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Contempt of Court

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Why in the news?

Supreme Court on Monday issued a contempt notice to Government of West Bengal for keeping Priyanka Sharma behind bars overnight despite its order on May 14 to release her immediately on bail.

What is Contempt of Court?

Contempt refers to the offence of showing disrespect to the dignity or authority of a court. Supreme Court and High Courts derive their contempt powers from the Constitution. It is dealt with under Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. The Act outlines the procedure in relation to investigation and punishment for contempt. The Act divides contempt into civil and criminal contempt.  

Civil contempt refers to the willful disobedience of an order of any court.  

Criminal contempt includes any act or publication which: 

  • ‘scandalises’ the court, or
  • prejudices any judicial proceeding, or
  • interferes with the administration of justice in any other manner.  

‘Scandalising the Court’ broadly refers to statements or publications which have the effect of undermining public confidence in the judiciary. 

The Constitution allows superior courts to punish for their contempt.  The Act additionally allows the High Court to punish for contempt of subordinate courts. 


Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

Paper: General Studies 2

Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests

Why in the news?

Iran has breached the low-enriched uranium stockpile limit set under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that it had signed with the P5+1 nations.

What is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action?

  • The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a detailed, 159-page agreement with five annexes reached by Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) on July 14, 2015. 
  • The nuclear deal was endorsed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, adopted on July 20, 2015. 
  • Iran’s compliance with the nuclear-related provisions of the JCPOA will be verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) according to certain requirements set forth in the agreement. 
  • On May 8, 2018, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the JCPOA and reinstate U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime. 
  • Iran had then retaliated by threatening to breach its commitments under the deal even as negotiations with the other nations in P5+1 (except US) continue.
  • Iran has also threatened to raise its uranium enrichment closer to weapons grade on July 7 if Europe fails to offer it a new deal.


What is weapons grade uranium?

  • Uranium has different isotopes occurring naturally, among which U-235 isotope is fissile i.e. able to undergo nuclear fission. Initially only about 0.7% of the natural uranium comprises of fissile U-235, with the rest being almost entirely uranium-238 (U-238). They are separated by their differing masses. 
  • Natural uranium is made weapons-grade through isotopic enrichment i.e. increasing the concentration of U-235 from 0.7% in a given sample of uranium as compared to U-238
  • Weapons-grade uranium is highly enriched, to over 90% U-235 (the fissile isotope). Weapons-grade plutonium has over 93% Pu-239 and can be used, like reactor-grade plutonium, in fuel for electricity production.



Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life

Why in the news?

China has urged India to include Huawei in its 5G trials in the country despite the US government’s opposition to the company

What is 5G technology?

  • 5G is the fifth generation of cellular technology. It is designed to increase speed, reduce latency, and improve flexibility of wireless services. 5G technology has a theoretical peak speed of 20 Gbps, while the peak speed of 4G is only 1 Gbps.
  • 5G also promises lower latency, which can improve the performance of business applications as well as other digital experiences (such as online gaming, videoconferencing, and self-driving cars). 
  • The 5G network will also simplify mobility, with seamless open roaming capabilities between cellular and Wi-Fi access. Mobile users can stay connected as they move between outdoor wireless connections and wireless networks inside buildings without user intervention or the need for users to reauthenticate. 
  • 5G also enhances digital experiences through machine-learning (ML)-enabled automation. Demand for response times within fractions of a second (such as those for self-driving cars) require 5G networks to enlist automation with ML and, eventually, deep learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Automated provisioning and proactive management of traffic and services will reduce infrastructure cost and enhance the connected experience.


Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI)

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Why in the news?

Manufacturing PMI stood at 52.1 in June down from 52.7 in May showing a decrease in manufacturing activity

What is Purchasing Managers’ Index?

  • The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) is an indicator of the economic health of the manufacturing sector. 
  • The PMI is based on five major indicators: new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries and the employment environment. 
  • The purpose of the PMI is to provide information about current business conditions to company decision makers, analysts and purchasing managers.
  • Purchasing Managers Indexes (PMI) are economic indicators derived from monthly surveys of private sector companies. The data for the index are collected through a survey of 400 purchasing managers in the manufacturing sector on different fields, namely, production level, new orders from customers, speed of supplier deliveries, inventories, order backlogs and employment level. 
  • For India, the PMI Data is published by Japanese firm Nikkei but compiled and constructed by Markit Economics (for the US, it is the ISM). 
  • An index value above 50 percent indicates a positive development in the industrial sector, whereas a value below 50 percent indicates a negative situation. Thus, a PMI of more than 50 represents expansion of the manufacturing sector when compared to the previous month. A PMI reading under 50 represents a contraction, and a reading at 50 indicates no change. 


Index of Eight Core Industries

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

Why in the news?

Growth in the core sector slowed to 5.1% based on the Index of Eight Core Industries as compared to 6.3% growth in April 2019

What is the Index of Eight Core industries?

  • The monthly Index of Eight Core Industries (ICI) is a production volume index. The objective of the ICI is to provide an advance indication on production performance of industries of ‘core’ nature before the release of Index of Industrial Production (IIP) by Central Statistics Office. These industries are likely to impact on general economic activities as well as industrial activities.
  • ICI measures collective and individual performance of production in selected eight core industries viz. Coal, Crude Oil, Natural Gas, Petroleum Refinery Products, Fertilizers, Steel, Cement and Electricity. 
  • The Index is compiled and released by the Office of the Economic Adviser (OEA), Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India.
  • The Eight Core Index broadly has a combined weight of 37.90 % in the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) and is published about 12 days prior to IIP. The weights of respective industries in IIP are – Coal 4.38 %, Crude Oil production 5.22 %, Natural Gas 1.71 %, Petroleum Refinery 5.94 %, Fertilizers 1.25 %, Steel 6.68 %, Cement production 2.41 % and Electricity generation 10.32 %.


Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)

Paper: General Studies 3

Topic: Security challenges and their management in border areas

Why in the news?

Central Government has declared the entire state of Nagaland as a disturbed area for six more months under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

What is AFSPA?

  • The Act came into force in the context of increasing violence in the Northeastern States decades ago, which the State governments found difficult to control. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Bill was passed by both the Houses of Parliament and it was approved by the President on September 11, 1958. It became known as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958.
  • AFSPA gives armed forces the power to maintain public order in “disturbed areas”. They have the authority to prohibit a gathering of five or more persons in an area, can use force or even open fire after giving due warning if they feel a person is in contravention of the law. 
  • If reasonable suspicion exists, the army can also arrest a person without a warrant; enter or search a premises without a warrant; and ban the possession of firearms.
  • Any person arrested or taken into custody may be handed over to the officer in charge of the nearest police station along with a report detailing the circumstances that led to the arrest.


What is meant by a ‘disturbed area’?

  • A disturbed area is one which is declared by notification under Section 3 of the AFSPA. An area can be disturbed due to differences or disputes between members of different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities. 
  • The Central Government, or the Governor of the State or administrator of the Union Territory can declare the whole or part of the State or Union Territory as a disturbed area. A suitable notification would have to be made in the Official Gazette. 
  • As per Section 3 , it can be invoked in places where “the use of armed forces in aid of the civil power is necessary”.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs would usually enforce this Act where necessary, but there have been exceptions where the Centre decided to forego its power and leave the decision to the State governments.