Daily Current Affairs – 11-08-2023

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    Bill on Election Commission members’ Appointments

    Syllabus: GS2/Indian Polity

    In News

    • The Government introduced the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (Appointment Conditions of Service and Term of Office) Bill, 2023 in the Rajya Sabha.

    Background

    • A public interest litigation, challenging the constitutional validity of the practice of the Centre-appointed members of the Election Commission was filed in SC.
      • The President makes the appointment on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister.
    • In March, the Supreme Court had ruled that the selection panel should comprise the Prime Minister, the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in Lok Sabha and the Chief Justice of India (CJI). 
      • The court had said the order would hold good until a law was made by Parliament.
    • The Bill now seeks to address this vacuum and set up a legislative process to make appointments to the EC.

    Key Provisions of the Bill

    • It repeals the Election Commission (Conditions of Service of Election Commissioners and Transaction of Business) Act, 1991.
    • Election Commission: As per Article 324 of the Constitution, the Election Commission consists of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and such number of other Election Commissioners (ECs), as the President may decide.  
      • The CEC and other ECs are appointed by the President. 
      • The Bill specifies the same composition of the Election Commission.  
      • It adds that the CEC and other ECs will be appointed by the President on the recommendation of a Selection Committee.
    • Selection Committee: The Selection Committee will consist of: (i) the Prime Minister as Chairperson, (ii) the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha as member, and (iii) a Union Cabinet Minister nominated by the Prime Minister as member.  
      • If the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha has not been recognised, the leader of the single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha will assume the role.
    • Search Committee: A Search Committee will prepare a panel of five persons for the consideration of the Selection Committee.  
      • The Search Committee will be headed by the Cabinet Secretary. It will have two other members, not below the rank of Secretary to the central government, having knowledge and experience in matters related to elections.  
      • The Selection Committee may also consider candidates who have not been included in the panel prepared by the Search Committee.
    • Qualification of CEC and ECs: Persons who are holding or have held posts equivalent to the rank of Secretary to the central government will be eligible to be appointed as CEC and ECs. Such persons must have expertise in managing and conducting elections.
    • Salary and allowances: The 1991 Act provides that the salary of the ECs will be equal to that of a Supreme Court judge. 
      • The Bill provides that salary, allowance, and service conditions of the CEC and other ECs will be the same as that of the Cabinet Secretary.
    • Term of office: The 1991 Act mandates that the CEC and other ECs will hold office for a term of six years or until they reach the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. If an EC is appointed as the CEC, his total term cannot exceed six years.  
      • The Bill retains the same tenure.  Further, under the Bill, the CEC and other ECs will not be eligible for re-appointment.
    • Conduct of business: All business of the Election Commission is to be conducted unanimously.  In case of difference of opinion between the CEC and the other ECs on any matter, it shall be decided through majority.
    • Removal and resignation: Under Article 324 of the Constitution, the CEC can only be removed from his office in a manner similar to that of a Supreme Court judge.  
      • This is done through an order of the President, based on a motion passed by both Houses of Parliament in the same session. 
      • The motion for removal must be adopted with: (i) majority support of total membership of each House, and (ii) at least two-thirds support from members present and voting.  
      • An EC can only be removed from office on the recommendation of the CEC. The Bill retains this removal procedure.
      • Further, the 1991 Act provides that the CEC and other ECs may submit their resignation to the President. The Bill has the same provision. 

    Concerns

    • The bill replaces the CJI with a cabinet minister as one of the three members of the selection panel which will override the Supreme Court’s judgment regarding the appointment of the chief election commissioner and other election commissioners.
    • It will put a question mark on the neutrality of the Election Commission (EC) as the selection panel would effectively have two members of the ruling party –  the Prime Minister and the Cabinet Minister.
    • Opposition see it as an attempt to control an institution which must be independent. 

    Source: TH

    Can states make laws on UCC?

    Syllabus: GS2/Polity and Governance

    Context

    • The Kerala Legislative Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution expressing its concern and over the “Union Government move to impose a Uniform Civil Code (UCC).’’
      • The resolution essentially strikes a cautious note that a proposed UCC could harm the secular nature of the country and federalism.

    Which other states have opposed the idea of UCC?

    • The Mizoram Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution opposing any move to implement the UCC in the country.
      • Its concerns about the proposed common code are primarily that it could clash with the customs and social practices of Mizos in the state.
    • The Nagaland Tribal Council has written to the Law Commission that if UCC is implemented, it will dilute the provisions of Article 371A of the Constitution which states special provisions for the state.
    • Tamil Nadu has opposed the UCC by writing to the 22nd Law Commission that a UCC could violate an individual’s religious freedom of the state.

    What is Uniform Civil Code (UCC)?

    • The UCC refers to a common set of laws governing personal matters such as marriage, divorce, adoption, inheritance and succession for all citizens, irrespective of religion.
    • Origin:
      • It dates back to colonial India when the British government submitted its report in 1835 stressing the need for uniformity in the codification of Indian law relating to crimes, evidence, and contracts, specifically recommending that personal laws of Hindus and Muslims be kept outside such codification.
      • An increase in legislation dealing with personal issues at the far end of British rule forced the government to form the B N Rau Committee to codify Hindu law in 1941.
        • The committee, in accordance with scriptures, recommended a codified Hindu law, which would give equal rights to women.
    • Constitutional Provisions:
      • Article 44: The “State shall endeavour to provide for its citizens a uniform civil code (UCC) throughout the territory of India.”
      • Article 37: The “state shall endeavour by suitable legislation”, while the phrase “by suitable legislation” is absent in Article 44.
    • Inclusion in DPSP:
      • The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) was included in the Directive Principles, not in the Fundamental Right which is enforceable by the Court of Law due to the following reasons:
    • Muslims members opposed it in the Constituent Assembly.
    • The pain of partition on the religious ground was still not diminished. 
    • The stand taken by B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly was that a UCC is desirable but for the moment should remain voluntary.

    Can States bring their own personal laws?

    • State laws on the issues related to personal laws are mentioned in Entry 5 of the Concurrent List will not have precedence over central legislation.
      • On specific areas not covered by central legislation, states can legislate. But central legislation already covers all aspects of marriage, divorce, inheritance and succession.
    • However, the Constitution of India does not prevent states from exploring the feasibility of such a law. Article 162 of the Constitution indicates that the executive power of a State extends to matters with respect to which the Legislature of the State has power to make laws.
      • On January 9, 2023, a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India refused to hear petitions of certain states to set up committees to explore the feasibility of implementing a uniform civil code in their respective administrative jurisdictions.
    • However, the Supreme Court of India observes in view of the provisions of Entry 5 of the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule, the constitution of a Committee per se cannot be challenged as ultra vires.
      • For example, a five-member panel was set-up by Uttarakhand headed by former Supreme Court judge Ranjana Desai for preparing a draft on the implementation of a uniform civil code in the state. The committee is learnt to have finalised a draft framework.
      • States like Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Assam announced they would form their own committee for the implementation of the UCC.

    Can the Centre make a law unilaterally on Uniform Civil Code (UCC)?

    • The UCC is often painted as ‘one law for one nation’.
    • The issue of personal laws falls in List III — the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution.
      • As per the Article 162 of the Constitution, State governments have the power to legislate on subjects where a central law does not occupy the field for entries in the Concurrent List.
      • And, if there is a central law, it automatically gains precedence over the state law on the subject.
      • Entry 5 of the Concurrent lists “Marriage and divorce; infants and minors; adoption; wills, intestacy and succession; joint family and partition; all matters in respect of which parties in judicial proceedings were immediately before the commencement of this Constitution subject to their personal law.”
    • This allows states the power to legislate on the subject but only in the absence of a central law.
      • The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955; the Shariat Act of 1937, are central legislations on Hindu and Muslim personal laws. When the Hindu personal laws were codified in 1955, it replaced several provincial legislations that existed on the issue.

    IE

    India, Japan to restart trilateral cooperation with Sri Lanka

     

    Syllabus: GS2/International Relations

    Context:

    • Sri Lanka, India and Japan are studying ways of restarting trilateral cooperation on the East Container Terminal (ECT) project in Colombo.

    About:

    • The cancellation of the MoU between Sri Lanka and Japan and the suspension of the Japanese-funded Light Rail Transit (LRT) project by the previous government of Sri Lanka, had led to a freeze in ties between Tokyo and Colombo.
    • With India and Japan coming to Sri Lanka’s rescue during last year’s economic crisis, and offering assistance with Sri Lanka’s debt restructuring process, and the return of infrastructure project plans and investment.

    About East Container Terminal (ECT):

    • In May 2019, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) agreed on a Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) with Sri Lanka, India and Japan to develop the East Container Terminal (ECT).
      • Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) would retain 100% ownership, while a jointly-owned Terminal Operations company would run the terminal 51% stake with Sri Lanka and 49% with India and Japan
    • In Feb 2021, Sri Lanka booted India and Japan out of a 2019 deal to jointly develop the East Container Terminal (ECT) at the Colombo Port, as trade unions and sections of the Buddhist clergy vehemently opposed foreign involvement in the strategic national asset.
    • As an alternative, Sri Lanka offered the West Container Terminal (WCT) at the Port to India and Japan for joint development on new terms, with higher stakes of 85 % for the foreign partners.
    • In March 2021, the government approved a joint venture with the Adani consortium to develop the WCT, on a Build-Operate-Transfer basis for 35 years.

    Way Forward:

    • India and Japan share a vision of a Free Open and Inclusive Indo-Pacific, which is of relevance to all countries in the region including Sri Lanka. Some projects in Sri Lanka which were to be executed jointly by India and Japan did not progress due to several reasons, but that should not deter us in exploring new cooperation. 
    • India and Japan need to work together on renewable energy and grid connectivity projects, development of Trincomalee as an oil pipeline hub, connectivity and people-centric projects.

    TH

    ‘Sponge cities’

    Syllabus:GS1/Geography,GS3/Infrastructure

    News

    • The recent devastating floods and infrastructural damage in China have raised concerns  about the effectiveness of its “sponge city” initiative aimed at reducing urban flood risks.

    Background

    • The sponge city initiative was launched in 2015 in China to boost flood resilience in major cities and make better use of rainwater through architectural, engineering and infrastructural tweaks.
    • However the cities of China remain vulnerable to heavy rain. In July floods and related geological disasters caused 142 deaths and disappearances, destroyed 2,300 homes and caused direct economic losses of 15.78 billion yuan ($2.19 billion).

    What are ‘sponge cities’?

    • The term “sponge cities” is used to describe urban areas with abundant natural areas such as trees, lakes and parks or other good design intended to absorb rain and prevent flooding.
    • It is designed to make greater use of lower-impact “nature-based solutions” to better distribute water and improve drainage and storage.
    • It includes the use of permeable asphalt, the construction of new canals and ponds and also the restoration of wetlands, which would not only ease waterlogging, but also improve the urban environment.

    Steps taken by India for sponge cities

    • Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban): While primarily focused on sanitation, this mission also emphasizes solid waste management and pollution control, which contribute to preventing waterlogging and flooding.
    • National smart cities mission:It promotes the measures to manage urban flooding through rainwater harvesting,green spaces and proper drainage system.
    • Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT):The Mission focuses on development of basic infrastructure, in the cities and towns, in the sectors of water supply; sewerage and septage management; storm water drainage.
    • Guidelines and Regulations: The government has issued guidelines for sustainable urban development, encouraging the incorporation of features like permeable pavements, green roofs, and retention ponds to enhance water absorption.

    Limitations of sponge cities

    • Sponge city infrastructure can handle no more than 200 millimeters (7.9 inches) of rain per day. Also they may face challenges with high upfront costs for infrastructure changes, maintenance requirements, and potential disruptions during construction. 
    • Additionally, their effectiveness can be influenced by factors like climate variability and urban development patterns. 

    Source:IE

    Restoration of Old Pension Scheme (OPS)

    Syllabus: GS-2/Government Policies & intervention, GS3/ Economy

    Context

    • The Central government has warned its employees against participating in strikes or protests over demand for restoration of the Old Pension Scheme (OPS).

    What is an Old Pension Scheme?

    • Old Pension Scheme (OPS), is a post-retirement benefit for employees in the public sector that guarantees a set sum to be paid to the employee following their superannuation. 
    • It is also known as the “Defined Benefit Scheme”, providing government employees with a future guarantee in the form of a payment equal to 50% of their base income. 
      • Therefore, if the person’s basic salary is Rs. 10,000, the government will pay them a set pension of Rs. 5,000 each month.
    • Previously, the budget for pensions was disclosed each year during the presentation of the budget. Additionally, the annual DA rise in the pension was funded by both the federal and state governments.

    Why was OPS discontinued?

    • It was a financial liability for the government because there was no way for it to make money from the corpus that government employees had saved up. 
    • In December 2003, the government said that the New Pension Scheme (NPS) would take the place of the Old Pension Scheme as of April 1, 2004.

    What is the New Pension Scheme (NPS)?

    • New Pension Scheme (NPS), a government-sponsored pension scheme, was launched in January 2004 for government employees.
    • The NPS was for prospective employees; it was made mandatory for all new recruits joining government service from January 1, 2004.
    • Contributions: 
      • The defined contribution comprised 10 percent of the basic salary and dearness allowance by the employee and a matching contribution by the government this was Tier 1, with contributions being mandatory.
      • In 2019, the government increased its contribution to 14 percent of the basic salary and dearness allowance.
    • Schemes under the NPS are offered by nine pension fund managers
      • It is sponsored by SBI, LIC, UTI, HDFC, ICICI, Kotak Mahindra, Adita Birla, Tata, and Max.

     

    Key Differences Between Old Pension Scheme(OPS) and New Pension Scheme (NPS)

    Heads

    Old Pension Scheme (OPS)

    New Pension Scheme (NPS)

    1. Employees who are eligible

    Government Employees Only

    Government employees, citizens between the age of 18 and 60, and NRIs

    1. Payment of Pension

    Provides pension to employees on the basis of their last salary withdrawn and DA.

    Pension on the basis of the investment done in NPS during their employment.

    1. Amount of pension

    A pension is given equal to 50% of the last received salary + DA or the average salary received in previous 10 months of service, whichever is greater.

    40% put in annuities and 60% received as a lump sum upon retirement

    1. Contribution

    No amount is contributed by employees

    Government employees are required to contribute 10% of their basic pay + DA, while the government is required to contribute 14%. 

    1. Income Tax Benefits 

    No Tax benefits

    Employees may deduct up to Rs. 1.5 lakh from their income tax under Section 80C and Rs. 50,000 from other investments under Section 80CCD (1b).

    1. Tax on pension amount

    The pension amount is tax free.

    60% of NPS corpus is tax free while 40% is taxable.

    OPS v/s NPS: Which is better?

    • Flexibility: The NPS gives people more freedom to choose their fund managers, investment options, and the order in which they make their investments. Depending on their risk tolerance, people can select from a variety of classes like equities, government bonds, and corporate bonds.
    • The NPS is a transferable program, so members can maintain their account even if they switch jobs. 
    • Market-linked: The NPS is a market-linked scheme, and the returns on investments are determined by how well pension fund managers perform their investments.
    • Low management fees: In comparison to the OPS, the NPS offers cheaper management fees. As a result, more of the investment money goes toward creating the retirement corpus, and the investor keeps a larger percentage of the profits.

    Source: TH

    NavIC to link to Aadhaar enrolment devices

    Syllabus: GS3/Science and Technology

    In News

    • The Navigation with Indian Constellation or (NavIC) will soon be integrated into Aadhaar enrolment devices, the Department of Space (DoS) told the Parliamentary Committee of Science and Technology.

    About

    • The department has facilitated successful conduction of field trials, and is providing technical expertise in finalisation of procurement specification of the devices.
    • Currently the Aadhaar enrolment kits that are used to collect and verify personal details are linked to GPS

    About NavIC

    • It is a regional navigation satellite system established by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). 
    •  NavIC was erstwhile known as Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS).
    • NavIC is designed with a constellation of 7 satellites and a network of ground stations operating 24 x 7. 
      • Three satellites of the constellation are placed in geostationary orbit and four satellites are placed in inclined geosynchronous orbit.
    • The ground network consists of control centre, precise timing facility, range and integrity monitoring stations, two-way ranging stations, etc.
    • NavIC offers two services: Standard Position Service (SPS) for civilian users and Restricted Service (RS) for strategic users. 
      • These two services are provided in both L5 (1176.45 MHz) and S band (2498.028 MHz). 
    • The NavIC coverage area includes India and a region up to 1,500 km beyond the Indian boundary. Newer satellites will have an additional band called L1 that will be compatible with civilian use.
    • NavIC SPS signals are interoperable with the other global navigation satellite system (GNSS) signals namely GPS, Glonass, Galileo and BeiDou.

    Applications

    • Transportation (terrestrial, aerial and marine)
    • Location based services
    • Personal mobility
    • Resource monitoring
    • Surveying and geodesy
    • Scientific research
    • Time dissemination and synchronisation
    • Safety-of-life alert dissemination: The National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) was already utilising NavIC as an alert dissemination system for major natural disasters like landslipSs, earthquakes, floods, and avalanches. 
      • The Indian National Centre for Ocean Information System (INCOIS) relies on it to broadcast cyclones, high waves, and tsunamis alert messages to fishermen venturing into the deep sea.
    • The Centre has been pushing cell phone makers in India to make their instruments compatible with NavIC, a process that will involve hardware alterations.

    GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN)

    • To meet the navigation requirements of civil aviation, ISRO and Airports Authority of India (AAI) have implemented the GPS Aided GAGAN as a satellite based augmentation system (SBAS) for the Indian airspace. 
    • GAGAN system is interoperable with other international SBAS systems like US WAAS, European EGNOS, Japanese MSAS etc. 
    • GAGAN provides the additional accuracy, availability, and integrity necessary for various phases of flight, from en-route through approach for all qualified airports within the GAGAN service volume.

    Source: TH

    China’s economy slides into deflation

    Syllabus:GS3/Economy

    News

    • China’s economy has slipped into deflation as consumer prices declined in July for the first time in more than two years.

    What is Deflation?

    • Deflation is a general decline in prices for goods and services, typically associated with a contraction in the supply of money and credit in the economy. 
    • During deflation, the purchasing power of currency rises over time.

    Causes of Deflation

    • Declining prices can be caused by a number of factors: a decline in aggregate demand (a decrease in the total demand for goods and services) and increased productivity. 
    • A decline in aggregate demand results in subsequent lower prices. Causes of this shift include reduced government spending, stock market failure, consumer desire to increase savings, and tightening monetary policies (higher interest rates). 
    • Increased productivity is caused by technological advancement.Companies operate more efficiently as technology advances which lead to lower production costs and cost savings transferred to consumers in the form of lower prices.

    Impact of Deflation

    • Deflation benefits consumers because they can purchase more goods and services with the same nominal income over time.
    • Deflation can harm borrowers, who are bound to pay their debts in money that is worth more than the money they borrowed, as well as any financial market participants who invest or speculate on the prospect of rising prices.

    Impact of China’s deflation on World Economy

    • Flood global markets with Chinese goods:China produces a large proportion of the goods sold around the world.Cut-price Chinese goods flood global markets and it could have a negative impact on manufacturers in other countries. That could hit investment by businesses and cause unemployment.
    • Effect on global exports: A period of falling prices in China could also hit company profits and consumer spending. This may then lead to higher unemployment.It could also result in a fall in demand from the country – the world’s largest marketplace – for energy, raw materials and food, which would hit global exports.

    Impact of China’s deflation on Indian Economy

    • Positive effect: If investment in the Chinese economy is lowered owing to the increasing slowing rate of their economy,India could potentially emerge and take over as the manufacturing hub for the developed economies. For India, if economic reforms are accelerated, India can become the next manufacturing hub.
    • Negative effect: China remains one of the biggest importers of iron ore from India.Therefore, a slower economy for China would mean the amount of import into China could fall, spelling somewhat doom from India’s economy.

    Impact on China’s economy

    • China’s economy is already facing other hurdles.It is recovering from the impact of the pandemic at a rate that is slower than expected.China’s exports fell by 14.5% in July compared with a year earlier, while imports dropped 12.4%. 
    • China is also dealing with an ongoing property market crisis after the near-collapse of its biggest real estate developer Evergrande.

    Source:TH

    World Biofuel Day

    Syllabus: GS-3/Environment

    Context

    • World Biofuel Day is observed every year on 10th August to create awareness about the importance of non-fossil fuels as an alternative to conventional fossil fuels.
      • The day was first observed in 2015 by the Ministry of Petroleum and Gas.

    What is Biofuel?

    • Biofuels are defined as fuels made from organic materials such as plants, crops, and animal manure, offering a persuasive and eco-friendly alternative to traditional fossil fuels.
    • These energy sources are created from biomass, including plants, agricultural residues, green growth and crops. 
    • Renewable biofuels emerge as a crucial catalyst in the reduction of carbon emissions by up to 90%, confirming their crucial role in the shift to a more sustainable and ecologically aware world. 
    • Sources: Crops used to make biofuels are generally either high in sugar (such as sugarcane, sugarbeet, and sweet sorghum), starch (such as maize and tapioca) or oils (such as soybean, rapeseed, coconut, sunflower).

    Significance of Biofuels

    • The day  emphasizes encouraging sustainable energy and the inherent benefits of biofuels.
    • Compared to non-renewable fossil fuels, biofuels are less harmful to the climate.
    • The use of renewable energy slows global warming and promotes sustainable energy.
    •  Biofuel also diminishes the emissions of greenhouse gas.
    •  Decrease the contamination of air and water.
    • The necessity of securing a cleaner environment for the benefit of future generations .

    Types of Biofuel in India

     

    Important Bio-Fuel Categories in India

    • Bioethanol is ethanol produced from biomass, which includes sugar and starch containing plants like corn, cassava, rotten potatoes, and algae, as well as cellulosic materials like bagasse, wood waste, agricultural and forestry residues, as well as other renewable resources like industrial waste.
    • Biodiesel: a methyl or ethyl ester of fatty acids made from bio-oil, used cooking oil, acid oil, and non-edible vegetable oils;
    • Bio-CNG: a refined form of biogas produced from food waste, MSW, animal manure, and sewage water. Its energy potential and composition are comparable to those of natural gas derived from fossil fuels.
    • Drop-in fuel: Any liquid fuel made from biomass, agricultural residues, wastes, such as Municipal Solid Wastes (MSW), plastic wastes, industrial wastes, etc. that satisfies Indian standards for MS, HSD, and jet fuel, in pure or blended form, for use in vehicles without requiring engine system modifications and that can use the existing petroleum distribution system is referred to as a drop-in fuel.
    • Advanced Biofuels: Fuels which are made of agricultural and forest residues (rice, wheat, straw, corn, woody biomass) and non food crops (grasses and algae). Such types of biofuels have low CO2 emission and are classified as Green Fuels. Examples: Ethanol, Drop in fuels, Bio-Hydrogen, Bio-Methanol, Algae based 3G biofuel, etc.

    Roadmap of Biofuel in India

    • India has set a target to achieve 20% ethanol blending in petrol by 2025-26.
    • The target of petrol supplies with 10% ethanol blending was achieved in June last year, ahead of the original schedule of November 2022.
    • India restricted the import and export of biofuels in a bid to increase domestic capacity.

    Initiatives of Government to Promote Biofuel in India

    • National Biofuel Policy, 2018: By 2030, 20% ethanol blending is expected under Ethanol Blended Petrol (EBP) Program. By allowing the use of sugarcane juice, sugar-containing materials, and starch-containing materials for ethanol production, it broadens the range of raw materials available for ethanol production.
    • Program for Ethanol-Blended Petrol (EBP):It wants to reduce fuel imports, save money, and classify ethanol as a biofuel by blending it with gasoline.
    • Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana, 2019: It aims to provide financial support to Integrated Bioethanol Projects using lignocellulosic biomass and other renewable feedstock.
    • In order to maintain the cleanliness of villages, the 2018 GOBAR DHAN initiative (Galvanising Organic Bio-Agro Resources) focuses on managing and converting agricultural wastes, such as animal manure and crop waste, into usable compost and bio-CNG.
    • Repurpose Used Cooking Oil (RUCO): Under this  with the goal of developing an ecosystem that will allow used cooking oil to be collected and converted into biodiesel. It is launched by The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

    Source: BS

    Renewable Energy Microgrid

    Syllabus: GS3/Energy, Infrastructure

    News

    • The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) launched the Renewable Energy Microgrid Power Plant for Electrical energy requirements of rural communities.

    What are microgrids?

    • Microgrids are local power grids that can be operated independently of the main (generally much bigger) electricity grid in an area. 
    • Microgrids can be used to power a single building or a collection of buildings, like an industrial park, university campus, military base or neighborhood. Groups of microgrids that are linked together can also power bigger areas, like towns or cities.

    Renewable energy Microgrid: 

    • A renewable energy microgrid is an autonomous, localized and self-contained energy system that incorporates renewable energy sources as its primary generation inputs. 
    • In the off-grid mode of operation of a microgrid, it generates, stores, and distributes electricity within a specific area or community while prioritizing the use of renewable energy to minimize reliance on fossil fuels and reduce environmental impact. 
    • In the on-grid mode of operation, the microgrid will be able to interact with the utility grid and export power if the generation is excess of what is locally needed.

    Why are microgrids needed?

    • During storms or power outages the main electricity grid in an area is shut down. Microgrids can switch away from them and continue to provide power during emergencies like these.This process is known as ‘islanding’.
    • Microgrids can also provide power in remote places that have no access to electricity.

    Source:PIB

    Facts In News 

    Select Committee

    Syllabus: GS2/Structure and Functioning of the Parliament

    News

    • Four MPs  from Rajya sabha recently complained that their names had been included in a proposed Select Committee for the Delhi Services Bill without their consent.

    What is a Select Committee?

    • India’s Parliament has several types of committees including 12 Standing Committees that are permanent in nature, with their members nominated from time to time by the Chairman. 
    • Then there are ad hoc or temporary committees, which are set up for a specific purpose(Eg. Examining a Bill) and are dissolved once that purpose has been served. A Select Committee belongs to this category. 
    • Under Rule 125 of the Rajya Sabha Rules and Procedures, any member may move an amendment that a Bill be referred to a Select Committee.
    • The motion to refer a Bill to a Select Committee can either be moved by the member in-charge of the Bill, or by any other MP, as happened in the case of the Delhi Services Bill.

    Selection of members of Select Committee

    • The members are specifically named in the motion itself. The mover has to ascertain whether the member proposed by him is willing to serve on the Committee.
    • The members of the Select Committee on a Bill are appointed by the House when the motion that the Bill be referred to a Select Committee is made.
    • The actual number of membership of the Select Committee is not fixed; it varies from Committee to Committee. 
    • If it is a Joint Committee, the proportion of members from the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha is 1:2.
    • The Chairman of the Committee is appointed by the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha from among the members of the Committee.
    • The member or Minister in-charge of the Bill is generally included as a member of the Committee.

    Working of a Select Committee

    • The quorum for each sitting needs to be one-third of the total number of members of the committee. 
    • The Committee’s job is to go through the text of the Bill, clause by clause, in order to see that the Bill “reflects clearly the intention behind the measure and the object proposed to be achieved is adequately brought out,” Rajya Sabha rules say.
    • In case of equality of votes on any matter, the chairman (or any other person presiding) will have a second or casting vote.
    • The report will be signed on behalf of the committee by the chairman. Any member can record dissent. The report, along with notes of dissent, will be presented to the Rajya Sabha, printed and circulated among all members.
    • The Committee may also visit organisations and institutions, etc. for on-the-spot study of a matter connected with the Bill.

    Aftermath of submission of report by Select Committee’s

    • The report of the committee is of a recommendatory nature. The government can choose to accept or reject its recommendations.
    • A Select Committee can also include its version of the Bill. If they do so, the minister in charge of that particular Bill can move for the committee’s version of the Bill to be discussed and passed in the House.

    Source: IE

    Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana

     

    Syllabus: GS2/ Welfare Schemes

    Context

    • Bioethanol projects are under Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana

    About Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN Yojana

    • To facilitate production of ethanol, Government had notified the “Pradhan Mantri JI-VAN (Jaiv Indhan – Vatavaran Anukool Fasal Awashesh Nivaran) Yojana” for providing financial support for setting up Second Generation (2G) ethanol projects in the country using lignocellulosic biomass and other renewable feedstock.
    • The total financial outlay for the scheme is Rs. 1969.50 crore for the period from 2018-19 to 2023-24.

    Objectives

    • The current scheme envisages setting up of 12 Commercial scale Second Generation (2G) Bioethanol projects and 10 demonstration scale 2G Bioethanol projects based on non-food biomass feedstocks and other renewable feedstocks. 
    • The projects have been envisaged to increase ethanol availability for Ethanol Blending Petrol Programme in the country consequently reducing dependency on import of fossil fuel. 

    Implementation

    • Under this Yojana, 12 Commercial and Demonstration scale Second Generation (2G) ethanol Projects will be provided a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) support in two phases:
      • Phase-I  (2018-19  to  2022-23):  wherein  six  commercial  projects  and five demonstration projects will be supported.
      • Phase-II (2020-21 to 2023-24): wherein remaining six commercial projects and five demonstration projects will be supported.
    • The Project developers interested in availing benefits of the scheme, shall be submitting their proposal for review by the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoP&NG).

    Source: PIB

    MALABAR-2023

    Syllabus: GS3/Internal Security

    In News

    • Indian Navy’s indigenous frontline warships INS Sahyadri and INS Kolkata will participate in Exercise MALABAR 2023.

    About

    • The MALABAR series of maritime exercises commenced in 1992 as a bilateral exercise between the Indian Navy and US Navy. 
    • Japan joined the Naval Exercises in 2015. Malabar 2020 saw the participation of the Australian Navy.
    • This year marks the 27th edition of MALABAR which is being hosted by Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and will see participation from the US Navy (USN), Japan Maritime Self Defence Force (JMSDF) and the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
    • INS Sahyadri is the third ship of the indigenously designed and built Project-17 class multi-role stealth frigates.
    • INS Kolkata is the first ship of the indigenously designed and built Project-15A class destroyers.
      • Both ships have been built at Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai and are fitted with a state-of-the-art array of weapons and sensors to detect and neutralise threats in surface, air and underwater domains.

    Source: PIB

    Jeddah 

    Syllabus: Places in News

    In News 

    • Saudi Arabia hosted a conference for peace talks on the Russia-Ukraine war  in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah. 

    About Jeddah 

    • It is Saudi Arabia’s port city.
    • It is situated on the eastern shore of the Red Sea. 
    • It is  situated on the maritime trade route connecting the Mediterranean with India, the Arabian Peninsula and southeast Asia.
    • From the 7th century AD it was established as a major port for Indian Ocean trade routes, channeling goods to Mecca.
    •  It was also the gateway for Muslim pilgrims to Mecca who arrived by sea. 

    Papua New Guinea.

    Syllabus: Places in News

    In News

    • Indian Naval Ships Sahyadri and Kolkata arrived at Port Moresby for enhancing maritime partnership and cooperation with Papua New Guinea.

    About Papua New Guinea

    • Papua New Guinea, an island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. 
    •  Capital  :Port Moresby
    • It shares a land-border with Indonesia; its other near neighbours are Australia and Solomon Islands .

    • It occupies the eastern half of New Guinea and includes numerous offshore islands.
    • Major River : Sepik river 
    • Due to its location along the Pacific Ring of Fire, Papua New Guinea has several volcanoes and is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis

    Batagaika crater

    Syllabus: Places in News

    In News 

    • The Batagaika crater is expanding at an alarming rate due to the thawing of the permafrost.

    About Batagaika crater

    • It is situated in Russia’s Far East.
    • It is located in the Sakha Republic and reaches depths of up to 100 metres.
    • It is the world’s largest one kilometre-long permafrost crater.
    •  It began forming in the 1960s after deforestation led to the melting of the underground permafrost, causing the land to sink.

    Kuril islands

    Syllabus: Places in News

    News

    • The Kuril Islands dispute between Russia and Japan has gained attention amid the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

    About Kurils Island 

    • These are a set of four islands situated between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean near the north of Japan’s northernmost prefecture, Hokkaido.

    Image Source: TH

    •  Both Russia and Japan claim sovereignty over them though the islands have been under Russian control since the end of World War II. 
      • The Soviet Union had seized the islands at the end of World War II and by 1949 had expelled its Japanese residents. 
      • Japan claims that the disputed islands have been part of Japan since the early 19th century.