Topics for the day:
- Fuel price hike sparks uproar in Parliament
- SL Tamil families flee to India
- Shaheed diwas
- Understanding hypersonic weapons
- UP opposition leader quits Lok Sabha, to retain Karhal assembly
- SC clarifies on BSVI vehicles registration
- Most of Ganga clean, claims Jal Shakti Ministry
Fuel price hike sparks uproar in Parliament
- India’s oil marketing companies began recovering the higher crude oil costs that have prevailed in recent months, with an 80 paise increase per litre in retail prices for petrol and diesel, along with a ?50 increase in domestic cooking gas prices.
- Both Houses of Parliament were disrupted with Opposition members demanding a rollback of the increases and walking out from the Lok Sabha.
- Rajya Sabha proceedings were marred by protests by members who also trooped into the well of the House, demanding a discussion.
- It has been reported that Indian Oil Corporation had notified its dealers of a second consecutive increase of 0.80 in the prices of petrol and diesel that would take effect.
- Now a litre of petrol in Delhi will cost ?01, while diesel prices will be raised to Rs.88.27
- Economists expect the gradual fuel price increases to add up to anywhere between 9 and Rs.12 per litre of diesel and petrol, which could go up to as much as Rs.20 a litre if average global crude price rises to $110-120.
Effect of fuel hike on Inflation
- Such increases would undo the excise duty cuts affected by the government in November 2021.
- The price increases are expected to feed into retail inflation that has already exceeded the 6% mark in the last two months, pinching households and denting consumption further.
- Petrol and diesel prices were last revised in November 2021, though crude oil prices surged by almost $30 a barrel since then, soaring even higher than $100 a barrel, following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.
- Domestic cooking gas prices have been unchanged since October
- Earlier, the price of bulk diesel was increased by Rs.25 per litre, while Aviation Turbine Fuel prices were raised by a record 18%, taking them past the 1 lakh per kilo litre mark.
- While lower excise duty relative to last year will help moderate the impact of rising international crude oil prices, it will not be sufficient to lower fuel inflation if Brent prices stay above $90 per barrel
SL Tamil families flee to India
- The economic crisis in Sri Lanka has forced at least 16 Tamils to flee the country illegally and seek shelter in coastal Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday.
- A Coast Guard patrol spotted and detained the Sri Lankan citizens. They told officials that they left their country due to rising prices of essential goods and lack of jobs.
Factors Responsible for crisis in sri lanka :
- Underperforming Tourism Industry: The tourism industry, which represents over 10% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and brings in foreign exchange, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
- As a result, forex reserves have dropped from over $7.5 billion in 2019 to around $2.8 billion in July 2021.
- Depreciating Currency: With the supply of foreign exchange drying up, the amount of money that Sri Lankans have had to shell out to purchase the foreign exchange necessary to import goods has risen.
- Due to this, the value of the Sri Lankan rupee has depreciated
- Rising Inflation: Sri Lanka depends heavily on imports to meet even its basic food supplies, such as sugar, dairy products, wheat, medical supplies. So the price of food items has risen in tandem with the depreciating SL rupee.
- Diminishing Inflow of Foregin Currency: The pandemic has affected all major sources of foreign exchange earnings like exports, worker remittances, etc.
- Food Shortage: Sri Lankan Government’s recent decision to ban import of chemical fertilizers and adopt an “organic only” approach.
- This overnight shift to organic fertilizers could impact food production severely.
Recent Issues in India-Sri Lanka Relations:
- Killing of Fisherman: Killing of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy is a lingering issue between these two nations. In 2019 and 2020, a total of 284 Indian fishermen were arrested and a total of 53 Indian boats were confiscated by the Sri Lankan authorities.
- East Coast Terminal project: This year (2021) Sri Lanka cancelled an MoU signed with India and Japan for the East Coast Terminal project. India protested the cancellation though it later agreed to the West Coast Terminal being developed by the Adani group.
- Influence of China: China’s rapidly growing economic footprint (and political clout as a corollary) in Sri Lanka is straining India-Sri Lanka relations.
- China is already the largest investor in Sri Lanka, accounting for 23.6% of the total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) during 2010-2019 as against 10.4% from India.
- China is also one of the largest export destinations for Sri Lankan goods and holds over 10% of its external debt.
- 13th Amendment of the Sri Lankan Constitution: It envisages devolution of necessary powers to the provincial councils to address the just demand of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace, and respect within a united Sri Lanka.
- Several people paid tributes to Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru on Shaheed Diwas (23rd March).
- The Day is also known as Martyrs’ Day or Sarvodaya Day.
More about the day and incidents leading to it :
- Every year on 23rd March, Shaheed Diwas is observed. It was on this day that Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were executed by the British government in 1931.
- They were hanged to death for assassinating John Saunders, a British police officer in 1928. They had mistook him for British police superintendent James Scott.
- It was Scott who had ordered lathi charge, which eventually led to the death of Lala Lajpat Rai.
- Bhagat Singh, who had publicly announced avenging Rai’s death, went into hiding for many months after this shootout,later he resurfaced along with an associate Batukeshwar Dutt, and the two, in April 1929, set off two explosive devices inside the Central Legislative Assembly in Delhi.
- They then allowed themselves to be arrested
More about Bhagat singh :
- Born in 1907, Bhagat Singh grew up in the Jullundur Doab district of the Punjab.
- He belonged to a generation that was to intervene between two decisive phases of the Indian national movement – the phase of the ‘Extremism’ of Lal-Bal-Pal and the Gandhian phase of nonviolent mass action.
- In 1923, Bhagat Singh joined the National College, Lahore which was founded and managed by Lala Lajpat Rai and Bhai Parmanand.
- In 1924 in Kanpur, he became a member of the Hindustan Republican Association, started by Sachindranath Sanyal a year earlier.
- The main organiser of the Association was Chandra Shekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh became very close to him.
- It was as a member of the HRA that Bhagat Singh began to take seriously the philosophy of the Bomb.
- In 1925, Bhagat Singh returned to Lahore and within the next year he and his colleagues started a militant youth organisation called the Naujawan Bharat Sabha.
- In 1926, Bhagat Singh established contact with Sohan Singh Josh and through him the ‘Workers and Peasants Party’ which brought out the monthly magazine Kirti in Punjabi.
- For the next year Bhagat Singh worked with Josh and joined the editorial board of Kirti.
- In 1927, he was first arrested on charges of association with the Kakori Case, accused for an article written under the pseudonym Vidrohi (Rebel).
- In 1928, Bhagat Singh changed the name of Hindustan Republican Association to Hindustan Socialist Republic Association (HSRA).
- His time in the prison was spent protesting, seeking better living conditions for inmates.
- During this time, he gained the sympathy of the public, especially when he joined fellow defendant Jatin Das in a hunger strike. The strike ended with Das’ death from starvation in September 1929.
Understanding hypersonic weapons
- Recently Russia used the Kinzhal hypersonic missile in Ukraine.
- In August, China tested a nuclear capable hypersonic missile that circled the globe, demonstrating an advanced space capability.
- Russia was able to launch a Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile from a submarine which hit a target 350 kms away.
- The U.S. also has active hypersonic development programmes, it is however lagging behind China and Russia.
What are hypersonic weapons?
- They are manoeuvrable weapons that can fly at speeds of at least Mach 5, five times the speed of sound.
- The speed of sound is Mach 1, and speeds above Mach I are supersonic and speeds above Mach 5 are hypersonic.
- Hypersonic weapons travel within the atmosphere and can manoeuvre midway which combined with their high speeds make their detection and interception extremely difficult.
- This means that radars and air defences cannot detect them till they are very close and have only little time to react.
- Hypersonic missiles are a new class of threat because they are capable both of manoeuvring and of flying faster than 5,000 kilometres per hour, which would enable such missiles to penetrate most missile defences.
UP opposition leader quits Lok Sabha, to retain Karhal assembly
- After several days, the Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav decided to retain the Karhal seat and submitted his resignation from his parliamentary constituency to Lok Sabha Speaker
Resignation of member of lok sabha :
- It is covered under the Article 101 of the indian constitution and in detail under the rules of procedure of the lok sabha
- A member who desires to resign one’s seat in the House shall intimate in writing under one’s own hand addressed to the Speaker.
- If a member hands over the letter of resignation to the Speaker personally and informs that the resignation is voluntary and genuine the Speaker may accept the resignation immediately.
- If the Speaker receives the letter of resignation either by post or through someone else, the Speaker may make such inquiry as is considered necessary to get satisfied that the resignation is voluntary and genuine.
- If the Speaker, after making a summary enquiry either by oneself or through the Lok Sabha Secretariat is satisfied that the resignation is not voluntary or genuine, the Speaker shall not accept the resignation.
- A member may withdraw the letter of resignation at any time before it is accepted by the Speaker.
What happens when one is elected to both the state Assembly and Lok Sabha
- Article 101(2) of the Constitution along with Rule 2 of the Prohibition of Simultaneous Membership Rules, 1950, made by the President under this Article says:
- Members of state legislatures who have been elected to Lok Sabha must resign their seats within 14 days “from the date of publication in the Gazette of India or in the Official Gazette of the State, whichever is later.
- Failing this their seats in Lok Sabha shall automatically fall vacant.
SC clarifies on BSVI vehicles registration
- The Supreme Court on Tuesday permitted the registration of BSVI light and heavy diesel vehicles used for public utility and essential services.
More on the Bharat stage norms :
- BS norms are based on European emission norms which are referred to in a similar manner of ‘Euro 4’ and ‘Euro 6’.
- Implementation of the intermediate BS-V standard was originally scheduled for 2019.
- But the Centre had announced that the country would skip the BS-V norms altogether and adopt BS-VI norms by 2020
What are the features of the BS-6 fuel ?
- The major difference between the existing BS-IV and forthcoming BS-VI norms is the presence of sulphur in the fuel.
- While the BS-IV fuels contain 50 parts per million (ppm) sulphur, the BS-VI grade fuel only has 10 ppm sulphur content.
- Also, the harmful NOx (nitrogen oxides) from diesel cars can be brought down by nearly 70%.
- In the petrol cars, they can be reduced by 25%.
- However, when we talk about air pollution, particulate matter like PM 2.5 and PM 10 are the most harmful components and the BS-VI will bring the cancer-causing particulate matter in diesel cars by 80%.
- Carmakers would have to put the following three pieces of equipment to meet stringent BS-VI norms:
- a DPF (diesel particulate filter)
- an SCR (selective catalytic reduction) system
- an LNT (Lean NOx trap)
Most of Ganga clean, claims Jal Shakti Ministry
- The water quality of the Ganga was clean enough for bathing and capable of supporting the river ecosystem for almost the entire stretch of the river according to the jal shakti ministry.
- Dissolved oxygen (DO), which is an indicator of river health was within “acceptable limits” of “bathing water quality criteria”.
According to the report of the CPCB
- A report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2018,pointed out four polluted stretches on the main stem of river Ganga.
- There are five categories ranked 1 to 5, with 1 the most polluted and 5 the least.
- An updated 2021 report noted that none of the stretches of the Ganga were now in Priority Category I to IV and only two stretches are in Priority Category V
- A comparison of median data of water quality parameters such as DO, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and faecal coliform (FC) from 2014 and 2021;
- DO has improved at 31 locations;
- BOD at 46
- FC at 23 locations
- River cleaning is a continuous process and the Central government assists the State governments and urban local bodies through schemes like ‘Namami Gange’ and National River Conservation Plan (NRCP).
What is namami gange and what are its features :
- Namami Gange Programme is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as a ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in June 2014 to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
- It is being operated under the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti.
- The program is being implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations
- NMCG is the implementation wing of National Ganga Council (set in 2016; which replaced the National Ganga River Basin Authority – NGRBA).
- It has a Rs. 20,000-crore, centrally-funded, non-lapsable corpus. It is a central sector scheme.
- The main pillars of the programme are:
- Sewage Treatment Infrastructure
- River-Front Development
- River-Surface Cleaning
- Public Awareness
- Industrial Effluent Monitoring
- Ganga Gram
UPSC Civil Services Daily Current Affairs 23rd March 2022
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