Current Affair-April 10, 2021

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CURRENT AFFAIRS

Model code of conduct

Context: The Election Commission of India  issued notice to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her “highly objectionable” statements about Central forces posted in the State for the ongoing Assembly election. The ECI said it found Ms. Banerjee’s statements to be in violation of the model code of conduct

What is the model code of conduct?

  • The model code refers to a set of norms laid down by the Election Commission of India, with the consensus of political parties.
  • It is not statutory.
  •  It spells out the dos and don’ts for elections. Political parties, candidates and polling agents are expected to observe the norms, on matters ranging from the content of election manifestos, speeches and processions, to general conduct, so that free and fair elections take place.

When was it introduced?

  • The EC traces its introduction to the 1960 Assembly elections in Kerala.
  • During simultaneous polls to the Lok Sabha and Assemblies in several States in 1962, the EC circulated the code to all recognised parties, which followed it “by and large”.
  • In October 1979, the EC came up with a comprehensive code that saw further changes after consultations with parties.

When is the code enforced?

  • The code comes into force on the announcement of the poll schedule and remains operational till the process is concluded, as provided in the notification.
  • It is also applicable to a “caretaker” government on premature dissolution of a State Assembly, as was the case in Telangana.

How is it enforced?

  • The EC ensures that ruling parties at the Centre and in States adhere to the code, as part of its mandate to conduct free and fair elections under Article 324 of the Constitution.
  •  In case of electoral offences, malpractices and corrupt practices like inducements to voters, bribery, intimidation or any undue influence, the EC takes action against violators.
  • Anyone can report the violations to the EC or approach the court.

What are the key malpractices?

  • Any activity aggravating existing differences or creating mutual hatred or causing tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic, is a corrupt practice under the Representation of the People Act.
  • Making an appeal to caste or communal feelings to secure votes and using places of worship for campaigning are offences under the Act.
  • Bribery to voters is both a corrupt practice and an electoral offence under the Act and Section 171B of the Indian Penal Code.
  • Intimidation of voters is also an electoral offence, while impersonating them is punishable under the IPC. Serving or distributing liquor on election day and during the 48 hours preceding it is an electoral offence. Holding public meetings during the 48-hour period ending with the hour fixed for the closing of the poll is also an offence.

What restrictions does the code impose?

  • According to the EC, the code states that the party in power — whether at the Centre or in the States — should ensure that it does not use its official position for campaigning.
  • Ministers and other government authorities cannot announce financial grants in any form.
  • No project or scheme which may have the effect of influencing the voter in favour of the party in power can be announced, and Ministers cannot use official machinery for campaign purposes.
Source: The Hindu

SARTHAQ

  • Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’  launched ‘Students’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement through Quality Education (SARTHAQ).
  • It is the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 implementation plan for school education. This implementation plan was released as a part of the celebrations leading to the Amrit Mahotsav on 75 years of Indian independence, an official statement said.

Features of SARTHAQ

  • SARTHAQ keeps in mind the concurrent nature of education and adheres to the spirit of federalism.
  • A teacher’s fest, ‘ShikshakParv’ was especially organized from 8th to 25th September 2020 for discussing various recommendations of NEP 2020 and its implementation strategies.   The plan delineates the roadmap for the implementation of NEP 2020 for the next 10 years.
  •  States and Union Territories have been given the flexibility to adapt the plan with “local contextualization”. They have been allowed to modify the plan as per their needs and requirements.
  • It has been developed in consultation with states and UTs, Autonomous bodies and suggestions received from stakeholders.
  • SARTHAQ plan will serve as a “guiding star” to undertake “transformational reforms in the school education sector.”
Source: PIB

New research: Many endemic species can go extinct unless Paris pact goal is met

  • A global team of scientists analysed almost 300 biodiversity hotspots — places with exceptionally high numbers of animal and plant species — on land and at sea. Many of these hotspots contain endemic species that are unique to one geographic location.
  • The new study has been published in the journal Biological Conservation.

Study Findings

  • Many animals and plants unique to the world’s most scenic natural places face extinction if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise.
  • Climate change will negatively affect most native and endemic species — those that are only found in very specific places.
  • All endemic species from islands and more than four out of five endemic species from mountains are at high risk of extinction due to climate change alone.
  • Extinction risk due to climate change for geographically rare species living on islands is over eight times higher than on mainland regions. The geographical rarity of these species makes them of global value to nature. Such species cannot move easily to more favourable environments and their extinction could result in disproportionate global species loss.

Role of Paris Agreement

  • Study asserts that remaining within the climate goals of the Paris Agreement would save the majority of species.
  • If countries reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, then most endemic species will survive.

Endemic species

  • Endemic species threatened by climate change include lemurs, which are unique to Madagascar, and the snow leopard, one of the most charismatic animals of the Himalayas.
  • They also include important medical plants such as the lichen Lobariapindarensis, used to alleviate arthritis.
  • In Asia, islands including the Indian Ocean islands, the Philippines and Sri Lanka along with the Western Ghat mountains could lose most of their endemic plants due to climate change by 2050.
  • Endemic species are 2.7 times more likely to go extinct with unchecked temperature increases than species that are widespread, because they are only found in one place.
  • The tropics are especially vulnerable, with over 60% of tropical endemic species facing extinction due to climate change alone.
Source: Indian Express

US Freedom of navigation operation (FONOP)

US Navy statement

  • The US Navy announced that the USS John Paul Jones from its 7th Fleet had “asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s exclusive economic zone, without requesting India’s prior consent, consistent with international law”.
  •  It said “India requires prior consent for military exercises or maneuvers in its exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, a claim inconsistent with international law”, and the FONOP upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging India’s excessive maritime claims”.

India response

  • The Ministry of External Affairs responded that the government’s stated position on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) “is that the Convention does not authorise other States to carry out in the Exclusive Economic Zone and on the continental shelf, military exercises or manoeuvres, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state”.

 FONOP

  • The Freedom of Navigation Operations involves passages conducted by the US Navy through waters claimed by coastal nations as their exclusive territory.
  • According to the US Department of Defense (DoD), the FON Program has existed for 40 years, and “continuously reaffirmed the United States’ policy of exercising and asserting its navigation and overflight rights and freedoms around the world”.

7TH FLEET

  • It is the largest of the US Navy’s forward deployed fleets.
  • India had a close encounter with the 7th fleet during the 1971 war with Pakistan.

EEZ

  • According to UNCLOS, the EEZ “is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea, subject to the specific legal regime” under which “the rights and jurisdiction of the coastal State and the rights and freedoms of other States are governed by the relevant provisions of this Convention”.
  • As per India’s Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and Other Maritime Zones Act, 1976, the EEZ of India “is an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial waters, and the limit of such zone is two hundred nautical miles from the baseline”.
  • India’s “limit of the territorial waters is the line every point of which is at a distance of twelve nautical miles from the nearest point of the appropriate baseline”.
  • Under the 1976 law, “all foreign ships (other than warships including sub-marines and other underwater vehicles) shall enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial waters”, innocent passage being one that is “not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of India”.
Source: Indian Express

Chen­nai Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor

Context: During the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Delhi this week, boy India and Russia reaffirmed their commit­ment to avenues for more investment in connectivity including Chen­nai Vladivostok Eastern Maritime Corridor.

Background

  • In 2019, a Memorandum of Intent was signed to open a full-fledged maritime route between Russia’s eastern port city and Chennai on India’s eastern seaboard.
  • Opening of this route between Chennai and Vladivostok assumes significance because it ensures there will be connectivity between the two major ports which will give impetus to the cooperation between India and the Russian Far East

Vladivostok

  • In Russian, Vladivostok is ‘Ruler of the East’.
  • It is located on the Golden Horn Bay north of North Korea and a short distance from Russia’s border with China.
  • It is the largest port on Russia’s Pacific coast, and home to the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Navy. It is the eastern railhead of the legendary Trans Siberian Railway, which connects the far east of Russia to the capital Moscow, and further west to the countries of Europe.
  •  At Vladivostok’s massive port, shipping and commercial fishing are the main commercial activities. Automobiles are a major item of import at the port, from where they are often transported further inland.

To Chennai, by sea

  • Strait of Malacca is the longest strait in the world. An ocean liner travelling from Vladivostok to Chennai would sail southward on the Sea of Japan past the Korean peninsula, Taiwan and the Philippines in the South China Sea, past Singapore and through the Strait of Malacca, to emerge into the Bay of Bengal and then cut across through the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago to Chennai.

Trade and strategy

  • India is building nuclear power plants with Russia’s collaboration in Kudankulam on the sea coast in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district. The opening of a sea route is likely to help in the project.
  • A vibrant sea route will help in the upscaling of trade relations between the two nations.
  • It will also increase India’s presence in the Indo-Pacific, and especially the South China Sea, a deeply contested patch of the ocean that Beijing considers its stomping ground.
Source: Indian Express

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