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Here are the topics covered for 21st November 2023:
GS-1:Onattukara sesame (Ellu)
GS-2:SC on Governor withholding re-passed bills, UNSC Resolution on Gaza Strip
Facts for prelims: Freemartins, Centre-State Relations
Onattukara sesame (Ellu)
- Onattukara sesame (Ellu) is currently under the spotlight in Kerala, as state authorities are actively working to enhance the cultivation of this Geographical Indication (GI)-tagged crop. Renowned for its distinct health benefits, Onattukara Ellu and its oil have gained recognition for their unique properties.
- The state of Kerala is fostering initiatives to promote the cultivation of Onattukara sesame, acknowledged for its Geographical Indication (GI) tag.
- This sesame variety, known as Onattukara Ellu, is celebrated for its exceptional health advantages.
- With a notably higher antioxidant content, Onattukara Ellu plays a crucial role in combatting free radicals that can harm body cells.
- Moreover, its rich concentration of unsaturated fats contributes to its heart-friendly attributes.
- The high levels of Vitamin E and antioxidants present in Onattukara Ellu make it a nutritional powerhouse.
- The sesame variety contains beneficial acids such as oleic acid, linoleic acid, and palmitoleic acid, among others, promoting overall health and well-being.
Geographical Indication (GI) Tag:
- A Geographical Indication (GI) tag serves as a distinctive mark applied to products with a specific geographical origin, possessing qualities or a reputation directly linked to that location.
- This labelling is commonly associated with agricultural products, food items, alcoholic beverages, handicrafts, and industrial products.
- The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act of 1999 in India aims to facilitate the registration and enhanced protection of geographical indications related to various goods.
- The validity of the GI tag is set at 10 years, after which it can be renewed to ensure continued recognition and protection.
- In essence, Onattukara sesame stands out not only for its nutritional richness but also as a testament to the efforts invested by Kerala in safeguarding and promoting its unique agricultural heritage.
SC on Governor withholding re-passed bills
- In a recent development, the Supreme Court scrutinized the Tamil Nadu government’s contention that the Governor lacks the “discretion” to withhold approval for 10 Bills “re-passed” by the State Legislative Assembly.
- The Constitution, as argued by the State, does not grant the Governor the discretion to withhold assent once Bills have been re-passed by the State Legislative Assembly.
Supreme Court’s Remark:
- Chief Justice of India emphasized that once Bills are re-passed, they are equivalent to Money Bills, and the Governor cannot reject them.
Article 200 Proviso:
- The State cited the first proviso of Article 200, stating that if a Bill is passed again by the House with or without amendments, the Governor shall not withhold assent.
Return of Bills:
- The court questioned whether the Governor must send the Bills back to the House for reconsideration after withholding assent. The State argued that returning the Bills is a necessary step.
- The court acknowledged the State’s submission that once the Governor withholds assent and sends the Bills back, he cannot refer them to the President.
The Governor withheld assent on November 13, and the Assembly re-passed the Bills on November 18. The Bills had been pending since January 2020.
- The State urged the court to set a time limit for Governors, emphasizing the need for efficient governance and avoiding frequent Supreme Court interventions.
- The Attorney General clarified that out of 182 Bills, the Governor approved 152, reserved nine for referral to the President, and withheld consent on 10.
The court scheduled the next hearing for December 1, allowing time for the Governor to consider the re-passed Bills.
- The Chief Justice questioned the delay in the exercise of the Constitutional function, emphasizing the broader issue of Constitutional functions’ timeliness.
- Senior advocates argued that the Governor, by either sitting on Bills or withholding consent without providing reasons, undermines the spirit of Article 200 of the Constitution.
- Advocates emphasized that the Bills passed by the House represent the ultimate will of the people, and the Governor’s actions should align with the Constitution’s spirit.
- In summary, the Supreme Court’s examination of the Tamil Nadu Governor’s actions highlights constitutional intricacies and the need for timely and transparent decision-making in governance.
UNSC Resolution on Gaza Strip
- The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has taken a decisive step by adopting a resolution aimed at addressing the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. This move represents the first formal response from the UNSC since the commencement of the recent Israel-Hamas conflict.
- The resolution, meticulously prepared by Malta, has secured approval with a notable majority, receiving 12 votes in favour.
Abstentions and Reasons:
- Notably, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia abstained from voting.
- The US and UK cited the resolution’s omission of condemnation for Hamas’ cross-border attacks into Israel, while Russia abstained due to the resolution’s failure to demand a humanitarian cease-fire, a stance opposed by Israel and the US.
Major Powers’ Stance:
- The abstentions by major powers, including the US, UK, and Russia, have prompted questions regarding their specific positions and priorities concerning the situation in Gaza.
Humanitarian Obligations Emphasized:
- The resolution underscores the imperative for all parties involved to adhere to international humanitarian obligations, with a particular focus on the protection of civilians, including children.
Urgent Humanitarian Pauses:
- A key emphasis of the resolution is the urgent need for extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout Gaza. This is aimed at facilitating the delivery of essential aid to civilians adversely affected by the conflict.
Hostage Release Urged:
- The resolution strongly urges the “immediate and unconditional release of all hostages,” highlighting a critical concern with over 230 individuals believed to be held by Hamas.
Duration of Humanitarian Pauses:
- A significant aspect of the resolution raises questions about the duration deemed sufficient for humanitarian pauses. A previous draft suggested an initial pause of five consecutive days within 24 hours of resolution adoption.
This development signifies a collective effort within the international community to address the pressing humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. The divergent perspectives among major powers, as evident from the abstentions, add a layer of complexity to the resolution’s reception and implementation. The resolution stands as a critical step towards fostering stability and providing essential aid to those affected by the conflict.
- The United Nations has issued a warning about the unprecedented surge in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, reaching new records in 2022. The World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) 19th Annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin outlines alarming implications, forecasting heightened temperatures, intensified extreme weather events, and elevated sea levels.
Major Highlights of the Bulletin:
Unprecedented Greenhouse Gas Levels:
- Carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide concentrations surpassed previous records in 2022.
- Carbon dioxide reached 418 parts per million, methane at 1,923 parts per billion, and nitrous oxide at 336 parts per billion.
- These levels exceeded pre-industrial levels by 150%, 264%, and 124%, respectively.
- Carbon dioxide contributes about 64% to the warming effect, methane about 16%, and nitrous oxide about 7%.
Challenges to Paris Agreement Goals:
- The global mean temperature in 2022 already exceeded the 1.5 degrees Celsius mark set by the Paris Agreement, indicating a grim reality.
- Current projections suggest a temperature rise significantly surpassing Paris Agreement targets by the end of the century, leading to catastrophic consequences.
Projected Climate Disruptions:
- The continuous rise in heat-trapping gases predicts intensified climate disruptions.
- The bulletin emphasizes the urgent need to reduce fossil fuel consumption to mitigate escalating risks.
- Potential critical “tipping points” could lead to irreversible cascades, including the rapid die-back of the Amazon, North Atlantic circulation slowdown, and destabilization of major ice sheets.
What are Greenhouse Gases?
- Greenhouse gases are naturally occurring and human-generated gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. They possess the unique property of absorbing and emitting heat, creating a thermal blanket that allows sunlight to enter while preventing the escape of a significant portion of absorbed heat. This phenomenon, known as the greenhouse effect, regulates Earth’s temperature, making it habitable.
Major Factors Responsible for Rising Greenhouse Gases Concentration:
Fossil Fuel Combustion:
- Burning fossil fuels for energy is the primary contributor to carbon dioxide emissions.
Deforestation and Land Use Changes:
- Deforestation reduces carbon sinks, releasing stored carbon and diminishing the Earth’s capacity to absorb CO2.
- Agriculture contributes to methane and nitrous oxide emissions, with livestock farming generating methane.
Improper Waste Management:
- Landfills, especially with improper waste management, produce methane as organic waste decomposes.
- Volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and natural decay processes release greenhouse gases, with human activities exacerbating their impact.
Urbanization and Population Growth:
- Rapid urban expansion and population growth increase energy demand, vehicular emissions, and infrastructure needs, leading to higher greenhouse gas emissions.
Permafrost Thaw and Methane Release:
- Rising temperatures cause permafrost to thaw, releasing methane and creating a feedback loop that accelerates global warming.
Implications of Rising Greenhouse Gas Concentrations:
- Induced Climate Change: The intensified greenhouse effect leads to global warming, altering weather patterns and causing extreme events.
- Melting Ice and Rising Sea Levels: Warming temperatures contribute to the melting of glaciers and polar ice caps, leading to rising sea levels.
- Food and Water Security: Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns affect agricultural productivity and water availability.
- Ocean Acidification: Excess CO2 absorbed by oceans leads to acidification, impacting marine life and ecosystems.
- Geopolitical Tensions: Climate-induced displacement, resource scarcity, and competition for habitable areas may lead to geopolitical tensions and conflicts.
- Kyoto Protocol
- Paris Agreement
- International Solar Alliance
- Global Biofuel Alliance
- Bharat Stage-IV (BS-IV) to Bharat Stage-VI (BS-VI) emission norms
- National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC)
- Energy Conservation (Amendment) Act 2022
- India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)
- Panchamrit Goal
- Implement policies and technologies focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions across sectors. Transition to renewable energy sources, improve energy efficiency and reduce fossil fuel dependence.
- Develop and implement strategies to cope with existing and projected impacts of climate change. Enhance resilience in infrastructure, agriculture, water management, and urban planning.
- Foster global cooperation and commitment to climate action through international agreements. Encourage nations to honour and strengthen their commitments under agreements like the Paris Agreement.
Fact for Prelims:
- Biological Anomaly: Freemartins refers to sterile female cattle exhibiting traits of both sexes, a phenomenon frequently observed in agricultural settings.
- Origins: These unusual cattle emerge from twin pregnancies, where a male and female share the same uterus.
- Prevalence: Approximately 90% of twin pregnancies in cattle result in freemartins, highlighting the frequency of this occurrence.
- Blood Exchange: The key factor contributing to freemartins is the exchange of blood between the male and female foetuses during gestation.
- Genetic Basis: Freemartinism is genetically attributed to the sharing of cells carrying the Y chromosome from the male twin with the female twin.
- Developmental Impact: The Y chromosome triggers the development of male reproductive organs in the male foetus, while the female foetus, influenced by male hormones, experiences incomplete development of its reproductive system.
- Reproductive Tract Deficiency: The end result is the freemartin having an underdeveloped or non-functional reproductive tract.
Physical and Behavioral Traits of Freemartins:
- Sterility Confirmation: Freemartins are identified by their inability to reproduce, prompting farmers to implement culling strategies for improved reproductive efficiency.
- Culling Criteria: Farmers use a combination of physical and behavioural traits to identify freemartins, ensuring they are removed from the breeding herd.
In unravelling the intricacies of freemartins and the genetic underpinnings of their sterility, this exploration sheds light on the fascinating intersection of biology and agriculture.
Constitutional provisions related to Centre-State Relations in India
- Articles 245 to 255 in Part XI of the Constitution intricately outline the legislative relations between the Centre and the states.
- Reflecting the federal nature of the Indian Constitution, it delineates legislative powers concerning territory and subjects between the Centre and the states.
Distribution of Legislative Subjects (Article 246):
- The Indian Constitution employs a three-fold division of subjects between the Centre and the states, detailed in Lists I (Union), II (State), and III (Concurrent) within the Seventh Schedule.
- This division provides a clear demarcation of legislative authority, ensuring a harmonious functioning of both levels of government.
Parliament Legislation in State Field (Article 249):
- During exceptional circumstances, as outlined in Article 249, the regular distribution of legislative powers between the Centre and the states can be modified or suspended.
Administrative Relations (Article 256-263):
- Articles 256 to 263 in Part XI of the Constitution comprehensively address administrative relations between the Centre and the states.
- These articles establish guidelines for the smooth coordination and cooperation necessary for effective governance.
Financial Relations (Article 256-291):
- The constitutional framework concerning Centre-state financial relations is encapsulated in Articles 268 to 293 within Part XII.
- Notably, India, being a federal country, adheres to a division of powers in taxation matters, with the Centre shouldering the responsibility of allocating funds to the states.
- Schedule VII delineates the taxing powers of both the Centre and the states, providing a structured framework for financial autonomy.
- The Goods and Services Tax (GST), exemplifying a dual structure tax, stands as a contemporary illustration of the evolving financial relationship between the Centre and the states.