In today’s daily current affairs briefing for UPSC aspirants, we explore the latest developments that hold relevance for the upcoming civil services examination. Our focus today includes a critical analysis of recent policy changes, international affairs, and national developments, all of which play a pivotal role in shaping the socio-political and economic landscape of India. Stay informed and stay ahead in your UPSC preparations with our daily current affairs updates, as we provide you with concise, well-researched insights to help you connect the dots between contemporary events and the broader canvas of the civil services syllabus.
Governor Power to Dismiss a Minister
Tag: GS-2 Polity and Constitution
The Governor of Tamil Nadu, R.N. Ravi, has dismissed V. Senthilbalaji, a Minister in the Council of Ministers of Tamil Nadu.
- The Tamil Nadu Governor’s move to ‘dismiss’ a Minister highlights the point that the pleasure of the Governor under the Constitution of India insofar as it relates to Ministers is not the same as that of the colonial Governor.
- Article 164 of the Indian Constitution states that the Chief Minister is appointed by the Governor without any aid and advice. But Governor appoints the individual Ministers only on the advice of the Chief Minister.
- Choosing a Minister and dismissing him is not a Governor’s discretion. Chief Minister chooses the ministers and recommends the removal of a Minister. The Constitution has not transferred the discretion of the Chief Minister to the Governor.
|Governor’s Power in Colonial Era and in the Present Time|
|Power in Colonial Era||Power in Present Time|
|The Government of India Act 1935 says that the Governor’s Ministers shall be chosen and summoned by him, shall be sworn as members of the council, and shall hold office during his pleasure. Governor during the colonial rule had absolute discretion to choose a Minister and dismiss him.||Under the Constitutional system Governor is a mere constitutional head and he can act only on the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers headed by the CM. Constitution has not transferred the discretion of the Chief Minister to the Governor.|
Various Supreme Court Decisions related to Governor
- Mahabir Prasad Sharma(1968) and Pratapsing Raojirao Rane(1999): Court set aside the decisions where it was held that the Governor can exercise power under Article 164 in an unfettered manner.
- Shamsher Singh vs State of Punjab (1974): A7-judge Constitution Bench declared that the President and Governor – custodians of all executive powers, shall exercise their formal constitutional powers only in accordance with the advice of their Ministers.
- Nabam Rebia vs Deputy Speaker (2017): A Constitution Bench reaffirmed the law laid down in Shamsher Singh and further held that the discretionary powers of the Governor are limited to the postulates of Article 163 of the Constitution.
There shall be a Council of Ministers with the CM at the head to aid and advise the Governor in the exercise of his functions, except in so far as he is by or under this constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.
The dismissal of a Minister by the Governor of the State without the advice of the Chief Minister is constitutionally wrong. The issue of dismissal of a Minister without the advice of the Chief Minister is clearly destabilizes the constitutional system.
Source: The Hindu
Affirmative action in the USA
Tag: GS Paper-2: Social Empowerment
The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) struck down affirmative action in college admissions reasoning that race cannot be a factor for college admissions.
History of affirmative action in the US
- During the civil rights movements between the late 1950s and early 1960s, affirmative action became an important subject in the US after repeated protests, court rulings, and legislative action.
- In 1961, President John F Kennedy issued an executive order, creating the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, which required state-funded projects to take “affirmative action” to ensure that hiring practices are free from racial bias.
- In 1964, the Civil Rights Act, popularly known as Title VII, was passed as well. However, it only restricted affirmative action to American Indians or Indians living on or near a reservation.
The issue in focus
- Harvard employs a highly selective admissions process that entails a student’s grades, recommendation letters, or extracurricular involvement.
- However, the final stage of the application process placed candidates on a list containing their “legacy status, recruited athlete status, financial aid eligibility, and race”.
- The SFFA had filed lawsuits arguing that the race-based admissions programs violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (individuals in similar situations be treated equally by the law).
- While the former prohibits discrimination based on race, colour, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance, the latter refers to the idea that a government body may not deny equal protection of its governing laws to the people.
- The SFFA also alleged discrimination against Asian-American students.
Precedents till date
- The practice of affirmative action was upheld by SCOTUS in its 1978 ruling by a nine-judge bench.
- In 2003, came the landmark “Grutter v. Bollinger” ruling holding that colleges could consider race as one factor in admissions because of the compelling interest in creating a diverse student body.
- In the 2016 case of “Fisher v. University of Texas”, which involved a white student suing the University of Texas after being rejected for admission, the court upheld the principle of affirmative action in admissions, saying that colleges could consider race in admissions.
The final judgement
- The SCOTUS in the SFFA case, struck down affirmative action in college admissions reasoning that race cannot be a factor for college admissions.
- However, the court clarified that universities could still consider a student’s personal essays about “how race affected his or her life.”
- One of the justices cautioned against the decision’s “devastating impact”, adding that “race neutrality will entrench racial segregation in higher education.”
- Another justice stated that a student “must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual, not on the basis of race.
- African-American judge, Justice Thomas, said that the “Universities’ self-proclaimed righteousness does not afford them licence to discriminate on the basis of race”.
- US President Joe Biden has “strongly” disagreed with the SCOTUS ruling.
- A possible implication here is that those applicants whose identity is shaped by race will need to explicitly articulate it for it to be considered.
Source: Indian Express
Recovery of the Ozone Layer
Tags: GS – 1: Physical Geography (Atmosphere), GS – 3: Environment (Ozone Layer)
Why in News:
Recently, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has released Ozone and UV Bulletin after seven years.
- It is a layer or region of Earth’s stratosphere that absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation.
- It consists of a high concentration of ozone (O3) as compared to other regions of the atmosphere.
Key Highlights of the bulletin:
- The production and consumption of controlled ozone-depleting substances (ODS) have been phased out up to 99% as an outcome of Montreal Protocol and its amendments.
- ODS are long lived man-made chemicals which react with ozone and destroy the layer.
- Climate change is slowing down the recovery of the ozone layer mainly affecting the lower atmosphere’s climate.
- The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai (Southern Pacific) volcanic eruption in January 2022 was the largest in the last 100 years, injecting ice and water vapor high into the stratosphere. It increased the water vapor content which led to reduced ozone in the lower stratosphere of the southern hemisphere.
- This additional water vapour is expected to result in more polar stratospheric clouds, enhanced ozone depletion, and larger and longer-lasting “ozone holes” in the future.
Source: Down to Earth
Impact of CSR Fund
Tags: GS – 3: Indian Economy (Corporate Social Responsibility)
Why in News:
The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) has said about the limited impact of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives despite a spike in such spending in recent years.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR):
- CSR is a commitment by corporates to integrate social and environmental concerns into their business operations.
- It was made compulsory by an amendment to the Companies Act, 2013 in April 2014.
- Eligible corporates should invest at least 2% of their net profit (over the preceding 3 years) in areas such as education, poverty, gender equality, and hunger as part of any CSR compliance.
- Since 2014, CSR spending by corporate in India has increased significantly. CSR spending hit Rs 26,210 crore in FY21, showing growth of 80% from FY16.
- Sectors receiving fundings:
- Education – 38%
- Hunger, Poverty, Healthcare – 25%
- Environmental Sustainability – 12%
- Rural development – 11%
Concerns with CSR:
- There is a substantial regional disparity in the deployment of CSR funds. In FY21, ten states, including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh accounted for over 44% of the CSR funds. Whereas, the eight north-eastern states received only 0.91% share.
- CSR funding in few specific sectors: Education, healthcare, and rural development have remained the top receivers of the CSR funds.
- It is very important to keep a balance between local area preferences with national priorities to avoid any concentration of CSR funds in specific regions.
- Companies need to adopt a long-term approach to enhance visibility and impact of invested funds.
Source: Economic Times
Six Years of GST
Tags: GS-2: GST
July 1, 2023, marks the completion of 6 years since the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India.
About 6 years of GST
- GST was introduced in 2017 with the aim of simplifying the tax system and creating a unified national market.
- The journey of GST began with discussions on indirect tax reforms in the 1980s and gained momentum in the 1990s.
- The formation of the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers in 2006 played a crucial role in designing the GST model.
- The GST Bill was finally passed in 2016 and officially launched on July 1, 2017 bringing about a significant shift in the taxation system.
- Important facts:
- The average growth rate of Gross GST revenue from 2018-19 to 2022-23 stands at 12.3%, surpassing the nominal GDP growth rate of 9.8%.
- The recent June collection has crossed the 1.6 lakh crore mark for the 4th time since the inception of GST.
- It has replaced multiple indirect taxes such as excise duty, service tax, VAT, CST, and others, streamlining the tax structure.
- It has a dual structure, with both the central and state governments levying and collecting taxes which are calculated on a destination-based principle of collecting tax at the place of consumption.
- At present, GST has different tax slabs, including 0%, 5%, 12%, 18%, and 28%, along with cess on certain goods.
- GST has helped in eliminating the tax cascading, reducing the overall tax burden on goods and services besides improving tax compliance, formalization of the economy, and ease of doing business.
- Overall, GST continues to refine and improve the system for a more robust indirect tax regime for the benefit of taxpayers and the nation as a whole.
Key constitutional provisions GST:
- 101st Amendment Act, 2016: It introduced Article 246A, which provides for the exclusive legislative powers of the Parliament and the State legislatures with respect to GST.
- Article 246: It outlines the distribution of legislative powers between the Union (Central) and the States.
- It establishes a framework for the subjects on which the Parliament and the State legislatures can legislate, including taxation powers related to GST.
- Seventh Schedule: It contains three lists that specify the subjects on which the Union and the States can levy taxes.
- The introduction of GST led to changes in the taxation powers listed in the Seventh Schedule.
- Article 279A: This article established the GST Council, a constitutional body.
- It consists of the Union Finance Minister as the chairman and the Ministers of Finance or Taxation from the States as members to decide on the implementation of GST.
Source: Hindustan Times
Tam Pà Ling Cave
Tags: GS 1, GS-3: Human Geography, Evolution
New Evidence of human remains at Tam Ling cave challenges the previous understanding of human arrival in Southeast Asia.
About Tam Pà Ling Cave:
- Tam Pà Ling is a cave located in northern Laos and is known for its significant archaeological findings related to early humans.
- It is located near Cobra Cave, where a tooth from a Denisovan, an extinct human relative, was discovered.
- In 2009, a human skull and jaw bone were discovered in the cave which established importance of cave as a possible route for human dispersal in Southeast Asia.
- New research published in Nature Communications has revealed that additional human remains have been found in Tam Pà Ling Cave.
- Dating the cave has proven challenging due to protected fossils, lack of suitable materials for dating, and characteristics of the cave entrance.
- However, luminescence dating techniques using minerals like quartz and feldspar have been employed to establish age profiles of the sediment.
- The updated chronology indicates that humans have been present in the vicinity of Tam Pà Ling Cave for approximately 56,000 years.
- Overall, the cave’s exploration will help in understanding the ancient human journey across the world besides highlighting on the dispersal route for modern humans in Southeast Asia.
Source: The Hindu
Tag: GS Paper-1: The Freedom Struggle
The Santal rebellion or ‘Hul’ began in 1855, two years before the uprising of 1857, which is often referred to as “the first war for Indian independence”.
About the Hul:
- It was an “organised war against colonialism” led by the Santals.
- It was led by two brothers Sidhu and Kanhu and saw the participation of as many as 32 caste and communities.
- The rebellion took place in the lush Damin-i-Koh (meaning the ‘skirts of the hills’) region. This region falls around the Rajmahal Hills of eastern Jharkhand’s Sahibganj district.
- It took the British by complete surprise. Moneylenders and zamindars were executed or forced to flee, and police stations, railway construction sites and dakoffices, all symbols of colonial rule, were attacked.
- Every year, the state of Jharkhand celebrates June 30 as ‘Hul Diwas’.
- Today, the Santhal community is the third largest tribal community in India.
Why did the Hul happen?
- The Santhals migration was “forced” by the British to collect more revenue.
- They were not the original inhabitants of modern day Santhal Pargana, which includes the six districts of Dumka, Pakur, Godda, Sahibganj, Deoghar and parts of Jamtara.
- The 1770 famine in Bengal caused the Santhals to migrate from the Birbhum and Manbhum regions (present-day Bengal).
- With the enactment of the Permanent Settlement Act of 1790, the East India Company was desperate to bring an ever-increasing area in its control under settled agriculture.
- They chose the area of Damin-i-Koh, at the time heavily forested, to be settled by the Santhals, in order to collect a steady stream of revenue.
- Once settled, the Santhals bore the brunt of colonial oppression.
- Predatory money-lenders and the police were a byproduct of the system.
- Usurious interest on loans of money ranging from 50 to 500 percent; false measures at the market; wilful and uncharitable trespass by the rich by means of their untethered cattle, tattoos, ponies or even elephants, on the growing crops; and such like illegalities had been prevalent.
Mahila Samman Savings Certificate (MSSC), 2023
Tags: General Studies –2 Government Policies & Interventions
Why in news?
Recently, the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, has authorized Public Sector Banks and eligible Private Sector Banks to implement the Mahila Samman Savings Certificate, 2023.
- Mahila Samman Savings Certificate, 2023 scheme was announced in the Union Budget FY 2023-24 by the Central Government to provide financial security to every girl and woman in India.
- It is a one-time savings scheme.
- Women can open the account for themselves or on behalf of a minor girl child.
- The scheme has been in operation since April 1, 2023, through the Department of Post.
Key Features of the Scheme.
- Provides attractive and secured investment option to all girls and women.
- An account can be opened under this scheme on or before the March 31, 2025, for a tenure of two years.
- The deposit made under MSSC will bear interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum which will be compounded quarterly.
- Minimum of ₹1000 and any sum in multiple of 100 may be deposited within the maximum limit of ₹200,000.
- Maturity of the investment under this scheme is two years from the date of opening of the account under the scheme.
- It envisions flexibility not only in investment but also in partial withdrawal during the scheme tenor. The account holder is eligible to withdraw maximum up to 40% of the eligible balance in the scheme account.
Source: PIB Gov.
Tags: General Studies –3 Defence Technology, Indigenization of Technology
Why in news?
Recently, the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) called Tejas has completed seven years of service in the Indian Air Force.
- The LCA programme was started by the Government of India in 1984 when they established the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) to manage the LCA programme.
- This aircraft is designed by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
- LCA Tejas is the lightest, smallest and tailless multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft in its class.
- This aircraft is designed to carry a range of air-to-air, air-to-surface, precision-guided, weapons.
- It has the air-to-air refuelling capability.
- The maximum payload capacity of Tejas is 4000 kg.
- The range of the aircraft is 3,000 km.
- Speed: Mach 1.8.
|Other Variants of Tejas:|
|Tejas Trainer: 2-seater operational conversion trainer for training air force pilots. LCA Navy: Twin- and single-seat carrier-capable for the Indian Navy. LCA Tejas Navy MK2: Phase 2 of the LCA Navy variant. LCA Tejas Mk-1A: Improvement over the LCA Tejas Mk1 with a higher thrust engine. LCA Mk2 is an upgraded version of the LCA Tejas Mk1. It will replace Jaguars, MiG-29s, and Mirage 2000s. The General Electric GE-414 engine (from the USA) will power the LCA Mk2.|
Source: PIB Gov.
Pangong Tso lake
Tags: General Studies –1 Geography
Why in news?
Three years after the violent clash between Indian and Chinese forces in Galwan, both countries ramp up infrastructure on the north bank of Pangong Tso.
- Pangong Tso is one of the most famous lake in Leh Ladakh, derives its name from the Tibetan word, “Pangong Tso”, which means “high grassland lake”.
- It is an endorheic lake (bodies of water that do not flow into an ocean or a sea) spanning eastern Ladakh and West Tibet situated at an elevation of 4,225 m.
- It is 134 km long and divided into five sub-lakes.
- It is the world’s highest saltwater lake.
- One-third of the Pangong Lake lies in India and the other two-thirds in China.
- It is also known to change colors, appearing blue, green, and red at different times.
Source: The Hindu
Tags: General Studies – 3 Cyber Security, IT & Computers
Why in news?
Recently, Twitter has implemented temporary reading limits to address issues of data scraping and system manipulation.
- Data scraping, also known as web scraping, is the automated process of extracting large amounts of data from websites or online sources.
- It involves using software tools or programming techniques to gather information from web pages and convert it into a structured format, such as a spreadsheet or a database.
- Positive: Data scraping can be used to highlight ethical issues of copyright infringement. It also can be used for academic research, data journalism or to create innovative applications and services.
- Negative: Data Scraping may lead to copyright infringement, breach of privacy, manipulation, and misuse of data, etc.
- Verified accounts are now limited to reading 6,000 posts per day, while unverified or new accounts can read 600 and 300 posts per day, respectively.
Source: Hindu Business Line
Tags: General Studies – 3 Science and Technology
Why in news?
“Taishoku daiko” also known as “job-leaving agents” have sprung up over the past few years in Japan to help people who simply want to quit their jobs.
- Founded in 2020, Guardian, a taishoku daiko service, has helped various people, mostly in their 20s and 30s, escape less painfully from jobs they want to quit.
- That includes people who worked in a Shinto shrine, a dentist’s office, and a law firm to convenience store and restaurant staff.
- Nearly half of Guardian’s clients are women.
Source: The Hindu
Dharma Chakra Day
Tags: General Studies –1 History
Why in news?
Recently, President of India (at the Dharma Chakra Pravartan Divas celebrations) highlighted the importance of Buddha’s teachings and called upon the youth to draw inspiration from them.
- Dharma Chakra Day is celebrated to commemorate Buddha’s first teaching after attaining enlightenment.
- It is observed on the full moon day of Asadha in the Indian sun calendar.
- It is also observed as Guru Purnima, a day to honour spiritual teachers, by both Buddhists and Hindus.
- Guru Purnima is dedicated to Maharshi Veda Vyasa, editor of the Vedas and creator of Hindu scriptures.
- Also marks Lord Buddha’s first sermon delivered at Sarnath on the same day.
- It is organized by Ministry of Culture in partnership with the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC).
- It Commemorates the Dhamma Cakka-Pavattana Sutta, including the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path.
- The day marks the beginning of the Rainy Season retreat for monks and nuns.
- Other Names are Asadha Poornima (India); Esala Poya (Sri Lanka); Asanha Bucha (Thailand)
- The president emphasized the significance of following Sheel, Sadhachar, and Pragya to empower the younger generation and create a positive impact on society.
- The construction contract for the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in Lumbini, Nepal was also awarded.
Source: PIB Gov.
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