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Current Affairs for UPSC IAS Exam – 29 November 2021 | Legacy IAS Academy

Contents

  1. Jaitapur would be the world’s most powerful nuclear plant
  2. President calls for discretion in courtroom utterances
  3. Interpol crackdown on cyber-enabled financial crime
  4. Centre forms four panels to look into EPFO functioning
  5. Magnitude 7.5 quake strikes northern Peru

Jaitapur would be the world’s most powerful nuclear plant

Context:

After 11 years of being on the drawing board, there is some progress in the Jaitapur nuclear power project in Maharashtra.

Relevance:

GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About the Jaitapur project
  2. Advantages of such French Investment in India
  3. Nuclear power by country
  4. Nuclear Power Plants in India
  5. India’s Nuclear Energy Program: Three-Stage Programme

About the Jaitapur project

  • The Jaitapur project would be the most powerful nuclear power plant in the world.
  • Six cutting-edge European Pressurised Water(EPR) Reactors with a total installed capacity of 9.6 GWe will generate low-carbon electricity.
  • Electricity would be provided to seven crore households.
  • Thousands of local employment would be created, directly benefiting Maharashtra.
  • This project will represent India and France’s strong relationship and commitment to a low-carbon future.

About the recent developments in setting up of Jaitapur project

  • The French company EDF and Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) are working together to take the Jaitapur project off the ground.
  • EDF, a French corporation, recently submitted a binding offer for the Jaitapur project to NPCIL.
  • This initiative is an important aspect of India’s and France’s strategic cooperation.

Advantages of such French Investment in India

  • The funds will be used to support the Make in India and Skill India programmes. Through the Government of India’s Smart Cities programme, the French Development Agency (FDA) is also working to promote clean transportation in India.
  • India and France hope to urge India’s industrial sector to participate actively in the project for the industrial advantage. In this spirit, France is implementing a plan based on extensive research to find Indian firms that may be chosen as suppliers.
  • The French companies present in the Indian market are important in terms of production of electrical batteries.
  • France encourages contributions to ongoing transformation in the areas of environmental transition, manufacturing facility modernization, and technical innovation. Renewable energy, agro-business, and healthcare are additional areas of focus for France.

Nuclear power by country

  • Nuclear power plants currently operate in 30 countries.
  • Most are in Europe, North America, East Asia and South Asia.
  • The United States is the largest producer of nuclear power, while France has the largest share of electricity generated by nuclear power.
  • France, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Hungary use them as the source for a majority of the country’s electricity supply as of 2019.
  • China has the fastest growing nuclear power program with 11 new reactors under construction, and a considerable number of new reactors are also being built in India, Russia and South Korea.
  • Pakistan plans on constructing three to four nuclear power plants by 2030.
  • At the same time, at least 100 older and smaller reactors will “most probably be closed over the next 10–15 years”.
  • Some countries operated nuclear reactors in the past but have currently no operating nuclear plants.
  • Among them, Italy closed all of its nuclear stations by 1990 and nuclear power has since been discontinued because of the 1987 referendums on which Italians voted.
  • Several countries are currently operating nuclear power plants but are planning a nuclear power phase-out.

Nuclear Power Plants in India

  • Presently, India has 22 operating nuclear power reactors, with an installed capacity of 6780 MegaWatt electric (MWe). Among these eighteen reactors are Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) and four are Light Water Reactors (LWRs).
  • Nuclear Power is the fifth-largest source of generating electricity in India after coal, gas, wind power, and hydroelectricity.
  • The domestic uranium reserve in India is small and the country is dependent on uranium imports from other countries to provide fuel to its nuclear power industry. Since the 1990s, Russia has been a major supplier of nuclear fuel to India.
  • The nuclear energy programme in India was launched around the time of independence under the leadership of Homi J Bhabha.
  • Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is being implemented by the Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), a wholly owned Enterprise of the Government of India under the administrative control of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

India’s Nuclear Energy Program: Three-Stage Programme

Stage one

  • Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor uses Natural UO2 as fuel matrix, Heavy water as moderator and coolant.
  • In the reactor, the first two plants were of boiling water reactors based on imported technology.
  • Subsequent plants are of PHWR type through indigenous R&D efforts.
  • India achieved complete self- reliance in this technology and this stage of the programme is in the industrial domain.
  • The future plan includes the setting up of VVER type i.e. Russian version of the Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) is under progress to augment power generation.
  • MOX fuel (Mixed oxide) is developed and introduced at Tarapur to conserve fuel and to develop new fuel technology.

Second stage

  • Second stage of nuclear power generation envisages the use of Pu-239 obtained from the first stage reactor operation, as the fuel core in fast breeder reactors (FBR).

Third stage

  • Third phase of India’s Nuclear Power Generation programme is, breeder reactors using U-233 fuel.
  • India’s vast thorium deposits permit design and operation of U-233 fueled breeder reactors.
Planned Nuclear Power Plants in India 
Kumhar• -4 
2800 e PHWR. 
Delhi 
Rajasthan 7-8 
•Narora 
404 M We 
O MWe PHWRE Rajasthan 
1085 MWe 
Bargi 1-2 
1400 MWe PHWR 
• Kakrapar 
Tarapur 
1280 MWe 
Kaiga 5-6 
2000 MWe PW 
404 + 1300 MWe 
Jaitapur 1-2 
3400 MWe PWR 
e Kaiga 
808 MWe 
Madras 
404 MWe 
alpakkam 2-3 
000 MWe FBR 
alpakkam 
470 MVVe 
Kudankulam 
4200 MWe PWR 
nkulam 
Igoo MWe

-Source: The Hindu


President calls for discretion in courtroom utterances

Context:

President Ram Nath Kovind said judges must exercise ‘utmost discretion’ while making utterances in courtrooms and quoted an American judge to argue that “courts are not representative bodies and are not designed to be a good reflex of a democratic society.”

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Constitution

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. President on Ancient Tradition and Role of Judges
  2. Issues with the Indian Judiciary
  3. Back to Basics: Functional Overlapping amongst the organs of Government
  4. Role of the Judiciary in Law Making
  5. Way forward

President on Ancient Tradition and Role of Judges

  • According to Indian tradition, Judges were viewed as an example of rectitude and detachment, analogous to sthitpragya [a person of steady insight].
  • A rich history of legions of such justices famed for their sagacious remarks and impeccable behaviour, which have become trademarks for future generations.
  • The President referenced Justice Frankfurter of the United States Supreme Court, who said in the 1951 case Dennis versus United States, “Courts are not representational entities.” They are not intended to accurately depict a democratic society. Their main characteristic is separation, which is based on independence.”

Issues with the Indian Judiciary

Appointment of Judges

  • The disadvantages of the Collegium method for appointing judges have been well-documented.
  • The Collegium system’s appointment of judges is completely opaque, and there was no method for verifying the appointment’s reasonableness. There is a complete absence of responsibility on the part of the Judiciary.

Social Media Platforms and Judiciary

  • It is necessary to evaluate the contemporary phenomena of the judiciary being attacked on social media sites.
  • There have been instances of people making derogatory statements against the judges on social media sites. Some criminals take advantage of the anonymity provided by such platforms.

Pending Cases

  • There are currently 3.9 crore cases pending in district and subordinate courts, 58.5 lakh cases in different high courts, and more than 69,000 cases in the Supreme Court, according to reports citing statistics from the National Judicial Data Grid and the Supreme Court.
  • Inadequate facilities and vacancies in several courts have also been mentioned by jurists.

Back to Basics: Functional Overlapping amongst the organs of Government

  • While separation of powers is key to the workings of Indian Government, no democratic system exists with an absolute separation of powers or an absolute lack of separation of powers.
  • Every organ is, in a way, overlapped in its practical functioning with the other two organs of the Government. This overlapping enables the organs to act as a check on each other without too much interference.

Overlapping Powers of Legislature

With JudiciaryWith Executive
Impeachment and the removal of the judges. Power to amend laws declared ultra vires by the Court and revalidating it. In case of breach of its privilege and it can punish the person concerned.  The heads of each governmental ministries are members of the legislature. Through a no-confidence vote, it can dissolve the Government. Power to assess the works of the executive. Impeachment of the President. The council of ministers on whose advice the President and the Governor acts are elected members of the legislature. 

Overlapping Powers of The Executive

With JudiciaryWith Legislature
Making appointments to the office of Chief Justice and other judges. Powers to grant pardons, reprieve, respite or remission of punishments or sentence of any person convicted of any offence. The tribunals and other quasi-judicial bodies which are a part of the executive also discharge judicial functions.Power to promulgate ordinance which has the same force of the Act made by the Parliament or the State legislature. Authority to make rules for regulating their respective procedure and conduct of business subject to the provisions of this Constitution. Powers under delegated legislation.

Overlapping Powers of The Judiciary

With ExecutiveWith Legislative
Under Article 142, the Supreme Court functions as an Executive in order to bring about the complete justice.Judicial review, i.e., the power to review executive action to determine if it violates the Constitution. Rigidity / Non-Amendability of the Constitution under basic structure.

Role of the Judiciary in Law Making

The judiciary can play an important role in improving the lawmaking process. A straightforward way of doing this is by enforcing the text and spirit of the constitutional provisions governing legislative procedures.

Right implementation of constitutional procedures

  • Voice votes registered during the passing of the bill is marred with disagreement.
  • This issue arose most recently when the controversial farm laws were reportedly rushed and passed by voice vote in the Rajya Sabha despite objections by Opposition members.
  • The procedures have to be followed and if need be questions should be raised about the implementation.

Bills as Money Bills

  • The description of the Money Bill is provided under Article 110.
  • This Article identifies seven areas that can be governed through the enactment of Money Bills, including the imposition of tax, the regulation of borrowing and appropriation of money out of the Consolidated Fund of India.
  • Bills certified as Money Bills bypass the Rajya Sabha.
  • Therefore, the judiciary should intervene in a timely manner if the features mentioned in the article are not met.

Judicial Review

  • In exercising judicial review, the court’s role is to call on the State to provide justifications explaining why the law is reasonable and, therefore, valid.
  • The court can examine whether and to what extent the legislature deliberated the reasonableness of a measure.
  • The legislative inquiry would usually include evaluating the factual basis justifying the law, the suitability of the law to achieve its aim, and the necessity and proportionality of the law relative to its adverse impact on fundamental rights.
  • The Supreme Court adopted such an approach in the Indian Hotel and Restaurants Association (2013) case.

Doctrine of presumption of constitutionality

  • It is a legal principle where the judiciary initially assumes law enacted by the legislature to be constitutional, unless the law is declared unconstitutional by the Judiciary.
  • To sustain the presumption of constitutionality the Court may take into consideration matters of common knowledge, matters of common report, the history of the times and may assume every state of facts which can be conceived existing at the time of legislation.

Way forward

  • It is the responsibility of judges to speak in courtrooms with the utmost discretion. Even if offered with the best of intentions, indiscreet statements should be avoided.
  • Stakeholders must work together to find a way to decrease pendency and improve access to justice. Only a small percentage of the population can afford to approach the court of justice.
  • The “critical fulcrum” around which democracy revolves is justice. It was reinforced even more if the three pillars of democracy — the judiciary, the legislature, and the executive — coexisted peacefully.

-Source: The Hindu


Interpol crackdown on cyber-enabled financial crime

Context:

In an operation coordinated by the Interpol, enforcement agencies in more than 20 countries have arrested over 1,000 individuals and intercepted about $27 million of illicit funds as part of a crackdown on cyber-enabled financial crime. India was one of the participants.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations, GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Various Agencies and other interventions regarding Internal Security and their mandate)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Cyber-enabled financial crime
  2. About operation ‘HAECHI-II’
  3. About the other Global Efforts to Prevent Cyber-enabled financial crime
  4. About Interpol

About Cyber-enabled financial crime

  • With the tremendous increase in the use of Internet and Mobile banking, Mobile Wallet, Internet banking, e-commerce, Online share trading, there has been a corresponding growth in the incidents of financial frauds.
  • Ransomware, extortion scams, identity theft, money laundering, and other financial crimes are examples of cyber-enabled financial crime.

Threats from cyber-enabled financial crime

  • Social engineering (e.g. phishing email) might be used to launch a cyber-enabled financial assault from the outside.
  • Insider threats – criminally motivated workers attempting to obtain access to cash – are also a concern.
  • The following are the four most prevalent components of these attacks:
    1. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) smokescreens: Coordinated denial of service attacks on financial institutions are common, and they often appear to be aimed solely to impair the usage of online banking assets.
    2. Transactional based network penetration: When the financial institution’s systems are breached to begin or facilitate transactions from within the financial institution, one of the developing cyber enabled fraud assaults happens.
    3. Data theft based network penetration: Hackers continue to try to hack into processor and other financial institution systems in order to obtain client data such as account numbers, card numbers, and other personal identifiers.
    4. Conventional remote banking fraud: The latest wave of cyberattacks is notable for combining any or all of the above-mentioned attacks with traditional internet, mobile, phone payment, and card attacks.

About operation ‘HAECHI-II’

  • The operation codenamed ‘HAECHI-II’ was conducted by INTERPOL saw police arrest more than 1,000 individuals underlining the global threat of cyber-enabled financial crime.
  • Specialised police units from 20 countries, including Hong Kong and Macau, took part in the exercise to target specific types of online fraud, such as “romance” scams.
  • It is the second such operation in a three-year project launched to tackle cyber-enabled financial crime.

About the other Global Efforts to Prevent Cyber-enabled financial crime

Anti-Money Laundering Rapid Response Protocol (ARRP)

  • The Anti-Money Laundering Rapid Response Protocol (ARRP) has been vital to effectively intercepting illegal payments in various HAECHI-II situations.
  • The findings revealed that the increase in crimes caused by the COVID-19 epidemic had not subsided.

Purple Notices from Interpol

  • Based on the findings during the operation, the Interpol published multiple Purple Notices — police alerts that seek or provide information on modus operandi, objects, devices and concealment methods used by criminals.
  • The notices are shared with the member countries to enable exchange of information on emerging criminal methods and establish links between cases.

About Interpol

  • The International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO), commonly known as INTERPOL, is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control.
  • Headquartered in Lyon, it has seven regional bureaus worldwide and a National Central Bureau in all 194 member states, making it the world’s largest police organization.
  • INTERPOL provides investigative support, expertise, and training to law enforcement worldwide, focusing on three major areas of transnational crime: terrorism, cybercrime, and organized crime.
  • Its broad mandate covers virtually every kind of crime, including crimes against humanity, child pornography, drug trafficking and production, political corruption, copyright infringement, and white-collar crime.
  • The agency also facilitates co-operation among national law enforcement institutions through criminal databases and communications networks.
  • Contrary to popular belief, INTERPOL is itself not a law enforcement agency.
  • INTERPOL is mostly funded by annual contributions by member police forces in 181 countries.
  • It is governed by a General Assembly, composed of all member countries, which elects the Executive Committee and the President.
  • Pursuant to its charter, INTERPOL seeks to remain politically neutral in fulfilling its mandate, as it is barred from interventions or activities of a political, military, religious, or racial nature or involving itself in disputes over such matters.
  • The agency operates in four languages: Arabic, English, French, and Spanish.
  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is the nodal agency in the INTERPOL for India.

-Source: The Hindu

 


Centre forms four panels to look into EPFO functioning

Context:

The Union Government has formed four ad-hoc board-level committees to look into the functioning of different aspects of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), including IT, communications and pension.

Relevance:

GS-III: Indian Economy (Economic development and growth, Government Policies and Initiatives, Issues with the design and implementation of policies)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Employee Provident Fund (EPF)?
  2. Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)
  3. About the panels to look into EPFO functioning

What is Employee Provident Fund (EPF)?

  • Employee Provident Fund (EPF) is a retirement savings scheme that the government of India has mandated for all salaried employees.
  • In simple words, it is a savings platform provided by the government to help the employees build a corpus for post-retirement life.
  • EPF is the main scheme under the Employees’ Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.
  • The funds deducted from the salary as PF goes to the PF account, which is maintained by the Employee Provident Fund Organization (EPFO).
  • The Employee Provident Fund is open for employees of both the Public and Private Sectors.
  • All organizations in India that have more than 20 employees, as per law, is mandated to register with EPFO.
  • Both employer and employee contribute 12% of an employee’s monthly salary (basic wages plus dearness allowance) to the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) scheme.
  • EPF scheme is mandatory for employees who draw a basic wage of Rs. 15,000 per month.
  • This savings scheme offers tax exemption under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act.

Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO)

  • EPFO is a Statutory Body, formed by the Employees’ Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.
  • EPFO is under Union Ministry of Labour & Employment.
  • The EPFO has the dual role of being the enforcement agency to oversee the implementation of the EPF & MP Act and as a service provider for the covered beneficiaries throughout the country.
  • The EPF interest rate is declared every year by the EPFO.
  • EPFO assists the Central Board in administering a compulsory contributory Provident Fund Scheme, a Pension Scheme and an Insurance Scheme for the workforce engaged in the organized sector in India.
  • It is also the nodal agency for implementing Bilateral Social Security Agreements with other countries on a reciprocal basis.
  • The schemes cover Indian workers as well as International workers (for countries with which bilateral agreements have been signed.
  • The EPFO’s apex decision making body is the Central Boad of Trustees (CBT).

About the panels to look into EPFO functioning

  • Union Labour and Employment Minister who chairs the Central Board of Trustees of the EPFO approved the formation of four ad-hoc board-level committees to look into the functioning of different aspects of EPFO.
  • Two of the committees — on ‘pension reforms’ and ‘IT and Communications’ will be steered by Labour Secretary.
  • The eight-member panel on pension reforms had been told to submit a report advising ‘on matters relating to pension reforms for universalisation of social security’. An EPFO official pointed out that the mandate of this particular panel is ‘unusual and unclear’ as a board-level committee already exists for reviewing and improving the Employees’ Pension Scheme (EPS) of 1995.
  • The ad-hoc committee on IT and Communications has 10 members, including three representatives each from employers and employee unions. The panel has been asked to suggest ‘IT measures to improve service delivery’ for EPFO members, build capacity of EPFO’s IT personnel and ‘effective media and communication with stakeholders’.
  • One of them pertains to EPFO’s internal human resources and establishment matters while the other is tasked with finding ways to enhance EPFO’s coverage and reducing related litigation.

-Source: The Hindu


Magnitude 7.5 quake strikes northern Peru

Context:

An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.5 struck northern Peru damaging some buildings and blocking several roads with rubble.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-I: Geography (Geomorphology, Important Geographical Phenomenon, Earthquakes, Maps)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Peru
  2. Earthquake Waves
  3. Earthquake zones of India
  4. Measurement of earthquakes

About Peru

  • Peru is a country in western South America bordered in the north by Ecuador and Colombia, in the east by Brazil, in the southeast by Bolivia, in the south by Chile, and in the south and west by the Pacific Ocean.
  • Its capital and largest city is Lima. The main spoken language is Spanish.
  • Peru is essentially a tropical country, with its northern tip nearly touching the Equator.
  • Despite its tropical location, a great diversity of climates, ways of life, and economic activities is brought about by the extremes of elevation and by the southwest winds that sweep in across the cold Peru Current (or Humboldt Current), which flows along its Pacific shoreline.
  • Its main economic activities include mining, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing; along with other growing sectors such as telecommunications and biotechnology.

Click Here to read about Earthquakes and Earthquake zones of India and Measurement of Earthquakes

-Source: The Hindu

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