Ojaank IAS Academy




03 February 2023 – Current Affairs

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Lab-Grown Diamonds

GS Paper – III

Context- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman revealed the government’s intention to focus on lab-grown diamonds in the budget 2023-24 by lowering the Customs charge on the seeds used in lab-grown diamond manufacture. FM also announced a grant to IITs to help create lab-grown diamonds in India. This will boost domestic production of LGD seeds and machinery, reducing reliance on imports.
Lab-Developed Diamonds (LGD) are diamonds that are grown in labs using technology that replicates the geological processes that grow genuine diamonds.
Production Process of LGDs:
  • LGDs are typically produced using one of two processes: high pressure, high temperature (HPHT) or chemical vapour deposition (CVD).
  • The high pressure, high temperature (HPHT) process necessitates the use of extremely heavy presses capable of producing up to 730,000 psi of pressure at extremely high temperatures (at least 1500 celsius).
  • Graphite is typically employed as the “diamond seed,” and when treated to these severe circumstances, the comparatively affordable type of carbon transforms into one of the most costly forms of carbon.
  • The Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) process involves placing a thin slice of diamond seed in a sealed chamber and heating it to roughly 800 degrees Celsius before filling the container with other carbon-rich gases such as methane.
  • Microwaves, lasers, and other methods are used to ionise the gases into plasma. The ionisation process breaks down the gases, allowing the carbon to combine with the diamond seed and build the diamond layer by layer.
  • Both HPHT and CVD techniques of artificially creating diamonds begin with a seed — a slice of another diamond.
  • LGDs contain fundamental features that are comparable to genuine diamonds, such as optical dispersion, which gives them the trademark diamond shine. However, because they are produced in controlled circumstances, many of their features may be increased for a variety of applications.
  • LGDs are most commonly utilised in industrial applications, such as machineries and equipment. Because of their hardness and increased strength, they are perfect for use as cutters.
  • The heat conductivity of pure synthetic diamonds is high, while the electrical conductivity is minimal. This combination is important in electronics, where high-power laser diodes, laser arrays, and high-power transistors may be employed as heat spreaders.
Advantages of LGDs
  • LGDs are most commonly utilised in industrial applications, such as machineries and equipment. Because of their hardness and increased strength, they are perfect for use as cutters.
  • The heat conductivity of pure synthetic diamonds is high, while the electrical conductivity is minimal. This combination is important in electronics, where high-power laser diodes, laser arrays, and high-power transistors may be employed as heat spreaders.
Indian diamond industry
  • Diamond is found in two types of deposits: volcanic rocks with basic or ultrabasic compositions and alluvial deposits derived from primary sources.
Diamond fields of India are grouped into four regions:
  • South Indian tract of Andhra Pradesh,comprising parts of Anantapur, Kadapa,Guntur, Krishna, Mahabubnagar and Kurnool districts; Central Indian tract of Madhya Pradesh, comprising Panna belt; sBehradin-Kodawali area in Raipur district and Tokapal, Dugapal, etc. areas in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh; and sEastern Indian tract mostly of Odisha,lying between Mahanadi and Godavari valleys.
  • India is the world’s largest diamond cutting and polishing hub, accounting for more than 90% of worldwide polished diamond manufacture.
  • More than 75% of the world’s polished diamond, jewels, and jewellery is exported from India.
  • With the exception of one manufacturer in Madhya Pradesh, India relies heavily on rough gem diamond imports for its cutting and polishing industry.
  • Diamond cutting and polishing is one of the fastest-growing industries, largely export-oriented and labor-intensive, employing over 5 million people and providing around 7% of the country’s GDP and 15% of total goods exports.
Attributing aspects include: strong government backing since it earns foreign currency, easy availability of highly trained labour, cutting-edge technology, and lower expenses involved.
Challenges: Uncertainty in raw material supply, an unorganised market dominated by family-owned businesses, an expected rise in diamond prices, falling international demand, and competition from China are some of the issues impacting the sector.
Source – The Hindu

Three-Capital Plan of Andhra Pradesh

GS Paper-II

Context- The next capital of Andhra Pradesh would be Vishakhapatnam, according to the state’s chief minister. Andhra Pradesh requires a new capital because Hyderabad, the capital of undivided Andhra Pradesh, is now part of Telangana. The capital has been temporarily shared by the two states. The current state administration has repealed the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) Act of 2014.
What is the Capital dispute about?
  • Following the split of Andhra Pradesh, the state suggested the establishment of a Grand Capital in Amravati and adopted the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Act in 2014.
  • Following the recommendations of the High Power Committee, the state government approved the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020.
  • The state’s “Legislative Capital” would be Amaravati, the “Executive Capital” would be Visakhapatnam, and the “Judicial Capital” would be Kurnool, according to the Act.
  • Amravati farmers banded together under the name of the Rajdhani RythuParirakshana Samithi.
  • The decision to decentralise has been challenged in the Andhra High Court. Following the HC decision, the state administration chose to repeal the decentralisation statute.
Benefits of three capital formation
  • Governmental actions serve as a springboard for a variety of developmental initiatives that benefit the local economy by increasing productivity and creating jobs.
  • The presence of three capitals is thought to balance the growth of the state’s various regions, resulting in enhanced economic and social development.
  • The establishment of new capitals is supposed to attract investment and provide new employment opportunities, therefore stimulating the local economy.
  • The decentralisation of the capital city is designed to facilitate individuals’ access to government services across the state.
  • From the standpoint of urbanisation, it is preferable to fight against a primate city with high population density and in favour of mid-sized cities with healthy economies.
  • Decentralization of the capital city is also projected to alleviate congestion in the present capital and improve people’ quality of life.
Challenges with three capital formation
  • Coordination during assembly sessions will be hampered by the Legislature’s separation and distance from the Executive.
  • Declaring three capitals alone will not assist decentralisation and inclusive development; functional and financial decentralisation, as well as empowerment down to the third layer of government, are essential, making local bodies self-governing organisations.
  • Investors who put money in and farmers who provided land did so in the anticipation that certain benefits would result from their efforts.
  • The cost of establishing three capitals is anticipated to be enormous, and there are doubts about the project’s financial viability.
  • The chosen locations for the three capitals may lack suitable infrastructure, posing development and implementation issues.
  • The World Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and other institutions have already completed their financial commitments. It is certain to exacerbate the negative reputation of course reversal due to internal politics.
  • The construction of new capitals may also have an environmental impact, such as deforestation and biodiversity loss, as well as social consequences for nearby residents.
Examples of Multiple Capitals
  • At the federal level, South Africa has separate capitals for its judicial, legislative, and executive branches (Pretoria, Cape Town, and Bloemfontein).
  • Bolivia (with capitals in Sucre and La Paz), Chile (Valparaiso and Santiago), and Georgia all have two capitals (Tbilisi and Kutaisi).
  • The capitals of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Kerala are Lucknow, Bhopal, Gandhinagar, and Thiruvananthapuram, respectively, with high courts in Prayagraj, Jabalpur, Ahmedabad, and Kochi.
  • Some states also relocate their legislative assembly for a portion of the year. Maharashtra (Mumbai and Nagpur), Himachal Pradesh (Shimla and Dharmshala), and Karnataka are among them (Bengaluru and Belgaum).
Way Forward
  • The government should confer with many stakeholders, including local people, political leaders, and specialists, to understand their viewpoints and resolve any issues they may have.
  • A detailed feasibility study should be done to analyse the project’s technical, financial, and administrative viability.
  • Adequate infrastructure, including transportation, housing, and basic amenities, should be built in all three proposed capitals to ensure their viability as functional cities.
  • An environmental impact assessment should be carried out to guarantee that the construction of new capitals has no negative consequences on the environment or surrounding residents.
  • A complete implementation strategy, including the allocation of resources and duties, should be established to enable the seamless and efficient deployment of the three capitals.
  • The project’s progress should be checked and assessed on a regular basis, and any required changes should be made to ensure its success.
Source – The Hindu

iCET: Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies between India and US

GS Paper-II

Context- The meetings in Washington this week between India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his American counterpart Jake Sullivan resulted in the establishment of a new road map for stronger military and techno-economic collaboration between the two nations, known as iCET.
  • The notion was initially raised at a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden on the fringes of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) conference in Tokyo last May.
Ups and downs in high technology cooperation in US-India relations
  • Cooperation in high technology has traditionally been a focal point of US-India ties. In the 1950s and 1960s, considerable contributions from the United States were made to India’s nuclear and space programmes.
  • However, US nuclear restrictions imposed in the 1970s gradually reduced the scope of bilateral high-tech collaboration.
  • The historic civil nuclear effort of 2005 paved the way for unprecedented technical collaboration.
  • However, persistent barriers to technology transfer in Washington and Delhi’s political ambivalence and bureaucratic lethargy impeded the greatest exploitation of the new opportunities.
  • The iCET process, which will be supervised and led from the PMO in Delhi and the White House in Washington, should improve the coherence of this cycle of India-US technology interaction.
What is Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET)?
  • The iCET is a collaboration between India and the United States to create significant and novel technologies.
  • The iCET entails collaboration in a variety of sectors, including quantum computing, semiconductors, 5G and 6G wireless infrastructure, and civilian space missions including lunar exploration.
  • The purpose of the iCET is to promote technical contact between the United States and India while also potentially adding strategic depth and breadth to their burgeoning cooperation.
  • The iCET will be overseen and directed by the Prime Minister’s Office in Delhi and the White House in Washington.
Significance of iCET for India
  • The growing convergence of Indian and US interests in handling the security, economic, and technical challenges posed by a developing and aggressive China adds urgency to the iCET.
  • India is also attempting to minimise its reliance on Russian weaponry and military technology by producing more weapons at home in collaboration with Western countries.
  • The iCET will give India access to cutting-edge technology and knowledge in vital and developing fields.
  • Collaboration on innovative and vital technologies may lead to increased business between India and the United States, which can help the economy expand by bringing more investment and job possibilities.
Other focus area: Cooperation in defence production
  • The two sides are also focused on cooperation in defence production.
  • While much of this collaboration will need to be filled out in the coming months, Doval and Sullivan did reveal one tangible step: the production of a fighter aircraft engine in India.
  • GE Aerospace has sought for an export licence for jet engine manufacture and knowledge transfer to Indian firms in stages. Washington commits to handle this application as soon as possible. This aligns well with Delhi’s efforts to modernise its ageing defence industrial base.
If implemented with speed and purpose, the bilateral Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) might provide new strategic depth and breadth to India and the United States’ developing cooperation.
Source – The Hindu

Judicial Majoritarianism

GS Paper- II

Context- While the Supreme Court’s recent majority verdict on demonetization has been criticised, J. Nagarathna’s minority opinion has been lauded for its challenge to the RBI’s institutional capitulation (reluctant acceptance) to the Central government.
What exactly is judicial majority rule?
  • Numerical majorities are especially important in situations involving significant interpretations of constitutional requirements.
  • The necessity for a majority consensus stems from Article 145(5) of the Constitution, which provides that no decision in such instances can be issued unless a majority concurs.
  • It also allows judges to freely provide dissenting judgements or views.
  • In major cases, Constitutional Benches of five or more judges are established in accordance with Article 145(3) of the Constitution.
  • Such Benches usually consist of five, seven, nine, 11 or even 13 judges.
  • This issue calls into question our naive acceptance of numerical majority judgements.
  • This raises concerns about judicial decision-making and the constitutional disregard for study and evaluation of arguments and evidence in opposing rulings.
  • Analysts are increasingly attempting to contest the weight attributed to numerical majorities in our Constitutional Courts’ legal rulings, rather than the quality of their reasoning.
Heart of the debate: Why do experts need to resort to ‘majority’?
  • A worthy minority judgement, regardless of the soundness of its reasoning, is given minimal weight in terms of its results.
  • All judges on a given Bench rule on the same collection of facts, laws, arguments, and written submissions.
  • Judicial hunches might be the result of subjective experiences, perspectives, views, prejudices, and biases.
Our Constitutional history is replete with such meritorious dissents-
  • A good example is Justice H.R. Khanna’s dissenting judgement in A.D.M. Jabalpur v. Shivkant Shukla (1976), which upheld the right to life and personal liberty even in cases of constitutional uniqueness.
  • Another example is Justice Subba Rao’s dissenting decision in the Kharak Singh v. State of U.P. (1962) case, which upheld the right to privacy and was confirmed by the court in the K.S. Puttaswamy v. UOI (2017) case.
  • The Kesavananda Bharati judgement (1973) had a 7-6 majority. And four other judges on the bench refused to endorse the verdict! It’s almost as though the Basic Structure Doctrine was abandoned. It should have had a landslide victory.
  • Way forward
  • Ronald Dworkin proposes a method that may give greater weight to older judges’ votes because they have more expertise, or to junior judges because they may better represent public opinion.
  • Such alternatives, however, may be considered only after we identify and challenge the premises and rationales that underpin head-counting in judicial decision-making.
  • One of the most significant gaps in our existing knowledge about the operation of our Supreme Court is the lack of a critical discourse on judicial majoritarianism.
  • As pending Constitutional Bench proceedings are scheduled for hearing and judgements are reserved, we must consider the judicial majoritarianism arguments that will be used to resolve these cases.
The idea of judicial majoritarianism must be reconsidered.
The scholarly conversation on this topic is still in its early stages.
Source – Indian Express

US ‘destroyed’ New Start Treaty: Moscow

GS Paper- II

Context- After the US declared Russia was not complying with their final surviving armaments accord, the New START treaty, Russia accused the US of sabotaging weapons control agreements. The New START, INF, and Open Skies….. Understand the distinctions between these accords. For example, to see if they were founded during the Cold War, etc.
New START Treaty
  • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) agreement, which restricts the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles, and bombers, is set to expire in 2021 unless extended.
  • The pact restricts the United States and Russia to a total of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, which is far lower than the Cold War restrictions.
  • Former US President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed it in 2010.
  • It is one of the most important constraints on the deployment of nuclear weapons by superpowers.
Background of US-Russia Nuclear Relations
  • The United States has formally withdrawn from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)
  • The agreement required the two countries to destroy all ground-based missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres.
When did nuclear disarmament begin?
  • The two nations began weapons control talks on three fronts in 1985.
  • The first dealt with strategic missiles with ranges more than 5,500 kilometres, culminating to the START treaty in 1991.
  • Both sides were restricted to 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads.
  • A second track dealt with intermediate-range missiles, which resulted in the 1987 INF Treaty.
  • A third track, Nuclear and Space Talks, was designed to address Soviet worries about the United States’ Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), however it produced no results.
Success of INF
  • Despite the fact that no nuclear weapons were removed, the INF Treaty was lauded as a brilliant disarmament treaty.
  • Other countries were not restricted because it was a bilateral arrangement.
  • The INF was in place by 1991. The USSR destroyed 1,846 Pershing and cruise missiles, while the US destroyed 846.
  • Associated manufacturing plants were also shut down.
  • The INF Treaty was the first to contain stringent verification mechanisms, including as on-site inspections.
How has the nuclear behavior been?
  • With the conclusion of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in late 1991, former Soviet allies joined NATO and became EU members.
  • To maintain its technical superiority, the United States was investing on missile defence and conventional worldwide precision attack capabilities.
  • The United States declared its unilateral departure from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2001. (ABM Treaty).
  • The US also criticised Russia for failing to meet the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty’s ‘zero-yield’ criterion (CTBT). This might signal the start of a new nuclear arms race.
Implications of the New Start
  • The New START Act of 2011 expired in 2021. It might follow in the footsteps of the INF Treaty.
  • The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review called for the development of new nuclear weapons, especially low-yield bombs.
  • With its nuclear force aims in mind, China is planning to run its test site all year.
  • CTBT requires ratification by the United States, China, Iran, Israel, and Egypt, as well as adherence by India, Pakistan, and North Korea. It is unlikely to be implemented.
A new nuclear weapons race might be only the start. Because numerous countries are involved, it may get more difficult.
Technological advancements are putting the cyber and space spheres into conflict. It increases the likelihood of an escalation.
Source – Indian Express

Who is a Puisne Judge, and what does the term mean?

GS Paper- II

Context- While recommending two candidates for appointment as Supreme Court justices, the Collegium led by Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud stated that the collegium had taken “the seniority of Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges…” into account.
What is a Puisne Judge?
  • The word puisne has French origins and means “later born” or “younger” in the dictionary.
  • It is pronounced As “puny,” which is an English term for diminutive or undersized.
  • Puisne is nearly often used in reference to judges and signifies seniority of position.
  • In common law nations, the phrase puisne judge refers to lower-ranking judges, i.e., any judge other than the Chief Justice of that court.
Now again, what is common law?
  • Common law is the body of law established by judges via written judgements rather than legislation or constitutions (statutory law).
  • Common law, which is synonymous with “case law,” is founded on court precedent.
  • The United Kingdom (UK) and Commonwealth countries, including India, follow common law.
Legal reference to Puisne Judges
  • The Supreme Court clarified in the Third Judges Case ruling in 1998, one of the two cases that led to the evolution of the collegium system, that the CJI must make a recommendation to appoint a Supreme Court Judge and to transfer a Chief Justice or puisne Judge of a High Court in consultation with the four seniormost puisne Judges of the Supreme Court.
Is a “puisne judge” in India the same as in the UK?
  • In the United Kingdom, puisne judges are judges who do not possess specific titles.
  • A “puisne judge” was defined by the Supreme Court of Judicature Act of 1877 as any High Court judge other than the Lord Chancellor, Lord Chief Justice of England, and Master of the Rolls.
  • All judges in India have the same judicial authority.
  • The Chief Justice has an extra administrative responsibility as the court’s seniormost judge.
  • In India, a puisne judge is mentioned solely when examining the order of seniority for appointments, promotions to High Courts, and so on, but it has no influence on the exercise of a judge’s judicial power.
What is the recent context?
  • The Supreme Court collegium proposed sitting Chief Justices of the Allahabad and Gujarat High Courts for nomination as Supreme Court judges.
  • While offering grounds for its recommendation, the collegium noted that the decision was reached taking “into consideration the seniority of Chief Justices and senior puisne Judges in their respective parent High Courts.
  • This was done since seniority is one of numerous factors considered when appointing to the higher judiciary.
Source – Indian Express

Facts for Prelims

Indian start-ups are looking at Reverse Flipping

Context: With easy access to money from private equity and venture capital, changes in laws governing round-tripping, and the rising maturity of India’s capital markets, Indian start-ups are exploring’reverse flipping,’ or changing their domicile back to India, according to the Economic Survey 2022-23.
Concerning Flipping and Reverse Flipping:
  • Flipping is the process of transferring an Indian firm’s complete ownership to a foreign corporation, together with all intellectual property (IP) and data formerly owned by the Indian company.
  • This essentially converts an Indian firm into a wholly owned subsidiary of a foreign entity, with the founders and investors retaining the same ownership through the foreign entity after swapping all shares.
  • Reverse flipping is causing them to return to India.
Why were start-ups flipping before:
  • Start-ups encounter finance challenges, income production difficulties, a lack of simple access to enabling infrastructure, and a complicated regulatory tax environment. Startups have established themselves abroad, particularly in locations with favourable legal environments and taxation regulations.

Radioactive capsule lost – and found – in Australia:

Context: The Caesium-137 capsule, which had been missing in transit for more than two weeks, was located using specialised detecting equipment that detected the radiation.
What dangers did the capsule pose?
  • Caesium-137, for example, emits beta and gamma radiation, both of which are dangerous to humans. When exposed to them, the short-term hazards include radiation poisoning (which can be fatal), while the long-term risks include cancer and DNA damage.
  • A 20-metre exclusion zone has been established around the capsule, while members of the defence force check it using a serial number.
  • According to experts, the capsule, which produces radiation equivalent to around 10 X-rays per hour, was unlikely to contaminate the region where it dropped.

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