23 November 2022
Election Commission of India
Skill Training Review in India
Tamil Nadu gets its first biodiversity heritage site
Fordow underground facility
Value Addition Box
Election Commission of India
Context-SC calls out Centre over short tenures of CECs
What is ECI?
The Election Commission of India is an autonomous constitutional authority responsible for administering Union and State election processes in India.
The body administers elections to the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, and State Legislative Assemblies in India, and the offices of the President and Vice President in the country.
What is the Structure of the Commission?
Originally the commission had only one election commissioner but after the Election Commissioner Amendment Act 1989, it has been made a multi-member body.
The commission consists of one Chief Election Commissioner and two Election Commissioners.
What is the Procedure of Removal?
The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through a process of removal similar to that of a Supreme Court judge for by Parliament.
Judges of High Courts and Supreme Court, CEC, Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) may be Removed from office through a motion adopted by Parliament on grounds of ‘Proven misbehaviour or incapacity’.
Removal requires special majority of 2/3rd members present and voting supported by more than 50% of the total strength of the house.
The Constitution does not use the word ‘impeachment’, for the removal of the judges, CAG, CEC.
The term ‘Impeachment’ is only used for removing the President which requires the special majority of 2/3rd members of the total strength of both the houses which is not used elsewhere.
What are the Key Functions of ECI?
Election Commission of India superintendents, direct and control the entire process of conducting elections to Parliament and Legislature of every State and to the offices of President and Vice-President of India.
The most important function of the commission is to decide the election schedules for the conduct of periodic and timely elections, whether general or bye-elections.
It prepares electoral roll, issues Electronic Photo Identity Card (EPIC).
It decides on the location polling stations, assignment of voters to the polling stations, location of counting centres, arrangements to be made in and around polling stations and counting centres and all allied matters.
It grants recognition to political parties & allot election symbols to them along with settling disputes related to it.
The Commission also has advisory jurisdiction in the matter of post election disqualification of sitting members of Parliament and State Legislatures.
It issues the Model Code of Conduct in election for political parties and candidates so that the no one indulges in unfair practice or there is no arbitrary abuse of powers by those in power.
It sets limits of campaign expenditure per candidate to all the political parties, and also monitors the same.
Context-Forest Range Officer killed by Gutti Koya tribals in Telangana
Koya are an Indian tribal community found in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha. Koyas call themselves Koitur in their dialect. The Koyas speak the Koya language, also known as Koya basha, which is a Dravidian language related to Gondi.
The tribal community faces the new threats of development and conflicts, posing a serious questions on its existence and civilization. For instance, the displacement and migration of Gotti koyas tribals taking place in Andhra Pradesh. In the absence of land and access to a forest, the Koyas depend on wage labour in farm lands. The scarcity of these jobs leads to malnutrition of children and instances of anemia in women
Skill Training Review in India
Context-Skill training of MGNREGS workers lags; Centre blames it on the States
The aim of the project is to train one adult member (1845 age group) of a household that has completed 100 days of work under the MGNREGS.
At least 20% of the households that complete 100 days of work under the MGNREGS should be targeted by the States under the Unnati scheme
71 lakh households worked for 100 days in the country under the MGNREGS, but only 8,658 persons received training under the Unnati project. Similarly, in 2021-22, the number of eligible households stood at 59 lakh, but only 12,577 persons were trained.
The Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushal Yojana (DDUGKY), the Rural Self Training Institute (RSETI) and the Krishi Vigyan Kendra. The Grameen Kaushal Yojana is a placement linked programme, in which 70% of the trained candidates have to be compulsorily employed with a minimum salary of ₹ 6,000 a month.
Context-India and the UAE hold talks on food security cooperation
I2U2 is aimed to encourage joint investments in six mutually identified areas such as:
- Food security
It intends to mobilize private sector capital and expertise to help modernize the infrastructure, and low carbon development pathways for our industries, improve public health and promote the development of critical emerging and green technologies.
Engagement with the Middle eastern region:I2U2 can become a feature of the broader Middle East region, just as the Quad has become a central pillar of the Indo-Pacific strategy.
Israel and the Abraham Accords:The formation of this group signifies Israel’s increasing integration into the region, through the Abraham Accords.
The Abraham Accords of 2020 had led to Israel formally normalising diplomatic ties with the UAE and two other countries in the region, marking an important shift in the stance of West Asian countries on Israel.
India and west Asia:The grouping also points to India’s growing engagement with countries in West Asia including Israel, with whom India has developed closer ties.
India and the West Asian countries in I2U2 could come together and work on food security and agricultural technology,
The global food and energy crisis arising out of the Ukraine conflict is likely to figure prominently in the talks that will begin a
Russian oil:With regard to price caps for Russian oil, the U.S. is engaging not just with the EU and the U.K. but also “key consuming countries” and others, including India and China.
The U.S. was being vocal about reducing Russian revenues while minimising economic disruptions globally, in the countries concerned.
The centrality of India:India’s bilateral strategic ties with each of the three countries have been on an upswing in the last few years.
India is one of the largest, most significant, most strategically consequential countries in the Indo-Pacific, and apart from I2U2, it is playing a central role in many other forums like the Quad.
The two sides also discussed, energy, healthcare, defence, space, climate change, fintech
India’s exports to the UAE between April-September 2022 were about USD 16 billion which was an increase of 24% year to year while India’s imports increased 38% to reach USD 28.4 billion in the same time period,”
What are the Challenges Associated with I2U2?
Challenges for Israel:
As far as the quest for peace and resolution of the Arab-Israeli problem is concerned, the Abraham Accords are a major breakthrough.However, the other states in the region are still reluctant to maintain friendly bilateral relations with Israel.
Also, at the grassroots level, the Israel-Palestine conflict is still a major area of concern.
Internal Conflicts of the Arab World:
Iran-Saudi: The Shia-Sunni conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia is also going on which is also running through Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.
Possible Splitting of Countries:The internal conflicts in the Arab world will possibly lead to the significant partners of India like Iran split from the former into another group.
The developing situation might lead to the creation of two groups one with China, Pakistan, Russia, Iran and Turkey while India, Israel, USA and UAE are likely to be on the other side.
China’s Expanding Role in the Middle East:India must also look at the presence of China which has been expanding its footprint in the region.
Israel:Israel’s Haifa port has been expanded by China, more than one and a half billion-dollar investment in Haifa has been made by China.
China is also building the Ashdod port which is the only port Israel has in the Mediterranean.
UAE: UAE was one of the first countries that got Huawei’s (Chinese MNC) assistance for its 5G project.
What Should be the Way Forward?
Seizing the Opportunity:The I2U2 is a win-win proposition for all the countries concerned. India needs to play a more active role as far as cooperation with West Asia is concerned.
India must navigate this area which is full of landmines, very cautiously because the fundamental interests of India: energy security, food security, workers, trade, investment and maritime security lie in this region.
Reassuring Other Partners in West Asia:Two countries, specifically, need to be reassured that this new arrangement is not aimed at them: Iran and Egypt.
For India, Iran is important in relation to the present context of Afghanistan. India must deal with the challenges both diplomatically and strategically in this region.
Egypt has friendly relations with all the four countries in this alliance but it must be reassured that it will not be impacted economically or politically.
Mutual Cooperation Among the Four Countries:There are challenges in dealing with the complications of the West Asian region.
Balancing the rival countries diplomatically and strategically in order to maintain friendly relations with each other can be done through mutual cooperation among the four countries.
Context-India-Australia trade pact set to open up opportunities: Goyal
Areas of Cooperation
In 2009, India and Australia established a ‘Strategic Partnership’, including a Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation which has been further elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2020
High Level Exchanges
Leaders’ Virtual Summit
The Prime Ministers from both nations, participated in the India-Australia Leaders’ Virtual Summit in 2020 where the bilateral Strategic Partnership concluded in 2009 was elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP)
MoUs were signed relating to Maritime Cooperation in Indo-Pacific, Defence, Cyber Security, Education, Mining, Water Resource Management etc.
Quad Leaders Virtual Summit
Prime Ministers of India, Australia, Japan and President of USA participate here, for mutual cooperation
Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue (FMFD)
FMFD is the central mechanism for advancing the bilateral agenda and is held annually
Various institutional dialogue mechanisms include
- Annual Meetings of Prime Ministers
- Foreign Ministers’ Framework Dialogue
- Joint Trade & Commerce Ministerial Commission
- India-Australia ‘2+2’ Foreign Secretaries and Defence Secretaries Dialogue
- Defence Policy Talks
- Australia-India Education Council
- Defence Services Staff Talks
- Energy Dialogue
- India-Australia-Japan Trilateral Dialogue
- India-Australia-Indonesia Trilateral Dialogue
- India-France-Australia Trilateral Dialogue
- India-Australia Bilateral Dialogue on Global Cyber Issues
- India-Australia Maritime Dialogue
- India-Australia Economic Policy Dialogue
- India-Australia Dialogue on Disarmament
Non-proliferation and Export Control as well as Joint Working Groups on Tourism, Counter-Terrorism, Water Resources, Agriculture, Skill Development, etc.
India and Australia also co-operate in various multilateral fora
Australia supports India’s candidature in an expanded UN Security Council
Both India and Australia are members of the Commonwealth, IORA, ASEAN Regional Forum, Asia Pacific Partnership on Climate and Clean Development, and have participated in the East Asia Summits
Both countries have also been cooperating as members of the Five Interested Parties (FIP) in the WTO context
Australia supports India’s membership in the APEC
The Prime Ministers of Australia and India interact regularly at G20 as well
2.Bilateral Economic and Trade Relationship
As part of its efforts to develop strong economic relationship with India, the Australian Government commissioned the India Economic Strategy to 2035 to define a pathway for Australia to unlock opportunities offered by Indian Economic growth (This paper was released in 2018)
India-Australia Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) was established in 1989 to enable interaction at a government and business level on a range of trade and investment related issues
India is the 8th largest trade partner of Australia with trade in goods and services at A$ 26.24 billion representing 3% share of the total Australian trade in FY 2019-20, with exports at A$ 7.59 billion and imports at A$ 18.65 billion
3.Civil Nuclear Cooperation
A Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement between the two countries was signed in 2014
The agreement came into force in 2015 and provides the framework for substantial new trade in energy between Australia and India.
During India’s PM visit to Australia in 2014, both sides decided to extend defence cooperation to cover research, development and industry engagement and agreed to hold regular meetings at the level of the Defence Minister, conduct regular maritime exercises and convene regular service-to-service talks
Other Bilateral Exercises
Australia and India are committed to working together for enhanced maritime cooperation and have had AUSINDEX since 2015
Exercise Pitch Black is a biennial warfare exercise hosted by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
5.Science & Technology
An Australia-India Strategic Research Fund (AISRF), which was established in 2006, supports collaboration between scientists in India and Australia on cutting-edge research
A Joint Working Group (JWG) for cooperation in Agriculture has been set up
6.Resources & Energy Security
In 2017, Australia signed a framework agreement for to join the International Solar Alliance, led by the Governments of India and France
The Australia-India Energy Dialogue is the primary forum to discuss bilateral engagement on energy and resources.
There are 4 working groups established to support the Energy Dialogue:
- Renewable Energy and Smart Grids
- Power and Energy Efficiency
- Coal and Mines
- Oil and Gas
At the recent QUAD summit, both sides agreed to go forward with a low emissions technology partnership, a partnership that will focus on hydrogen development, ultra-low cost solar programs, to support India’s energy transition
7.Education, Sports, Art & Culture
Pursuant to the signing of the new Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Vocational Education and Training, the Joint Working Group Meeting between India (Ministry for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship) and Australia (Dept. of Education, Skills and Employment) was held virtually in 2020
Repatriation of Indian Cultural Artefacts
A number of artefacts have been successfully repatriated to India in recent years.
They include Bronze Idol of Nataraja from Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) (2019), Nagaraja stone sculpture (2020), two Dwarpala stone sculptures (2020)
The Indian community in Australia continues to grow in size and importance, with the population of about seven hundred thousand.
India is one of the top sources of skilled immigrants to Australia
The number of Indian students continue to grow with approximately 105,000 students presently studying in Australian universities.
After England, India is the second largest migrant group in Australia in 2020
Different concerns : China
Australian concerns have to do with China’s increased activities in the Pacific; while India is concerned about China’s greater presence and influence in the Indian Ocean
It is likely that Australia has a certain lack of confidence given that New Delhi seems ambiguous about whether to balance or hedge. These differences might partly have to do with strategic histories.
In this perspective, Australia has long been an American ally, while India remains uncomfortable about alliances
Joint Exercises: India’s Military deficit
The second issue with the relationship is the deficit of military capabilities, especially on the Indian side
While the two militaries have been able to showcase their prowess during exercises, their ability to come to each other’s aid during conflict remains in question.
The joint logistics services agreement would go a long way in addressing this issue as it would provide joint access to each other’s military facilities
Malabar Trilateral related
From an Australian perspective, an irritant in the relationship is India’s reluctance to involve Australia in the Malabar trilateral naval exercise alongside the other three Quad nations — India, Japan and the United States.
Indian media reports indicate that India might be open to involving Australia at the next Malabar naval exercises
Nuclear Deal at Pivot Point
Although Australia has developed its uranium export industry in recent years, there are still considerable reservations among many in Australia about its sale
The key condition for allowing uranium mining was that uranium would only be exported for civilian use to countries that had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – which India has not signed yet
In pursuance of this aspect, despite an agreement, Australia continued its policy of not supplying uranium to India
- Thus, as the threat from China grows, India and Australia should find more innovative ways to work together to shape a stable Asian strategic order
- Augmented Australia-India ties within bilateral, trilateral, quadrilateral, and other minilaterals and multilateral institutions are a reality that is unlikely to slow down for the foreseeable future.
- The convergence of strategic interests in ensuring an Indo-Pacific order that is free of hegemonic and muscular policies is a glue that will bind India and Australia further in the coming years.
- The two will likely also expand their partnership both in pursuing strategic partnerships and thematic ones like supply chain resilience initiative
- On the whole, The India–Australia strategic partnership has seen impressive advancements in the last few years, but its potential and promise are yet to be fully realised.
- Hence, the need of dedicated attention and political leadership from both capitals to become more than a work in progress going forward
Tamil Nadu gets its first biodiversity heritage site
Context-The Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday issued a notification declaring Arittapatti and Meenakshipuram villages in Madurai district the first biodiversity heritage site in the State.
The site, comprising 139.63 hectares in Arittapatti village (in Melur taluk) and 53.58 hectares in Meenakshipuram village (Madurai East taluk), will be known as the Arittapatti Biodiversity Heritage Site, said a notification.
Arittapatti, known for its ecological and historical significance, houses around 250 species of birds, including
Three important raptors — the Laggar Falcon, the Shaheen Falcon and Bonelli’s Eagle.
It is also home to wildlife such as the Indian pangolin, slender Loris and pythons. The area is surrounded by a chain of seven hillocks or inselbergs that serve as a watershed, charging “72 lakes, 200 natural springs and three check dams”
The Anaikondan tank, built during the reign of the Pandiyan kings in the 16th century, is one of them. Several megalithic structures, rock cut temples, Tamil Brahmi inscriptions and Jain beds add to the historical significance of the region
|Science and technology|
Fordow underground facility
Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP) is an Iranian underground uranium enrichment facility located 20 miles (32 km) northeast of the Iranian city of Qom, near Fordow village, at a former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps base. The site is under the control of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
|Value Addition Box|
|Examples for Local government and Climate Change|
There are many other panchayats that have also initiated carbon neutral programmes.
In Seechewal gram panchayat, the Kali Bein River was rejuvenated with people’s involvement.
Odanthurai panchayat in Tamil Nadu has its own windmill (350 KW).
Tikekarwadi gram panchayat in Maharashtra is well known for its extensive use of biogas plants and green energy production.
Chapparapadavu gram panchayat in Kerala has several green islands that have been nurtured by the community.
Green and Clean Villages
Every eleven minutes, a woman is killed by partner or family-United Nations