News & Editorial Analysis 19 January 2023
The Hindu News Analysis
1 – TRAI:
GS II Topic Statutory and Non-Statutory Bodies
The industry was criticised by P.D. Vaghela, head of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), for being reticent to divulge data on media ownership and consolidation. Dr. Vaghela said last week at a TRAI open house meeting on media ownership, “When we seek for data, people go to court.”
What is the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI)?
Support from the law: On February 20, 1997, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Act, 1997, established the TRA (TRAI).
The mission of TRAI is to create the conditions essential for the growth of the nation’s telecommunications sector.
Previously, the Central Government was in charge of regulating telecom services, including the setting/revising of prices.
It also aims to foster an atmosphere with open and fair policies that promotes equality of opportunity and fosters healthy competition.
New Delhi serves as the main office for the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
What Constitutes TRAI as a Whole?
Members: The Chairperson, two full-time members, and two part-time members that make up the TRAI are chosen by the Government of India.
Terms for Members: The Chairperson and the other members shall each hold office for a term of three years, or until they reach the age of 65, whichever occurs first.
The power to exercise ultimate control belongs to the chairperson.
The TRAI meetings are under their control.
One of the Authority members may be chosen by the Central Government to serve as TRAI’s vice-chairperson.
The vice-chairperson performs and exercises the chairman’s functions when the chairman is absent.
Removal of Members: Any TRAI member found to be insolvent, guilty of a crime involving moral turpitude, rendered physically or mentally incapable of performing the duties of a member, or abused their position to the point where their continued employment would be detrimental to the public interest, may be removed by the Central Government.
TRAI Meetings: The agenda may occasionally be decided by the chairperson. When the chairman is not present, the vice-chairperson takes over and is in command of the gatherings.
If there is no vice-chairperson, any member of the authority may be appointed to preside over the meeting.
During meetings, the majority of the participants voted on issues.
The Chairperson (or the participant presiding the meeting) casts a tie-breaking, deciding vote in the event of a tied vote.
What are the goals of the TRAI?
The TRAI’s responsibility is to make recommendations about the following topics:
It is important to introduce a new service provider.
License revocation for breaking the terms and conditions of the licence.
measures to facilitate the spread of telecommunications services by promoting efficiency and competition in their operation.
technological developments that have an impact on the services that service providers supply.
Performing Duties: Ensuring compliance with licence terms and conditions is one of the TRAI’s responsibilities.
ensuring effective technology compatibility and integration across diverse service providers.
defining the standards for the quality of service that service providers must give.
ensuring service excellence and regularly reviewing such services.
timely and formal notification of the rates at which required telecommunication services under the TRAI Act, 1997 must be provided both inside and outside of India.
Unbinding recommendations The recommendations of the TRAI are not mandated on the Central Government.
Any recommendation from the TRAI that the Central Government disapproves of or believes requires modification is forwarded back to the Authority for additional consideration.
The TRAI delivers its proposal to the Central Government within 15 days of taking the Central Government’s referral into consideration.
What authority does TRAI have?
Information-Furnishing Purchase Order: Any service provider may be ordered to give any information or reason regarding its operations that the Authority may request in writing.
Availability for inquiries: Any service provider’s operations may be the subject of an examination by a person or people designated by the Authority.
It has the power to demand that any of its representatives or workers look into any service provider’s financial records or other paperwork.
Give Service Providers Instructions: The Authority has the authority to give instructions to service providers that it deems necessary for their proper performance.
2 – Alzheimer’s Disease:
GS II Topic Health related issues
The daughter of Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara and human rights activist Aleida Guevara asserted on Wednesday that Cuba has created alternative healthcare systems as a result of the “criminal” U.S. blockade.
She revealed that Cuba has developed five COVID-19 vaccines to the students at the Asian College of Journalism. It was creating vaccines against lung, prostate, and breast cancer as well as therapeutic medications for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. In addition to developing such drugs, she asserted, the country was searching for alternatives in homoeopathy, acupuncture, and traditional Indian medicine.
It is a neurological disorder that causes brain cells to degenerate and die. Memory loss, difficulties speaking or writing, poor judgement, changes in mood and personality, confusion about the present and past, and other problems are brought on by this.
These symptoms initially appear to be modest, but they worsen over time.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among older people.
Current hypotheses suggest that the accumulation of abnormal proteins inside and around brain cells is what causes Alzheimer’s disease. One of the proteins in concern is the amyloid protein, which accumulates in plaques around brain cells. Tau is the additional protein.
When the protein tau accumulates in tangled formations in the brains of Alzheimer patients, it disrupts the capacity of neurons to interact with one another in the brain.
Since brain cell loss cannot be halted, Alzheimer’s is a condition that cannot be cured.
Women are more prone than men to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
There is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Treatment addresses a variety of difficulties, including helping people maintain brain health.
3 – Hydropower Generation in India:
GS III Topic Infrastructure related issues
Concerns regarding China’s proposed 60,000 MW hydropower in Medog, Tibet are having an impact on the design of a proposed hydropower project in the Upper Siang region of Arunachal Pradesh. The 11,000 MW project, which is more than five times larger than the largest comparable projects in India, was presented to the Central Electricity Authority for evaluation in December by the National Hydropower Corporation (NHPC), which is still only in the planning stages of the project.
Hydraulic power can be generated when water flows downward from a higher level to a lower one. The turbine is turned by this power, which converts the water’s kinetic energy into mechanical energy that powers the generator.
The produced energy is delivered to a substation, where it is “stepped up” in voltage using transformers before being transmitted to the electrical grid.
Hydropower is the most affordable and environmentally friendly kind of electricity, however huge hydropower projects, like the Tehri and Narmada dams, have a number of environmental and social issues that smaller hydropower projects do not.
In India, there are 197 hydroelectric facilities. Around the turn of the 20th century, India began its ascent to global hegemony. A hydroelectric power plant was operational at Sivasamudram, Karnataka, in 1902, while electricity was installed in Darjeeling in 1897.
Several kinds of hydroelectric power plants are there:
The three types of hydropower facilities are impoundments, diversion, and pumped storage. Different hydropower plants use different types of dams.
Impoundment: The most common kind of hydroelectric power plant is one that makes use of impoundments. To contain river water in a reservoir, a dam is utilised in an impoundment facility, which is often a large hydroelectric system. When water is released from the reservoir, it travels through a turbine, spinning it up to start a generator that produces electricity.
Diversion: A diversion, often referred to as a run-of-river facility, uses a canal or penstock to direct the flow of a river into a turbine, which then spins to activate a generator that produces electricity. Using a dam might not be essential.
Pumped storage: Using this strategy, which works like a battery, electricity generated by renewable energy sources including solar, wind, and nuclear power is stored for later use. During periods of low electricity demand, a pumped storage plant stores energy by pumping water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir. The water is released back into the lower reservoir, where it functions as a turbine and generates electricity, when there is a high demand for energy.
Advantages of hydropower:
Hydropower is a renewable energy source that frees up this valuable resource for other applications because it produces electricity rather than using water.
There aren’t many recurring costs to be concerned about because there are no consumables needed and it is a sustainable source of energy.
It is less expensive than electricity generated by coal- and gas-fired power plants. It is also more dependable and doesn’t result in financial losses from frequency variations because it doesn’t use fossil fuels.
The preferred method for reducing peak loads in grids is to use hydropower plants because of their unique capacity for quick starting and shutting down.
The operating needs of thermal and hydroelectric power plants are complementary, and a well-balanced mix encourages the optimum use of the resources available.
The seasonal load curves of regional grids and the pattern of hydropower generating are identical. During the summer and monsoon seasons, when hydroelectric power plants produce more electricity because of a heavy agricultural workload, the system has a high load factor. Thermal stations operating at base load and hydro stations operating at peak load during the winter will handle weather-beating loads.
Negative effects of hydropower:
Hydropower is a form of energy that requires a substantial capital expenditure to produce.
Since hydropower projects are frequently situated in hilly regions, where the amount of forest cover is considerably better than in plain regions, diversion of forest land is occasionally necessary.
Hydroelectric projects that cause land to submerge, eradicating wildlife and flora and causing massive relocation.
Dams can only be built in specific locations.
The agricultural land is submerged in large parts.
Hydropower Generation in India:
India ranks fifth globally in terms of installed hydroelectric power capacity.
Utility-scale hydroelectric capacity was 46,000 MW, or 12.3% of India’s total utility power generating capacity.
Additional smaller hydroelectric generating units totaling 4,683 MW, or 1.3% of the nation’s total utility power producing capacity, have been put in place.
India’s hydroelectric power potential is predicted to be 148,700 MW at a 60% load factor. Smaller hydroelectric plants (those with capacities under 25 MW) are thought to have an additional 6,780 MW of useable energy.
With an average capacity factor of 38.71%, India produced 156 TWh of hydroelectric energy overall in the fiscal year 2019–20 (small hydro not included).
The northern and northeastern regions have the majority of the world’s hydroelectric potential.
With 47 GW, Arunachal Pradesh has the most untapped hydropower potential, followed by Uttarakhand with 12 GW.
The river basins of the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra have the largest unrealized potential.
India has a potential of about 90 GW of pumped storage, with 63 locations identified and acknowledged for their vital grid functions in national energy plans.
India’s hydropower potential is estimated to be 1,45,320 MW without taking into account small hydro plants (SHPs), which have a 20 GW potential.
In its Small Hydro Database from July 2016, the Alternate Hydro Energy Centre (AHEC) of IIT Roorkee projected that there is a potential for small hydropower of 21135.37 MW from 7135 locations for the generation of electricity in the country from small/mini hydro projects.
The hilly states of India, particularly Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, and Uttarakhand, hold around half of this potential. Other potential States include Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Chhattisgarh.
Bhutan additionally sends excess hydroelectricity to India.
In the public sector, India generates 92.5% of its hydroelectric power. The private sector is also predicted to grow along with the increase of hydroelectric electricity in the Himalayan mountain ranges and in the northeast of India.
4 – Sheshachalam Forest:
GS II Topic Environmental Conservation
A wildlife team recently found a “Spot Bellied Eagle Owl” (Bubo Nipalensis) for the first time in Seshachalam forest and for the third time in Andhra Pradesh.
The habitat of the bird, which consists of tall trees in deep forests, is found on the Indian subcontinent. But only twice have individuals in the State before seen it, and both sightings occurred at the Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve (NSTR).
A mountainous area in Andhra Pradesh known as the Seshachalam Hills is a part of the Eastern Ghats. In 2010, it was designated as a Biosphere Reserve. The districts of Chittoor and Kadapa are included in the Seshachalam biosphere.
The Sri Venkateshwara National Park and Tirupati, an important Hindu pilgrimage destination, are located within these ranges.
There are several native species there, including the well-known Red Sanders and Slender Loris.
Among the native people who live in the reserve are the Yanadis tribes.
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The Hindu Editorial Analysis
Astonishments that endanger the constitution:
In April 2023, it will have been fifty years since the Indian Supreme Court decided Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala. In Indian history, the choice is usually viewed as a turning moment. It was agreed that the Court’s decision that Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution was not plenary and that any amendments that would compromise the document’s core principles would be considered illegal had helped to preserve our republic.
The Collegium Method is a system for the appointment and transfer of judges that was created by Supreme Court rulings rather than by an Act of Parliament or a Constitutional provision.
Modifications to the System:
According to the First Judges Case, the recommendation of the Chief Justice of India (CJI) on judicial appointments and transfers may be disregarded for “cogent considerations” (1981). The Executive would have precedence over the Judiciary in appointing judges for the subsequent twelve years.
The Supreme Court established the Collegium system in the Second Judges Case (1993), finding that “consulting” in the constitution translates to “concurrence.” It was further clarified that this was not the CJI’s personal judgement but rather a decision made by the institution in cooperation with the two senior judges of the SC. Thus, the first collegium system was composed by CJI and two of his senior most colleagues.
On the President’s recommendation, the SC expanded the Collegium to a five-member body, comprising of the Chief Justice of India and four of his most senior colleagues (Article 143)
In the years after the judgement, if not right away, succeeding governments have acknowledged its importance. Since then, rather than focusing on the concept’s validity, the majority of criticisms have been on how it is used. However, last week, India’s Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar criticised the Supreme Court by contesting the decision’s legality.
Both Mr. Dhankhar and Kiren Rijiju, the Union Minister of Law and Justice, have questioned the Court’s choice to quash 2015 attempts to replace the collegium with a National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC). Since then, the vice-tirade president’s attacks on Kesavananda have increased the fervour of this criticism.
National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC):
A constitutional body called NJAC was suggested to replace the current Collegium system of judicial nomination. It was established by the 2014 99th Constitutional Amendment Act.
The Chief Justice, the Prime Minister, and the Lok Sabha opposition leader made up the committee. Along with the Union Law Minister and two “eminent people” who were nominated for a three-year term, it also featured the two most senior SC judges.
The Supreme Court’s Constitutional bench deemed both the NJAC Act and the 99th Constitutional Amendment illegal for breaking the “Basic Structure” theory, which also upholds judicial independence.
The Basic Structure Doctrine is under threat:
In an address at the 83rd All India Presiding Officers (Assembly Speakers) Conference in Jaipur in January 2023, the Vice President said that “in a democratic society, the fundamental of any basic structure is supremacy of the people, sovereignty of parliament.”
The highest authority belongs to the legislature. The members of other institutions are also chosen by the legislature. In this case, all institutions must adhere to their respective mandates. Without permission, one may not enter another person’s territory.
Then Mr. Dhankar increased his attack and questioned the veracity of the basic structure concept. He said that whether the Court’s viewpoint was accurate “must be addressed.” Can the Parliament enable another authority to influence its decision?
Naturally, the Court’s ruling upholding the validity of the body and serious criticism of the Collegium’s actions should be appreciated. The current criticism, however, is, at best, unprincipled and, at worst, an attempt to undermine the independence of the judiciary given that the Government has no plans to make any systemic changes to how we choose judges, as Mr. Rijiju stated in Parliament last month, and given that the Government itself has done little to increase transparency in the selection process.
The Vice-President has pushed his criticism so far that he now reserves his complaints for both the Kesavananda decision and the collegium as a whole, implying that the latter is most likely the case.
The fundamental ideas of the Constitution are:
A collective effort led to the creation of our Constitution. That vision was founded on ideals such as the notion that India would be run in accordance with the rule of law, that our governmental structure would be based on Westminster parliamentarianism, that the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary’s respective roles would be clearly defined, that the courts would be independent of the executive branch, and that our States would have unrestricted control over particular spheres of governance.
What happens if one or more of these principles are compromised by a constitutional amendment, changing the way the Constitution operates? The 1950-approved Constitution would still be in effect, right? If Parliament changed the Constitution to transition from the Westminster system to a presidential form of government, would the Constitution’s integrity still be upheld? Consider another option that is a little more radical: Can the Parliament modify the Constitution to eliminate the Article 21 protection for the right to life? Wouldn’t this result in a law being created that is no longer referred to as “the Constitution of India”?
German academic Dietrich Conrad once stated that “any modifying body created within the statutory scheme, regardless of theoretically vast its power, cannot by its own construction change the key foundations backing its constitutional authority.”
Parliament is a creation of the Constitution, as the Supreme Court would later state in Minerva Mills v. Union of India (1980). In that case, the survival of the idea that fundamental rights are unalienable was in fact at stake.
As a result, it can only possess these powers if they are expressly bestowed to it. The Court came to the conclusion that if those powers were thought to be unrestricted, Parliament would cease to be a constitutional authority and would instead “become supreme above it, because it would have power to modify the entire Constitution, including its fundamental structure.”
In other words, the understanding that the Constitution’s original version was founded on a morally sound basis is the foundation for the belief that Parliament cannot change the Constitution’s fundamental principles.
This view states that when reading the Constitution as a whole, the fundamental structural theory can be seen as implicit. But it is also deductible through a definition of the phrase “amendment,” as Justice H.R. Khanna pointed out in his crucial finding in Kesavananda. According to the dictionary, a “amendment” is “a little alteration or addition intended to improve a text.”
Justice Khanna contends that the process no longer qualifies as a mere modification since the Constitution that emerges from the procedure for amendment described in Article 368 is not only the Constitution in an altered form, but also a Constitution devoid of its core structure.
Following its ruling in Kesavananda, the Supreme Court has defined a number of features that cannot be altered. There is no denying that the Court has occasionally applied these characteristics in an illogical manner. However, if the basic structure hypothesis were deemed unconstitutional on its own, the Constitution would be susceptible to the whims of the legislature.
Theoretically, accepting the Vice-assertions President’s decisions wholeheartedly would permit Parliament to cede its own power and select a dictator for the country. Consider the consequences.
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The Indian Express Editorial Analysis
RBI report on State Government Budgets:
India’s public conversation typically revolves around the Union government’s budget. State capital spending is higher than federal capital spending, with state governments accounting for the majority of general government spending (both at the federal and state levels).
Therefore, state budgets are absolutely crucial. especially so when economic investment activity in the public sector is a primary driver of economic growth.
A report on the state budgets for 2022–2023 was just just released by the Reserve Bank of India.
The report explains how state government finances, which were severely strained in 2020–21 due to the economy’s slump brought on by the epidemic, have improved since then. But there are several reasons to be concerned.
The areas of concern mentioned in the report are:
Ratio of debt to GDP:
The ratio of the state’s debt to its GDP is still too high. The study found that the debt-to-GDP ratio fell from 31.1% in 2020–21, a year in which states struggled to manage the economic repercussions of the pandemic, to 29.5% in 2022–23.
It exceeds the 20% debt-to-GDP ratio recommended for states by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management review group, which was chaired by N K Singh.
States’ limited room for manoeuvring in the event of the next economic shock is a result of their massive debt-deficit loads.
States with a high debt load can also be required to make additional payments to repay their debt.
State interest payments climbed from 1.7% of GDP in 2017–18 to 2% of GDP in 2020–21, according to the study. States predict that in 2022–2023, this will fall to 1.8%.
But there is a definite distinction between the states. Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, and West Bengal have the highest ratios of interest payments to income received.
This means that a sizable portion of the states’ revenue in these states is used to cover interest payments, leaving them with less money for other crucial expenditures like health or education.
State governments now have much higher contingent obligations.
The state government’s pledges to repay principal and interest in the event that a state-owned company doesn’t make loan payments are known as contingent liabilities.
State government guarantees climbed from Rs. 3.12 lakh crore or 2% of GDP in 2017 to Rs. 7.4 lakh crore or 3.7% of GDP, according to the data.
According to the de-identified statistics, the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh had the most outstanding guarantees as of the end of March 2021.
State-owned power distribution companies, or discoms, are in a dangerous situation, which has a bad impact on position finances.
The financial and operational position of state discoms has been improved by a number of efforts during the past few decades.
They continue to lose money despite their performance being significantly below expectations across a number of indices.
With each occasion, the sums involved have grown. A fresh bailout plan will place a significant financial strain on the states. According to an RBI research, bailing out the 18 largest states would cost 2.3% of GDP.
The old pension scheme:
New issues have arisen as a result of certain governments’ decision to reinstate the previous pension system.
In the early 2000s, it became increasingly clear how impossible it would be to maintain the existing pension arrangement.
According to the RBI, the annual budgetary resource savings that emerge from this decision are only transitory. If states put off paying current spending, their future unfunded pension liabilities could increase.
The implementation of a new pension plan would lessen the financial strain placed on the state. At the time, most states approved of the new pension plan, but some, notably Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, have since opted against it.
The burden of debt as a percentage of GDP must be reduced for state governments in order to reduce interest payments on the budget deficit and enhance programme implementation.
For DISCOM reform, more measures like the ones listed below need to be taken:
For the PFC/REC (Power Finance Corporation/Rural Electrification Corporation), establish a regulatory framework.
Financial regulatory overhaul.
It is necessary to combat the culture of freeloaders.
Improving transparency within DISCOM.
Stronger political will is necessary in addition to the aforementioned technical and economic improvements in order to restructure the electricity industry and DISCOM.
#RBI #Report #State #Government #Budgets #Present #Circumstances #Areas_Of_Concern #Ratio_Of_Debt_To_GDP #Upcoming #Commitments #Old_Pension_Scheme #DISCOM #Reform #Measures #India #World #Daily #The_Indian_Express_Editorial_Analysis #IAS #UPSC #Stact_PSC #Prelims #Mains #GeoIAS
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