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9 PM Daily NEWS Brief

9 PM Daily Current Affairs Brief – May 22, 2017



National


  1. Green energy target tough, say officials 
  2. Animal sightings rise as water dries up 
  3. Maharashtra releases Koyna water to crisis-hit Karnataka 

Editorials

  1. Addressing the court within 
  2. Coal comeuppance 
  3. An opportunity being drained away

Economy


  1. Defence deals await private firms 
  2. Explain Gorshkov cost

National


Green energy target tough, say officials

Context

  • The government had a announced a target of 40 GW of rooftop solar by 2022, but had achieved only about 1.3 GW as of December 2016, which is a little more than 3% of the target.
  • The government is unlikely to meet its much-publicised target of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022 due to the poor progress of the rooftop solar programme.

Issues

  • The policy issue is that the tariff structure right now is such that it is just not remunerative for people to set up rooftop solar. The cost of doing so higher than the money they stand to make.
  • Most roofs in India are flat, and people find several alternative uses for these such as drying clothes, and even hosting parties or meals. There are parts of India where people even sleep on their roofs. So they don’t want to cover that whole space with solar panels,” the official said.
  • There are no financial institutions aggregating demand across a fundamentally disparate set of projects. Unless this is done, it will be difficult to attract the kind of investment needed.
  • The second issue was the de-risking of investment in the rooftop space. While this has been done for commercial solar projects, it has not been done for rooftop solar.
  • The third problem is that there is no regulatory clarity on guaranteed payment by utilities on the net metering basis.

What should be done to sort out?

  • The Ministry is considering increasing the contributions of biogas and small hyrdro to make up the difference. These are doing very well and there is capacity to increase their contribution.
  • The government’s current plan is to get 10 GW from biomass powered plants and 5 GW from small hydro (hydro projects below 25 MW in scale).
  • According to a May 2016 report by the Standing Committee set up by the Ministry of Power, the country has a potential of 19.7 GW of energy capacity from small hydro. It has so far utilised only about 21% of this.

Animal sightings rise as water dries up

Context

  • Forest officials across Odisha are keeping their fingers crossed for the early arrival of monsoon as water scarcity in jungles has reached a critical stage, forcing wild animals to stray into human habitations more frequently.

What is happening?

  • A gaur (Indian bison) was found dead near a water source which had completely dried up in Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary in Angul district recently.
  • In Rajnagar area of Kendrapara district, a spotted deer strayed into human habitation in search of water as there is acute shortage in Bhitarkanika National park.
  • Incident of elephants coming close to human habitations in the State have become extremely common. Earlier, the elephants were known to raid crops between November and February.
  • In summer, the jumbos are expected to stay deep inside the cooler forest environment.

`Maharashtrareleases Koyna water to crisis-hit Karnataka

Context

  • The Maharashtra government on Sunday released water from the Koyna dam in Satara district to alleviate the water crisis in Karnataka.
  • Water level in the Kaveri river basin has plummeted due to the soaring temperature.
  • In return, Karnataka will release water from the Almatti dam to cater to the needs of Solapur district and others parts in Maharashtra facing water shortage.

Background

  • With a storage capacity of 105 TMC, the Koyna reservoir is one of the largest dams in the State. It houses the massive Koyna hydropower generation plant.
  • Three consecutive years of drought have aggravated the agrarian crisis in Karnataka, especially in the north.

Editorials


Addressing the court within

Context

  • International Court of Justice’s order that India’s rights, under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, have plausibly been violated by Pakistan’s detention, trial and ultimate sentencing to death of Jadhav.
  • The internationalisation of the dispute potentially comes with its political ramifications for India.
  • Its victory, impermanent as it may ultimately prove to be, must be celebrated for what it is: a vindication of the rule of law.

International Politics Theory

  • Questions tend to revolve around whether international law is really law at all, and, if so, whether its principles even matter.
  • India’s choice of the ICJ as a legitimate site for dispute resolution, even if it was borne out of self-interest, can help dispel some of these age-old concerns.

The particular case

  • India has sought, among other things, an order that would declare the sentence of the Pakistani military court as violating Article 36 of the Vienna Convention, which both countries as parties are bound by.
  • This provision defines the rights granted to consular officials, with a view to helping them exercise their consular functions. Specifically, it accords a privilege to officials to not only freely communicate with any national of its state detained in the other country, but also the right of visiting the detained individual, and arranging for legal representation, if the détenu so desires.
  • Pakistan alleges that the Convention’s privileges were not only inapplicable, but that the ICJ, in any event, lacks the jurisdiction to decide the dispute.
  • Ordinarily, rows between nations can be taken to the World Court only if both parties consent to the court’s jurisdiction.
  • In this case, however, India relies on Article 36(1) of the Statute of the ICJ which accords to the court the power to decide disputes arising out of treaties or conventions that specifically vest the court with compulsory jurisdiction.

What are Pakistan’s arguments?

  • Pakistan claims that the two countries are governed by a 2008 bilateral agreement on consular access, which effectively exempts Pakistan from its obligations under the Vienna Convention, and which also ousts altogether the ICJ’s jurisdiction.
  • It argues that the Vienna Convention does not apply when a person has been detained for offences involving espionage or terrorism, as concerns over national security always trump the demands of consular relations.

Conclusion

  • When we see naked expressions of power in geopolitics, it’s easy to conclude that international law exists in vacuity, that its principles aren’t merely flawed but that they are also law only in their name.
  • Even if Pakistan were to disregard the ICJ’s order, the case shows us that there do exist concrete sources — a treaty in this case — which impose an ethical duty on nation-states to follow the rule of law.
  • We can only do this by resisting a push for greater governmental freedom at the domestic level, which invariably tends to carry itself into the sphere of international relations, where our own obligations — think climate change, customary refugee law, fundamental human rights, among others — often stand breached.
  • To set the right moral example we must start from within

Coal comeuppance

Context

  • The conviction of three Coal Ministry officials, including former Secretary H.C. Gupta, marks the first case in which individual criminal liability has been fixed on public servants in the coal block scam.

What it means?

  • The verdict is a studied indictment of government processes, or the lack of processes, during the period.
  • Looking at the prosecution charges and the defence claims, it appears there was little clarity on whether the guidelines were being adhered to.
  • Whether there was a conspiracy between the officials and the company and whether the prosecution proved that these omissions amounted to deliberate abuse of their positions will be matters that will, no doubt, be taken up on appeal; but the significance of the verdict is that it may become a benchmark for other ongoing prosecutions on similar lines.
  • The case also raises questions about the role and responsibility of a Secretary to the government, who is not only the administrative head of a department but also an adviser to the Minister on matters of policy.

An opportunity being drained away

Context

  • International World Water Day (March 22) this year’s theme was “wastewater”, which is defined as any water that has been adversely affected in quality by anthropogenic influences and as a result of domestic, industrial, commercial and agricultural activities.

Facts on wastewater

  • Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated goes back to the ecosystem without being treated or reused.
  • 8 billion people use drinking water contaminated with faeces which increases their risk of contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio.
  • Also, 663 million people still lack access to improved drinking water sources.

What is the status in India?

  • Safely managed wastewater is an affordable and sustainable source of water, energy, nutrients and other recoverable materials.
  • In India, about 29,000 million l/day (mld) of waste water is generated from class-I cities and class-II towns, out of which about 45% (about 13,000 mld) is generated from metro cities alone. A collection system exists for only about 30% of the wastewater through sewer lines, while treatment capacity exists for about 7,000 mld.
  • The industrial sector in India discharges around 30,730 million cubic metres of effluents, without proper treatment, into waterbodies.
  • Run-off from agriculture fields is another major source of pollution.

What should be done?

  • At the national and regional levels, water pollution prevention policies should be integrated into non-water policies that have implications on water quality such as agriculture and land use management, trade, industry, energy, and urban development.
  • Water pollution should be made a punishable offence. The effectiveness and power of the “polluter pay principle” should be considered.
  • Various policies, plans and strategies to protect water resources should be participatory, allowing for consultation between government, industry and the public.
  • At the local level, capacity building enables the community to make decisions and disseminate them to the appropriate authorities, thus influencing political processes.
  • Market-based strategies such as environmental taxes, pollution levies and tradable permit systems should be implemented, and can be used to fight against or abate water pollution.
  • Incentive mechanisms such as subsidies, soft loans, tax relaxation should be included in installing pollution management devices.
  • In industrial pollution management, technological attempts should be made through cleaner production-technology. Sophisticated pollution management technology developed overseas should be introduced in India.
  • The application of eco-friendly inputs such as biofertilizers and pesticides in agriculture and the use of natural dyes in textile industries can reduce the pollution load considerably.

Economy


Defence deals await private firms

Context

  • The Union government will unveil mega defence deals estimated at over Rs. 1.5 lakh crore involving the private sector under the strategic partnership model to build a domestic defence manufacturing base in key areas such as submarines and fighter aircraft.

Background

  • The Defence Acquisition Council approved the framework of the model on Saturday. The policy will now go to the Finance Ministry and then to the Cabinet Committee on Security for final approval.
  • The new model, which is a chapter under the Defence Procurement Procedure, has four segments —submarines, single-engine fighter aircraft, helicopters and armoured carriers/main battle tanks — and specifically intends to open up defence manufacturing to the private sector.

What will be under the deal?

  • Of the four deals, submarines and helicopters are for the Navy. The single-engine fighter is for the Indian Air Force and armoured vehicle for the Army.
  • A pool of capable companies will be selected based on technical and financial evaluation and they would then tie up with a foreign OEM which will be short-listed concurrently.

Indian bidders

  • For the submarines, the likely contenders are Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Reliance Defence and Engineering Ltd., which have their own shipyards and the public sector Mazagon Docks Ltd., which is building the French Scorpene submarines.
  • For the fighter and helicopter segments, the likely bidders are Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. and Mahindra, both of which have a footprint in the aviation sector.
  • In the armoured segment, the FICV programme under way will be taken up under the SP model. L&T, Mahindra and Tata Motors are leading the race, for which bids have already been submitted.

Explain Gorshkov cost

Context

  • Central Information Commission has asked the Indian Navy to disclose the reasons for India agreeing to cost escalation by Russia for purchase of refurbished aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov .

Background

  • The deal for purchasing the now 30-year-old warship rechristened INS Vikramaditya was signed in 2004 by the then NDA government for $974 million which was increased to the final price of $2.35 billion in 2010.
  • The commission has also directed the the Navy disclose the “net final cost” incurred on the modifications, renovation and remodelling done on the ship, besides dates of payments made by India.
  • The Commission has ordered the disclosure to be made as it found “larger public interest” was involved. The Ministry and the Navy had withheld the information on the grounds of national security.

Facts

  • The ship was originally commissioned by the erstwhile USSR on December 20, 1987 and was decommissioned in 1996.
  • After being inducted into the Navy as Vikramaditya , the ship is now a floating 284-metre airfield. It is a 20-storey steel megastructure from the keel to the highest point. The ship can carry over 30 aircraft. With 22 decks and a capacity to house 1,600 personnel, the warship can sustain itself at sea for 45 days up to 13,000 km.

 

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