had delayed the monsoon progress by a few days.
- But overall, advancement during these seven years was as per normal dates and the monsoon covered the country around July 15 (the normal date, followed until 2019).
- In the years when the monsoon has arrived early, its progress has picked up towards the final phase; that is, the North and Northwest India regions have witnessed early arrival.
Does early onset mean more rainfall overall?
- The time of monsoon onset over a region has no direct impact on the rainfall quantum received during the season, or in the monsoon’s progress.
- For instance, the monsoon took 42 days in 2014 and 22 days in 2015 to cover the entire country. Even with such distinct ranges, India recorded deficient rainfall during both years.
- Ion 2021, the monsoon is most likely to cover the entire country by the end of this month. Although it is too early to predict the seasonal rainfall, it is possible that June rainfall could end in surplus over the normal of 170 mm.
How does early rainfall impact paddy sowing?
- Early rainfall will not directly impact paddy sowing, with seedlings still in the nursery stage in most paddy growing states.
- However, with not much rainfall recorded over Madhya Maharashtra (except Kolhapur, Satara & Sangli districts and the ghat areas) and Marathwada (except bordering districts with Vidarbha) farmers may undertake sowing once these sub-divisions get sufficient rainfall.
-Source: Indian Express
By ruling that “terrorist activity” cannot be broadly defined to include ordinary penal offences, the three Delhi High Court orders granting bail to three student-activists marks a crucial moment.
GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Policies and Interventions, Issues arising out of the design and implementation of policies, Important Judgements)
Dimensions of the Article:
- The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967
- Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill, 2019
- Some Concerning Points about designation of someone as terrorist
- Issues with UAPA
- About the Increasing UAPA cases
- About the recent Delhi HC judgement
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967
- The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) of 1967 is an upgrade on the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act TADA (which lapsed in 1995) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act – POTA (which was repealed in 2004).
- Its main objective was to make powers available for dealing with activities directed against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
- The National Integration Council appointed a Committee on National Integration and Regionalisation to look into, the aspect of putting reasonable restrictions in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India.
- The agenda of the NIC limited itself to communalism, casteism and regionalism and not terrorism.
- However, the provisions of the UAPA Act contravenes the requirements of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment Bill, 2019
- The original Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, dealt with “unlawful” acts related to secession; anti-terror provisions were introduced in 2004.
- It provides special procedures to deal with terrorist activities, among other things.
Key Provisions of the Amendment
- The Bill amends the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and additionally empowers the government to designate individuals as terrorists on the same grounds.
- Under the Act, the central government may designate an organisation as a terrorist organisation if it:
- commits or participates in acts of terrorism
- prepares for terrorism
- promotes terrorism
- is otherwise involved in terrorism
- The word “terror” or “terrorist” is not defined.
- However, a “terrorist act” is defined as any act committed with the intent –
- to threaten or likely to threaten the unity, integrity, security, economic security, or sovereignty of India
- to strike terror or likely to strike terror in the people or any section of the people in India or in any foreign country
- The central government may designate an individual as a terrorist through a notification in the official gazette.
- The Bill empowers the officers of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), of the rank of Inspector or above, to investigate cases.
- Under the Act, an investigating officer can seize properties that may be connected with terrorism with prior approval of the Director General of Police.
Some Concerning Points about designation of someone as terrorist
- The government is NOT required to give an individual an opportunity to be heard before such a designation.
- At present, legally, a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
- In this line, an individual who is convicted in a terror case is legally referred to as a ‘terrorist’.
- And those suspected of being involved in terrorist activities are referred to as ‘terror accused’.
- The Bill does NOT clarify the standard of proof required to establish that an individual is involved or is likely to be involved in terrorist activities.
- The Bill also does not require the filing of cases or arresting individuals while designating them as terrorists.
Issues with UAPA
- UAPA gives the state authority vague powers to detain and arrest individuals who it believes to be indulged in terrorist activities. Thus, the state gives itself more powers vis-a-vis individual liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
- UAPA empowers the ruling government, under the garb of curbing terrorism, to impose indirect restriction on right of dissent which is detrimental for a developing democratic society. The right of dissent is a part and parcel of fundamental right to free speech and expression and therefore, cannot be abridged in any circumstances except for mentioned in Article 19 (2).
- UAPA can also be thought of to go against the federal structure since it neglects the authority of state police in terrorism cases, given that ‘Police’ is a state subject under 7th schedule of Indian Constitution.
How can the names be removed?
- Application – The Bill seeks to give the central government the power to remove a name from the schedule when an individual makes an application.
- The procedure for such an application and the process of decision-making will also be decided by the central government.
- If an application filed is rejected by the government, the Bill gives the person the right to seek a review within one month of rejection.
- Review committee – Under the amendment Bill, the central government will set up a review committee.
- It will consist of a chairperson (a retired or sitting judge of a High Court) and 3 other members.
- It will be empowered to order the government to delete the name of an individual from the schedule that lists “terrorists”, if it considers the order to be flawed.
- Apart from these two avenues, the individual can also move the courts challenging the government’s order.
About the Increasing UAPA cases
- According to data provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Parliament in March, a total of 1126 cases were registered under UAPA in 2019, a sharp rise from 897 in 2015.
- UAPA, in relaxing timelines for the state to file chargesheets and its stringent conditions for bail, gives the state more powers compared to the Indian Penal Code.
- Union Home Ministry presented data in the Rajya Sabha, based on the 2019 Crime in India Report compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which showed that only 2.2 % of cases registered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act between the years 2016-2019 ended in convictions by court.
- As many as 1948 persons were arrested under the UAPA in 1226 cases registered across the country in 2019. Such cases registered in 2015-2018 stood at 897, 922, 901 and 1182 and the number of those arrested was 1128, 999, 1554 and 1421 respectively.
About the recent Delhi HC judgement
- This is perhaps the first instance of a court calling out alleged misuse of the UAPA against individuals in cases that do not necessarily fall in the category of “terrorism” cases.
- Quoting sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967, and a string of key Supreme Court rulings on terrorism and terror laws, the court reasoned that “the more stringent a penal provision, the more strictly it must be construed”. By doing so, it raised the bar for the State to book an individual for terrorism under the UAPA.
- This caution is significant given the sharp surge in the state’s use of this provision in a sweeping range of alleged offences — against tribals in Chhattisgarh, those using social media through proxy servers in Jammu and Kashmir; and journalists in Manipur among others.
- The bail orders also refer to how the Supreme Court itself, in the 1994 case of Kartar Singh v State of Punjab, flagged similar concerns against the misuse of another anti-terror law, the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987.
- The Delhi Police argued that the terror clause in UAPA can be invoked, not just for the “intent to threaten the unity and integrity but the likelihood to threaten the unity and integrity”, or “the intent to strike terror but the likelihood to strike terror, not just the use of firearms” but also for “causing or likely to cause not just death but injuries to any person or persons or loss orRejecting this interpretation, the court said that it is a “sacrosanct principle of interpretation of penal provisions” that these must be construed strictly and narrowly. This is key to ensuring that a person who was not covered by the legislative ambit does not get roped into a penal provision. damage or destruction of property.”
- “The extent and reach of terrorist activity must travel beyond the effect of an ordinary crime and must not arise merely by causing disturbance of law and order or even public order; and must be such that it travels beyond the capacity of the ordinary law enforcement agencies to deal with it under the ordinary penal law,” the court said, citing a 1992 SC ruling in the case of Hitendra Vishnu Thakur v State of Maharashtra.
-Source: Indian Express
Electric two-wheeler makers termed the government’s decision to increase subsidy for such vehicles by 50% under the FAME II scheme saying it would be a game changer in the adoption of eco-friendly vehicles as phenomenal.
GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure
Dimensions of the Article:
- Electric Vehicles (EVs) and their need in India
- Revamped FAME-II scheme
Electric Vehicles (EVs) and their need in India
- An electric vehicle, uses one or more electric motors or traction motors for propulsion. An electric vehicle may be powered through self-contained battery, solar panels or an electric generator to convert fuel to electricity.
- India has committed to cutting its GHG emissions intensity by 33% to 35% percent below 2005 levels by 2030 – replacing combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles is a step in the right direction.
- According to a recent study by WHO, India is home to 14 out of 20 most polluted cities in the world. EVs will help in tackling this problem by reducing local concentrations of pollutants in cities.
- India imports oil to cover over 80 percent of its transport fuel. EVs can reduce dependence on imported crude oil promoting India’s energy security.
- It will encourage cutting edge technology in India through adoption, adaptation, and research and development. EVs manufacturing capacity will promote global scale and competitiveness.
- The shift towards renewable energy sources has led to cost reduction from better electricity generating technologies. This has introduced the possibility of clean, low-carbon and inexpensive grids.
- Advances in battery technology have led to higher energy densities, faster charging and reduced battery degradation from charging. Combined with the development of motors with higher rating and reliability, these improvements in battery chemistry have reduced costs and improved the performance and efficiency of electric vehicles.
- FAME India is a part of the National Electric Mobility Mission (NEMM) Plan. Main thrust of FAME is to encourage electric vehicles by providing subsidies.
- NEMM intends to allow hybrid and electric vehicles to become the first choice for the purchasers so that these vehicles can replace the conventional vehicles and thus reduce liquid fuel consumption in the country from the automobile sector.
- The scheme covers Hybrid & Electric technologies like Mild Hybrid, Strong Hybrid, Plug in Hybrid & Battery Electric Vehicles.
- Monitoring Authority: Department of Heavy Industries, the Ministry of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises.
- Under this scheme, demand incentives will be availed by buyers (end users/consumers) upfront at the point of purchase and the same shall be reimbursed by the manufacturers from Department of Heavy Industries, on a monthly basis.
- Fame India Scheme has four focus areas:
- Technology development
- Demand Creation
- Pilot Projects
- Charging Infrastructure
Revamped FAME-II scheme
- The Centre has made a partial modification of the FAME-II, including increasing the demand incentive for electric two-wheelers to Rs. 15,000 per KWh from an earlier uniform subsidy of Rs 10,000 per KWh for all EVs, including plug-in hybrids and strong hybrids except buses.
- The government has also capped incentives for electric two-wheelers at 40% of the cost of vehicles, up from 20% earlier.
- It will bring down the prices of electric two-wheelers nearer to the IC (internal combustion engine) vehicles and remove one of the biggest blocks of the high sticker price of electric two-wheelers.
- Together with the other important factors like extremely low running cost, low maintenance and zero emission, such price levels will surely spur a substantial demand for electric two-wheelers.
-Source: Livemint, The Hindu
The National Geographic magazine has recognised the ‘Southern Ocean’ as the world’s fifth ocean June 8, 2021 hoping others will soon follow suit.
GS-I: Geography (World relief features, Oceanography)
Dimensions of the Article:
- National Geographic Society
- International Hydrographic Organization (IHO)
- About the Southern Ocean
- Antarctic Circumpolar Current
National Geographic Society
- The National Geographic Society (NGS), headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational organizations in the world with interests in geography, archaeology, and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical conservation, and the study of world culture and history.
- The NGS also publishes other magazines, books, school products, maps, and Web and film products in numerous languages and countries.
- The Society has helped sponsor many expeditions and research projects over the years.
International Hydrographic Organization (IHO)
- The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is an intergovernmental organization representing hydrography, and as of 2021 the IHO comprises of 94 Member States.
- A principal aim of the IHO is to ensure that the world’s seas, oceans and navigable waters are properly surveyed and charted.
- It does this through the setting of international standards, the co-ordination of the endeavors of the world’s national hydrographic offices, and through its capacity building program.
- The IHO enjoys observer status at the United Nations, where it is the recognized competent authority on hydrographic surveying and nautical charting.
- When referring to hydrography and nautical charting in Conventions and similar Instruments, it is the IHO standards and specifications that are normally used.
- The IHO develops hydrographic and nautical charting standards. These standards are subsequently adopted and used by its member countries and others in their surveys, nautical charts, and publications.
- The almost universal use of the IHO standards means that the products and services provided by the world’s national hydrographic and oceanographic offices are consistent and recognizable by all seafarers and for other users. Much has been done in the field of standardization since the IHO was founded.
About the Southern Ocean
- The National Geography cartographers have now identified the Southern Ocean as the fifth ocean on the planet. Other four Oceans are: Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic Oceans.
- Most of the waters that surround Antarctica out to 60 degrees south latitude, excluding the Drake Passage and Scotia Sea, constitute the newly acknowledged Southern Ocean.
- The Southern Ocean is the only ocean ‘to touch three other oceans (Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean) and to completely embrace a continent rather than being embraced by them’.
- It is also defined by its Antarctic Circumpolar Current that was formed 34 million years ago. The current flows from west to east around Antarctica.
Antarctic Circumpolar Current
- Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC) is the only current in the global ocean to close upon itself in a circumpolar loop.
- This trait makes the ACC the most important current in the Earth’s climate system because it links the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans and is the primary means of inter-basin exchange of heat, carbon dioxide, chemicals, biology and other tracers.
- The ACC is created by the combined effects of strong westerly winds across the Southern Ocean, and the big change in surface temperatures between the Equator and the poles.
- Ocean density increases as water gets colder and as it gets more salty. The warm, salty surface waters of the subtropics are much lighter than the cold, fresher waters close to Antarctica.
- The depth of constant density levels slopes up towards Antarctica. The westerly winds make this slope steeper, and the ACC rides eastward along it, faster where the slope is steeper, and weaker where it’s flatter.
-Source: India Today, Down to Earth Magazine