Prelims Objective Practices Question
(1.) Statements: Population increase coupled with depleting resources is going to be the scenario of many developing countries in days to come.
(I.) The population of developing countries will not continue to increase in future.
(II.) It will be very difficult for the governments of developing countries to provide its people decent
quality of life.
A. Only conclusion I follows
B. Only conclusion II follows
C. Either I or II follows
D. Neither I nor II follows
E. Both I and II follow
(2.) Which of the following statements correctly defines Quasars?
A.) Remote celestial objects emitting exceptionally large amounts of energy
B.) A rapidly spinning neutron star
C.) A star system consisting of two stars orbiting around their common barycenter
D.) Star that have exhausted their nuclear fuel
(3.) Consider the following statements regarding planet Venus:
I. It is the hottest planet in our solar system.
II. The United States of America is the only nation to land spacecraft on the surface of Venus.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
A.) II only
B.) Both I and II
C.) I only
D.) Neither I nor II
*// On March 1, 1966, the Venera 3 Soviet space probe crash-landed on Venus, becoming the first spacecraft to reach the surface of another planet
(4.) The “Indian Standard Meridian” passes through which of the following States?
A. Uttar Pradesh
B. Madhya Pradesh
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
I.) A, B, C and D only
II.) A, C, D and E only
III.) A, B and D only
IV.) A, C and D only
Note:- The Indian Standard Meridian passes through mostly 5 states which are – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh
Question of the Day
Ques:- Has India changed its position from Non alignment to Multi alignment ?
Prelims Specific Facts
NEWS-1 HAL to supply 12 light utility helicopters to armed forces
- The judgment, authored by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar on July 27, had upheld the PMLA’s controversial “twin conditions” for bail.
- That is, the trial court needs to give bail only if the accused proves he is not guilty of money laundering. And on the slim chance he does get bail, the accused has to prove that he is “not likely to commit any offence while on bail”.
- For an undertrial, who is under incarceration and with whom the ED has not shared the Enforcement Case Information Report, to prove that he is not guilty may be, to say the least, a herculean if not impossible task. The same ‘twin’ conditions apply even if the accused seeks anticipatory bail. In short, the accused has to prove he is not guilty even to seek protection from arrest.
- The judgment has also said that an undertrial who has already spent half the punishment term in prison cannot seek bail as an “absolute right”.
- It dismissed arguments made by the petitioners that an accused could be detained unconditionally once the trial court frames charges under the PMLA.
- The PMLA verdict has also contradicted the spirit of an earlier judgment of the Supreme Court, delivered in July itself, which said a democracy should not give “the impression that it was a pol ice state”.
- Bail and not jail should be the rule. “Jails in India are flooded with undertrial prisoners… more than two thirds of the inmates of the prisons constitute prisoners. Of this category of prisoners, the majority may not even be required to be arrested…”.
NEWS-3 Orunodoi scheme to aid Assam’s Tricolour plans
- Some 22 lakh beneficiaries of the Orunodoi scheme in Assam will get *18 extra for August to buy a National Flag or two.
- The Assam government has been transferring *1,000 as monetary benefit to the bank accounts of economically weak women on the 10th of every month under the Orunodoi scheme.
- “We shall be transferring *1,018 to the account of each of the Orunodoi beneficiaries for August so that they can buy the National Flags.
- The country’s civilaviation space was “absolutely safe” and all the protocols laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) were being followed.
- U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi starts a tour of four Asian countries.
- The trip will focus on mutual security, economic partnership and democratic governance in the Indo-pacific region.
NEWS-6 Debris from Chinese rocket falls to earth
- A Chinese booster rocket made an uncontrolled re turn to earth on Saturday, leading U.S. officials to chide Beijing for not sharing information about the potentially hazardous object’s descent.
- U.S. Space Command “can confirm the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Long March 5B (CZ-5B) re entered over the Indian Ocean at approx 10:45 a.m. MDT on 7/30,” the U.S. military unit said on Twitter.
- “Most of its devices were ablated and destroyed during re-entry,” the agency said of the booster rocket, which was used last Sunday to launch the second of three modules China needed to complete its new Tiangong space station.
- Sulu Sea, northeast of the island of Borneo.
- Rising concern over the impact of a potential Russian gas cut-off is fuelling a debate in Germany over whether the country should switch off its last three nu clear power plants as planned at the year-end.
- Russia has reduced natural gas supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany to 20% of capacity amid tensions over the war in Ukraine. It cited technical issues that Germany says are only an excuse for a political power play.
- Russia recently has ac counted for about a third of Germany’s gas supply, and there are concerns it could turn off the tap altogether.
Editorial of the Day
PMLA verdict, an erosion of constitutional buffers
- India’s criminal justice system, we are led to believe, is built on a set of received axioms that are inherent to the basic precepts of justice and fairness. These include the idea that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty; the idea that a person detained on suspicion of having committed an of fence would be entitled to bail pending trial; the idea that a criminal law ought not to be retroactive; the idea that a person accused of an offence must be informed of the charges made against him; and the idea that a suspect has a privilege against incriminating herself.
- The latest example is the judgment of a three judge bench in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary vs Union of India, delivered on July 27. In it, the Court has upheld vast parts of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, despite the law’s in version of seemingly time-honoured maxims of criminal jurisprudence.
- Briefly put, “money laundering” refers to the process through which the proceeds from criminal activity are masked with a view to concealing their illegitimate source.
- The PMLA came out of these initiatives. It defines the crime itself in vague terms. Section 3 of the Act says, “Who soever directly or indirectly at tempts to indulge or knowingly assists or knowingly is a party or is actually involved in any process or activity connected with the proceeds of crime including its concealment, possession, acquisition or use and projecting or claiming it as untainted property shall be guilty of offence of money-laundering.”
- The definition makes for difficult reading. But as we can see it is pegged on the use of what is termed as “proceeds of crime”. This phrase is separately defined to mean property that is obtained out of the commission of a crime “relating to a scheduled offence”. The schedule, in the law’s present iteration, contains an array of breaches under 30 different statutes. These range from specific of fences under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, such as murder, extortion and kidnapping, and offences under laws such as the Arms Act, 1959 and the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, to more minor infractions under the Copyright Act, 1957, and the Trade Marks Act, 1999. The judgment in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary confirms what ought to have been obvious on a bare reading of the law: although the offence under the PMLA is separately prosecutable, unless the proceeds of crime relate to a “scheduled offence” or what is also described as a predicate of fence no case can be made out under the statute.
- The dangers This finding, routine by itself, is perhaps the only silver lining in the judgment. The lawyer, Abhinav Sekhri, has already published a fineanaly sis on different aspects of the judgment, particularly on the unfounded conclusion that the PMLA is not a penal statute, but a suigeneris one, which means that the law can, according to the Court, overlook several constitutional safeguards, including the right against self-incrimination.
- Although many of the conclusions in the judgment are tenuous, none is more striking, and more damaging, than its ruling upholding Section 45. This provision imposes twin conditions for bail. Apart from mandating that the prosecutor is allowed a hearing before bail is granted, the clause also requires the court to be satisfied that there are “reasonable grounds” for believing that the accused is not guilty of the offence and that he or she is not likely to commit any offence while on bail.
- The twin requirement was mandated only for those cases where the predicate offence was viewed as more serious.
- Parliament made, and imposed through Section 45 the twin condi tions for all offences under the PMLA. The petitioners in Vijay Madanlal Choudhary argued that the legislature could not have validly amended a law that had already been declared unconstitutional. The Court, however, held that the judgment in Nikesh Tarachand Shah did not obliterate the provision and that Parliament was entitled to revive the law by deleting its defects.
- Test of proportionality
- We are fast approaching the five year anniversary of the Supreme Court’s judgment in K.S. Puttaswa my vs Union of India. In it, a nine judge Bench declared the existence of a right to privacy. But the verdict turned momentous be cause it went beyond this other wise unremarkable declaration.
- In theory, the Court had provided a road map for a jurisprudence grounded in ideas of justice, fairness, and due process. But the grand principles championed there in the abstract have failed to translate into genuine constitutional advancement. Instead, personal liberty has increasingly come to be seen as a pettifogging irrelevance.
India’s ‘wheat waiver’ WTO demand is risk-fraught
- The PSH policy serves the twin objectives of offering remunerative prices to farmers and providing subsidised food to the underprivileged.
- However, under WTO law, such price support-based procurement from farmers is counted as a trade distorting subsidy, and if given beyond the permissible limit, breaches WTO law. Currently, India has temporary relief due to a ‘peace clause’ which bars countries from bringing legal challenges against price support-based procurement for food security purposes. However, a permanent solution to this issue is still not in the offing.
- However, for India, the real issue is not about maintaining adequate food stocks, which WTO rules do not prohibit, provided food is stocked by employing non-trade distorting instruments such as providing in come support to farmers (cash transfers independent of crop production). India’s concern is that it should have the policy space to hold public food stocks using the MSP, which is a price support instrument. However, there is no mention of price support in the Geneva declaration.
- Conspicuously, in the run-up to the WTO ministerial meeting and, subsequently, India’s demand for a permanent solution to the PSH policy has acquired a new dimension. India insists that it should al so be allowed to export food, most notably wheat, from the pool of the foodgrain procured under the MSP.
- The Russia Ukraine war has unleashed a food crisis in many countries. India perhaps wishes to capitalise on this opportunity.
- However, WTO law proscribes countries from exporting food grain procured at subsidisedprices. There is a sound economic rationale behind it. Allowing a country to export food grain procured at subsidised prices would give that country an unfair advantage in global agricultural trade. The country concerned will sell food grain in the international market at a very low price, which, in turn, might depress the global prices and have an adverse impact on the agricultural trade of other countries. Accordingly, paragraph 4 of the 2013 WTO decision on PSH for food security purposes, clearly states that countries pro curing food for food-security purposes shall ensure that such pro cured food does not “distort trade or adversely affect the food security of other Members”.
- The same spirit is reflected in paragraph 10 of the Geneva ministerial food security declaration, which states that countries may re lease surplus food stocks in the international market in accordance with WTO law.
- The history of waivers at the WTO is fraught with huge let downs. The recently adopted waiver on intellectual property (IP) for COVID-19 medical pro ducts is a case in point. The IP waiver is restricted to only CO VID-19 vaccines and does not cover diagnostics and therapeutics. The shallowness of the IP waiver is further reinforced by the fact that it is limited to only patents and does not cover other IP rights.
- Moreover, as per Article IX.3 of the WTO Agreement, waivers can be adopted only in “exceptional circumstances”. The WTO filibustered for two years acknowledging a once-in-a-century pandemic such as COVID-19 as an “exception al circumstance” for the IP waiver. Thus, the possibility of it recognising an ongoing war between two nations as an “exceptional circumstance” to adopt a waiver for permitting wheat exports from public stocks is profoundly remote.
- What the focus should be Developed countries have historically opposed India’s PSH programme as they apprehend that India might divert some of its public stock to the international market, thus depressing global prices.
- Thus, India should revisit its stand on asking for a waiver for wheat exports from its public stockholding, which, in any case, was not a part of India’s PSH policy. Besides, as reported, the Go vernment’s wheat procurement has been 57.5% less than the original target for this season. So, if the public procurement has been so low, what is the point in asking for a waiver to export wheat from the public stock?
- The laudable objective of helping countries facing food crises can be accomplished by strengthening India’s commitment to the United Nations World Food Programme. Or, if the domestic situation ameliorates, India can lift the ban imposed on private traders to export wheat.
Explainer of the Day
Bringing Eurasia closer
- The journey signalled the launch of the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a 7,200-km multi-modal transport corridor that combines road, rail and maritime routes connecting Russia and India via central Asia and Iran. The corridor is expected to consolidate the emerging Eurasian Free Trade Area.
- The legal framework for the INSTC is provided by a trilateral agreement signed by India, Iran and Russia at the Euro-Asian Conference on Transport in 2000. Since then Kazakhstan, Belarus, Oman, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Syria have signed instruments of accession to become members of the INSTC. Once fully operational, the INSTC is expected to reduce freight costs by 30% and journey time by 40% in comparison with the conventional deep sea route via the Suez Canal. Indeed, the need for an alter native route was deeply felt last year, when the Ever Given container ship was stuck in the Suez, halting maritime traffic between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.
- India’s investment in the INSTC is exemplified by its involvement in Iran’s Chabahar port and the construction of a 500-km Chabahar-Zahedan railway line. Once completed, this infrastructure will allow India access to Afghanistan and central Asia, a prospect strengthened by the Taliban government’s support for the project.
- Non-alignment to multi-alignment:-
- Firstly, India can now bypass Pakistan to access Afghanistan, central Asia and beyond.
- Second, the INSTC can shape a north-south transport corridor that can complement the east-west axis of the China led Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
- India’s founding role in both the INSTC and the Quad exemplify its departure from non-alignment to multi-alignment.
- The INSTC is a laudable initiative in its own right. That is helps India consolidate its multi-alignment strategy sweetens the deal.
The technology powering hybrid electric vehicles
- HEV powertrains are designed to power cars in a series, parallel or series-parallel (power split) methods. A series HEV uses only the electric motor to drive the wheels, while the ICE powers the generator, which in turn recharges the battery. A parallel HEV, based on the driving condition, uses the best power source to power the vehicle. It will alternate between the electric motor and the ICE to keep the car moving.
- A series-parallel HEV offers a combination of both models and allows to split power, wherein power is routed from the ICE alone or from the battery to the electric motor to drive the vehicle. Moreover, in all three designs, the battery is charged through regenerative braking technology.
- Based on the type of RBS, the energy recovery happens in multiple ways. A kinetic system can recover the energy lost during braking and then use this energy to recharge the high-voltage battery of the vehicle. An electric system generates electricity through a motor during sudden braking. Lastly, a hydraulic system uses pressurised tanks to store the vehicle’s kinetic energy and can offer a high energy recovery rate which is ideal for heavy vehicles.
- The efficiency of HEVS and EVS will in large part be determined by their ability to recover as much energy as possible while braking, with a higher degree of energy recovery lowering fuel consumption. The amount of recoverable energy depends upon factors like vehicle speed and stopping pattern. The adoption of regenerative braking technology in the auto industry is increasing on account of the operating efficiency of vehicles through reduced fuel consumption and the extended range of batteries.