Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 07 July 2023

Party symbol in case of spilt

GS Paper - 2 (Polity)

The ongoing tussle for power between Ajit Pawar and his uncle Sharad Pawar after the former joined the government in Maharashtra has created major political ripples across the nation. The vertical split in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has raised many questions as both the factions have claimed maximum numbers of MLAs are with them. Sharad Pawar has reportedly sent a letter to the Election Commission of India (ECI) claiming all the rights over the party.

What does the law say?

  • Party symbols come under the purview of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order, 1968, that aims "to provide for specification, reservation, choice and allotment of symbols at elections in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies, for the recognition of political parties in relation thereto and for matters connected therewith".
  • The ECI holds the authority to recognise and allot party symbols, even during a dispute.
  • Disputes over party symbols fall under the purview of Paragraph 15 of the Order, which says, "When the Commission is satisfied on information in its possession that there are rival sections or groups of a recognised political party each of whom claims to be that party, the Commission may, after taking into account all the available facts and circumstances of the case and hearing such representatives of the sections or groups and other persons as desire to be heard, decide that one such rival section or group or none of such rival sections or groups is that recognised political party and the decision of the Commission shall be binding on all such rival sections or groups."

Parameters considered

  • In case of a dispute, the ECI considers several factors, but one of the most crucial factors is the support enjoyed by each claimant in the party's organisation and legislative wings.
  • It identifies the party's apex organisational committee(s) and determines the number of office-bearers, delegates and members who support the rival claimants.
  • For support within the party’s legislative wing, the ECI looks at the number of MPs and MLAs who support each rival claimant.
  • After considering all those factors, if the ECI finds that a faction holds majority of support from the members, it may decide to make its ruling in favour of that particular faction, and ask the losing side to form a separate party with a different symbol.
  • In case theECI is unable to find a clear majority of support for either of the factions, it may freeze the existing symbol and ask the two sides to register themselves with new party names and symbols.

 

A rare substance Ambergris found whale

GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

After the carcass of a sperm whale washed up on a shore of the Canary Island of La Palma, a pathologist, who carried out the animal’s postmortem, found ambergris, also known as ‘floating gold’, stuck in its colon. The lump retrieved from the sperm whale is estimated to be worth about €500,000 (Rs 4, 47, 62,500).

What is ambergris?

  • Ambergris, which means grey amber in French, is a waxy substance that originates from the digestive system of protected sperm whales.
  • While it is incorrectly referred to as ‘whale vomit,’ one of the theories about its formation suggests that it is produced in the gastrointestinal tract of some sperm whales for the passage of hard, sharp objects that are ingested when the whale eats large quantities of marine animals.
  • The ambergris is said to be passed like faeces and has a very strong faecal odour combined with a strong marine odour.
  • The freshly passed ambergris is a light yellowish substance and is fatty but as it ages it turns waxy and gets red-brownish, sometimes with shades of grey and black in colour and attains a mild, earthy, sweet smell but still with notes of mild marine odour.

What are the uses of ambergris and why is it so expensive?

  • Ambergris is a rare substance, which contributes to its high demand and high price in the international market.
  • Traditionally, it is used to produce perfumes which have notes of musk. While there are records of it being used to flavour foodalcoholic beverages and tobacco in some cultures in the past, it is rarely used for these purposes presently.

Legalities in India

  • While there is a ban on the possession and trade of ambergris in countries like the USAAustralia and India, in several other countries it is a tradable commodity, though with limitations in some of them.
  • In the Indian contextsperm whales are a protected species under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act and possession or trade of any of its by-products, including Ambergris and its byproducts, is illegal under provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • It has been observed that the gangs smuggling the ambergris procure it from coastal areas and ship it to destination countries via some other countries with whom India has comparatively less stringent sea trade.

 

The mysterious ‘gravity hole’ in the Indian Ocean

GS Paper - 3 (Science and Technology)

The strength of the gravitational pull at any part of the world is dependent on the mass of the Earth’s crustmantle and core beneath that particular region. Interestingly, a massive region in the Indian Ocean, about 1,200 kilometres southwest of the southernmost tip of India, has such a low pull of gravity that the sea level of the Indian ocean over the “hole” is around 106 metres below the global average, according to Scientific American.

More about research

  • This pronounced dip in the ocean is called Indian Ocean geoid low (IOGL) and was discovered in 1948 during a survey by Dutch geophysicist Felix Andries Vening Meinesz.
  • Since then, it has been confirmed by other ship-based experiments and with measurements from satellites. But scientists haven’t really been able to conclusively say why it happens. Until now that is.
  • In a research article published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Debanjan Pal and Attreyee Ghosh, researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru, document what they believe caused the gravitational anomaly.
  • After looking at computer-simulated models of the past 140 million years, they found the remains of an ancient ocean about 965 kilometres below the Earth’s crust, just under Africa.
  • In all the simulations, the researchers found molten rock plumes below Africa, which could potentially have been caused by tectonic plates plunging into the mantle. They believe that these plumes could be the reason behind IOGL.

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