UPSC, 16 Feb 2017, News Analysis, by Dr Ashok Dhamija

UPSC, 16 Feb 2017, News Analysis, by Dr Ashok Dhamija


News analysis and explanation of the main news reports appearing in newspapers of 16 February 2017 (also freely subscribe to our YouTube Education channel with about 100 free videos on UPSC IAS and other competitive examinations):

ISRO launches 104 satellites in one go

  • India created launch history on 15 Feb by placing a record 104 satellites in their desired orbits.
  • This was achieved on the old reliable launch vehicle, the PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle), numbered C-37, which took off from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, at 9.28 a.m.
  • C-37 was a largely commercial flight since other than 3 Indian satellites, remaining 101 small satellites belonging to six other countries were launched on commercial basis.
  • A total payload of 1,378 kg was delivered in space.
  • The 29-minute launch went of precisely as planned; it took just 11 minutes from the release of the primary Cartosat-2 series spacecraft to the last launch of a client satellite.
  • The PSLV now marks 38 successful missions in a row out of a total of 39 flights.

These 104 satellites are as under;

  • 3 satellites from India: ISRO’s earth observation Cartosat-2 satellite (714 kg), from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, and its two “technology demonstration” nano satellites (INS-1 and INS-2).
  • 96 satellites from the US: including 88 from the start-up, Planet Labs, a San Francisco-based earth imaging company.
  • 5 satellites from other countries: one satellite each is from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Israel, Kazakhstan and the UAE.

These 101 foreign satellites were commercial launches for international customers, through agreements with ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix Corporation.

Multiple satellites launched in one mission (Record book):

  • 104 satellites launched by ISRO (India) on 15 Feb 2017 using PSLV C-37
  • 37 satellites launched by Russia (Roscosmos State Corporation) DNEPR rocket in June 2014
  • 33 satellites launched by Russia (Roscosmos State Corporation) by DNEPR rocket in November 2013
  • 29 satellites launched by NASA (USA) by Minotaur 1 rocket in November 2013
  • 20 satellites launched by ISRO (India) on board PSLV C34 in June 2016.

About 3 Indian satellites launched

Cartosat-2 satellite is the 4th satellites in ISRO’s Cartosat-2 series. This satellite will be used for:

  • mapping urban and rural regions,
  • regulation of coastal land use,
  • management of road networks, water distribution and
  • other several other purposes.

Two ISRO Nano satellites (INS-1 and INS-2) are carrying instruments from its Space Applications Centre (SAC) and Laboratory for Electro Optics Systems (LEOS) for experiments.

India to receive its first Rafale fighter jet in 2019

  • The first Rafale fighter jet will be delivered to India in 2019. A total of 36 Rafale jets are to be delivered between 2019 and 2022.
  • Responding to India’s request to advance the delivery schedule of Rafale fighter jets, the manufacturer Dassault Aviation has stated that it was not possible as the jets have to be customised.
  • The French side feels that a larger order of close to 200 Rafale jets would be ideal to transfer high-end technology and manufacturing capabilities to India at a “competitive level”.
  • Dassault believes that the current order of 36 jets would not be sufficient to transfer high-end manufacturing or technology to India.
  • Dassault CEO Eric Trappier said extra orders would need to be placed by 2017-18 to come up with a larger Make in India plan that would involve shifting heavy work.
  • He also said that France is in discussions to assist in the domestic next generation Advanced Multirole Combat Aircraft (AMCA) as part of the offset obligations of the fighter jet deal.

Transfer Shahabuddin to Tihar jail, orders SC

  • Supreme Court has directed to transfer RJD MP and murder accused Mohd. Shahabuddin from Siwan Jail in Bihar to Delhi’s Tihar Jail, where his murder trial will continue over video-conferencing.
  • The court found that it would be impossible for the victims and society to get justice because utmost fear prevails and nerve-wracking terror reigns supreme in the Siwan locality.
  • Court dismissed Shahabuddin’s claim that shifting him to a jail in another State would kill the concept of fair trial.
  • However, SC said that a “fair trial is not what the accused wants in the name of fair trial.”
  • “Fair trial in criminal jurisprudence is not a one-way traffic, but includes the accused and the victim, and it is the duty of the court to weigh the balance,” the Supreme Court held.
  • The court said a constitutional court has to necessarily balance the right of an accused with the right of the victims and society to decide on which side fairness stands.
  • Shahabuddin is currently accused in 45 cases, including in murder of journalist Rajdev Ranjan.

Delhi-Centre dispute referred to Constitution bench

  • A two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court referred to a Constitution Bench a series of appeals filed by the Delhi government for laying down the law on whether the Lieutenant Governor (LG) can unilaterally administer Delhi without being bound by the “aid and advice” of the elected government.
  • A Bench of Justices A.K. Sikri and R.K. Agrawal referred the appeals to the Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar, who will constitute a Constitution bench of the appropriate number of judges.
  • A question that arises for consideration now is whether the appeals would have to be heard by an eleven-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court. This is because a nine-judge bench of the apex court had in 1996 in the NDMC versus State of Punjab case, recognised Delhi as a Union Territory for taxation purposes.
  • However, before the two-judge Bench, it was argued on behalf of the Delhi government that the petitions did not seek full Statehood, but were asking for more freedom for an elected government to administer and govern Delhi.

Constitutional provisions

  • Delhi is a UT and not a State (Schedule I to the Constitution of India).
  • Delhi legislature has no power to make laws on Entries 1, 2 and 18 of the State List and Entries 64, 65 and 66 of that List in so far as they relate to the said Entries 1, 2 and 18. [Article 239-AA]
  • Parliament still continues to have full powers to make laws for Delhi on any of the subjects. [Article 239-AA]
  • Further, if there is a conflict between the law made by the legislative assembly of Delhi and the Parliament of India on the same matter, the law made by the legislative assembly shall be void to the extent of repugnancy. [Article 239-AA]
  • Moreover, notwithstanding any aid and advice rendered by the Council of Ministers to the Lieutenant Governor, the latter is empowered to act in his own discretion “in so far as he is, by or under any law, required to act in his discretion”. In the case of difference of opinion between the Lieutenant Governor and his Ministers on any matter, the Lieutenant Governor shall refer it to the President for decision and act according to the decision given thereon by the President. Pending such decision of the President, the LG can take action in urgent matters as per his discretion.

Maharashtra cloud-seeding experiment for rain

  • During monsoon 2017, weather scientists will fly airplanes loaded with silver iodide over clouds hovering above Solapur, Maharashtra and begin a three-year investigation to find out whether cloud seeding produces sufficient rain.
  • The ₨ 250-crore programme, coordinated by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, will be the first controlled experiment to quantify the extent to which clouds form water drops large enough to make rain.
  • Seeding involves spraying chemicals into clouds.
  • China used the technique during the 2008 Olympics to veer rain away from the inaugural venue and now has a full-fledged department that blasts rockets into clouds to induce rain and control pollution.
  • This experiment is to have a proper scientific evaluation of the benefits of cloud seeding.
  • Maharashtra has frequently toyed with the idea of cloud seeding because of the frequency of droughts over the Vidarbha region.
  • For their experiment, scientists will fly two aircraft and spray dry ice and silver iodide on 100 clouds and compare them with 100 unseeded clouds. Ground radar will track the clouds and verify which ones contributed rain.
  • The programme will account for the variability of the monsoon. The move is part of a larger experiment of the Earth Sciences Ministry to understand how clouds and aerosols interact and influence climate.

HAL to begin IPO process this year

  • Defence public enterprise Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. plans to initiate the process of its maiden public offer during fiscal 2017-18.
  • The government had decided in 2013 to divest 10% of HAL’s equity shares and allow its stocks to be traded on the stock exchanges.
  • The aircraft major is preparing the formal document for the IPO (initial public ofer) and will submit it to stock exchange regulator SEBI as soon as the appointed bankers assess the value of the company, HAL Chairman & Managing Director T. Suvarna Raju said.
  • 615 crore of equity shares of the face value of ₨ 10 each would be considered for the IPO.
  • HAL ended 2015-16 with a turnover of ₨16,730 crore.
  • Two premier defence PSUs, Bharat Electronics Ltd, and BEML Ltd, are already listed.

President appoints five new SC judges

  • The President of India on 15 Feb appointed 5 new judges to the Supreme Court.
  • With these 5 appointments, SC will have 28 judges as against the strength of 31 judges.
  • The new judges are:
    • Chief Justice of the Madras High Court Sanjay Kishan Kaul,
    • Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court M.M. Shantanagoudar,
    • Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court Navin Sinha,
    • Chief Justice of the Chhattisgarh High Court Deepak Gupta and
    • Karnataka High Court judge S. Abdul Nazeer.

India says delegation from Taiwan is non-political

  • India moved to stabilise ties with China, saying there was nothing political in the ongoing visit of a delegation from Taiwan, which criticised Beijing’s One China policy.
  • India’s statement came after China filed a diplomatic protest after the delegation argued that Taiwan’s independence is an international reality.
  • It is pertinent to note that the leader of the delegation Kuan Bi Ling had emphasised that Taiwan’s freedom and sovereignty is a reality in international affairs.
  • The spokesperson of the Ministry of External Afairs, Vikas Swarup said: “We understand that a group of Taiwanese academics and business persons, including a couple of legislators, is visiting India. Such informal groups have visited India in the past as well for business, religious and tourist purposes. I understand that they do so to China as well. There is nothing new or unusual about such visits and political meanings should not be read into them”.
  • The statement, which came within hours of a major dinner hosted by BJP leader Ram Madhav in Delhi in honour of the delegation, is significant in view of the fact that Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar is expected to visit Beijing within a week, which will be the first high level visit from India to Beijing in 2017.
  • At a briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman had said: “We hope India would understand and respect China’s core concerns and stick to the ‘One China’ principle and prudently deal with Taiwan related issues and maintain sound and steady development of India-China relations.”
  • “The reason why China lodged the representation is because that we have been requiring countries that have diplomatic relations with China to fulfil their commitment to the ‘One China policy,” he said.

Cabinet nod for SBI merger with 5 associate banks

  • Union Cabinet on 15 February approved the merger of State Bank of India with 5 of its associate banks–
    • State Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur,
    • State Bank of Hyderabad,
    • State Bank of Mysore,
    • State Bank of Patiala, and
    • State Bank of Travancore.
  • The merger is likely to result in recurring savings, estimated at more than ₨ 1,000 crore in the first year, through a combination of enhanced operational efficiency and reduced cost of funds.
  • The proposal was announced in May 2016 and scheduled for March 2017.
  • The combined entity will have a mammoth network of nearly 23,000 branches, further increasing the dominance of the nation’s largest bank.
  • The merger will bring nearly a quarter of all outstanding loans in India’s banking sector to SBI’s books.

China to launch its first home-made aircraft carrier

  • China will launch its first indigenously-built aircraft carrier this year which would be a base for PLA fighter jets and helicopters.
  • China’s first home-made aircraft carrier, currently being built at a Chinese port, is now near completion.
  • China had commissioned its first aircraft carrier Liaoning in 2012. The ship is refit of a hull made in the former Soviet Union.
  • In India, while the Cabinet Committee on Security gave approval for the construction of the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) in May 1999, the first of these two floating airfields, the INS Vikrant, is expected to be fully launch ready only in 2023.

330 lakh MT of wheat to be procured during Rabi Marketing Season 2017-18

  • In consultation with the States, it was decided by the Centre to procure 330.00 lakh MT of wheat during RMS (Rabi Marketing Season) 2017-18, which is considerably more in comparison with the last season actual procurement of 229.61 lakh MT.
  • Punjab (115 MT), Madhya Pradesh (85 MT) and Haryana (75 MT) are the states with highest estimated procurement.

Watch the YouTube video with full explanation:

This video discusses and explains the current affairs topics appearing the newspapers and media (such as The Hindu, Indian Express, Economic Times, Press Information Bureau, etc.) of 16 February 2017.

This video is useful for the aspirants of the UPSC Civil Services Examination (for IAS, IPS, IFS, and Group-A Central Services). This lecture is also useful for aspirants of other competitive examinations, such as SSC, Bank PO, LIC, RBI Assistant, RBI Grade B, State Public Service Commission examinations like RPSC, UPPSC, MPSC, MPPSC, HCS, RAS, CLAT, Hotel Management entrance, BBA and several other examinations.

This video has been prepared by Dr. Ashok Dhamija, a former IPS.


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