Prelims Specific Question
1) Kuthi Yankti is a tributary of which of the following rivers?
2) With reference to GSAT-7 satellite, consider the following statements:
- It was launched for the Indian Navy to monitor the Indian Ocean Region and provide real-time data to all the Indian submarines, warships and aircraft.
- It’s also known as Rukmini.
Which of the statements given above is/are incorrect?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2
- Neither 1 nor 2
GSAT-7 also known as Rukmini is an advanced communication satellite built by ISRO. It was launched in 2013 for the Indian Navy to monitor the Indian Ocean Region and provide real-time data to all the Indian submarines, warships and aircraft.
3) Which of the following country has planned a dedicated Bitcoin city?
- The USA
- El Salvador
- The UK
Important News Items of the Day
1) NFHS says women outnumber men
The fifth edition of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has confirmed signs of a demographic shift in India. For the first time since the NFHS began in 1992, the proportion of women exceeded men: there were 1,020 women for 1,000 men. In the last edition of the survey in 2015-16, there were 991 women for every 1,000 men.
1) ‘Bring in three-rate GST structure’
The Government can rationalise the GST rate structure without losing revenues by rejigging the four major rates of 5%, 12%, 18% and 28% with a three-rate framework of 8%, 15% and 30%, as per a National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) study.
The findings of the NIPFP, an autonomous think tank backed by the Finance Ministry, assume significance as the GST Council has tasked a Group of Ministers, headed by Karnataka CM Basavaraj S. Bommai, to propose a rationalisation of tax rates and a possible merger of different tax slabs by December to shore up revenues.
GST Council may consider a three-rate structure by adopting 8%, 15% and 30% for revenue neutrality.
2) China non-committal on U.S. oil release plan, OPEC+ unmoved
India and other oil importing nations have called on OPEC+ to boost oil supply faster, arguing that elevated crude oil prices could undermine the recovery of the global economy.
The non-OPEC countries which export crude oil are termed as OPEC plus countries.
OPEC plus countries include Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Russia, South Sudan and Sudan.
1) Scorpene class submarine INS Vela joins Navy
The fourth Scorpene class conventional submarine, INS Vela, was commissioned into the Navy in the presence of Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh at a ceremony in Mumbai.
“Vela has taken the ‘Make in India’ spirit a notch higher with the fitment indigenised battery cells, which power a very silent permanently magnetised propulsion motor,” the Navy said in a statement.
Construction of the submarine commenced with the first cutting of steel on July 14, 2009 and it was launched and named Vela on May 6, 2019.
Vela, being named after a type of Indian fish belonging to the stingray family, the crest depicts the fish swimming across the blue seas. The submarine’s mascot is the Sub-ray which is an amalgamation of the submarine and the stingray which symbolises the metamorphosis of the submarine’s character with the qualities of a stingray, the Navy said.
The first submarine INS Kalvari was commissioned in December 2017, second submarine INS Khanderi in September 2019 and third one INS Karanj in March 2021. The fifth submarine, Vagir, was launched in November 2020 and is undergoing sea trails while the sixth one Vagsheer is in advanced stage of outfitting.
Parallely, the Navy recently issued the Request for Proposal for procurement of six advanced submarines under Project-75I.
1) Govt. to revisit income criterion for EWS quota
“The Union Government has taken a considered decision to revisit the criteria for determining the economically weaker sections in terms of the provisions of the Explanation to Article 15 of the Constitution inserted by the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act 2019,” a Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud recorded in its order.
A committee would be set up to review the “criteria” to identify the EWS category.
The EWS quota was meant for persons who earned less than ₹8 lakh annually and did not benefit from any other existing reservation.
1) Russia puts into orbit classified military satellite
Russia successfully placed into orbit a military satellite believed to be part of the Kremlin’s early warning antimissile system.
A Soyuz rocket carrying a classified payload blasted off from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in northern Russia, the Defence Ministry said.
The Tundra Satellite
The Tundra or EKS (Edinaya Kosmicheskaya Sistema) series of satellites is the next generation of Russian early warning satellites to replace the US-K and US-KMO early warning satellites of the Oko-1 system. … Until 2020, six satellites were planned to be orbited. At then end of 2020, four were on orbit.
Kupol is designed to detect launches of ballistic missiles and track them to their landing site, though its exact configuration is unknown.
Editorials of the Day
Editorial 1 – The democratic backsliding of India
The story so far: Between 2016 and 2020 the number of countries that have moved towards authoritarianism has been steadily increasing and outnumbering the number of countries that have seen democratic gains.
- A Swedish think-tank, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), has categorised India as a backsliding democracy in its Global State of Democracy 2021 (GSoD) report.
- The GSoD report assesses indicators spread across five core attributes of democracy – representative government, fundamental rights, checks on Government, impartial administration and participatory engagement.
- The report counts Brazil, India and the United States as the biggest backsliders.
In March 2021 Sweden’s V-Dem Institute categorised India as an “electoral autocracy” while Freedom House listed India as “partly free”. This month another Swedish think-tank, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), has categorised India as a backsliding democracy and a “major decliner” in its Global State of Democracy 2021 (GSoD) report.
What is the Global State of Democracy Report, 2021?
The GSoD report is a document compiled and released by International IDEA, a Stockholm based intergovernmental think-tank that works to boost democracy globally. India is one of the founding members of this organisation. The GSoD 2021 report assesses 165 countries on 116 indicators spread across five identified core attributes of democracy – representative government, fundamental rights, checks on Government, impartial administration and participatory engagement.
Findings of the report?
The GSoD 2021 report states that the number of countries that have slid towards authoritarianism is three times as high as those that are moving in a democratic direction. In 2020, the GSoD report can categorise only 59 per cent of the countries on its index as democratic. The report notes, “70 per cent of the global population now live either in non-democratic regimes or in democratically backsliding countries”. The report counts Brazil, India and the United States as the biggest backsliders.
Editorial 2 – Owning up to criminalisation in politics
A February 2020 Supreme Court judgment on criminalisation in politics may have far-reaching consequences for Indian democracy. The Court has asked the political parties to state “the reasons for such selection, as also as to why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.” If a political party fails to comply, it would be “… in contempt of this Court’s orders/directions.” In other words, the political party and its leadership would for the first time have to publicly own up to criminalisation of politics. They had been denying it all these years.
Earlier orders state that
- each candidate shall submit a sworn affidavit giving financial details and criminal cases;
- each candidate shall inform the political party in writing of criminal cases against him or her; and
- the party shall put up on its website and on social media as well as publish in newspapers the names and details of such candidates.
Why did the Court pass such an order?
The judgment notes that “In 2004, 24% of the Members of Parliament had criminal cases pending against them; in 2009, that went up to 30%; in 2014 to 34%; and in 2019 as many as 43% of MPs had criminal cases pending against them.” India is the only democratic country with a free press where we find a problem of this dimension.
- A February 2020 Supreme Court judgment mandates political parties and its leadership to cite reasons for selection of electoral candidates with criminal antecedents against them.
- Survey after survey show that people around the country are unhappy with the quality of governance. We need governance that is free of the “criminal” virus.
- Voters also need to be vigilant about misuse of money, gifts and other inducements during elections. Till we realize that people who bribe us for votes cannot be trusted, change will be very slow.