News Analysis

1st March, 2024 (Friday)

1Anti-Defection LawGS.2: Indian Polity: Parliament & State Legislature
2Reserving a Bill for the President’s considerationGS.2: Indian Polity – Bills in State Legislature
3North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)GS.2: IR – International Institutions
4PM-Surya Ghar: Muft Bijli YojanaGS.2: Government Schemes in News
5Marine Species: Melanochlamys DroupadiGS.3: Ecology & Conservation – Marine Species
6Snow Leopard Population Assessment in IndiaGS.3:  Ecology & Conservation


Syllabus: GS.2: Indian Polity: Parliament & State Legislature

Why it’s in the News: In the midst of political upheaval in Himachal Pradesh, six Congress legislators, who supported the BJP in the February 27 Rajya Sabha elections, were disqualified from the Assembly by Speaker Kuldeep Singh Pathania.

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About the Anti-Defection Law

  • Defection refers to switching political allegiance, particularly when a member of a political party leaves the party and joins another party or becomes independent.
  • Anti-defection Law in India was enacted in 1985 through the 52nd Amendment Act of 1985 as part of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India. Anti-defection laws aim to prevent or discourage defection by imposing penalties on politicians who switch parties or otherwise violate party discipline.
  • Why is an Anti-defection law needed?
    • Prevention of ‘Aya Ram – Gya Ram’ Politics: To prevent frequent floor crossing by legislators, promoting political stability.
    • Curbing money power: To curb the corrupting influence of money and power on politicians and ensure accountability to voters.
    • Ensuring cohesion: To maintain stability within political parties and prevent fragmentation of the party system.
    • Political Stability: To bring stability to administration and ensure legislative programs aren’t jeopardized.
    • Responsibility and Loyalty: To make members of parliament more responsible and loyal to their respective parties.
  • Important provisions of the Anti-Defection Law
    • Disqualification: Members can be disqualified if they voluntarily give up party membership or vote contrary to party direction without prior permission.
    • Independent Members: Independent members are disqualified if they join a political party after election.
    • Nominated Members: Nominated members are disqualified if they join a political party after six months.
    • Exceptions: Disqualification doesn’t apply in case of merger or if the member voluntarily gives up membership after being elected as the presiding officer.
    • Deciding Authority: Speaker/Chairman has final authority on defection cases.
    • Role of Whip: Whips ensure party discipline; defying whip may lead to disciplinary action.
  • Criticism
    • Curbing dissent: Infringes on legislators’ freedom to follow conscience.
    • Lack of Intra-Party Democracy: Discourages legislators from speaking out.
    • Fragmentation of Parties: May lead to a fragmented party system.
    • Undermining representative democracy: Can be abused for political gain.
    • Controversial role of the speaker: Lack of transparency and judicial oversight.
  • Amendments made to the Anti-Defection Law
    • Limit on Ministerial Posts: Limits on the number of ministers in central and state governments.
    • Disqualification from Ministerial Post: Disqualified members cannot be appointed as ministers.
    • Ban on Remunerative Political Post: Disqualified members cannot hold remunerative political posts.
    • Removal of Split Exception: Members can no longer split parties without consequences.
  • Judicial observations regarding defection in India
    • Kihoto Hollohan vs. Zachillhu and Others (1992): Upheld the constitutionality of the law.
    • G. Viswanathan vs. Hon’ble Speaker, Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly (1995): Ruled that the Speaker’s decision is final.
    • Ravi S. Naik vs. Union of India (1994): Established the Speaker’s authority in defection cases.
  • Suggestions to reform the Anti-defection law
    • 2nd ARC: Disqualification should be decided by the President/Governor on the advice of the Election Commission.
    • Reducing the number of defections: Raise the threshold for disqualification.
    • Allowing defections in certain circumstances: Allow defections in cases of merger or expulsion.
    • Removing the role of the Speaker: Replace the Speaker with an independent authority.
    • Allowing independents to join parties: Independents should be allowed to join parties without disqualification.
    • Providing for a grace period: Provide a grace period for members who have defected.
    • Time frame: Decisions on disqualification petitions should be made within a specified time frame.
  • Conclusion
    • The Anti-Defection Law in India, enacted in 1985, aims to maintain political stability, ensure party cohesion, and curb corruption.
    • While criticized for potentially stifling dissent, it has been upheld by judicial rulings.
    • Amendments have been made to strengthen it, but suggestions for further reform persist.
    • Overall, the law is essential for upholding democratic principles in India’s parliamentary system, though ongoing evaluation and potential adjustments are necessary to balance stability and democratic values.
  • Top of Form


Syllabus: GS.2: Indian Polity – Bills in State Legislature

Why in News: The Presidential assent given for the Kerala Lok Ayukta (Amendment) Bill. The LDF government sees this assent as a victory and a criticism of Governor Khan’s refusal to sign laws passed by the Assembly. This indicates a power struggle between the state government and the Governor.

Governor’s Powers Regarding Bills in the State Legislature:

  • Assent Requirement:
    • The Governor of a state in India holds significant powers in the legislative process, primarily concerning the enactment of bills passed by the State Legislature. These powers ensure a system of checks and balances within the state’s governance framework.
    • The Governor’s assent is indispensable for bills passed by the State Legislature to transform into enforceable law.
  • Sending for Reconsideration:
    • The Governor retains the authority to return a bill to the House for reconsideration. However, if the House reintroduces the bill without amendments, the Governor is obliged to grant assent.
    • Notably, the Governor cannot return a Money Bill to the State Legislature for reconsideration.
  • Withholding Assent:
    • The Governor also wields the power to withhold assent from a bill, effectively preventing its progression into law.
  • Pending Bills in the Legislature:
    • In instances where bills are pending in the House(s), the Governor can issue reminders to the concerned House(s) regarding their status.
  • Bills Reserved for Consideration:
    • The Governor possesses the prerogative to reserve certain bills for the President’s consideration.
    • Once a bill is reserved for the President’s assessment, the Governor’s involvement in the enactment process ceases.
    • Even if the President refers the bill back to the Assembly for reconsideration, it is ultimately the President who decides its fate.
    • When a Governor reserves a bill for the President’s consideration, the President must either assent to the bill or withhold assent.
    • If the bill is not classified as a Money Bill, the President may instruct the Governor to return it to the relevant House(s) of the State Legislature.
    • Upon such a directive, the House(s) must reconsider the bill within six months.
    • If the bill is passed again, with or without amendments, it is presented to the President for final consideration.
  • Article 201:
    • It states that when a bill is reserved for the consideration of the President, the President can give assent to the bill or withhold assent.
    • The President may also direct the Governor to return the bill (if it is not a Money Bill) to the House or Houses of the Legislature of the State for reconsideration.

Important Rulings of SC:

  • A Constitution Bench clarified that the Constitution does not impose any time limit within which the Governor should provide assent to bills.
  • However, it maintained that the Governor must honour the will of the Legislature and can act only in harmony with their Council of Ministers.
  • It also noted that causing delay to assent bills will be an arbitrary exercise, which in itself is against the spirit of the constitution.


Syllabus: GS.2: IR – International Institutions

Why it’s in the News: The ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, marking two years since the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory. It highlights concerns about the potential spread of the conflict into Europe and NATO’s stance on Ukraine’s possible membership in the military bloc.

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About NATO:

  • It was set up in 1949 by the US, Canada, and several western European nations to ensure their collective security against the Soviet Union.
  • It was the US’s first peacetime military alliance outside the western hemisphere.
  • With the addition of Sweden, thirty-two countries are currently members of NATO.
  • NATO is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. The headquarters of the Allied Command Operations is near Mons, also in Belgium.
  • Members of NATO are committed to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
  • Collective defence lies at the very heart of NATO, “a unique and enduring principle that binds its members together, committing them to protect each other and setting a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance”.
  • This is laid out in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, the founding treaty of NATO.

Why does Sweden want to join NATO?

  • Sweden, historically neutral in conflicts for two centuries, has refrained from joining military alliances, even as a collaborator with NATO and a member of the European Union.
  • This stance changed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • In response to public sentiment favoring NATO membership, both Sweden and Finland applied in 2022.
  • Finland’s application was successful, but Sweden faced challenges due to opposition from Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
  • The shift reflects a strategic reassessment in the face of geopolitical changes and a desire for security amid rising tensions with Russia.

NATO’s Tensions with Russia

  • NATO’s inception in 1949 as a response to USSR hostility marked a significant Cold War turning point.
  • In retaliation, the Soviet Union formed the Warsaw Pact in 1955, a collective defense treaty with Eastern European nations.
  • The pact dissolved in 1991, with signatories like the USSR and East Germany vanishing, while five nations joined NATO.
  • Post-Soviet Russia, particularly under Putin, maintains a distrustful stance towards the West.
  • The Baltic States (the northeastern region of Europe, includes the countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea.), now NATO members, share borders with Russia, while Belarus and Ukraine, once within its influence, remain outside the alliance.
  • The Kremlin underscores the importance of a buffer between NATO and Russia along its borders.
  • The 2014 Crimea annexation aimed to preempt a perceived threat from a NATO-protected Ukraine, securing Russian interests in the region.


Syllabus: GS.2: Government Schemes in News

Why it’s in the News: More than a month after India and Nepal signed the agreement on long-term power sharing; the two sides have not managed to make any forward movement on the stalled negotiations over the landmark Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project (PMP).

PM Surya Ghar Muft Bijli Yojana: Empowering Through Free Electricity

  • The PM Surya Ghar Muft Bijli Yojana is a transformative initiative by the central government aimed at providing 300 units of free electricity per month to its beneficiaries, with an investment of ₹75,000 crores.
  • Scheme Overview:
    • The scheme, initially announced by the Finance Minister in an interim budget speech, targets illuminating 1 crore households across the nation.
    • It emphasizes the integration of Urban Local Bodies and Panchayats to incentivize the promotion of rooftop solar systems within their respective jurisdictions.
  • Implementation Strategy:
    • The Central Government assures no financial burden on the people through significant subsidies directly deposited into their bank accounts and offering highly concessional bank loans for the installation of solar systems.
  • Expected Benefits:
    • Financial Relief: Households are anticipated to save up to fifteen to eighteen thousand rupees annually through free solar electricity and the possibility of selling surplus energy to distribution companies.
    • Promotion of Electric Vehicles: The availability of free electricity can facilitate the charging of electric vehicles, encouraging their adoption and contributing to environmental sustainability.
    • Entrepreneurial Opportunities: The scheme opens avenues for entrepreneurship, offering numerous vendors opportunities for supply and installation of solar systems, stimulating economic growth.
    • Employment Generation: It provides employment opportunities for the youth equipped with technical skills in manufacturing, installation, and maintenance of solar panels, thus fostering skill development and job creation.
  • By amalgamating financial incentives, sustainable energy practices, and economic empowerment, the PM Surya Ghar Muft Bijli Yojana not only addresses energy poverty but also catalyzes socio-economic development across the country.


Syllabus: GS.3: Ecology & Conservation – Marine Species

Why it’s in the News: The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has named a new marine species of head-shield sea slug with ruby red spot which was discovered from West Bengal and Odisha coast after President of India Droupadi Murmu.

About Melanochlamys Droupadi

  • Geographical Origin:
    • Initially sighted off the coasts of Digha in West Bengal and Udaipur in Odisha, indicating its exclusive habitat.
  • Distinctive Features:
    • Characterized by a short, blunt cylindrical body and a smooth dorsal surface adorned with two unequal shields, showcasing unique anatomical traits.
  • Morphological Identification:
    • Rigorous examination of morphological, anatomical, and molecular characteristics confirmed its taxonomic classification within the Melanochlamys genus.
  • Physical Attributes:
    • A diminutive invertebrate measuring up to 7 mm in length, featuring a brownish-black hue with a striking ruby red spot.
  • Biological Nature:
    • Hermaphroditic in nature, it possesses both male and female reproductive organs, structures, and tissue, predominantly inhabiting intertidal zones along sandy beaches.
  • Habitat and Reproduction
    • Ecological Niche: Primarily found in the intertidal zone, leaving distinctive crawl marks along sandy beaches.
    • Reproductive Cycle: Reproduction mainly occurs between November and January, marking a critical phase in the species’ life cycle.
  • Distribution and Taxonomy
    • Indo-Pacific Realm: While most species of the Melanochlamys genus are prevalent in temperate regions of the Indo-Pacific Ocean, Melanochlamys droupadi stands out as a truly tropical species.
    • Research Insights: A study conducted by ZSI researchers reveals intriguing behavior, highlighting the species’ unique ability to secrete transparent mucus, forming a protective sheath against sand grains.
  • About Sea Slugs:
    • Sea slugs belong to the class Gastropoda and are part of the Phylum Mollusca. They are notable for their resemblance to naked snails, lacking shells, and are found in both marine and terrestrial habitats.
    • Key Points about Sea Slugs:
      • Sea slugs are typically found in areas abundant with prey bases such as sponges, hydroids, and algae.
      • A unique species of nudibranch sea slugs was recently discovered on the Visakhapatnam shore.
      • Nudibranchs, a type of sea slug, are often found in coral reefs and serve as indicators of a robust coral ecosystem.
      • They primarily feed on algae and are frequently observed in significant numbers during algal blooms.
      • While most nudibranchs are diurnal, some species exhibit nocturnal activity patterns.


Syllabus: GS.3: Ecology & Conservation

Why it’s in the News: India, in its pursuit of sustainable energy sources and carbon neutrality by 2070, took a significant stride on February 28th, 2024.

The Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI)

  • The Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) Program represents a significant milestone in the conservation efforts for this elusive and endangered species.
  • This monumental initiative was coordinated nationally by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), in collaboration with snow leopard range states and two conservation partners, the Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysuru, and WWF-India.
  • Objective:
    • The primary aim of the SPAI Program was to conduct the first comprehensive survey of snow leopards in India.
    • It sought to estimate the population of this vulnerable species within the country and contribute to global efforts in assessing worldwide snow leopard numbers.
  • Population Estimate:
    • According to the SPAI Program, there are approximately 718 snow leopards in India. This figure represents approximately 10-15% of the global population of snow leopards.
  • Survey Area:
    • The SPAI Program covered approximately 120,000 square kilometers (46,332 square miles) of potential snow leopard habitat across the trans-Himalayan region of India.
  • Survey Coverage:
    • The survey included 70% of the potential snow leopard habitat in India, encompassing regions such as Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Methodology:
    • Researchers utilized camera traps to identify 214 individual snow leopards.
    • They then employed various data analysis techniques, including tracking leopard trails, to estimate the population size.
  • Importance of Population Understanding:
    • Understanding the snow leopard population is crucial due to its role as an apex predator in the Himalayan ecosystem.
    • Population size indicators can reflect ecosystem health, identify habitat threats, and reveal climate change impacts.
  • Challenges Faced:
    • Snow leopards face numerous threats, including habitat loss, poaching, and the adverse effects of infrastructure development.
  • Unprotected Habitat:
    • The SPAI Program report emphasizes that 70% of the land used by snow leopards is unprotected, despite being critical wildlife habitat.
    • This underscores the need for consistent monitoring to ensure the long-term survival of snow leopards.
  • Regional Distribution:
    • Ladakh emerges as the region with the highest estimated number of snow leopards, followed by Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Jammu & Kashmir.
  • The SPAI Program, coordinated by WII and in collaboration with key conservation partners, provides valuable insights into the status of snow leopards in India, highlighting both their significance and the urgent need for concerted conservation efforts to safeguard their future.

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