Pongong fingers hot up: Scramble for heights as PLA men mass on ridge, India sends more troops.

Paper:

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

INDIAN TROOPS are being deployed in large numbers along the Finger 3 ridgeline on the north bank of Pangong Tso in Ladakh where the PLA build-up has increased significantly in the last 48 hours as the Chinese seek to move further west of Finger4.

Daulat Beg Oldie road

  • The construction of the DSDBO road may be the most consequential reason why China is targeting Indian Territory along the LAC in Ladakh
  • It is a 255-km long “all-weather” road, running almost parallel to the LAC at Aksai Chin.
  • The 37 prefabricated military truss bridges along the road are what that makes the DSDBO an all-weather road.
  • It meanders through elevations ranging between 13,000 ft and 16,000 ft.
  • It took India’s Border Roads Organisation (BRO) almost two decades to construct this road.

Significance of Daulat beg oldie

  • DBO is the northernmost corner of Indian territory in Ladakh, in the area better known in Army parlance as Sub-Sector North.
  • DBO has the world’s highest airstrip.
  • This airstrip was originally built during the 1962 war.
  • It was abandoned until 2008, when the Indian Air Force (IAF) revived it as one of its many Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) along the LAC.
  • The DSDBO highway provides the Indian military access to the section of Tibet-Xinjaing highway that passes through Aksai Chin.
  • The road runs almost parallel to the LAC in Aksai Chin that China occupied in the 1950s.

Depsang plain

  • The Chinese Army occupied most of the plains in 1962
  • India controls the western portion of the plains as part of Ladakh, whereas the western portions part of the Aksai chin region which is controlled by China and claimed by India.
  • It is one the places in the western sector where light armour (vehicles) would have ease of maneuver.

Pongong tso Lake

  • Pangong Tso Lake in eastern Ladakh has often been in the news.
  • Pangong Tso is a long narrow, deep, endorheic (landlocked) lake situated at a height of more than 14,000 ft in the Ladakh Himalayas.
  • It is a brackish water lake.
  • It is not a part of the Indus river basin
  • The western end of Tso lies 54 km to the southeast of Leh. The 135 km-long lake sprawls over 604 sq km in the shape of a boomerang and is 6 km wide at its broadest point.

Significance of the lake

  • It lies in the path of the Chushul approach, one of the main approaches that China can use for an offensive into Indian Territory.
  • During the 1962 war, this was where China launched its main offensive — the Indian Army fought at Rezang La, the mountain pass on the southeastern approach to Chushul valley.

Chinese involvement in the region

  • Over the years, the Chinese have built motorable roads along their banks of the Pangong Tso.
  • At the People’s Liberation Army’s Huangyangtan base at Minningzhen, southwest of Yinchuan, the capital of China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, stands a massive to-scale model of this disputed area in Aksai Chin.
  • It points to the importance accorded by the Chinese to the area.

Fingers in the lake

  • The mountains on the lake’s northern bank, called the Chang Chenmo, jut forward in major spurs, which the Army calls “fingers”.
  • India claims that the LAC is coterminous with Finger 8, but it physically controls area only up to Finger 4.
  • Chinese border posts are at Finger 8, while it believes that the LAC passes through Finger 2.
  • Around six years ago, the Chinese had attempted a permanent construction at Finger 4 which was demolished after Indians strongly objected to
  • Chinese use light vehicles on the road to patrol up to Finger 2, which has a turning point for their vehicles.
  • The Chinese have now stopped the Indian soldiers moving beyond Finger 2.

‘House can select Dy. Speaker

Paper:

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news?

Opposition parties had urged the government to fill the Deputy Speaker’s position, which has been vacant for the past 15 months.

Office of Deputy Speaker

  • Article 93 of the Constitution provides for the election of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker.
  • The constitutional office of the Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha is more symbolic of parliamentary democracy than some real authority.
  • There is no need for the Deputy Speaker to resign from their original party though as a Deputy Speaker, they have to remain impartial.

Roles and functions:

  • In case of the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker presides over the sessions of the Lok Sabha and conducts the business in the house.
  • They act as the presiding officer in case of leave, absence caused by death or illness of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
  • When Speaker of Lok Sabha is not available, his duties are carried out by Deputy Speaker.
  • Deputy speaker is not subordinate to the Speaker and is directly responsible to Lok Sabha.
  • If Deputy Speaker is also not present, a person appointed by President will discharge the duties.

Election

  • The Deputy Speaker is elected in the first meeting of the Lok Sabha after the General elections from amongst the members of the Lok Sabha.
  • It is by convention that position of Deputy Speaker is offered to opposition party in India.
  • Election of Deputy Speaker is done after election of Speaker.
  • The date of election of Deputy Speaker is fixed by Speaker.

Tenure and removal:

  • They hold office until either they cease to be a member of the Lok Sabha or they resign.
  • They can be removed from office by a resolution passed in the Lok Sabha by an effective majority of its members

France supports Indian candidature for permanent seat at the UN security council.

Paper:

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in News?

France supports Indian candidature for permanent seat at the UN security council

Background:

  • India became a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in July 2020.
  • For decades, India has sought the permanent membership at the UNSC.
  • India has used its non-permanent status as a stepping stone to prepare a bid for the permanent candidacy.
  • In the past, India has held the same position seven times.
  • For years, New Delhi has worked closely with the G-4 group, with Brazil, Japan, and Germany, to push for structural reforms within the UNSC.
  • India for long has been of the view that the UNSC sought to be reformed by expansion in the membership of the Security Council in both the permanent and non – permanent categories.

India’s claim for permanent member is justified?

  • The Indian tryst for permanent membership of Security Council flows broadly from a mix of, three streams:
  1. India’s historic association with the UN system,
  2. India’s intrinsic value and place in contemporary international politics
  • Her role as the leader of developing countries.
  • India is the founding member of the UN.
  • India has been an active participant in all initiatives undertaken by the UN like
  1. Millennium Development Goals,
  2. Sustainable development goals
  • various UN summits, including on climate change.
  • India is the undisputed leader of the Third world countries, and it is evident from its leadership role in Non-Aligned Movement and G-77 grouping.

Indo-French relations

  • India has had strategic partnership with France since 1998.
  • The 3 principal pillars of this strategic partnership are:
  1. Defence cooperation
  2. Space cooperation
  • Civil nuclear cooperation
  • Both countries support a multi-polar world led by democracies.
  • France has been a continued supporter of India’s claims to a permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
  • France has also backed in India for membership to all the four multilateral export control regimes, i.e.
  1. The Wassenaar Arrangement (WA),
  2. The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG),
  • The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR),
  1. The Australia Group (AG).
  • Both nations are strongly in the war against global terror.
  • Both countries jointly organize many military exercises:
  1. Exercise Shakti (Army)
  2. Exercise Varuna (Navy)
  • Exercise Garuda (Air Force)

Rafale:

  • The Rafale would be an aid to the Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region to curb over-flights and the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the area.
  • It will significantly bolster India’s air combat capabilities especially when it is facing hostile neighbours like Pakistan and China.

Explained: Taking stock of jobs lost, sectors affected, and possible ways forward

Paper:

Mains: General Studies-III: Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management

Why in news?

Rising levels of unemployment have been brought into sharp focus by a sharp contraction of 23.9% in India’s GDP in the first quarter.

Key details

  • The number of unemployed is likely to grow because of:
  1. More and more people entering the labour force fail to find jobs,
  2. several already employed are likely to lose their jobs.
  • Any analysis of the jobs situation in India is marred by the lack of prompt data on employment and unemployment.
  1. India’s official data on unemployment provided through the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS), comes out with a considerable lag.
  2. The PLFS is an annual survey that also provides quarterly updates but the latest PLFS report, which was released in June, pertains to July 2018 to June 2019 period.
  • In the absence of official estimates, the surveys done by CMIE, are often seen as the benchmark.
  1. It should be underscored that CMIE and PLFS data are not comparable because of methodological and in particular, definitional differences.
  • According to calculations, India needs to add around 10 mn to 12 mn new jobs each year for the coming decade.
  • A recent McKinsey study, pegged the total number of non-farm jobs that India needed to create in the coming decade between 90 mn to 140 mn

 

GDP contracted 23.9%

  • According to the recent National Statistical Office (NSO) data, India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth contracted by 23.9% in the first (April-June) quarter of 2020 compared to the same period (April-June) in 2019.
  • It is the sharpest contraction since India started reporting quarterly data in 1996.
  • Gross Value Added (GVA) growth rate also declined by 22.8% in the first quarter of this financial year.

Way Forward

The Indian Government can adopt the measures suggested by McKinsey Global Institute in which an additional 3.5 % of the GDP can be raised by the government.

  • Higher Productivity through Privatisation: Privatisation of 30 or so of the largest state-owned enterprises to potentially double their productivity.
  • Improvement in Infrastructure: India needs to unlock supply in land markets to reduce land costs by 20-25%, enable efficient power distribution to reduce commercial and industrial tariffs by 20-25%; and improve the ease and reduce the cost of doing business.
  • Efficient Financing: Streamlining fiscal resources can deliver USD 2.4 trillion in investment while boosting entrepreneurship by lowering the cost of capital for enterprises by about 3.5 percentage points.
  • Bad Bank: Creation of a ‘bad bank’ can take care of the inoperative asset.

No ‘extraordinary situation’ shown by Maharashtra to go beyond 50% ceiling: SC

Paper:

Mains: General Studies- II: Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations.

Why in news

The Supreme Court said that it is of the “prima facie opinion that the State of Maharashtra has not shown any extraordinary situation for providing reservations to Marathas in excess of 50 percent.

Key details

  • The Court said it raises a ‘substantial question of law’ on interpretation of Article 338-B and 342-A, inserted by Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act, 2018.
  • 102nd Constitution Amendment Act, 2018 provides constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC).
  • It has the authority to examine complaints and welfare measures regarding socially and educationally backward classes.
  • Previously NCBC was a statutory body under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

Background

The court was hearing the petitions that challenged the June 2019 Bombay High Court decision, which upheld the constitutional validity of the Maratha quota under the Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018.

Who are the Marathas?

  • The Marathas are a group of castes comprising peasants, landowners among others.
  • While most Marathas are Marathi-speaking, not all Marathi-speaking persons belong to Maratha community.
  • A politically dominant community in Maharashtra, it comprises nearly one-third of the population of the state.
  • Historically, Marathas have been identified as a ‘warrior’ caste with large land-holdings.
  • Since the formation of the Maharashtra state in 1960, of its 19 chief ministers, 11 have been from the Maratha community.
  • While division of land and agrarian problems over the years have led to a decline of prosperity among middle class and lower middle-class Marathas, the community still plays an important role in the rural economy.

Reservation and Indra Sawhney case

  • Reservation in promotion pertains to reservations granted to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs/STs) for promotions in public employment.
  • It has been a bitterly contested issue between the Supreme Court and Parliament.
  • The court while hearing PIL in the famous ‘Indra Sawhney Case’ recognized socially and economically backward classes as a category and recognized the validity of the 27 per cent reservation.
  • The concept of ‘creamy layer’ gained currency through this judgment. Those among the OBCs who had transcended their social backwardness were to be excluded from the reservation.
  • It laid down a 50 per cent limit on reservations and observed that economic, social and educational criteria were needed to define backward classes.
  • Reservation for backward classes (which include OBCs and SCs & STs) should be confined to initial appointments and not extend to promotions.

Other facts:

  • Only state other than Maharashtra to have breached the 50 per cent mark is Tamil Nadu.
  • Tamil Nadu has 69 per cent reservation including one per cent for Scheduled Tribes, 18 per cent for the Scheduled Castes and 50 per cent for Other Backward Classes.
  • The provision of 69 per cent provision is included in the Ninth Schedule – laws which are beyond the purview of judicial review, even if it violates fundamental rights enshrined in the Part III of the Constitution.
  • However, an eight-judge SC bench hearing the IR Coelho vs State Of Tamil Nadu upheld the authority of the judiciary to review any law, including those put in the Ninth Schedule.
  • It stated that Ninth Schedule laws could be “open to attack on the ground that they destroy or damage the basic structure of the Constitution”.