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Current Affairs August 08, 2023: QUAD, Anusandhan National Research Foundation Bill, Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023, The Jan Vishwas (Amendment) Bill, 2023, Superconductor

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{GS2 – IR – Regional Groupings – 2023/08/08} Quad: Malabar Exercise

  • Context (TH): Navies of the member states of Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) India, the US, Japan, and Australia — will be participating in the 31st edition of the Malabar Exercise.
  • Exercise Malabar is an annual multilateral naval exercise involving the United States, Australia, Japan and India as permanent partners.
  • Over the years, the exercise has been conducted in the Philippine Sea, off the coast of Japan, the Persian Gulf, in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

Evolution

  • It began as a bilateral naval exercise between India and the U.S. in 1992 along the Malabar Coast.
  • In 2007, Japan, Australia and Singapore also participated in exercise.
  • From 2007 to 2015 Japan took part in the exercises intermittently.
  • It was expanded into a trilateral format with the inclusion of Japan in 2015 and quadrilateral with the inclusion of Australia in 2020.

Significance

  • It acts as a counterweight to the Chinese military/political influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • It has increased the cohesion between the naval powers of the four countries of the Quad.
  • It will strengthen India’s relations with QUAD countries.

Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD)

  • Quad is a strategic security dialogue between Australia, India, Japan, and United States.

Members of the Quad:The Quad, officially the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD), is not a formal alliance. It is an informal strategic forum comprising four maritime democracies: India, Japan, Australia and the United States

  • The diplomatic and military arrangement is viewed as a response to the increased Chinese economic/military power in the Indo-Pacific region. Therefore, Quad is referred to as Asian NATO.

Evolution

  • The dialogue was initiated in 2007 by the Japanese PM.
  • The dialogue was paralleled by joint military exercises, titled Exercise Malabar.
  • QUAD ceased to exist following the withdrawal of Australia in February 2008 after China’s protests.
  • It was revived in 2017 and the leaders held their first formal summit in 2021.
  • Quad Plus Members: New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam.

{GS2 – MoST – 2023/08/08} Anusandhan National Research Foundation Bill

  • Context (TH I TP): Lok Sabha passed the Anusandhan National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill to set up a national agency to fund research across universities.
  • The Bill repeals the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) established by Parliament in 2008 for funding Research and development and subsumes it into the NRF.
  • The Department of Science and Technology will be the administrative arm of NRF, governed by a Governing Board, Presided by the Prime minister.
  • NRF’s functioning will be governed by Executive Council chaired by the Principal Scientific Adviser.

Key Features of the Bill

  • NRF will be set up with a budget of about ₹50,000 crore for a period of five years.
  • The government will contribute ₹10,000 crore over five years and close to ₹36,000 crore is expected to come from the private sector (as investments into research).

India’s R&D expenditure is one of the lowest in the world: NITI Aayog

  • India’s gross expenditure on R&D is one of the lowest in the world, with just $43 per capita, according to NITI Aayog’s India Innovation Index.
  • India needs to boost this expenditure to be at par with its BRICS or ASEAN counterparts like Russia ($285), Brazil ($173), and Malaysia ($293).
  • India’s Gross Expenditure On R&D (GERD) as a % of GDP is around 0.7% for about a decade.
  • ES 2020-21 India needs to increase its GERD to over 2% of its GDP.
  • In India, the government spends the most on R&D (more than 55%) while in developed countries private sector contributes more.

GERD as a Percentage of GDP

Constraints on R&D

  • Lack of funding
  • Dependence on government grants
  • Shortage of skilled personnel
  • Intellectual property (IP) violations
  • Outdated curriculum and pedagogy
  • Fiscal deficit
  • Low private-sector participation

{GS2 – Polity – IC – Parliament – 2023/08/08} Rule 267 Vs Rule 176 of the RS

  • Context (IE): The opening day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament was disrupted after the government and the Opposition differed on the format of the discussion on the Manipur situation.

What are Rule 176 and Rule 267 of Rajya Sabha?

  • Rule 176 (Short Duration Discussion): not exceeding 2.5 hours for discussion of urgent importance.
  • Rule 267 (Suspension of Rules): suspension of all listed businesses for discussing urgent matters.
  • Rule 176 does not require the consent of the Chairman, while Rule 267 does.
  • Rule 176 is a less disruptive way while Rule 267 is a more disruptive way to do this, but it allows for a more in-depth discussion of the matter at hand.

Use

  • Rule 176 is for matters that are time-sensitive, like Manipur situation or natural disasters.
  • Rule 267 is for matters of national importance, like essential commodity or National security.

Controversy

  • The Opposition has complained that their notices under Rule 267 are not being taken up.
  • In the winter session, Speaker rejected eight such notices within two days, on matters such as the border issue with China and rising prices of essential commodities.
  • The last time was in November 2016, when RS invoked Rule 267 to discuss demonetisation.

{GS2 – Polity – STs – 2023/08/08} Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023

  • Context (IE): The Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order (Amendment) Bill, 2023 was introduced in Lok Sabha.
  • It amends the Constitution (Jammu and Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order, 1989.
  • The 2023 Bill includes four communities to the list of STs in Jammu and Kashmir.
  1. Gadda Brahmin
  2. Koli
  3. Paddari Tribe
  4. Pahari Ethnic Group
    • STs get 10% reservation in government jobs, admission to educational institutions and in Lok Sabha and Assembly seats in J&K.

Communities Included by 2023 Bill

Pahari Ethnic Group

  • The Paharis are an ethnic group who are Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs.
  • They also include people displaced from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

Paddari Tribe

  • Paddari tribe live in the remote hilly Paddar area.
  • They comprise Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims.

Gadda Brahmins

  • Gadda Brahmins are a branch of the Gaddis (who are already in the ST list of J&K).

Kolis

  • Kolis are a sub-caste of Sippis (who are already in the ST list of J&K).

G D Sharma Commission

  • Jammu and Kashmir Socially and Educationally Backward Classes Commission (2019) was constituted to identify socially, educationally, and economically backward groups in J&K.
  • Justice (retd) G D Sharma was appointed the Chairman of the Commission.
  • The Commission in its report recommended ST status for Gadda Brahmins, Kolis, Paddari Tribe, and Pahari Ethnic Group.

Gujjars and Bakerwals

  • The dominant ST communities in J&K are the Gujjars and Bakerwals.
  • Most of them, especially the Bakerwals, are nomadic.
  • They migrate with their livestock to higher areas in summer, and return before the onset of winter.
  • The Gujjar-Bakerwal are the third largest group in J&K after Kashmiris and Dogras.
  • They were given ST status in 1991.

Inclusion Process of a Community in ST List

  1. The proposal for inclusion must originate from the respective State or UT government.
  2. Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs examines the proposal.
  3. The Office of Registrar General of India (ORGI) decides the inclusion based on the Lokur Committee’s (1965) criteria for identification.
  4. After ORGI’s approval, the proposal is sent to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
  5. Then the proposal is introduced in the Parliament by the Cabinet to bring an appropriate amendment to the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950.
  6. The community is included in the ST list after the President gives his assent to the amendment bill.

Criteria for Inclusion in the ST List

  • Lokur Committee (1965) recommended five criteria for identification of STs.
    1. Primitive traits
    2. Distinct culture
    3. Geographical isolation
    4. Shyness of contact with the community at large
    5. Backwardness

Constiutional Provisions for STs

Article 366 (25)

  • Article 366 (25) gives the constitutional definition of STs.
  • STs means such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be STs.
Article 342(1)
  • Article 342(1) empowers the President to specify a tribe as ST after consultation with the Governor (of the state or UT).
Article 342(2)
  • Article 342(2) provides that Parliament may by law include or exclude a tribe from the list of STs.

Article 15 (Prohibition of discrimination)

  • Article 15 prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth.
  • It also provides that special provisions can be made for women, children, and backward classes.

Article 15(4)

  • Article 15(4) empowers the State to provide reservations or special provisions in educational institutions to socially and educationally backward classes (which includes SCs and STs).

Article 16 (Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment)

  • Article 16 prohibits discrimination against matters of public employment or appointment on the grounds of race, religion, caste, sex, place of birth, descent, or residence.
  • It provides special provisions for backward classes matters of public employment or appointment.
Article 16(4)
  • Article 16(4) allows the State to make reservations in appointments or posts in favor of any backward class of citizens.

Article 16(4A)

  • Article 16(4A) was inserted by the 77th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1995.
  • It provides for the reservation of promotions in public employment for SCs and STs

Article 16(4B)

  • Article 16(4B) was inserted by the 81st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2000. It allows the State to carry over the unfilled vacancies reserved for SCs and STs to subsequent years.
  • It is referred to as the carry forward rule.

Article 29 (Protection of Interests of Minorities)

Article 29(1)
  • Article 29(1) provides citizens residing in India having a distinct culture, language, or script, the right to conserve their culture, language and script.
Article 29(2)
  • Article 29(2) provides that State shall not deny admission into educational institutes maintained by it or those that receive aid from it to any person based only on race, religion, caste, or language.

Article 243D

  • Article 243D provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in Panchayats.

Article 330

  • Article 330 provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the Lok Sabha.

Fifth Schedule

  • Fifth Schedule contains provisions in relation to the administration and control of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes.

Sixth Schedule

  • Sixth Schedule contains provisions for the administration of tribal areas in the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.

{GS3 – IE – EoDB – 2023/08/08} The Jan Vishwas (Amendment) Bill, 2023

  • Context (PIB | IE): Lok Sabha passed the Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2023.
  • The bill seeks to promote ease of business by decriminalising minor offences by amending 183 provisions in 42 acts governing the environment, agriculture, media, industry, trade, etc.

The Need for Such a Bill

  • Currently, there are 1,536 laws which translate into 70,000 compliances that govern ease of doing business (EoDB). These excessive compliances have proved onerous for businesses, especially MSMEs.
  • There are 26,134 compliances with imprisonment clauses. Due to the potential legal consequences, this could deter businesses from taking risks or exploring innovative ideas.

Provisions for Decriminalisation in the Bill

  • Decriminalization is proposed to be achieved by tweaking the imprisonment, fines and penalty provisions so that the degree and nature of punishment are commensurate with the severity of the offence.
    • Both Imprisonment and/or Fine are proposed to be removed in some provisions.
    • Imprisonment is proposed to be removed and fine retained in a few provisions.
    • Imprisonment and Fine are proposed to be converted to Penalties in some provisions.
    • Compounding of offences is proposed to be introduced in a few provisions.
    • Certain provisions affecting citizens and some government employees will be decriminalised.
  • The bill removes all offences and penalties under the Indian Post Office Act, 1898.
  • It proposes a periodic revision of fines and penalties for various offences in the specified acts and an increase of 10% of the minimum amount every three years.
  • It proposes changes in grievance redressal mechanisms and the appointment of Adjudicating Officer(s) for determining penalties. This will reduce pressure on the justice system.
  • The adjudicating officer(s) can inquire into violations of the respective acts and even summon individuals for evidence.

Key Laws Covered in the Draft Legislation

Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981

  • The Bill proposes to replace imprisonment for lapses with heavier penalties.
  • For instance, operating an industrial area in an air pollution control area will be liable to a penalty of up to Rs 15 lakh. The offence currently attracts a jail term of up to six years and a penalty.

Information Technology Act, 2000

  • The Bill aims to remove Section 66A, which deals with punishment for sending offensive messages or false information through communication services.
  • For breaches of confidentiality and privacy, the proposed penalty is Rs 5 lakh, in contrast to the existing punishment of up to two years imprisonment, a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh, or both.

Environment (Protection) Act, 1986

  • The Bill suggests a penalty of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 15 lakh for inadvertent compliance breaches.
  • This replaces the existing penalty of imprisonment for five years and a fine of Rs 1 lakh.

Copyright Act, 1957

  • The Bill omits the penalty for making false statements to deceive or influence an authority or officer.
  • The existing punishment for this offence is imprisonment for up to one year, a fine, or both.

Railways Act, 1989

  • The Bill removes the punishment clause for beggars caught begging or selling goods without a permit in a railway carriage or at a railway station.
  • Delhi HC had decriminalised begging in the national capital, and the said provisions of the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, which treat begging as an offence.
  • HC said that the provisions criminalising the act of begging put people in a situation to make an unreasonable choice between committing a crime or not committing one and starving, which goes against the very spirit of the Constitution and violates Article 21, i.e. Right to Life.

Agricultural Produce (Grading & Marking) Act, 1937

  • The Bill proposes to replace the provision of a jail term for unauthorised marking and sale of an article with a grade designation mark with a penalty of Rs. 5 lahks.

Trade Marks Act, 1999

  • Falsely representing a trademark as registered currently carries a punishment of imprisonment of up to three years, a fine, or both. The Bill suggests a penalty ranging from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 1 lakh.

Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006

  • The Bill proposes imprisonment for three months and a fine of up to Rs. 3 lahks for selling unsafe food, replacing the current punishment of a jail term not exceeding six months and a fine of up to 1 lakh.

High Denomination Bank Notes (Demonetization) Act, 1978

  • The parliamentary committee recommends repealing the Act due to its irrelevance.

Issues

  • Irrelevant Provisions: Many offences proposed to be removed in the bill have nothing to do with its objective of decriminalising to promote EoDB.
  • Quasi-Decriminalization Approach: The Bill’s monetary fines or penalties are not enough for full decriminalisation, and instead, it takes a quasi-decriminalization approach.
  • Reduced Deterrence Effect: Removing imprisonment provisions may reduce the deterrence effect of environmental legislation, especially for large corporations that may profit from offences.
  • Expertise: The Adjudicating Officers may lack the technical competence to decide all penalties under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, etc.

Breaching Separation of Power Between Judiciary and Bureaucracy (Source: TH)

  • Article 50 directs separation of powers between the judiciary and executive although not mandatory as it’s provision under DPSP.
  • Since the 1980s, the bureaucracy has tried three different routes to capture judicial power:
    • Judicial Tribunals: Tribunals were created in a manner by which bureaucrats were appointed as “technical members” to take over various judicial functions exercised by the judiciary.
    • Statutory Regulators: A new class of statutory regulators such as SEBI and CCI, headed by senior bureaucrats, was created which had powers to punish and impose fines.
    • Adjudicatory Officers: The role of adjudicatory officers/bureaucrats created in several legislations such as the PMLA 2002, can attach properties or impose penalties on businesses.

How Does the Jan Vishwas Law Challenge the Concept of a Separation of Power?

  • The bill creates the model of “adjudicatory officers” within the bureaucracy to impose penalties.
  • The officers have the power to conduct an inquiry and decide compensation also.
  • AS per SC, “judicial function” can only be discharged by an independent judicial authority that is not under the control of the executive.

Is the Imposition of a Penalty a “Judicial Function”?

  • There is no clear consensus on whether imposing a penalty is a “judicial function”.
  • However, there is a strong argument that it is a judicial function because it involves:
    • Fact-finding: Gathering evidence to establish that a penalty is warranted.
    • Application of the law: Applying the law to facts, whether a penalty is justified.
    • Determination of punishment/compensation: Deciding the penalty commensurate with the severity of the offence.
    • Therefore, it is argued that the burden should be on the government to prove its case before an independent judge before imposing a penalty.
    • This would ensure a fair trial and Government does not become a judge in its own case.

No-One Is Judge In His Own Cause (GS 4: Ethics in Public Administration)

  • It is a Principle of Natural Justice that no person can judge a case in which they have an interest.
  • The rule is strictly applied to any appearance of a possible bias, even if there is actually none to maintain the integrity of the Judge and the Sanctity of the judgement.
  • Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done.
  • There are a number of instances in Indian history where judges have refused to hear cases in which there can be allegations of biasness. For example,
    • In 1976, Justice PN Bhagwati recused himself from hearing a case involving the Indian government, as he had previously served as Solicitor General of India.
    • In 2017, Justice DY Chandrachud recused himself from hearing in National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC), as he had previously written a dissenting opinion on NJAC.
    • In 2020, Justice Arun Mishra recused himself from hearing a case involving the Rafale deal, as he had previously expressed his views on the deal in public.

{GS3 – S&T – Tech – 2023/08/08} Superconductors at Room Temperature

  • Context (TH | TH | TH | IE | TH): South Korean researchers have discovered that a material called LK-99 (copper-substituted lead apatite) is a superconductor at room temperature and pressure.
  • Lead apatite is a lead-containing mineral that belongs to the apatite group.
  • Apatite is a group of phosphate minerals with a common crystal structure and similar properties.

An artist's concept image of a levitating superconductor.

Superconductor

  • Superconductors are materials that offer zero or near-zero resistance to electric current.
  • Superconductivity was first discovered in 1911 by Dutch physicist Heike Kamerlingh Onnes.
  • An electric current is the movement of electrons in a particular direction. When the electrons move through an electrical conductor, they collide and interact with the atoms of the material.
  • The resistance the atoms offer results in energy loss, mostly in the form of heat.

Significance of Superconductors

  • Elimination of resistance removes transmission losses in power cables.
  • This also helps in the development of super-efficient electrical appliances.
  • They are used in medical imaging (MRI – uses strong magnetic fields), magnetic levitation, and quantum computing.
  • Quantum Computing uses the principles of quantum mechanics to process information.
  • Quantum Mechanics (quantum physics or quantum theory) describes the behaviour of matter and energy at extremely small scales, typically at atomic and subatomic levels.
  • Superconducting capacitors (used for energy storage, electronic noise filtering, etc.) are used to produce a resonant circuit that dissipates almost no energy as heat (super-efficient).
  • The superconducting resonant circuits are a class of artificial atoms that can be used as qubits (just like the normal computers uses ‘1s’ and ‘0s’, quantum computers use ‘qbits’ to transfer data).

Materials Used as Superconductors

  • The first material discovered to show superconductivity was mercury.
  • Other materials commonly used as superconductors are lead, aluminum, tin, and niobium.

How is Superconductivity Achieved by Materials?

  • The temperature below which a material becomes superconductor is called critical temperature.
  • Above this temperature, the material behaves like a normal conductor with resistance.

Materials ordered by the Temperature, below which they become superconducting

  • As of now, superconductivity can be achieved only at very low temperatures, less than 250°C, very close to absolute zero (-273°C). Mercury becomes a superconductor at close to -270°C.
  • In some cases, materials can exhibit superconductivity at slightly higher temperatures, but under increased pressure conditions.
  • Even the ‘high-temperature’ superconductors show superconductivity well below – 50°C.

What is Room Temperature Superconductor?

  • Room temperature superconductor achieves superconductivity at room temperature (between 20 and 25°C) and under normal pressure conditions.
  • However, room-temperature superconductivity does not necessarily mean ‘at room temperature’.
  • It can also mean when it is easy to create conditions necessary to achieve superconductivity.
  • These superconductors fall under the category of unconventional superconductors.

Significance of Room Temperature Superconductor

  • Though many materials show superconductivity, they operate in extreme conditions which are not easily replicable. So, the discovery of room temperature superconductor will revolutionise the technological world.

Maglev trains

  • Maglev (magnetic levitation) trains use superconducting magnets to achieve levitation.
  • Superconducting magnets are electromagnets cooled to extreme temperatures during use. They dramatically increase the power of the magnetic field.
  • In maglev trains, superconducting magnets suspend a train car above a concrete guideway.
  • Like ordinary magnets, these magnets repel one another when matching poles face each other.
  • The magnets employed (superconducting) and they can generate magnetic fields up to 10 times stronger than ordinary electromagnets, enough to suspend (levitate) and propel a train.

http://ffden-2.phys.uaf.edu/webproj/212_spring_2017/Mark_Credito/22296248558fd7e8535875/uploads/1/0/4/6/104629973/magnets.jpg

  • Maglev trains are least noisy as there is no physical contact between the track and the train. Also, there are no moving parts except for the train.

Types of Superconductors

  • Conventional Superconductors have low critical temperatures, generally below -243 °C.
  • Unconventional superconductors have higher critical temperatures, generally above -243 °C.

Types of Conventional Superconductors

Type I Superconductor or Soft Superconductor
  • They lose their superconductivity abruptly when placed in an external magnetic field.
  • They are perfect dimagnets (freely magnetized and repelled when placed in a magnetic field).
  • They expel magnetic fields completely (Meissner effect). It results in the superconductor’s ability to repel magnets and float in a magnetic field.
  • Application: magnetic levitation in maglev trains.
Type II Superconductor or Hard Superconductors
  • They lose their superconductivity gradually when placed in an external magnetic field.
  • They do not expel magnetic fields but prevent them from moving through its bulk (flux pinning).
  • They are used to generate very high magnetic fields and have a wide range of applications.
  • Application: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
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