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AUGUST 4, 2017

NOTA option will stay for RS polls, says SC

In News:

  • The ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option will remain on the ballot paper in the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections.
  • The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to stay an Election Commission circular issued in January 2014 that introduced NOTA in the Rajya Sabha elections.
  • “The system of NOTA makes the system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote nugatory and otiose and cannot be made applicable in Rajya Sabha elections. The use of NOTA cannot be sanctioned by way of the impugned circular which has the effect of overriding the provisions of Article 80(4), the provisions of The Representation of the People Act 1951 and the Conduct of Election Rules 1961,” Mr. Parmar submitted.
  • “In view of the existing rules, the electors — despite any party whip — can exercise their choice and in doing so, they do not face disqualification as legislators. The Supreme Court’s judgment in Kuldip Nayar vs Union Of India & Ors is significant in this regard,” said an EC official.

Kuldip Nayar case

  • In the Kuldip Nayar case, amendments introducing the open ballot system were under challenge, but were dismissed by the court.
  • The Supreme Court observed: “The contention that the right of expression of the voter at an election for the Council of States is affected by open ballot is not tenable, as an elected MLA would not face any disqualification from the membership of the House for voting in a particular manner.”
  • The Court said the member “may at the most attract action from the political party to which he belongs.”

Impact of NOTA

  • The impact of the decision of MLAs to exercise the NOTA (none of the above) option in elections to the Rajya Sabha will be the same as that of an abstention.
  • Nor does it attract the anti-defection law, though it can be a sign that an MLA is disgruntled with his party leadership or official candidate.

China raises the heat on Doklam standoff

  • India must withdraw its troops from the Doklam plateau or “face consequences”, a senior Chinese diplomat said here on Thursday.
  • The remarks mark a serious escalation in rhetoric over the ongoing tensions between the two countries, as their Armies continue a six-week standoff near the India-Bhutan-China trijunction off Sikkim.
  • Refusing to elaborate on what the “consequences” would be, the diplomat said the Indian action at Doklam was akin to “intruding into your neighbour’s house, and demanding the neighbour leave to ensure your withdrawal”. Quoting Chinese President Xi Jinping, he said, “Military option is the fundamental guarantor of sovereignty.”
  • The diplomat’s comments, the sharpest so far from China, followed India’s rejection on Wednesday a 15-page statement of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying the numbers of Indian troops on the stretch of the Doklam plateau, contested by both China and Bhutan, had reduced from 400 to “over 40”. Government sources said India had not reduced the number of troops.

 ‘Make In India’ yet to spur manufacturing, says panel

  • The Parliament’s Standing Committee on Commerce has questioned the country’s low manufacturing growth despite initiatives such as Make In India, Startup India and FDI reforms that are now more than two years old.
  • The committee, led by BJP MP Bhupender Yadav, had expressed concerns about manufacturing growth averaging just 1.6% in the five years till 2015-16 and a 0.5% contraction in the sector in the first 9 months of FY17, in a report tabled in Parliament this March.


New project to strengthen Sri Ram Sagar Project ayacut

  • The State government is all set to unveil the new scheme for bringing back the past glory to the Sri Ram Sagar Project by strengthening its ayacut by diverting Godavari water from Kaleswaram downstream into the reservoir with reverse pumping system through the flood flow canal.


Delhi reports ‘good’ air quality

  • For the first time in two years, Delhi has seen two days of ‘good’ air quality in July, according to a report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Moreover, not a single day in July saw ‘poor’ air quality, a feat that has not been replicated in any month of the last 25, save August 2016. These classifications are part of a 6-grade, colour-coded Air Quality Index (AQI) that the government uses to rate air quality.


  • The AQI is an index for reporting daily air quality. It tells you how clean or polluted your air is, and what associated health effects might be a concern for you.
  • The AQI focuses on health effects you may experience within a few hours or days after breathing polluted air.
  • EPA calculates the AQI for five major air pollutants regulated by the Clean Air Act:
    • ground-level ozone,
    • particle pollution (also known as particulate matter),
    • carbon monoxide,
    • sulfur dioxide, and
    • nitrogen dioxide.
  • For each of these pollutants, EPA has established national air quality standards to protect public health .Ground-level ozone and airborne particles are the two pollutants that pose the greatest threat to human health in this country.