Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 02 September 2023

Govt forms committee on simultaneous elections

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The government has constituted a committee headed by former president of India Ram Nath Kovind to explore the possibility of “one nation, one election” on 1 September 2023. Over the years, the Prime Minister has pushed for the idea of simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly polls.

What are the arguments around holding simultaneous elections?

  • There are pros and cons here. Making polls simultaneous would address various concerns, such as reducing the cost of holding elections and limiting all elections to a single season.
  • At present, there is an election in one state or the other at almost any given time, and those who favour simultaneous polls argue that the Model Code of Conduct gets in the way of the government announcing projects or policy plans.
  • Against the idea, the arguments include the complexity of such an exercise, the widely held view that simultaneous polls would benefit the nationally dominant party at the cost of regional players, and the complications that would arise if any of the governments were to collapse before completing its term. Leave alone state legislatures, even the central government could fall.
  • Of the Lok Sabhas since 1952, many were dissolved ahead of schedule — such as in 1971, 1980, 1984, 1991, 1998, 1999 and 2004.
  • There would also be logistical issues, requiring about twice as many electronic voting machines and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines.

Has the idea of simultaneous polls been explored before?

  • The Election Commission had suggested back in 1983 that such a system be worked out.
  • The Law Commission headed by Justice B P Jeevan Reddy, in its 170th Report in May 1999, stated, “We must go back to the situation where the elections to Lok Sabha and all the Legislative Assemblies are held at once”.
  • In 2003, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took up the issue with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. She appeared initially receptive, but the idea did not take off from there.
  • In 2010, BJP leader LK Advani met with then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and then wrote in his blog: “I found both of them (PM and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee) receptive to a proposal I have been advocating for quite some time: fixed term legislatures and simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.”
  • Sunil Arora also said in 2019, that the EC would be supportive of the idea. “Yes, we would also prefer it. And this is not a bureaucratic statement, just saying we agree in principle, etc.”

The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)

GS Paper - 3 (Economy)

After Hindenburg, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has made fresh allegations of stock manipulation against the Adani Group. OCCRP’s report, published, claims that exclusive documents obtained by it show that “in at least two cases … [supposedly public] investors turn out to have widely reported ties to the group’s majority shareholders, the Adani family”, and helped manipulate Adani companies’ stock prices. The Adani Group has categorically rejected these allegations, terming them as a “concerted bid by Soros-funded interests” to “revive the meritless Hindenburg report”.

A global network of investigative reporters

  • OCCRP wasn’t really planned – it was born of necessity. We were all working on the same intractable problems in our own countries. But a couple of us realised this, and communicated. This is a quote from one of OCCRP’s co-founders, Drew Sullivan.
  • American Sullivan and Bulgarian Paul Radu, both investigative journalists, founded OCCRP in 2006, after they realised the similarities in their experiences of investigating and reporting on organised crime and systemic corruption.
  • Initially funded by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF), the OCCRP network first opened an office in Sarajevo.
  • Over the years, the OCCRP has grown from six journalists working in five countries to more than 150 journalists in 30 countries.
  • The idea is to have a global network of journalists with easy communication and information-sharing so that global networks of corruption and crime can be better understood and exposed.
  • The OCCRP also collaborates with regional partners, including Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ)Centro Latino Americano de Investigacion Periodistica (CLIP), and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). It is a member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network as well.

Impact over the years

  • As per its own records, since 2009 reporting by the OCCRP has directly led to 398 official investigations621 arrests and sentences, 131 resignations, and $10 billion+ in fines levied and money seized.
  • It has been involved in many high-profile probes over the years, including multiple investigations on Russia’s oligarchs and Vladimir Putin.
  • The OCCRP also worked on the Panama Papers project with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, producing more than 40 stories on corruption through the use of offshore entities, which won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize Journalism.
  • The organisation has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for its work “contributing to peace by unmasking political corruption and organized crime.”

Chandrayaan-3 confirms Sulphur in lunar surface

GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said the Pragyan rover's Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscope confirmed the presence of sulphur in the lunar surface near the south pole, through the first-ever in-situ measurementsPragyan is a lunar rover that forms part of Chandrayaan-3, the lunar mission developed by ISRO.

More about discovery

  • The Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) instrument onboard Chandrayaan-3 Rover has made the first-ever in-situ measurements on the elemental composition of the lunar surface near the South Pole.
  • These in-situ measurements confirm the presence of sulphur (S) in the region unambiguously, something that was not feasible by the instruments onboard the orbiters.
  • LIBS is a scientific technique that analyses the composition of materials by exposing them to intense laser pulses.
  • high-energy laser pulse is focused onto the surface of a material, such as a rock or soil. The laser pulse generates extremely hot and localised plasma.
  • The collected plasma light is spectrally resolved and detected by detectors such as Charge Coupled Devices. Since each element emits a characteristic set of wavelengths of light when it is in a plasma state, the elemental composition of the material is determined.
  • Chandrayaan-3 successfully executed a soft landing on the moon on 23 August 2023, making India the fourth nation in the world to achieve a successful lunar landing.
  • India also marked a milestone by becoming the first country to land near the South Pole, an area believed to harbour significant amounts of water ice.
  • ISRO on 29 August 2023 said preliminary analyses, graphically represented, have unveiled the presence of aluminium (Al)sulphur (S)calcium (Ca)iron (Fe)chromium (Cr), and titanium (Ti) on the lunar surface.
  • Further measurements have revealed the presence of manganese (Mn)silicon (Si), and oxygen (O). A thorough investigation regarding the presence of hydrogen is underway.


  • The LIBS instrument is developed at the Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems (LEOS) / ISRO, Bengaluru.
  • LEOS, situated at Peenya Industrial Estate, Bengaluru, is one of the vital units of ISRO.
  • It deals with the designdevelopment, and production of attitude sensors for all low Earth orbit (LEO)geostationary Earth orbit (GEO) and interplanetary missions.
  • It develops and delivers optical systems for remote sensing and meteorological payloads.

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