UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 22nd January 2022
- Supreme Court on OBC quota
- The spirit of federalism
- Deputation of All India Services Officer
- ‘Havana Syndrome’
- The Global Plastics Treaty
1.Supreme Court on OBC quota
#GS2-Executive & Judiciary
- The Supreme Court has ruled that the provision of a 27 percent quota for Other Backward Classes (OBC) in NEET All India Quota (AIQ) seats for UG and PG medical programmes is constitutional.
In depth information
What exactly is the problem?
- The petitioners, which included multiple NEET hopefuls, said that because the Supreme Court had limited reservation to 50% in the Indira Sawhney decision, the government should have applied to the court first before fiddling with the quota calculations.
- The court also confirmed that the Centre did not seek the Supreme Court’s permission before imposing OBC quotas in AIQ seats under NEET.
- The court reasoned that the material affluence of a few members of a socially backward minority, known as the “creamy layer,” could not be used to deny reservation privileges to the entire community.
What’s the storey behind this case?
- Prior to the NEET counselling, the government implemented an OBC/EWS quota.
- Candidates who applied for NEET PG were not given any information on the seat matrix distribution.
- The counselling authority will only share this information after the counselling session has begun.
The Supreme Court’s key observations
- Reservation is not incompatible with merit, according to the Supreme Court.
- It was noted that’merit’ could hardly be defined solely in terms of achievement in open competitive examinations.
- According to the SC, a person’s merit is the totality of his or her “life experiences” as well as his or her fight to overcome cultural and social obstacles.
What makes this a watershed decision?
- According to the Supreme Court, merit cannot be reduced to restrictive standards of performance in an open competitive test that simply gives formal equality of opportunity.
- Competent tests examine current competencies, but they do not indicate an individual’s excellence, capability, or potential.
- Reservations have a number of major justifications.
- The court highlighted that exams did not indicate how specific classes’ social, economic, and cultural advantages contributed to their success in them.
- Exams are not a reliable indicator of ability.
- Merit should be re-conceptualized and socially contextualised.
- Reservation, according to Justice Chandrachud, is not incompatible with merit, but rather enhances its distributive impact.
The decision’s constitutionality
- The court held that the power of the State governments to provide reservations under Article 15 (4) and (5) of the Constitution was not an “exception” to Article 15 (1).
- It declares that “the State shall not discriminate against any citizen solely on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth, or any combination of these factors.”
- The capacity of the state government to create reservations for OBCs, the court decided, bolstered the principle of “substantive equality” enshrined in Article 15(1).
Implications: Victory for States
- The court confirmed states’ right to adopt “special provisions” and give reservations in educational admissions, whether in aided or unaided institutions, in a key victory for states like Tamil Nadu.
- Tennessee offers government jobs to help “any socially and educationally backward classes of residents, as well as the SCs and STs.”
2.The spirit of federalism
- Protecting our national character requires a conscious acknowledgment of our polity’s federal nature.
In the Indian Constitution, the federal spirit and concepts are present.
- Because the Constitution’s drafters were aware of the diverse demands of different states’ populations, they included provisions for an equitable distribution of powers and responsibilities among different levels of government.
- The Union, State, and Concurrent lists in the 7th Schedule of the Constitution are an example of this division, in which each level of government has its own realm, allowing context-sensitive decision-making.
- Local self-government: The 73rd and 74th amendments, which reinforced grass-roots democracy, later established structures for local self-government.
- Article 246 and Article 243 G establish this distribution of responsibilities.
- Article 280 established the Finance Commission, which was charged with defining the Union’s and states’ financial relationships and terms.
- Article 263 established an Inter-State Council to ensure a seamless transition of commerce between the Union and the states, as well as the resolution of disputes.
- Inter-state tribunals, the National Development Council, and other informal bodies have acted as platforms for dialogue between the Union, states, and UTs.
- Apart from these institutions and the Rajya Sabha, the Constitution’s authors allowed a lot of room for consultative and deliberative bodies to enhance the spirit of collaboration and federalism.
Steps that are contrary to the spirit of federalism
- The Planning Commission is no longer in existence.
- In the last seven years, the Inter-State Council has only met once, while the National Development Council has not met at all.
- The 15th Finance Commission’s tenure was marred by controversy, with numerous states expressing reservations over devolution.
- The GST has already taken away a lot of state sovereignty and turned the country’s indirect tax system into a unitary system.
- Without consulting the state legislature, Article 370 was repealed.
- Overstepping its competence and forcing a law on the states, Parliament legislated on “agricultural,” entry number 14 on the state list, to enact the three disputed farm laws.
- The New Education Policy has been criticised for infringing on the country’s federal nature.
- Without consulting the involved governments, the BSF’s jurisdiction was extended to Assam, West Bengal, and Punjab.
- The governorship has been criticised on various occasions for interfering with the authority of the state administration and legislature.
- It is important to note that Article 1 of our Constitution stipulates that “India, or Bharat, is a union of states,” and that devolution of powers is required in such a situation.
3.Deputation of All India Services Officer
#GS2-Role of Civil Services in a Democracy
- The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) recently informed the States that the Union government intends to change Rule 6 of the Indian Administrative Service (Cadre) Rules 1954 (deputation of cadre officers).
- The Union government will get overriding powers to transfer IAS and IPS officers through Central deputation, eliminating the need for State government permission.
In depth information
What is the current deputation policy?
- Rule-6 (1) of the IAS (Cadre) Rules-1954, inserted in May 1969, governs central deputation in the Indian Administrative Service.
According to the rule:
- A cadre officer may be deputed for service under the Central Government or another State Government, or under a company, association, or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not, that is wholly or substantially owned or controlled by the Central Government or another State Government, with the concurrence of the State Governments concerned and the Central Government.
In the event of a disagreement, what happens?
- In the event of a disagreement, the matter will be decided by the Central Government, with the State Government or State Governments concerned following the Central Government’s decision.
- Existing guidelines, on the other hand, did not provide a time limit for resolving such a dispute.
Amendments that have been proposed:
- If a State government delays posting a State cadre officer to the Centre and fails to implement the Central government’s decision within the prescribed time, the officer will be released from cadre as of the date stated by the Central government.
- In collaboration with the State, the Centre will determine the exact number of officers to be delegated to the Central government, and the latter should make the names of such officials eligible.
- In the event of a disagreement between the Centre and the State, the matter will be decided by the Centre, and the State will follow the Centre’s decision.
- In specific cases where the Central government requires the services of cadre officers in the “public interest,” the State must carry out its judgments within a specified time frame.
- The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) stated that it is making this decision due to a scarcity of All India Services (AIS) officers in Union Ministries.
- States are not sponsoring a suitable number of officers for Central deputation, according to the DoPT, and the number of officers is insufficient to meet the Centre’s requirements.
Some States Are Against It:
- It goes against the cooperative federalist ideal.
- The proposed modification would erode the government’s political influence over the bureaucracy.
- It would stymie good government and result in unnecessary legal and administrative battles.
- The central government might use the bureaucracy against a democratically elected state government.
#GS3- Science & Technology
- The CIA recently found that “Havana Syndrome”-affected US diplomats were not targeted in a global campaign by a foreign power.
In depth information
- The instances first came to light among diplomats in Havana in 2016.
- After hearing high-pitched sounds, officials from the United States and Canada complained of headaches and possible brain damage.
- Similar incidents have been reported by diplomatic and intelligence personnel in nations such as Australia, Austria, China, Colombia, Germany, and Russia since then.
Workings of Syndrome as Expected
- The victims may have been exposed to high-powered microwaves that injured or interfered with their neural systems, according to the study.
- It was supposed to have created a pressure inside the brain that gave the sensation of hearing a sound.
- Increased exposure to high-powered microwaves is thought to affect not only the body’s sense of equilibrium, but also memory and create long-term brain damage.
- It is suspected that high-powered microwave beams are conveyed through a specific device dubbed “microwave weapons” by Americans.
Weapons that use microwaves
- Previous studies have suggested that “directed” microwave radiation is the “possible” origin of the Syndrome.
- These weapons are said to be direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy at a target in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves.
- These weapons heat the water in a human target’s skin with high-frequency electromagnetic radiation, producing pain and suffering.
Countries Having Microwave Weapons
- These weapons are thought to have been developed by a number of countries to attack both humans and electronic systems.
- In 2014, China initially displayed its “microwave weapon,” the Poly WB-1, at an air show.
- The United States has also created a microwave-style weapon prototype known as the “Active Denial System.”
- Concerns have been raised about whether they can harm the eyes or have a long-term carcinogenic effect.
- According to the US Department of Defense’s FAQ, the Active Denial System does not cause cancer or infertility.
- It further claims that “natural blink reflex, aversion response, and head rotation all protect the eyes” from the weapon, according to research.
- It’s unclear how China plans to employ such a weapon, or whether it’ll be able to kill or permanently harm human targets.
5.The Global Plastics Treaty
#GS3- Environmental Pollution & Degradation
- A new global plastics treaty that takes into account the complete lifecycle of plastics is urgently needed, according to a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
In depth information
- The report compiles the most up-to-date scientific evidence on the effects of plastics on climate, biodiversity, human health, and the environment.
- It was published in Nairobi, Kenya, before of the second phase of UNEA 5.
- Plastic pollution must be addressed from the moment it is created as a substance.
- Peru and Rwanda suggested this in a draught resolution at the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA).
- The UNEA’s fifth session is divided into two parts.
- The UNEA 5.1 conference was held online on February 22nd and 23rd, 2021.
- The fundamental issues that required in-depth discussions were postponed to UNEA 5.2, which will take place from February 28 to March 2, 2022.
- The summit is anticipated to focus on the implementation of resolutions on marine litter and microplastics.
- Over 70 major brands, including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Unilever, and Ikea, published a joint statement on January 17, 2022, advocating for a global pact to combat plastic pollution, which would involve curbing the material’s manufacture.
- Prioritize policies that address numerous hazards that occur over a variety of timeframes:
- This must include measures to eliminate plastics from the environment as soon as possible, phase down plastic production to sustainable levels in accordance with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12, and promote the upscaling of reuse, refill, and traditional packaging systems tailored to national contexts.
Resolution on Peru and Rwanda:
- At the future chapter of UNEA, member states must approve the formation of an intergovernmental negotiating committee to develop a new global plastics convention. 5.
Contributions that are determined at the national level:
- Parties must work to reduce the climate impact of extraction, processing, cracking, and polymerization by including targeted measures in their Paris Climate Agreement NDCs to reduce methane and other greenhouse gas emissions from those activities, in tandem with the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels in the energy sector.
Global Biodiversity Framework:
- Member states must ensure that the planned target of eliminating plastic waste discharges by 2030 is met, and that it is aligned with the goals of a new global plastics convention, with bold initiatives and execution that can truly achieve zero discharges.
- The increase in plastic pollution in the environment is a global issue that must be addressed before it is too late.
UPSC Civils Daily Current Affairs 22nd January 2022
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