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Here are the topics covered for 23rd November 2023:
GS-2: Private Sector Reservation Law, Silkyara-Barkot Tunnel Collapse
GS-3: Tantalum, NASA\’s Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE)
Facts for prelims: Vajra Prahar- 2023, The south China sea
Private Sector Reservation Law
- The Punjab and Haryana High Court\’s recent decision to invalidate the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020, which mandated a 75% reservation for local candidates in private sector jobs, has sparked significant debates on constitutional rights and governance. This article delves into the specifics of the law, the concerns raised, and the legal reasoning behind the court\’s decision.
Overview of Haryana Private Sector Quota Law:
- The Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020, was enacted in March 2021, aiming to provide 75% reservation for local candidates in private sector jobs with a monthly salary of less than Rs 30,000.
- The law covered a spectrum of entities, including companies, societies, trusts, and partnership firms, with a focus on employers having 10 or more employees.
Registration and Domicile Certification:
- Employers were required to register their employees on a government portal, and local candidates could avail of the reservation by obtaining a certificate of domicile from the State of Haryana.
- The law aimed to generate employment opportunities, especially for unskilled and semi-skilled workers, while curbing the influx of migrants from other states.
Concerns Regarding the Law:
- The Faridabad Industries Association and other Haryana-based associations contended that the law infringed upon the constitutional rights of employers, asserting that private sector jobs should be based on skills rather than domicile.
Violation of Fundamental Rights:
- Critics argued that the law violated the fundamental right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution, as it discriminated based on place of birth and residence. Additionally, they claimed that it imposed unreasonable restrictions on employers, contravening the freedom of trade and commerce guaranteed by Article 19 (1) (g).
Legal Rationale Behind the High Court\’s Decision:
Inspector Raj\’s Criticism:
- The court noted concerns regarding Section 6 of the Act, requiring quarterly reports on local candidates, and Section 8, empowering authorized officers to demand verification. This was criticized as establishing an \”Inspector Raj,\” referring to excessive government supervision.
Violation of Fundamental Rights:
- The court concluded that the law violated the fundamental right to equality under Article 14, as it discriminated against citizens and employers based on their place of birth and residence.
Impact on Freedom of Trade and Commerce:
- The court held that the law imposed unreasonable restrictions on employers, infringing on their freedom of trade and commerce as outlined in Article 19 (1) (g).
- The court expressed concern that forcing private employers to hire only local candidates could lead to similar enactments by other states, creating unintended barriers against the constitutional vision framed by the Constitution\’s framers.
- The striking down of the Haryana Private Sector Quota Law by the High Court reflects a nuanced understanding of constitutional principles, emphasizing equality and the freedom of trade and commerce.
- As the legal discourse unfolds, this decision prompts a broader reflection on the delicate balance between regional aspirations and constitutional guarantees that underpin India\’s governance framework.
Silkyara-Barkot Tunnel Collapse
- The recent collapse of the under-construction Silkyara-Barkot tunnel in Uttarakhand has drawn attention to the complexities and challenges associated with tunnel construction. This incident prompts a thorough examination of potential causes and underscores the critical aspects of ensuring safety in such infrastructure projects.
Potential Causes of Tunnel Collapse:
- The collapsed section of the Silkyara-Barkot tunnel, part of the Char Dham all-weather road project, has raised concerns about potential causes.
- While the exact reason is yet to be ascertained, one possible factor could be the presence of a hidden, compromised patch of fractured or weak rock that went undetected during construction. Water seepage through this weakened rock may have eroded it over time, creating an unseen void atop the tunnel structure.
Critical Aspects of Tunnel Construction:
Tunnel Excavation Techniques:
- Drill and Blast Method (DBM): Involves drilling holes into rock and using explosives to break it apart. Commonly used in challenging terrains like the Himalayas.
- Tunnel-Boring Machines (TBMs): A more expensive but safer method that involves boring through rock and supporting the tunnel with precast concrete segments.
Aspects in Tunnel Construction:
- Rock Investigation: Thorough examination of rock strength and composition through seismic waves and petrographic analysis.
- Monitoring and Support: Continuous monitoring using stress and deformation meters, along with support mechanisms such as shotcrete, rock bolts, steel ribs, and specialized tunnel pipe umbrellas.
- Geologist Assessments: Independent geologists play a crucial role in examining the tunnel, predicting potential failures, and assessing the stability of the rock.
Other Major Tunnels in India:
- Atal Tunnel: The world\’s longest tunnel above 10,000 feet, located in the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh.
- Pir Panjal Railway Tunnel: India\’s longest transportation railway tunnel, running through the Pir Panjal mountain range.
- Jawahar Tunnel: Also known as Banihal Tunnel, facilitates year-round road connectivity between Srinagar and Jammu.
- Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Road Tunnel: The longest road tunnel in India, previously known as the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel.
Measures to be taken for Tunnel Construction Safety:
- Implement a stringent maintenance schedule, including inspections for structural integrity, drainage systems, and ventilation.
- Employ sensors and monitoring technologies for continuous structural health assessment.
Risk Assessment and Preparedness:
- Conduct periodic third-party risk assessments considering geological, environmental, and usage factors.
- Develop contingency plans and emergency protocols for potential structural concerns.
Training and Awareness:
- Train personnel in tunnel management and emergency response procedures.
- Conduct public awareness campaigns to educate users and nearby residents about safety measures.
- Explore innovative technologies like Artificial Intelligence, drones, or robotics for more efficient inspections, maintenance, and early issue detection.
- As tunnel construction continues to play a vital role in infrastructure development, ensuring safety and addressing potential risks become paramount. The incident in Uttarakhand calls for a comprehensive approach that integrates advanced technologies, regular maintenance practices, and robust risk assessment measures to enhance the reliability and safety of tunnel projects across India.
- In a recent breakthrough, a team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Ropar, has uncovered the presence of tantalum, a scarce metal, in the sands of the Sutlej River in Punjab.
- This discovery holds immense significance due to tantalum\’s widespread applications in the field of electronics and semiconductors.
What is Tantalum?
- Tantalum is a rare metal with the atomic number 73, characterized by its grey colour, substantial weight, exceptional hardness, and remarkable corrosion resistance. It boasts an extraordinarily high melting point, surpassed only by tungsten and rhenium.
- Notably, when pure, tantalum exhibits ductility, allowing it to be stretched into thin wires without breaking. Its resistance to chemical attack at temperatures below 150°C makes it a unique and valuable material.
Uses of Tantalum:
- Tantalum is extensively utilized in the electronics sector, particularly in the production of capacitors. These capacitors, made from tantalum, have the capability to store more electricity in smaller sizes with minimal leakage, making them ideal for use in portable electronic devices like smartphones, laptops, and digital cameras.
Substitute for Platinum:
- Given its high melting point, tantalum is often employed as a cost-effective substitute for platinum. This is particularly relevant in various industrial applications.
- Tantalum\’s non-reactivity with bodily fluids makes it a preferred material for manufacturing surgical equipment and implants, including artificial joints.
High-Speed Machine Tools:
- Tantalum carbide, in combination with graphite, forms one of the hardest materials known. This composite is used on the cutting edges of high-speed machine tools.
Other Industrial Uses:
- Tantalum finds applications in diverse industries, including chemical plants, nuclear power plants, aerospace, and defence, contributing to the production of components for critical machinery.
Significance of the Discovery in the Sutlej River:
- The identification of tantalum in the Sutlej River is of paramount importance for India, given its crucial role in electronics and semiconductor manufacturing. This discovery aligns with the government\’s recent initiatives to bolster semiconductor production within the country.
Critical Mineral Policy:
- Tantalum is one of the minerals listed in India\’s critical mineral policy. Reducing dependence on imports for minerals, including tantalum, is essential for sectors such as renewables, defence, electronics, telecommunications, and transportation.
Reducing Dependence on China:
- The discovery of tantalum presents an opportunity for India to decrease its reliance on China, which currently holds dominance over critical minerals.
Renewable Energy Targets:
- As India strives to achieve ambitious renewable energy targets, tantalum\’s role in this sector becomes crucial. The metal can contribute significantly to the production of electronics needed for renewable energy infrastructure.
Boost to State Economy:
- The exploration of tantalum in the Sutlej River has the potential to stimulate the state\’s economy by promoting the mining and utilization of these valuable metals.
- The revelation of tantalum in the Sutlej River marks a groundbreaking development with far-reaching implications for India\’s technological and economic landscape. As the nation aims to strengthen its semiconductor capabilities and reduce dependence on external sources, the discovery of tantalum emerges as a strategic asset with the potential to reshape various industries and contribute to sustainable growth.
NASA\’s Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE)
- In a groundbreaking venture, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is poised to launch the Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE), a pioneering mission designed to study \’airglow\’ and deepen our understanding of space weather. This mission, falling under NASA\’s Heliophysics Explorers Program, is set to examine the intricate interactions between the Earth\’s atmosphere and space.
Overview of Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE):
- The primary goal of the Atmospheric Waves Experiment is to investigate the connections between waves in the lower layers of the atmosphere and their impact on the upper atmosphere, influencing space weather.
- AWE will be mounted on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS), offering a unique vantage point to observe Earth. This strategic position enables the examination of colourful light bands, commonly known as airglow.
- The mission will focus on the mesopause, situated approximately 85 to 87 km above the Earth\’s surface, where atmospheric temperatures plunge to minus 100 degrees Celsius. At this altitude, the faint airglow in the infrared bandwidth is most prominent and easily detectable.
- AWE boasts the capability to resolve waves at finer horizontal scales than traditional satellites operating at similar altitudes. This advanced resolution is a distinctive feature of the mission.
Significance for Ionosphere Health:
- The ionosphere\’s health, located at the edge of space, is critical for ensuring seamless communication. AWE aims to contribute valuable insights into the factors influencing the upper atmosphere and space weather.
NASA\’s AWE Mission Objectives:
Colourful Airglow Mapping:
- AWE will conduct focused mapping of the colourful airglows in the Earth\’s atmosphere, providing a comprehensive understanding of their distribution and patterns.
Advanced Mesospheric Temperature Mapper (ATMT):
- Equipped with an Advanced Mesospheric Temperature Mapper, AWE will scan and map the mesopause region, offering scientists crucial data for studying temperature variations.
- AWE incorporates four identical telescopes comprising an imaging radiometer. This instrument will capture the brightness of light at specific wavelengths, enabling the creation of a temperature map. This map will offer insights into airglow movements and their role in the upper atmosphere and space weather.
Understanding Air Glow:
- Airglow, a faint luminescence in Earth\’s upper atmosphere, results from the selective absorption of solar ultraviolet and X-radiation by air molecules and atoms. Predominantly emanating from altitudes ranging between 50 to 300 km, with the brightest concentration around 97 km, airglow serves as a key indicator for studying atmospheric phenomena.
- NASA\’s Atmospheric Waves Experiment heralds a new era in space exploration, promising to unlock secrets of space weather through the meticulous study of airglow. With cutting-edge technology and a unique vantage point aboard the ISS, AWE is poised to contribute invaluable data, enhancing our understanding of the Earth\’s atmosphere and its dynamic interactions with space.
Facts for prelims:
Vajra Prahar- 2023
- Initiating at Umroi Cantonment, Meghalaya, the 14th edition of the Indo-US Joint Special Forces exercise, \”VAJRA PRAHAR 2023,\” marks another milestone in the collaborative military endeavours between the two nations.
- Originating in India in 2010, this joint exercise involves the participation of the US contingent, consisting of personnel from the 1st Special Forces Group, working in tandem with India\’s Eastern Command-led Special Forces contingent.
- The primary objective of \”VAJRA PRAHAR 2023\” is to foster a robust partnership between the Indian and US armies by facilitating the exchange of tactical strategies, mission planning, and operational tactics.
- The collaborative nature of this exercise reflects the commitment of both nations to enhance interoperability and strengthen their collective capabilities in the realm of special forces operations.
- As the exercise unfolds, it serves as a platform for intensive training, mutual learning, and the cultivation of a strategic understanding that goes beyond geographical boundaries.
- The ongoing Indo-US collaboration in \”VAJRA PRAHAR 2023\” underscores the shared commitment to maintaining regional and global security through joint military excellence.
The South China Sea
The Philippines has extended invitations to Malaysia and Vietnam for discussions on a distinct code of conduct concerning the South China Sea.
- The South China Sea, situated in the Pacific Ocean and bordered by Southeast Asian coastlines, is a region characterized by intense geopolitical disputes.
- Territorial Claims: The area is a focal point of contention, with multiple nations, including China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan, asserting conflicting territorial claims.
- China\’s Claims: China, in particular, asserts ownership over up to 90% of the sea and has undertaken significant actions to reinforce control. This includes the construction of military installations, extensive dredging, and the creation of artificial islands, resulting in the addition of 3,200 acres of new land since 2013.
- Nine-Dash Line: China employs the Nine-Dash Line, a historical demarcation on maps, to substantiate its territorial assertions in the South China Sea. The line has been a source of contention and signifies China\’s expansive territorial claims in the region.