• Post author:
  • Reading time:16 mins read

DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS | 16 March , 2024

Uttarakhand Bill on Uniform Civil Code gets President’s nod        

UPSC CSE Mains Question     

Why in the News?  

Uttarakhand has become the first state in Independent India to implement a Uniform Civil Code (UCC) after receiving approval from President Droupadi Murmu. This landmark legislation aims to standardize personal laws governing matters such as marriage, divorce, inheritance, and adoption across all religions and communities, excluding tribal people.  

Background  

The concept of a Uniform Civil Code has been a contentious issue in India, with debates revolving around its implications for the secular fabric and the diversity of personal laws among different religious communities. The UCC seeks to address disparities and ensure equal rights for all citizens, especially concerning gender equality in inheritance and property rights. Uttarakhand’s move to implement the UCC marks a significant step in this ongoing debate.

Key Points of the News

  1. The Uttarakhand UCC Bill, 2024, specifically excludes tribal people from its purview, addressing concerns of cultural and social practices unique to tribal communities.
  2. By banning practices like halala, iddat, and talaq, the UCC takes a strong stand on ensuring women’s rights and aiming for gender equality, particularly in the context of marriage and divorce.
  3. The Bill’s extensive coverage, with 392 Sections under seven Schedules, indicates a comprehensive approach to unifying and reforming personal laws.
  4. The formation of an expert committee and the drafting of a detailed UCC proposal underline the government’s methodical approach to this significant legal reform.

Important Terms Meaning

  1. Uniform Civil Code (UCC):
    • A proposal for formulating and implementing personal laws of citizens which would apply equally to all citizens of India regardless of their religion.
  2. Halala, Iddat, Talaq:
    • Practices related to marriage and divorce under Muslim Personal Law, which the UCC in Uttarakhand seeks to ban.
  3. Article 201 of the Constitution of India:
    • Pertains to the procedure for President’s assent to State legislation.

Way Forward

The implementation of the UCC in Uttarakhand should be closely monitored to assess its impact on the ground, particularly in terms of ensuring gender equality and social harmony. Lessons learned from this experience could inform debates and decisions on the UCC at the national level. Moreover, continuous dialogue among all stakeholders, including religious and community leaders, legal experts, and civil society, is essential to address concerns and ensure the UCC’s inclusive and equitable implementation.


UPSC CSE Prelims Question

1. Which of the following practices is not banned under the Uttarakhand Uniform Civil Code?

a. Halala
b. Iddat
c. Talaq
d. None of the above
Answer: d. None of the above
2. Under which article of the Constitution of India did the President give assent to the Uniform Civil Code Uttarakhand 2024 Bill?
a. Article 200
b. Article 201
c. Article 202
d. Article 203
Answer: b. Article 201

Modi, British PM assess progress on free trade agreement negotiations               

 UPSC CSE Mains Question    

Why in the News?    

Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India and Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom have recently discussed the ongoing negotiations of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two nations. This conversation is significant as both countries are gearing up for general elections, which adds urgency to concluding the talks.      

Background

India and the UK have been in negotiations to establish a Free Trade Agreement since January 2022. Despite the high stakes and mutual interest, reaching an agreement has proved challenging, with the negotiation process extending over multiple rounds of talks without finalizing a deal. The negotiations are aimed at enhancing bilateral trade by reducing tariffs and barriers to trade in goods and services.

Key Points of the News

  1. The 14th round of FTA negotiations saw British negotiators return from India without reaching an agreement, underscoring the complexities involved in such discussions.
  2. The urgency to conclude the FTA talks has been highlighted by the timing of the general elections in both countries, which may pause or slow down the negotiation process.
  3. The commitment of both leaders to an “early conclusion” of the FTA indicates the strategic and economic importance of the agreement to both countries.
  4. Discussions between Modi and Sunak also covered broader bilateral relations, regional, and global developments, showcasing the multifaceted partnership between India and the UK.

Important Terms Meaning

  1. Free Trade Agreement (FTA):
    • A treaty between two or more countries to facilitate trade by eliminating or reducing tariffs, import quotas, and preferences on goods and services traded among them.
  2. Tariffs:
    • Taxes imposed on imported goods and services, which can affect the price and demand for these goods and services in the importing country.   

Way Forward  

Continued dialogue and flexibility from both sides are essential for overcoming the remaining challenges and concluding the FTA. It is crucial for India and the UK to balance their domestic interests with the broader benefits of the agreement, keeping in mind the long-term economic and strategic gains. Stakeholder engagement and transparency in the negotiation process can also help in building consensus and support for the FTA.  


UPSC CSE Prelims Question

1. Since when have India and the UK been negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)?

a. January 2021
b. January 2022
c. December 2021
d.December 2022
Answer: b. January 2022
2. What was the primary aim expressed by Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Rishi Sunak regarding the FTA negotiations?
a. To limit the agreement to goods only
b. To ensure a balanced outcome that benefits both nations
c. To conclude negotiations before the UK general elections
d. To prioritize regional partnerships over the FTA
Answer: b. To ensure a balanced outcome that benefits both nations

Harnessing the Sun: Innovative Approaches to Overcome Solar Cell Capacity Limits         

UPSC CSE Mains Question

  Why in the News?

Recent advancements in photovoltaic research are focused on surpassing the Shockley-Queisser limit, a theoretical boundary that defines the maximum efficiency of solar cells. This limit has long been considered a significant challenge in harnessing solar energy more efficiently.   

Background  

The Shockley-Queisser limit establishes the maximum theoretical efficiency of a conventional solar cell, which is approximately one-third of the incident solar energy. This limit is based on factors like transparency loss and thermalisation. The quest to exceed this limit involves innovative approaches to photovoltaic technology, aiming to utilize solar energy more effectively.  

Key Points of the News

  1. Innovative Approaches:
  2. Research is focused on overcoming the inherent limitations of solar cells through carrier multiplication and hot carrier extraction. These techniques aim to more efficiently utilize the solar spectrum and convert a higher proportion of incident solar energy into electricity.
  3. Challenges and Opportunities:
  4. While the theoretical framework provides a clear boundary, practical research efforts are pushing these boundaries, presenting both significant challenges and opportunities for breakthroughs in solar energy conversion.
  5. Global Effort:
  6. Researchers worldwide, including notable efforts by South Korean physicist Young Hee Lee, are at the forefront of exploring these new pathways to enhance the performance of solar cells beyond conventional limits.

Important Terms Meaning

  1. Photovoltaics:
    • The field of technology and research related to the conversion of light intoelectricity using semiconducting materials.
  2. Shockley-Queisser limit:
    • A theoretical limit that defines the maximum efficiency of a single-junction solar cell under standard test conditions, based on the physics of semiconductor materials.
  3. Electron-hole pair:
    • Fundamental charge carriers in a semiconductor, generated when photons (light particles) excite electrons to a higher energy state, leaving behind a ‘hole’.
  4. Carrier multiplication:
    • A process where a single photon generates multiple electron-hole pairs, potentially increasing the efficiency of solar cells beyond the Shockley-Queisser limit.
  5. Hot carrier extraction:
    • A technique aimed at capturing high-energy electrons before they lose their energy as heat, thereby improving solar cell efficiency.

Way Forward  

Continuous investment in photovoltaic research and development is crucial for realizing these advanced technologies. Collaboration across the scientific community, alongside support from governments and the private sector, will be key to overcoming technical challenges and bringing these innovations from the laboratory to the market.  


UPSC CSE Prelims Question

1. What is the primary limitation addressed by the concept of carrier multiplication in solar cells?

a. The physical structure of solar panels.
b. The efficiency of light conversion to electricity.
c. The cost of solar cell production.
d. The durability of photovoltaic materials.
Answer: b. The efficiency of light conversion to electricity.
2. Who is associated with the development of promising pathways to surpass the Shockley-Queisser limit?
a. William Shockley
b. Hans-Joachim Queisser
c. Young Hee Lee
d. Albert Einstein
Answer: c. Young Hee Lee

Chinese Military Team Visits Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Nepal           

UPSC CSE Mains Question     

 Why in the News?     

A Chinese military delegation’s recent visit to the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Nepal highlights Beijing’s efforts to strengthen its defence cooperation and influence in South Asia, amidst its strategic rivalry with India.  

Background

China’s growing presence and influence in South Asia have been a concern for India, given the historical and strategic ties between India and countries in the region. The recent visits by the Chinese military delegation are seen as part of Beijing’s broader strategy to counterbalance Indian influence and bolster its own strategic positioning in the Indian Ocean region and beyond.

Key Points of the News

  1. The Chinese military delegation’s visit to the Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Nepal signifies a deliberate move by Beijing to deepen its military and strategic ties within South Asia, a region traditionally considered within India’s sphere of influence.
  2. The signing of a “military assistance” deal between the Maldives and China, coupled with the request for Indian troops to leave the Maldives, underscores the shifting dynamics in regional power and influence.
  3. Meetings with key leaders, including the pro-China President of the Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu, indicate high-level engagement aimed at cementing China’s relationships and influence in these countries.
  4. The focus on “promoting bilateral defence cooperation” and reaching a “series of consensus” on defence collaboration highlights China’s strategic approach to forging stronger military ties in the region.  

Important Terms Meaning

  1. Strategic Rival:
    • Nations that compete for influence and power in international relations.
  2. Military Assistance:
    • Support provided by one country to another in terms of defense and security, which can include training, equipment, and technology transfer.
  3. Bilateral Defence Cooperation:
    • Agreements between two countries to collaborate on defense-related issues, including military training, joint exercises, and strategic dialogues.
  4. Regional Security:
    • Concerns and measures related to the safety and stability of a specific geographic area, often involving multiple countries.

Way Forward  

The increased military and strategic engagements by China in South Asia call for a nuanced response from India and other regional stakeholders. There is a need for enhanced diplomatic efforts, strategic partnerships, and engagement in multilateral forums to address the evolving security dynamics and ensure a stable and balanced regional order.


UPSC CSE Prelims Question

1. Which country recently signed a “military assistance” deal with China, leading to the departure of Indian troops?

a. Sri Lanka
b. Nepal
c. Maldives
d. Bangladesh
Answer: c. Maldives

2. The Chinese military delegation's visit to South Asia is seen as an effort to counterbalance the influence of which country?
a. United States
b. Russia
c. India
d. Japan
Answer: c. India

Editorial Analysis(I) India’s R&D Funding, Breaking Down the Numbers

  1. Context
    • Animesh Jain explores the Indian government’s recent initiatives to boost the country’s research and innovation ecosystem through significant financial investment. Highlighting the expansion of India’s R&D expenditure and its output, Jain meticulously analyzes the current landscape, underscoring the strategic shifts aimed at enhancing India’s global competitiveness and economic growth through innovation.
  2. Background
    • India’s R&D funding has seen considerable growth, with a focus on fostering an environment conducive to research and innovation. This comes against the backdrop of the global emphasis on technological advancement for economic prosperity. The editorial sheds light on India’s positioning in the global R&D arena, comparing its investment in R&D as a percentage of GDP with that of other leading economies. Jain emphasizes the importance of increasing this investment to catalyze development and innovation.
  3. Important Terminology
    • GERD (Gross Expenditure on Research and Development): Total spending on R&D, a critical indicator of a country’s commitment to innovation.
    • PhD Awards: A measure of a country’s academic output and capacity to generate skilled researchers.
    • Patent Grants: Indicators of a country’s innovation and ability to create intellectual property.
  4. Detailed Analysis
    • Growth in R&D Investment: Jain notes the significant rise in GERD, yet points out India’s R&D investment as a percentage of GDP remains lower than that of leading innovative economies.
    • Academic Talent and Research Output: Despite lower investment, India ranks impressively in producing PhDs and research publications, signaling a strong academic foundation.
    • Government vs. Private Sector Investment: The analysis reveals a skewed reliance on government funding for R&D, with a call for greater private sector involvement to align with global trends.
    • Strategic Initiatives: The introduction of policies like the NDTSP and the ANRF Act illustrates the government’s strategic approach to invigorate India’s R&D ecosystem.
  5. Significance
    • This editorial underscores the critical nexus between R&D funding, innovation, and economic growth. Jain’s analysis serves as a clarion call for India to bolster its R&D investment, engage the private sector, and enhance its global standing in research and innovation.
  6. Concluding Thoughts
    • Jain’s in-depth analysis highlights the pivotal role of R&D in securing India’s technological and economic future. The editorial eloquently argues for a multifaceted approach to uplift India’s R&D ecosystem, stressing the need for increased investment, private sector participation, and policy support.
  7. Way Forward   
    • The editorial suggests a comprehensive strategy that includes incentivizing private sector investment in R&D, fostering industry-academia collaboration, and implementing policies to streamline and enhance research infrastructure. Embracing these recommendations can significantly contribute to achieving India’s aspirations of becoming a global innovation hub.

Editorial Analysis(II) The Karnataka Civil Engineers Bill     

  1. Context
    • A. Srivathsan critiques the Karnataka Professional Civil Engineers Bill, highlighting its well-intentioned goal to enhance construction standards but pointing out its potential drawbacks. The Bill mandates certification for civil engineers to undertake engineering designs, a move Srivathsan argues could lead to confusion, restrictiveness, impracticality, and deviation from best practices.
  2. Background
    • The Bill aims to professionalize civil engineering in Karnataka through certification and registration requirements. It defines civil engineers, lists engineering design services they can offer, and sets experience prerequisites. However, Srivathsan notes the Bill’s approach as overly restrictive and not in line with global best practices or legal precedents in India.
  3. Important Terminology
    • Professional Civil Engineer: A civil engineer registered under the Karnataka Bill, with the necessary qualifications and experience.
    • Engineering Designs: Defined in the Bill as civil, structural, geotechnical, and environmental engineering designs and drawings, including plans for buildings and infrastructure.
  4. In-depth Analysis
    • Restrictive Definitions: The Bill narrowly defines engineering designs and who can offer them, potentially excluding qualified professionals from related fields despite their ability to contribute effectively to construction projects.
    • Legal and Global Practices: Srivathsan references a Supreme Court ruling on a similar issue with architects, emphasizing a more inclusive approach to professional services in the construction industry. He contrasts the Bill’s restrictive nature with global practices that favor self-regulation and title protection over service monopolization.
    • Professional Councils and Certification: The critique extends to how professional councils worldwide manage certification, suggesting that the Bill could benefit from a more rigorous process that includes peer reviews or examinations to ensure high standards.
  5. Significance
    • This editorial sheds light on the complexities and potential consequences of regulatory attempts to professionalize civil engineering in Karnataka. Srivathsan’s analysis serves as a cautionary tale against the risks of restrictive legislation that could stifle competition, innovation, and the broader development of the construction industry.
  6. Concluding Thoughts
    • Srivathsan’s analysis critically examines the Karnataka Civil Engineers Bill, questioning its practicality and alignment with broader industry standards. He advocates for a balanced approach that recognizes the diverse contributions of related professionals while ensuring high standards of safety and quality in construction.  
  7. Way Forward   
    • The editorial suggests reevaluating the Bill’s provisions to foster a more inclusive, practical, and globally aligned regulatory framework. It calls for a focus on protecting professional titles and enhancing certification processes to maintain high standards without unnecessarily limiting who can contribute to the engineering design and construction process.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply