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Daily Current Affairs – 09th March 2021

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Daily Current Affairs

Given below are the daily current affairs for 09th March 2021. You can take the daily current affairs quiz here for free.

POLITY AND GOVERNANCE

SC seeks States’ views on 50% cap on quota

Context:

  • The Supreme Court has decided to examine whether its judgment in the Indra Sawhney case of 1992 which fixed reservation for the marginalised and the poor in government jobs and educational institutions at 50% needs a relook.

Background:

Indra Sawhney v Union of India & Ors case, 1992:

  • The Supreme Court had set the upper limit for reservation in jobs and education at 50%, except in “extraordinary circumstances”.
  • The court in the Indra Sawhney case tried to come up with a solution that is reasonable and strikes a fine balance between the society and rights of the backward classes.
  • However, over the years, several States, such as Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, have crossed the upper limit of 50% and passed laws that allow reservation to be as high as 60%.

Maratha quota law:

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  • The Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act of 2018 originally provided 16% reservation to Marathas (based on the recommendation by the Gaikwad Commission) and came after years of protests by the community.
  • In June 2019, the Bombay high court trimmed the quantum of the quota to 12% in education and 13% in jobs. In its order, the high court said the 50% cap could be breached in exceptional circumstances.
  • The Maratha reservation had been challenged in the SC and a five-judge Bench was set up to hear the same.

Details:

  • The bench will look into whether the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act of 2018, which provides quota benefits for the Maratha community, thus taking the reservation percentage in the State across the 50% mark, was enacted under “extraordinary circumstances”.
    • The Indra Sawhney judgment notes that the 50% rule could be crossed in certain exceptional and extraordinary situations for bringing far-flung and remote areas’ population into the mainstream.
  • The five-judge bench looking into the Maratha reservation issue has expanded the ambit of the case and has framed the following questions to be looked into by the court.

Relook at the upper limit for reservation:

  • The court will be looking into whether the Indira Sawhney verdict of 1992, fixing 50% limit on quota, needs to be relooked by a larger Bench of more than nine judges.
  • The Bench has made other States party to the case and has asked them to make their stand clear on the question of whether reservation should continue to remain within the 50% boundary or not.

Impact of the 102nd Amendment Act:

  • The bench will also judge whether the Constitution (One Hundred Second Amendment) Act of 2018, which introduced the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), interferes with the authority of the State legislatures to provide benefit to the socially and educationally backward communities in their own jurisdiction.
    • The 102nd Constitutional Amendment Act introduced Articles 338B and 342A in the Constitution.
      • Article 338B deals with the NCBC.
      • Article 342A empowers the President to specify the socially and educationally backward communities in a State. Thus it strips the State legislatures of their discretionary power to include their backward communities in the State List.
    • The Constitutional amendment empowers the Parliament to include a community in the Central List for socially and backward classes for grant of reservation benefits.

Conclusion:

  • The potential reconsideration of the Indra Sawhney case ruling, also popularly referred to as the Mandal case, could alter the structure of reservations that has been in place for decades.

‘Only half of govt. schools, anganwadis have tap water’

Context:

  • Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources submits report to the Lok Sabha.

Background:

  • A 100-day campaign to provide potable piped water supply for drinking and cooking purposes and tap water for washing hands and in toilets in every school, Anganwadi and ashramshala or residential tribal school was launched on October 2, 2020.
  • The 100-day period should have ended on January 10, 2021.

Progress made:

  • Seven States, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Punjab have achieved the target 100% coverage.
  • A number of other states have also made significant progress with the construction of greywater management structures and rainwater harvesting structures being in schools and Anganwadi centres.

Concerns:

Low coverage:

  • According to the report, only half of the government schools and anganwadis have a tap water supply. Less than 8% of schools in Uttar Pradesh and 11% in West Bengal have it, while it is available in only 2-6% of anganwadis in Assam, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bengal.

Health concerns:

  • Such a scenario does not augur well given that schools and anganwadis are just starting to reopen after a year-long shutdown and COVID-19 safety protocols require repeated hand washing by students and teachers.
  • Children are more susceptible to water-borne diseases.

DEFENCE

DAC to take up deals for armed drones, submarines

Drones:

  • India is seeking to acquire 30 MQ-9 Reaper or Predator B armed drones from the U.S., 10 each for the three services.
    • MQ-9B has an endurance of 48 hours and a range of over 6,000 nautical miles. It comes with nine hard-points, capable of carrying sensors and laser-guided bombs besides air-to-ground missiles, with a maximum payload of two tonnes.
  • The Navy had inducted two MQ-9B Sea Guardian unarmed drones on lease under emergency procurement.

Project-75I:

  • The Project 75I-class submarine is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarine for the Indian Navy.
  • Under this project, the Indian Navy intends to acquire six diesel-electric submarines, which will also feature advanced air-independent propulsion systems to enable them to stay submerged for a longer duration and substantially increase their operational range.
  • The Indian Navy’s Project 75I (P75I) Scorpene submarine development for six latest-generation attack boats is expected to be completed by 2022.
  • The P75I Scorpene-class diesel-electric/air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines are based on the Scorpene-class submarines, which were designed by French naval shipbuilding firm DCNS in partnership with Spanish shipbuilding firm Navantia.
  • The new submarines are being built by Mazagon Dock in Mumbai, India, using the technology and training provided by DCNS.
  • The Indian Navy intends to use the submarines for missions such as area surveillance, intelligence gathering, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and minelaying operations.

CULTURE

Declaration Of World Heritage Sites By UNESCO

Context:

Ministry of Culture said:

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  1. ‘Dholavira: A Harappan City’ has been submitted for nomination of World Heritage Site in 2019-2020.
  2. Nomination dossiers of ‘Santiniketan, India’ and ‘Sacred Ensemble of Hoysalas’ have been submitted to UNESCO for the year 2021-22 cycle.

At present, India has 38 World Heritage Properties. Besides, India has 42 sites listed under Tentative List which is a pre-requisite condition for inscription as World Heritage Site.

What is a World Heritage site?

  • A World Heritage site is classified as a natural or man-made area or a structure that is of international importance, and a space which requires special protection.
  • These sites are officially recognised by the UN and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, also known as UNESCO.
  • UNESCO believes that the sites classified as World Heritage are important for humanity, and they hold cultural and physical significance.

Key facts:

  1. The list is maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 UNESCO member states which are elected by the General Assembly.
  2. Each World Heritage Site remains part of the legal territory of the state wherein the site is located and UNESCO considers it in the interest of the international community to preserve each site.
  3. To be selected, a World Heritage Site must be an already classified landmark, unique in some respect as a geographically and historically identifiable place having special cultural or physical significance.

MISCELLANEOUS

Andhra Pradesh CM promises gender budget this year

  • Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister has said Andhra Pradesh would become the first State to come up with a gender budget in the current financial year. This budget would clearly list out the expenditure on welfare schemes for women.
  • Such a budget would be a significant step towards addressing gender inequality.

BBB may get to select infra financier’s MDs

  • The National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development is proposed to have a corpus of Rs. 1-lakh crore and is expected to accelerate infrastructure financing in India.
  • The National Bank for Financing Infrastructure and Development envisaged as an infrastructure financier would act as an anchor to the ambitious National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP).
    • About 7,000 projects have been identified under the NIP with a projected investment of Rs. 111 lakh crore during 2020-25.

‘Ola unit can make 10 mn 2-wheeler EVs’

  • Mobility firm Ola said its electric two-wheeler facility, coming up in Krishnagiri in Tamil Nadu, will have a capacity to produce 10 million scooters a year, accounting for some 15% of the world’s total production of e-two-wheelers.
  • This would be the largest e-two-wheeler plant in the world.

Van Dhan Vikas Kendras initiative

Context:

1770 Van Dhan Kendras Sanctioned so Far in 22 States and One UT.

About Van Dhan Vikas Kendras initiative:

  • The initiative aims to promote MFPs-centric livelihood development of tribal gatherers and artisans.
  • It mainstreams the tribal community by promoting primary level value addition to MFP at grassroots level.

Significance: Through this initiative, the share of tribals in the value chain of Non-Timber Forest Produce is expected to rise from the present 20% to around 60%.

Implementation:

  • The scheme will be implemented through Ministry of Tribal Affairs as Nodal Department at the Central Level and TRIFED as Nodal Agency at the National Level.
  • At State level, the State Nodal Agency for MFPs and the District collectors are envisaged to play a pivot role in scheme implementation at grassroot level.
  • Locally the Kendras are proposed to be managed by a Managing Committee (an SHG) consisting of representatives of Van Dhan SHGs in the cluster.
  • Composition: As per the plan, TRIFED will facilitate establishment of MFP-led multi-purpose Van Dhan Vikas Kendras, a cluster of 10 SHGs comprising of 30 tribal MFP gatherers each, in the tribal areas.

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