ISSUE: AGR CRISIS
The Licensing Finance Policy Wing of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Thursday directed all departments not to take any action against telecom operators if they failed to clear adjusted gross revenue (AGR)-related dues as per the Supreme Court’s recent order.
What it means for operators?
The order comes as a huge relief for operators — mainly Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea — that would have otherwise faced possible contempt action for not paying dues by the deadline that ran out on Thursday. There is no change in the amount they have to pay — however, it buys them time as they hope for relief from the Supreme Court, which will next week hear their plea seeking permission to negotiate the timeline for payment of dues with the DoT.
Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea together owe the telecom department Rs 88,624 crore. Prior to the DoT order restraining coercive action, the companies had told the government that they would wait for the outcome of the Supreme Court hearing. Reliance Jio paid up its dues of Rs 195 crore on Thursday.
What it means for consumers
A lot depends on what the Supreme Court rules. The promoters of Vodafone Idea have shown reluctance to invest more following the October verdict that asked that AGR-related dues be deposited by January 23. Thursday’s DoT order is an interim measure; a setback in the Supreme Court could potentially lead to Vodafone Idea’s exit, and the creation of a Airtel-Jio duopoly. This could lead to bigger bills, considering it was the cutthroat competition in the sector that made mobile telephony and Internet almost universally affordable.
What it means for banks, MFs?
The AGR issue has triggered panic in the banking industry, given that the telecom sector is highly leveraged. Vodafone Idea alone has a debt of Rs 2.2 lakh crore that it has used to expand infrastructure and fund spectrum payments over the years. The mutual fund industry has an exposure of around Rs 4,000 crore to Vodafone Idea.
Supreme Court stance so far
On October 24, the court agreed with DoT’s definition of AGR, and said the companies must pay all dues along with interest and penalty. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea tried to persuade DoT to relax the deadline and, after failing, moved the court seeking a review of its judgment. The court dismissed the review petition last week, and also did not extend the deadline for paying AGR dues. It did, however, agree on Tuesday to hear the companies’ modification plea.
ISSUE: PREAMBLE OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
WHY IN NEWS?
On Wednesday, the Uddhav Thackeray-led government in Maharashtra directed rural local bodies to hold a collective reading of the Preamble to the Constitution before flag-hoisting ceremonies, starting January 26.
What is a Preamble, and what is the history of the Preamble to India’s Constitution?
A preamble is an introductory statement in a document that explains the document’s philosophy and objectives. In a Constitution, it presents the intention of its framers, the history behind its creation, and the core values and principles of the nation.
The ideals behind the Preamble to India’s Constitution were laid down by Jawaharlal Nehru’s Objectives Resolution, adopted by the Constituent Assembly on January 22, 1947.
Although not enforceable in court, the Preamble states the objects of the Constitution, and acts as an aid during the interpretation of Articles when language is found ambiguous.
The Preamble reads:
“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.”
What do the key words in the Preamble stand for?
The words, “We, the people of India…” indicate the ultimate sovereignty of the people of India. Sovereignty means the independent authority of the State, not being subject to the control of any other State or external power.
The text declares India to be a “Republic” — indicating a government by the people and for the people.
It states “social, economic, and political justice” as an objective.
Nehru had said in 1956, “Democracy has been spoken of chiefly in the past, as political democracy, roughly represented by every person having a vote. But a vote by itself does not represent very much to a person who is down and out, to a person, let us say, who is starving and hungry. Political democracy, by itself, is not enough except that it may be used to obtain a gradually increasing measure of economic democracy, equality and the spread of good things of life to others and removal of gross inequalities.”
“Liberty”, “equality”, and “fraternity” have also been made ideals.
Dr B R Ambedkar, in his concluding speech in the Constituent Assembly, had said, “Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy. What does democracy mean? It means a way of life which recognises liberty, equality and fraternity which are not to be treated as separate items in a trinity. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy. Liberty cannot be divorced from equality, equality cannot be divorced from liberty. Nor can liberty and equality be divorced from fraternity.”
The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1976, replaced the words “sovereign democratic republic” to “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic”. It also changed “unity of the nation” to “unity and integrity of the nation”.
ISSUE: VYOM MITRA
WHY IN NEWS?
The first gaganaut to head for space in an Indian craft will not be human, but humanoid.
The anthropomorphic robot named Vyomamitra, which has been unveiled by Isro, will fly two missions to test the technological environment which human gaganauts will inhabit on India’s first demonstration of human spaceflight in 2022, as well as the systems and instruments that they would use.
Vyomamitra will be executing the pioneering role which has traditionally been given to animals — testing systems for survivability.
Fruit flies and monkeys were the first beings to lift off, riding V2 rockets with devices monitoring their vital signs.
Cats and rats went to space, though all the publicity went to Laika, the first dog to get out there. However, using a humanoid robot is obviously more useful, because it can be used to replicate the behavioural and operational responses of a human.
As India prepared for human flight, in August 2019, the Russian space agency Roscosmos sent up the anthropomorphic robot Skybot F-850 to dock with the International Space Station.
Vyomamitra represents the very first iteration of AI in space, and later generations could prove to be as essential for spaceflight as cryogenic engines.