Prelims Sure Shot
Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in Istanbul
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan led the first Muslim prayers attended by thousands in Hagia Sophia since the controversial reconversion of the iconic Istanbul cathedral into a mosque.
- Hagia Sophia is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and then a museum located in Istanbul, Turkey.
- It was built in 537 AD during the reign of Justinian I, the Eastern Roman emperor.
- The Byzantine architecture monument is famous for its large dome.
- In 1453, when Constantinople fell to Ottoman forces, it was turned into a mosque.
- In 1934, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey, converted the mosque into a museum in an attempt to make the country more secular.
- The Council of State, the highest administrative court, unanimously cancelled a 1934 decision by modern Turkey’s founder to turn it into a museum, saying it was registered as a mosque in its property deeds. Mr. Erdogan then swiftly ordered the building to reopen for Muslim worship.
- It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Refusal of Rajasthan Speaker’s Plea by Supreme Court
Why in News
Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) has refused Rajasthan Assembly Speaker’s plea to stop the State’s High Court from deciding the validity of the anti-defection notices.
Earlier, the Speaker had issued notice to the 19 dissident Congress MLAs of the ruling Party on the ground of plotting conspiracy to bring down the government.
- The 19 rebel MLAs of Rajasthan’s ruling party (Congress) have filed a petition before the High Court challenging the disqualification notices issued to them by the Assembly Speaker under Anti Defection Law.
High Court’s Stand:
- The High Court directed the speaker to defer action on the disqualification notices by stating that he cannot decide the matter. It also directed him to extend the time to file replies to disqualification notices.
- The speaker stated that it is unconstitutional and in derogation of the powers of the Speaker under the Constitution.
Non Intervention of HC:
- Giving the reference to the Kihoto Hollohan versus Zachillu and Others, 1992 he argued that his decision is totally in the domain of the Speaker to decide on disqualification of members, and no court can intervene in between.
- He also stated that HC has no jurisdiction to ask him to defer the proceedings. The proceedings under the Tenth Schedule before the Speaker are proceedings of the Legislature and as such cannot be interfered with, as envisaged under Article 212 which has been read with para 6(2) of the Tenth Schedule.
Show Cause Notice:
- He said he had only issued show cause notices to the MLAs on a complaint filed by the Congress chief. The notice was an opportunity for the MLAs to explain their conduct.
Supreme Court’s Argument:
Voice of Dissent:
- SC has questioned about shutting down a legislator’s “voice of dissent” with the threat of disqualification in a
- It asked whether expressing dissent amounts to voluntarily giving up the party membership under Paragraph 2(1) (a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution and inviting anti-defection proceedings.
Speaker as a Tribunal:
- It further stated that the Speaker is like a tribunal and he must not have acted with political intentions.
Disqualification under the Tenth Schedule
- The Anti-Defection Law was passed in 1985 through the 52 amendment to the Constitution. It added the Tenth Schedule to the Indian Constitution.
- The main intent of the law was to combat “the evil of political defections”. According to it, a member of a House belonging to any political party becomes disqualified for being a member of the House, if:
- He voluntarily gives up his membership of such political party
- He votes or abstains from voting in such House contrary to any direction issued by his political party without obtaining prior permission of such party and such act has not been condoned by the party within 15 days.
Exceptions to the Disqualification on the Ground of Defection
- If a member goes out of his party as a result of a merger of the party with another party.
- A merger takes place when two-thirds of the members of the party have agreed to such a merger.
- If a member, after being elected as the presiding officer of the House, voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or rejoins it after he ceases to hold that
Powers of Speaker with regard to Anti-Defection Law
- Any question regarding disqualification arising out of defection is to be decided by the presiding officer of the House.
RBI Signs Currency Swap for Sri Lanka
Why in News
Recently, India and Sri Lanka had a virtual meeting in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was attended by the officials from the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Finance, representatives of the Sri Lankan government and the Export-Import (Exim) Bank. Exim Bank is the premier export finance institution of India.
- The Reserve Bank of India has agreed to a USD 400 million currency swap facility for Sri Lanka till November 2022 to boost the foreign reserves and ensure the financial stability of the country.
- Currency Swaps are used to obtain foreign currency loans at a better interest rate than could be obtained by borrowing directly in a foreign market.
- Central banks and Governments engage in currency swaps with foreign counterparts to meet short term foreign exchange liquidity requirements or to ensure adequate foreign currency to avoid Balance of Payments (BOP) crisis till longer arrangements can be made.
- Government and industry representatives from both countries also participated in a webinar on ‘Deepening Economic Collaboration between India and Sri Lanka’, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in association with other institutes.
- Sri Lanka highlighted that non-tariff barriers in receiving countries create difficulties in market access.
- A nontariff barrier is a way to restrict trade by using barriers other than a tariff. These include quotas, embargoes, sanctions, and levies.
- To resolve that, it urged FICCI to collaborate with the Sri Lankan Mission in New Delhi to help boost the export of its spices and concentrates to the Indian market..
- The Sri Lankan President pointed towards India’s varying amounts of developmental assistance in the northern Tamil region and highlighted the discriminatory tendencies. India’s attitude and relationship with her immediate neighbours depend on their appreciation of India’s regional security concerns.
- India expects her neighbours to serve as buffer states in the event of an extra-regional threat and not proxies of the outside powers.
- Both countries can explore possible collaborations in textiles, information technology and agribusiness, few of the sectors on which India has a stronghold.
- Sri Lanka should facilitate, protect and promote a liberal ecosystem for Indian investors and welcome Indian businesses in developing industrial zones, automotive components, pharma, textiles and engineering.
- There should be continued high-level engagement on building economic and people-to-people links.
- The bilateral relationship between both countries is an important cornerstone of a peaceful and prosperous South Asia. Examples of Singapore-Malaysia and New Zealand-Australia indicate that a smaller country’s economic success is tied to having a strong or at least stable relationship with its larger neighbour.
- In the current times of pandemic, the fact that several Indian companies are involved in the race to develop a vaccine presents India with a potentially huge, once-in-ageneration opportunity to cement its goodwill with the neighbourhood by securing regional access to these vaccines
Pied Cuckoo to be Tracked
Why in News
Recently, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), has decided to study the migration of the Pied Cuckoo Bird (Jacobin Cuckoo or Chaatak), by tagging the bird with satellite transmitters.
- The study will be conducted along with the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) and the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology.
- IIRS is a constituent unit of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It is headquartered in Dehradun.
- This is the first study in the country that seeks to trace and observe the migratory routes of the pied cuckoo.
- It aims to gather data and information on climate change and the monsoon. Pied cuckoo is known for its close association with the monsoon in India.
- Farmers have traditionally relied on the arrival of the pied cuckoo as a signal of arrival of monsoon and seed sowing.
- It is part of a larger project called the Indian Bioresource Information Network (IBIN) funded by the Government of India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT), which aims to put relevant Indian bio-resources information online.
- Gathering information about the migratory route can be invaluable for research on climatic variations taking place in the world, especially since the species has such a close association with the monsoon.
- It will give us information on the monsoon, changes in the monsoon and monsoon winds, erratic rainfall, seasonal fluctuations, water vapour pressure, etc.
- The extent of the effect of ecologies changing can be seen in the movement of species from a less favourable region to a more favourable region.
- Pied Cuckoo:
- It is a bird with black and white plumage (pied) with a fancy crest on the head. Its scientific name is Clamator jacobinus. It is found in Africa and Asia.
- There are two types of pied cuckoos found in India. In central and northern parts of India, pied cuckoos are migratory, they are seen only from just before the monsoon to early winter. It is believed that the pied cuckoos that come to the Himalayan foothills are from Africa.
- They have high site fidelity, that is, they come back to the same location year after year. Pied cuckoos are also found in southern India, but those are resident birds and not migratory.
- The bird is primarily arboreal, which means that it mostly lives on trees. It is a brood parasite e. It lays its eggs in nests that belong to other birds.
- IUCN Status: Least Concerned