HINDU NOTES-OCT 7 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

HINDU NOTES-OCT 7 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

Current affairs, Daily Capsule, Daily challenge, Daily hindu notes, hindu notes, The Hindu Notes

General Studies-01

{Op-Ed}Law, faith, unreason: on eradicating superstition from society

Issue: Editorial deals with the need for broad minded social reform additional to laws to eradicate superstition from indian society.

  • The Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017 has been approved by the State Cabinet and is likely to be introduced soon in the Assembly.
  • It is not accurate to characterise this as just an ‘anti-superstition bill’, as what it seeks to prohibit are actions that offend human dignity, result in the exploitation of gullible and vulnerable people or cause harm to them.

Bill outlaws:

superstition-eradication-bill

  • the urulu seve, also known as made snana, in which devotees roll over food leftovers,
  • the practice of walking on fire,
  • branding children,
  • piercing one’s tongue or cheeks.

Bill exempts:

  • Established religious practices and the propagation of spiritual learning and arts, besides astrology and vaastu.
  • Organising macabre rituals, offering magical cures and threatening people, under peril of incurring divine or supernatural displeasure, are covered by this law, even though these can be treated as offences under the Indian Penal Code too.

The proposed law ought to be seen as a reasonable restriction on the right to practise and propagate one’s religion under Article 25 of the Constitution. As long as these restrictions are in the interest of public order, morality and health, the law may withstand the test of constitutionality.

  • Ultimately, it is education and awareness that can truly liberate a society from superstition, blind faith and abominable practices in the name of faith. Until then, the law will have to continue to identify and punish acts that violate the people’s right to life, health and dignity.

General Studies-02

Australia, India to enhance ties

News:

  • India and Australia discussed ways to enhance cooperation in tackling terrorism, radicalization and cyber-crimes, the Home Ministry said in a statement.

Beyond News:

  • During the meeting, the two sides discussed the scope for cooperation in counter-terrorism and checking extremism and radicalisation, besides steps to check illegal financial transactions, counterfeiting and cyber-crimes.
  • Issues related to human trafficking and people smuggling, combating illegal drug trafficking, and sharing information between law enforcement agencies, were also discussed.

Aadhaar now must for PPF, KVP

News:

  • The government has made linking Aadhaar mandatory for the Public Provident Fund, the National Savings Certificate and the Kisan Vikas Patra schemes.

Beyond News:

  • Subscribers have time till December 31 to link their Aadhaar to the schemes.
  • Every depositor who has not given his Aadhaar number at the time of application shall submit it to the Post Office Savings Bank or accounts office concerned on or before December 31.
  • The government has already made it mandatory to link Aadhaar to PAN by December 31 and to SIM connections by February 2018.
  • Some 135 schemes, including free cooking gas, kerosene and fertilizer subsidy, targeted public distribution system and MGNREGA, are reportedly to be linked to the biometric identification.

India’s greenhouse gas emissions up by 4.7% in 2016

According to the latest report by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency- Trends in global CO2 and total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions show that India’s emissions have gone up by 4.7% in 2016.

  • For most major GHG emitters in the world, the emission figures have gone down, barring India and Indonesia.

According to the Dutch strategic agency’s report- Emissions in following countries shows fall in emission:

  1. U.S. saw a fall of 2%,
  2. Russian Federation 2.1%,
  3. Brazil 6.1%,
  4. China 0.3%,
  5. within the European Union, the United Kingdom 6.4%.
  • The report’s data is based on the Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) produced by the European Union.

Non-CO2 emissions

  • In 2016, the five largest emitting countries and the European Union accounted for 68% of total global CO2 emissions and about 63% of total global GHG emissions.
  • Most of the emissions consist of CO2, about 72%.
  • Over the past three years, non-CO2 GHG emissions have continued to grow somewhat faster than CO2 emissions: by 1.5% (2014), 1.2% (2015) and 1.0% (2016).
  • CO2 over the same period increased by a respective 0.8%, -0.2% and 0.3%.
  • Globally, the combined share of non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions is about 28% in total GHG emissions, but it varies for the largest countries: 11% for Japan and 31% for India.

General Studies-03

GST Council gives relief to exporters, small businesses

News:

  • GST Council on Friday announced a slew of decisions to reduce their compliance burden.

Beyond News:

  • It includes the eventual setting up of an e-wallet for input tax credits for exporters, and the option for small businesses to file returns and pay taxes only once a quarter.
  • The decision regarding exporters taken by the Council is to impose a nominal 0.1% GST rate for them till March 31, 2018.
  • The e-wallet system is expected to rollout from April 1, 2018.
  • The GST Council also reduced the tax rates on 27 items.

Important items among those 27:

  • Sliced dried mangos,
  • khakhra and plain chappatis,
  • unbranded ayurvedic medicines,
  • plastic, rubber and paper waste,
  • yarn,
  • diesel engine parts, pump parts,
  • e-waste and several services.

‘Mission rice’ to conserve indigenous seeds

News:

  • After empowering rural women folk in the State, the Kudumbasree Mission is gearing up to script another success story by conserving traditional rice seeds of Wayanad.

Beyond News:

  • The project has been executed through joint liability groups (JLGs) of the mission.
  • The pilot project has been executed by the mission through the Kairaly JLG and five acres of fallow land at Kenichira under the Poothadi grama panchayat has been utilised for the purpose this season.
  • The mission is planning to expand the project on 300 acres next year.
  • The Kudumbasree State Mission has allotted Rs. 1 lakh for the project and the Agriculture Department would provide an incentive of Rs. 50,000 for the JLG under the Haritha Keralam Mission.

Aayog forms panel for ‘intelligent’ transport

News:

  • The NITI Aayog has set up a national-level committee constituting officials from various ministries and States to develop a roadmap for the implementation of the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) policy.

Key aspects:

  • The National ITS policy will aim to reduce urban traffic congestion, improve parking for vehicles in cities, road safety and the security of passenger and goods traffic.
  • The committee will work towards setting uniform standards to implement the ITS in various parts of the country, Anil Srivastava, IAS, Advisor, (Infrastructure) NITI Aayog, said during an event organised by the International Road Federation.
  • Subjects covered under the panel’s purview would include traffic management, parking management, electronic enforcement of traffic rules and fleet management.
  • The committee’s mandate would also include monitoring and encouraging pilot projects.

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HINDU NOTES-OCT 6 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

HINDU NOTES-OCT 6 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

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General Studies-01

Kathak, qawwali and opera on the same stage

News:

Kathak and tap dancers, the sarod and the organ came together in a gala in central London on Wednesday night, as the Southbank centre hosted over 150 artists from across Britain and India for an event pegged as the highlight of the 2017 India-U.K. Year of Culture.

Beyond news:

  • The push for a year-long celebration of Indian and British culture was agreed upon during Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s visit to Britain in 2015.
  • Since its launch earlier this year, events have been taking place across the country, with many museums and institutions using the opportunity to create India-related events — from Kew Gardens’ annual orchid festival focused around the Indian orchid to the Science Museum’s exhibition examining the place of India in the development of science and technology over the past 5,000 years.

General Studies-02

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons awarded 2017 Nobel Prize in Peace

Nobel prize 2017

News:

  • The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a coalition of non-governmental organisations from over 100 countries around the globe.

Beyond News:

  • The committee emphasised that “the next steps towards attaining a world free of nuclear weapons must involve the nuclear-armed states”.
  • The 2017 Peace Prize called upon nuclear-armed states to initiate negotiations to gradual elimination of the world’s 15,000 nuclear weapons .

What is ICAN?

  • ICAN stands for International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
  • ICAN has been the leading civil society actor in the effort to achieve a prohibition of nuclear weapons under international law.
  • ICAN had in the past year given the efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigour, it added.
  • ICAN describes itself as a coalition of grass roots non-government groups in more than 100 nations. It began in Australia and was officially launched in Vienna in 2007.

7 killed as IAF chopper crashes in Arunachal

News:

  • Seven military personnel were killed when a Mi-17 helicopter of the Air Force crashed in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.

Beyond News:

  • The Russian manufactured Mi-17 V5 chopper was on an air maintenance mission and was also scheduled to drop off kerosene jerry cans at an Army camp in Yangste.
  • The Mi-17 V5 (domestic designation Mi-8 MTV5) is a military transport variant in the Mi-8/17 family of helicopters.
  • It is produced by Kazan Helicopters, a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters. The aircraft has a maximum takeoff weight of 13,000 kg.
  • It can transport either 36 armed soldiers internally or 4,500 kg of load on a sling.

Now, SC Collegium to make judges’ appointments transparent

News:

  • In a historic move to ensure transparency in judicial appointments, the Supreme Court Collegium, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, has resolved to post on the court’s website its recommendations on judicial appointments, transfers and elevations for public consumption.

Beyond News:

  • The information posted online will also “indicate” reasons for the recommendation or rejection of a name for judicial appointment, transfer and elevation to High Courts and the Supreme Court.
  • As a start, the Supreme Court has posted online detailed reasons for its October 3, 2017 recommendations for judicial appointments to the Madras High Court and the Kerala High Court.
  • Details are now available online under the tag “Collegium Resolutions”
  • The Supreme Court has also posted on its website the minutes of the Collegium meeting, which led to its decision to go ahead with transparency.

{Op-Ed}States in Indian diplomacy: when Sharjah ruler visited Kerala

Click here for detailed analysis of this Opinion

General Studies-03

Snow leopard photographed in Arunachal

News:

  • Scientists have obtained the first evidence of the elusive snow leopard in Arunachal Pradesh.

Why its important?

Arunachal Pradesh is one of the 22 priority landscapes of the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program and while locals and researchers knew that there were snow leopards in the area, scientists had not been able to get photographs thus far.

Beyond News:

  • The presence of the species outside a protected areas highlights the importance of community support for conservation as well as landscape-scale planning.
  • The camera-trapping, part of a State-wide survey initiated in March 2017 by WWF-India in collaboration with the Arunachal Pradesh Environment and Forest Department, focused on unexplored snow leopard habitats.
  • A small fraction of snow leopard habitats falling in the two protected areas (the Dibang Biosphere Reserve and Namdapha National Park) in the State, scientists tapped into the knowledge of locals — including herders and former hunters — to understand the current distribution of snow leopards and other mammals.
  • Over 80% of the respondents confirmed the presence of snow leopards in their area.

Aadhaar mandatory for PPF, NSC, Kisan Vikas Patra

News:

  • The Union government has made linking Aadhaar mandatory for the Public Provident Fund (PPF), the National Savings Certificates (NSC) and the Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP).

Beyond News:

  • The government had made it mandatory to link Aadhaar to PAN by December 31 and to SIM connections by February 2018.
  • Existing subscribers have time till December 31, 2017 to link their Aadhaar.
  • Every depositor under this scheme who has not given his Aadhaar number at the time of application for such deposit shall submit his Aadhaar number to the Post Office Savings Bank or Accounts Office concerned, on or before the 31st day of December, 2017.
  • About 135 schemes, including the free cooking gas (LPG) to poor women, kerosene and fertilizer subsidy, targeted public distribution system (PDS) and MGNREGA are also reportedly to be linked to the biometric identification.

Pesticides cause farmer deaths, illnesses in Yavatmal

News:

  • A farmer from the Bellora village in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra, is tied with ropes to a bed in Ward Number 12 of the Vasantrao Naik Government Medical College (VNGMC).

Beyond News:

  • This was one of the 27 farmers currently undergoing treatment at Yavatmal’s VNGMC for infections caused by spraying pesticides on their cotton produce.
  • Over 472 farmers have been admitted to the hospital for the same infection in the last three months.
  •  “improper pesticide use”is considered as reason for this infections.

The rhythm of life: on the Nobel Prize in Medicine

Key aspect: 

  • the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to a trio of physicists for their work in the detection of gravitational waves emanating from the recesses of the space-time continuum, the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was won by a triumvirate of chronobiologists for their work in discovering the mechanisms controlling the internal clocks that keep time in all living organisms, including humans.

Men behind the findings:

  • Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young, three Americans born in the 1940s.

Key finding:

  • Working with the humble fruit fly, the three scientists isolated a gene named period that studies had shown disrupted the fly’s circadian clock.
  • It Made pioneering contributions in helping unravel the genetic coding and protein pathways that regulate the circadian rhythm.
  • Dr. Hall and Dr. Rosbash then went on to discover that the protein PER, which acts as a functional communicator for this gene, accumulated at night and then diminished during the day.
  • Then spotted the third gene, doubletime, which through an encoded protein served as the regulator of the frequency of the oscillations.
  • Nobel-winning researchers’ contributions have also led to an improved understanding of the link between peak physical performance in sport and the time of the day.

What is circadian rhythm is all about?

  • Its a rhythm which tells us when it is time to eat and sleep, or wake up even when we have no bedside alarm.
  • It is crucial in human health angle that has spawned a mushrooming body of science centred on understanding the linkages between sleep and normal metabolic activity, and the potentially deleterious effect of sleep deprivation.
  • From “jet lag”, when people travel across different time zones challenging the internal biological clock, to the difficulties people engaged in shift-based jobs have in resetting their sleep-wake cycles, contemporary medical science acknowledges the hazards that lack of adequate sleep can pose.
  • The prospect that the circadian rhythm may well hold the key to future breakthroughs in the modulation and treatment of various diseases is truly tantalising.

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HINDU NOTES-OCT 5 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

HINDU NOTES-OCT 5 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

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General Studies-02

Gujarat HC rejects Zakia Jafri’s plea challenging lower court order upholding clean chit to Modi

News:

  • The Gujarat High Court on Thursday, October 5 dismissed the plea of Zakia Jafri, wife of slain ex-MP Ehsan Jafri, callenging the Secial Ivestigation Team’s clean chit to Narendra Modi and others pertaining to “larger conspiracy” behind the 2002 riots in which more than 1000 people were massacred in Gujarat.

Beyond News:

  • The court upheld the magisterial court’s verdict, accepting the Supreme Court-appointed SIT’s closure report giving clean chit to the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and others, citing lack of “prosecutable evidence” against them.
  • However, the court has held that the petitioner Zakia, whose ex parliamentarian husband late Ehsan Jafri was among the 69 people massacred in Gulbarg society during the 2002 riots, can either approach the trial court or the Apex Court seeking reinvestigation into her allegations against the accused.

No Indian troops in Afghanistan because of Pak. considerations, says US

  • US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has said that India’s decision not to send its troops to Afghanistan was in view of Pakistan’s considerations as this would bring in new complexities in the region.

Open border trade between India, Pakistan

  • The defence secretary insisted that an open border trade between India and Pakistan would help in bringing regional stability.
  • Stability can follow economics as much as stability enables economics & they will eventually see that happen.
  • New Delhi has been generous over many years with Afghanistan.
  • Because of its very generous funding over the years, India has achieved a degree of affection from the Afghan people as a result.
  • Furthermore, they are providing training for Afghan military officers and NCOs at their schools.”

Rehabilitation of Soviet-era equipment

  • India, is willing to do rehabilitation of Soviet-era equipment until they are replaced with American. That will take years.
  • Furthermore, India has been providing and will continue to provide training for Afghan Army doctors and medics in the field so that the Afghan Army is able to take casualties and better sustain themselves thing, he said.
  • Mattis said there are many areas where India and the US are natural partners for each other.
  • The two countries,are deepening and broadening the military-to-military relationship.

Chinese troops still present in Doklam: Air Chief

  • China, held military exercises every year in summer and so their forces were closeby when the Doklam standoff happened.
  • The Air Chief said the possibility of a two-front war remains low but the Indian Air Force has adequate capability to tackle threats despite a shortage of fighter jets.
  • With Pakistan the IAF was more than matched while with China it was adequate.
  • Despite a shortage of fighter jets, the service had plan B to optimise the existing resources and was adequate to tackle any threats.
  • “By 2032, we will reach 42 squadrons. With whatever numbers we have, we are capable of executing operations as we speak,” he said.

VVPAT to be tested in State during Nanded civic poll

News:

  • The State Election Commission on Wednesday said Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines would be used in ward no. 2 during the elections on October 11 to the Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation (NWMC).

Beyond News:

  • VVPAT machines were used in all 40 Assembly constituencies in Goa during the elections held recently, in 33 Assembly segments in Punjab and for the Bawana bypoll in New Delhi.
  • Political parties, especially the Aam Adami Party (AAP), has been demanding VVPAT machines, which they say will bring in transparency.
  • In October 2013, the Supreme Court had directed the Election Commission of India (ECI) to begin using VVPAT machines in a phased manner in the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
  • To adhere to the SC order, the State Election Commission has introduced the machines for the Nanded civic polls.

General Studies-03

{Op-Ed}Steadying hand: On RBI’s monetary statement

  • The Reserve Bank of India’s Monetary Policy Committee has since inception retained its unwavering focus on its primary remit: the preservation of price stability.
  • It follows then that the central bank’s rate-setting panel opted to leave benchmark interest rates unchanged and retain a neutral stance to achieve the medium-term target of keeping Consumer Price Index inflation close to 4% on a durable basis, while supporting growth.
  • The uncertainty posed by the prospects of weaker-than-anticipated kharif crop output and the impact this may have on food prices, and the concerns agitating policymakers will be evident.

CPI inflation has risen by around two percentage points since the MPC’s last meeting in August: from 1.46% in June 2017, to a provisional 3.36% in August.

  • The overwhelming majority of the MPC’s six members saw little choice but to hold rates; there was a solitary dissent vote for a 25 basis points cut.
  • The RBI’s policymakers simultaneously raised their inflation projection for the second half of the current fiscal to a 4.2-4.6% range and cut the estimate for real Gross Value Added growth this year to 6.7%, from the August forecast of 7.3%.
  • Reiterating the urgent imperative to “reinvigorate investment activity” to spur growth, the MPC has laid the onus squarely on the government’s shoulders: from suggesting the recapitalisation of stressed state-owned lenders, to calling for further simplification of the GST regime and urging that stalled public sector investment projects be restarted.

Coal-fired projections: on the draft energy policy

  • The NITI Aayog’s Draft National Energy Policy (DNEP) predicts that between now and 2040, there will be a quantum leap in the uptake of renewable energy together with a drastic reduction in fossil fuel energy intensity.
  • Because of economic and population growth, India’s annual per-capita electricity consumption is expected to triple, from 1075 kWh in 2015-16 to over 2900 kWh in 2040.
  • The DNEP assumes 100% electrification throughout India in the near term — Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently announced that the government will invest $2.5 billion to provide electricity connections to every home in India by the end of 2018 — and steadily improving energy efficiency.
  • But the DNEP fails to consider several critical issues involved in the ongoing energy transition.

Based on coal

  • The DNEP does not say what would be the fate of new allottees of coal mines which have bid aggressively and won rights to mine coal for captive power generation.
  • Generation of power is licence free under the Electricity Act of 2003, so private miners do not need any licence to set up generating plants. All they need is a connection to the grid.
  • Since the grid is State-owned, the Central government has adequate leverage to defer or delay connections.
    In the past three years, with slow industrial growth, independent coal producers have been faced with reduced demand for their power.
  • The conventional power industry already suffers a high level of bank loan defaults, insolvency and other legal proceedings.

An electric future

  • The DNEP fails to highlight the gradual substitution of internal combustion engines with electric vehicles.
  • Several European nations have announced their plans to go for 100% electric vehicles in the next two decades.
  • This transformation in the automobile sector could be accompanied by grid- and consumer-level electricity storage at homes, offices and factories.
  • While storage and electric vehicles are cursorily mentioned, the DNEP does not focus on these crucial subjects.

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HINDU NOTES-OCT 4 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

HINDU NOTES-OCT 4 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

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General Studies-02

Can India protect Rohingya, SC asks govt.

Can india protect rohingyas

SC View point:

Can India protect a large section of humanity comprising Rohingya women, children, the sick and the old who are “really suffering”?This is the question the Supreme Court wants the government to answer.

Government view point:

  • The government said the crisis over its move to deport 40,000 Rohingya was not “justiciable”, that is, the issue outside the Supreme Court’s domain.
  • communication to all the States to identify Rohingya and aid in their deportation was based on certain “executive parameters” such as diplomatic concerns, on whether the country can sustain such an influx of refugees and geographically whether there would be tensions and threat to national security.
  • It denied saying all Rohingya were terrorists, but only “some of them”.

Rohingyas view point:

  • Senior advocate Fali Nariman, appearing for the Rohingya community, said the government “has gone out of sync” with its August 8 directive for deportation of Rohingya violating Article 14.
  • The government’s affidavit claiming the question of deportation of Rohingya was exclusively “within its subjective domain and not justiciable” makes “big inroads into what we thought our Constitution was.”
  • Mr. Nariman, who introduced himself as a refugee from British Burma, submitted that the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 protects all “persons,” including refugees who fled persecution in their native countries.
  • The obligation to grant asylum was universal.

Excise duty on petrol, diesel cut

News:

The government on Tuesday slashed the excise duty on petrol and diesel by Rs. 2 per litre, effective from October 4.

Beyond news:

  • The move comes days after senior Ministers defended the high tax levies on petroleum products.
  • According to official data, the retail selling prices (RSP) of petrol and diesel in Delhi rose to Rs. 70.88 per litre and Rs. 59.14 per litre respectively, on October 3, 2017.
  • These prices were Rs. 63.13 and Rs. 53.47, respectively, three months ago.

SC issues notice on donations to parties

  • The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and the Election Commission to respond to a petition challenging the various amendments made through Finance Act 2017 and Finance Act 2016 in various statutes, saying these changes have opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate and foreign donations to political parties.
  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra issued notice on the petition filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms and Common Cause seeking to strike down the amendments made to:
  1. the Companies Act,
  2. the Income Tax Act,
  3. the Representation of the People Act,
  4. the Reserve Bank of India Act and
  5. the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.
  • The petitioners, represented by Prashant Bhushan and Neha Rathi, said the amendments, introduced as money Bills, legitimise electoral corruption, while ensuring complete non-transparency in political funding.

Ministry of Health ranks first in Swachh Bharat initiative

  • The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been adjudged as the best department for its contribution during ‘Swachhta Pakhwada’, an inter-ministry initiative of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • The Ministry observed the Swachhta Pakhwada from February 1-15.
  • The award was presented on the third anniversary of the Mission on October 2.
  • “Swachhta Pakhwada was observed within the Ministry offices, in Central Government Hospitals, and in public health facilities in all the States/UTs,” noted a release issued by the Ministry.

India set to ink $4.5-bn credit deal with Bangladesh

News:

  • Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley arrived here on Tuesday ahead of India and Bangladesh signing the third line of credit (LoC) agreement involving $4.5 billion to be spent on infrastructure and social sector development.

Beyond News:

  • Two agreements for the implementation of the third LoC and the ‘Joint Interpretative Notes on the Agreement between India and Bangladesh for the Promotion and Protection of Investments’ would also be signed .
  • The two countries signed the first LoC in August 2010. The second one was inked in March, 2016.
  • Mr. Jaitley would call on the Bangladesh premier and inaugurate, along with his counterpart, a new scheme for cashless transactions in visa services run by the State Bank of India on behalf of the Indian High Commission here.

{Op-Ed}The cold facts.

Issue:
Ever since the influenza virus known as H1N1 landed on Indian shores during the 2009 pandemic, outbreaks have been an annual occurrence.

Background:

  • The worst case was in 2015, when 2,990 people succumbed to it.
  • This year the virus has been particularly active; mortality, at 1,873 by the last week of September, is quickly catching up with the 2015 toll.
  • In comparison, official figures show 2016 to be a relatively benign year, with an H1N1 death toll of 265. The problem with these official figures, however, is that they only capture H1N1 numbers, a practice that has been adopted in response to the severity of the 2009 pandemic.
  • But influenza was present in India even before 2009 in the form of H3N2 and Influenza B virus types.
  • Out of these, H3N2 is capable of causing outbreaks as big as H1N1, and yet India does not track H3N2 cases as extensively as it does H1N1.
  • This means that seemingly benign years such as 2016 may probably not be benign at all.

Inferences:

  • All this indicates that India’s surveillance systems are still poor and underestimate the influenza burden substantially.
  • If numbers are unsatisfactorily tracked, so are changes in the viral genome.
  • Sequencing is important because it can detect mutations in genetic material that help the virus evade human immune systems, making it more deadly.

Way ahead:

  • Vaccination is the best weapon that India has against this menace, because Oseltamivir, the antiviral commonly deployed against flu, is of doubtful efficacy unless administered early enough.
  • Yet, India has thus far stayed away from vaccinating even high-risk groups such as pregnant women and diabetics, because influenza is thought to be a more manageable public health challenge compared to mammoths such as tuberculosis.
  • Better surveillance of influenza will possibly change this perception by revealing the true scale of this public health issue.

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HINDU NOTES-OCT 3 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

HINDU NOTES-OCT 3 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

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General Studies-01

{Op-Ed}The numbers game: IMD forecast for farmers

Issue:

With the India Meteorological Department getting its monsoon forecast wrong this year, its modelling has necessarily come under the spotlight.

Background:

  • In April, the IMD had predicted “near normal”, or 96%, rains and then upgraded the figure to 98% a couple of months later.
  • These percentages refer to the proportion of rains to 89 cm, a 50-year average of monsoon rains.
  • However, the country finally ended up with “below normal” rains .

Current scenario:

  • Crop sowing is expected to be only a little less than last year, which saw a record harvest, with more districts posting deficient rain.
  • Better drought management has over the years weakened the link between rain shortfall and food production, but the IMD continues to persevere with the meaningless practice of assigning a catch-all number to the quantum of rain expected during the monsoon.

India Meteorological Department

Problems associated with IMD:

  • While a single number, 96 or 95, has the power to brand rainfall as “near” or “below” normal, the IMD never admits to being in error.
  • It relies on the security of generous error margins. Thus, a 98% forecast, say, implies a range from 94% to 102% and so could span “below normal” to “above normal”.
  • The IMD is increasingly relying on supercomputers and sophisticated models to warn of weather changes at the district level.
  • The fallout of focussing on numbers to gauge a phenomenon as geographically and quantitatively varied as the Indian monsoon is that it has ripple effects of tricking everyone from policymakers to the stock markets that a ‘normal’ monsoon implies all will be well with rainfall distribution.
  • These localised estimates aim to warn of threatening weather — and are operationally useful — rather than reduce rain to numerical jugglery. The IMD must give momentum to this shift.

Indian Monsoon pattern:

  • The Indian monsoon has over the centuries stayed remarkably consistent at around 89 cm during the monsoon months, give or take 10%.
  • The challenge lies in capturing intra-seasonal variation or forecasting a sudden change in global weather (such as typhoons) that can affect rainfall over specific districts.
  • While more and more farmers are opting for crop insurance and have far greater access — via mobile phones — to news on weather patterns, what they seek are localised, actionable inputs to guide them on sowing or harvesting decisions.

General Studies-02

SC questions Kerala HC annulment of Hindu-Muslim marriage

News:

After ordering a National Investigation Agency probe into the alleged conversion and marriage of a Hindu girl to a Muslim in Kerala, the Supreme Court on Monday turned around to question the very annulment of the inter-religious marriage by the Kerala High Court and the legality of the girl’s father keeping her in his custody for the past several months.

Beyond news:

  • A Bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud asked how the High Court, on May 24, annulled the marriage of a woman, who has reached the age of majority, while exercising writ jurisdiction under Article 226, which is used to challenge violations of fundamental rights, legal rights and other basic rights.
  • His recall petition requests the apex court to stop the NIA probe in light of subsequent events showing the girl converted of her own free will and she is being confined and “tortured” by her parents.
  • The chairperson of Kerala Women’s Commission, M.C. Josephine, indicating that there is “grave human rights violation in the case of the detenue (the girl) and that the commission is willing to act on a complaint”.
  • The application points out that the retired Supreme Court judge, Justice R.V. Raveendran, whom the Supreme Court had appointed to oversee the NIA investigation, has refused the assignment.
  • It said that in the light of Justice Raveendran’s refusal, the NIA probe should be stopped as it would not be a fair one.
  • It said that keeping the girl in custody against her will wherein she is not free to practice the religion she has chosen of her own free will is a clear violation of her fundamental rights,”

Police discount IS involvement despite claims

#NMI  -Not much important

News:

The barrage in Las Vegas from a 32nd-floor window in the Mandalay Bay hotel into a crowd of more than 40,000 people lasted several minutes, causing panic.

Beyond News:

  • The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the massacre, but U.S. officials expressed scepticism of that claim.
  • The death toll, which police emphasised was preliminary, eclipsed last year’s massacre of 49 people at an Orlando night club by a gunman who pledged allegiance to IS militants.
  •  In the past, the group has also claimed responsibility for attacks without providing evidence

General Studies-03

Three gravitational wave detecting scientists win 2017 Physics Nobel.

News:

  • The 2017 Nobel Physics Prize was divided, one half awarded to Rainer Weiss, the other half jointly to Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves”.

Beyond News:

  • Ripples in the fabric of space-time, first predicted a century ago by Albert Einstein, sparked a revolution in astrophysics when their first detection was announced in early 2016.
  • The teams involved in the discovery quickly emerged as favourites for the prize.
  • Triggered when super-dense black holes merge, the waves were detected using laser beams at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

Significance:

  • “The signal was extremely weak when it reached the Earth, but is already promising a revolution in astrophysics,”.
  • The waves detected by the laureates came from the collision of two black holes some 1.3 billion light years away. A light year is about 9.5 trillion km.

8 core sectors witness growth by 4.9% in August, highest since April

News:

  • Eight core sectors grew by 4.9% in August, the highest growth rate since April. This growth is on account of robust performance of coal, natural gas and electricity segments.

Beyond news:

  • The core sectors are—
  1. coal
  2. crude oil
  3. natural gas
  4. refinery products
  5. fertilisers
  6. steel
  7. cement
  8. electricity
  • The infrastructure growth was 2.6% in July.
  • The production of coal, natural gas and electricity rose by 15.3%, 4.2% and 10.3%.
  • The production growth of refinery products and steel slowed down to 2.4% and 3% in August, against 2.5% and 16.7% respectively in the same month last year.
  • Cumulatively, the eight core sectors in April-August recorded a growth rate of 3%, against 5.4% in the same period a year ago.
  • The healthy growth of key sectors would have positive implications on the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), as these segments account for about 41% to the total factory output.

{Op-Ed}The cost of electricity

Issue:

The value addition in charges of electricity from generator to consumer via several generators in between.

Issue in detail:

  • Electricity reaches a consumer through the grid.Laying a grid needs significant investment.
  • A distributor buys electricity from a generator, adds transmission and distribution charges, a charge to recover technical losses, operating expenses, and his profit to determine the tariff to be charged from a consumer.
  • Since several generators are connected to the grid, interaction with the grid and grid-management policies influence the working of a generator.

Current scenario:

  • At present, electricity markets do not assign any price to system effects, that is, to the complex interactions among various generators connected to the grid.
  • In recent years, a large capacity based on variable renewable energy (VRE) sources has been connected to the grid.These sources are intermittent, but get priority feed-in due to nil fuelling cost.
  • A grid manager must ensure that enough dispatchable generation capacity is connected to the grid to meet the peak load in the evening when solar power is not available.
  • Dispatchable generation is provided by baseload technologies like coal and nuclear, and by large hydropower.

In December 2016, the Central Electricity Authority issued a draft national electricity plan (DNEP), which refers to system effect and resulting system cost at several places.

Other costs:

  • Other costs include those arising from the influence of electricity generation on health, influence on existing generation capacity due to adding new capacity, cost of accidents, security of supplies and net energy gain for society.
  • In the Economic Survey 2016-17 (Volume 2),adds adds health costs, costs of intermittency, opportunity cost of land, cost of government incentives and cost arising from stranded assets.
  •  It estimates that the total social cost of renewable was ₹11 per kWh, around three times that of coal..

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General Studies-01

Yamuna in distress after immersions

News:

  • Government agencies in the national capital have failed the dying Yamuna yet again this year, as the nine-day-long Durga Puja festivities, which came to a halt on Saturday, left the river in dire straits.

Beyond News:

  • On the banks of south Delhi’s Kalindi Kunj Ghat and north Delhi’s Nigam Bodh Ghat, half submerged idols of Durga, most of them made of Plaster of Paris (PoP), were seen on Sunday.
  • A sea of plastic bags floating in river with glass bangles, flower petals and other decorations made of metal and plastic.

Legal interference: 

  • The green court had in 2015 placed a complete ban on the use of PoP and paints with high levels of lead for making idols, which are known to cause serious damage to the soil and water of the ecologically-sensitive area when immersed.
  • Guidelines were also issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2010 and by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), which have largely been unheeded.
  • Sanjay Upadhyay, a senior environment lawyer who raised the issue of the pollution caused by idol immersions in the Yamuna before the NGT in September, had made a special appeal before the court that a detailed action plan be filed by agencies — the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), three municipal corporations of the city (east, south and north), and the Delhi government — on how they would tackle the high influx of devotees to the ghats and check pollution.

General Studies-02

Let Ayodhya be melting pot, says Mahant Vedanti

News:

  • The Supreme Court’s suggestion in March for a consensual decision to end the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute involving all parties has set off some churn in the decades-old dispute, with a proposal to build an inter-faith Vishwadharmi Shriram Manavata Bhavan in Ayodhya.

Beyond News:

  • The Bhavan is proposed to be built on the disused 67-acre plot of land adjacent to the makeshift temple at Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya.
  • The proposal will be discussed at a conference to be held in New Delhi under the aegis of the World Peace Centre at Alandi in Maharashtra, headed by Vishwanath Karad (who has filed an intervention petition in the Ram Janmabhoomi case).
  • A scale model of the proposed inter-faith Bhavan will be on display at the Constitution Club in Delhi for public viewing during the conference.
  • The Shia Waqf Board had, in April, filed a 30-page affidavit saying that they were amenable to the construction of a mosque at a distance from the disputed site.

Police issue summons to 14 BHU students

News:

  • The Uttar Pradesh police have issued summons to more than a dozen students of the Banaras Hindu University involved in last week’s protests, citing various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including attempt to murder.

Beyond News:

  • An FIR had been lodged at the Lanka police station in Varanasi under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, including:
  1. 148(rioting with armed weapon),
  2. 307 (attempt to murder),
  3. 353 (criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of duties),
  4. 332 (voluntarily causing hurt) and
  5. 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house).

{Op-Ed}Back to paper: on using VVPAT in Gujarat polls

Issue:

  • The Election Commission’s decision to deploy the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail system for all the constituencies in the Gujarat Assembly elections is questionable.

VVPAT & voting machines

Background:

  • This will be the first time VVPAT will be used on a State-wide basis.
  • A costly but useful complement to the Electronic Voting Machine.
  • It had also challenged political parties to a hackathon to see if, with these safeguards in place, EVMs could be manipulated.

Concerns:

  • The implementation of VVPAT was to have been undertaken by the EC in a phased manner, but this blanket use appears to have been expedited after a series of unwarranted attacks on EVMs by some political parties and scaremongers.
  • The introduction of VVPAT and the audit process should allay some of the doubts raised by EVM naysayers — but this is a costly process and should not become the norm going forward.
  • The EC had sought to allay concerns and confront allegations of voter fraud by running through the administrative and technological safeguards instituted to keep EVMs and the voting process tamper-proof.

Advantages:

  • it allows the voter to verify her vote after registering it on the EVM,
  • the paper trail allows for an audit of the election results by the EC in a select and randomised number of constituencies.

General Studies-03

{Op-Ed} Maximum neglect: on Elphinstone stampede

Issue:

  • Mumbai’s ghastly suburban railway stampede, in which 23 people died after being crushed on a narrow staircase, was the inevitable consequence of prolonged neglect of urban public transport in India.

Background:

  • The financial capital depends mainly on the 300 km suburban system, which has some of the highest passenger densities for any city railway in the world. Yet, it has no single accountable manager.
  • It is unthinkable for a modern railway system to continue with business as usual when about 3,500 people die on its tracks in a year.

Solutions:

  1. Creating canopies to shield passengers, such as those crowding the staircase to escape the rain in Mumbai,
  2. putting in escalators and lifts,
  3. providing exits on both sides of train coaches towards the street level wherever feasible…etc

Challenges:

  • Reforming archaic transport planning and management for urban India remains the still bigger challenge.
  • A sound transport demand management strategy would consider mapping travel patterns, and shifting some institutions to areas in the wider Mumbai Metropolitan Region where infrastructure, including housing, and amenities can be planned in advance.
  • The latest carnage is evidence of the failure of civic policy to factor in the need for pedestrian access, and it applies not just to stations but to the wider city.
  • The number of private vehicles and taxis has grown in Mumbai by four and six times, respectively, over the past two decades, leading to lobbying for wider roads and more flyovers, while mass mobility systems and facilities for walkers and cycle-users have not received similar attention.

Way ahead:

The families of the dead and the injured should be given exemplary compensation, to reinforce the accountability of the railway administration.

Coal is still the secret of our energy

  • With India embarking on an ambitious journey to achieve renewable energy capacity of 175 gigawatt (GW) by 2022, questions have been raised on the relevance of coal in the present context.

Does coal, the principal source of energy for now, face a dark future?

  • According to analysts, renewable energy sources and coal will coexist, as the availability of coal is abundant in India and it can provide affordable power to propel India’s growth and light every household.
  • Despite the rapid growth in renewable energy, legacy coal plants will continue to generate thermal energy.
  • This is evident from the fact that captive power plants purchased 80% of the coal offered on a five-year contract at an auction at an average premium of 25% over the notified price.
  • At a similar auction held last year, Coal India had managed to receive a premium of 19% over the notified price.

In Indian context:

  • In India, coal has always been thought of as the raw material for power. Because the demand from the power sector was much more than the availability of coal in the last 10 years, no serious thought has gone into any other use for coal.
  • Once the power sector begins to use increasing amounts of power from solar and other renewable sources, then coal can be put to use elsewhere: eg, coal can be deployed in the manufacture of ammonia and for conversion of ammonia to fertilizer.
  • With the government’s plans to usher in a second green revolution, the demand for domestically-made fertilizer will be high.
  • Thoughts are being channelised now to come up with methods to produce chemicals such as methanol and others of its ilk from coal.
  • India’s total coal reserve is estimated at a little more than 300 billion tonnes. If 50% of that is extractable, a 1-billion-tonne annual consumption will translate into availability for 150 years.

Green energy may power Kochi water metro ferries

News:

  • The 78 ferries proposed for the Kochi water metro will make it the world’s second largest in terms of the number of vessels.

Beyond News:

  • The biggest fleet, comprising 156 ferries, operates in Venice.
  • A general consultant, which is reviewing the ₹747-crore project mooted as a water-based extension of the Kochi metro, will shortly suggest specifications for boats, jetties, and other components.
  • The first lot of modern ferries, including air-conditioned ones, is expected to take to Kochi’s waterbodies by the end of 2018, said sources in Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL).

Advantages:

  • The advantage is power can be drawn simultaneously from diesel and electric energy.
  • The diesel generator will step in if the vessel exhausts its electric power, they added.
  • The ferries will rely on an intelligent navigation system.
  • They will also have passenger information system, GPS tracking, on-board WiFi and surveillance systems, all monitored from an operational control centre.
  • There might even be provision to carry bicycles on board, to promote eco-friendly transport.

111 leopards spotted at tiger reserve

News:

  • In what is seen as a healthy sign of leopard population in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR), the Forest Department has identified and tagged 111 leopards through camera traps over a period of three years.

Beyond News:

  • These included a leopardess with her three cubs.
  • To promote conservation of the tiger, the Ministry of Environment and Forests is implementing ‘Project Tiger’ at the 50 tiger reserves in the country through the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
  • Tiger estimation is done through camera traps in association with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The STR — spread across 1,411.60sq.km. — has tigers, elephants, leopards, gaurs, blackbucks, four-horned antelopes, hyenas, wild dogs, white-backed vultures, deer and other animals.
  • As many as 320 camera traps were placed in the forest during the last three years to capture the images of tigers and other animals.
  • After profiling the images based on the unique skin rosette pattern, the department identified 111 leopards, including 35 male, 56 female and 20 unclassified leopards.

General Studies-04

Army veteran asked to prove Indian identity

News:

  • Mohammad Haque retired as a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) last year after serving the Army for 30 years, but that wasn’t a proof enough that he was Indian.

Beyond News:

  • Last month, he was issued summons by a foreigners tribunal in Assam to prove his identity.
  • It resulted in widespread outrage.
  • Mr. Haque who served in the Army’s Corps of Engineers was summoned by the foreigners tribunal to appear before it on October 13 as he figured in the list of “doubtful voters” and prove he is not an illegal migrant from Bangladesh.

Background:

  • This is not the first time he had to face such an ordeal.
  • In 2012, Mr. Haque’s wife Mumtaz Begum had a similar experience but was declared an Indian by the tribunal.
  • He has been summoned on the premise that he moved to India after 1971.
  • Mr. Haque said that he is a citizen of India and his mother Rahimon Nesa was in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) of 1951.
  • While he retired from the Army, one of his sons is studying at the Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC), Dehradun and wants to join the Army.

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General Studies-02

Will Swachh Bharat Abhiyan be a success?

swacch-bharat-mission

LEFTIST VIEW

  • The purpose of Swachh Bharat is still not clear.
  • We have to understand one thing: this entire campaign is to make India clean.
  • The society is making certain communities from particular castes clean the country
  • Those who make Bharat swachh will never be a part of the campaign.
  • Its just creating an illusion ;The success of illusion depends on how well it is promoted.
  • The Prime Minister has already missed the target before he set out to achieve the goal.
  • People coming with broom is just a photo opportunity for them.
  • The Constitution declaring the abolition of untouchability in Article 17,  still practise it by perpetuating occupations such as scavenging.
  • Every month, there is news about people dying in manholes after being ordered to clean them.
  • Cleaning India is not a spiritual experience and he should not glorify it.
  • In the Indian context, manual scavenging is a misery, drudgery, so one cannot worship it.
  • The cause has not been made clear by the Prime Minister

Rightist view

  • Swachhta (cleanliness) was an idea first articulated by Mahatma Gandhi.
  • According to hem, sanitation is even more important than political freedom.
  • A mission as fundamentally transformative as Swachh Bharat will not only result in intended physical outcomes but also a lifestyle and mindset change.

Five States have declared themselves Open Defecation Free (ODF) in rural areas: Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Uttarakhand and Haryana.

  • He is the first Prime Minister to have spoken of sanitation from the ramparts of the Red Fort.
  • In his scheme of things, sanitation is social transformation and is as, if not more, important than economic transformation.
  •  In the short span of three years, about 50 million toilets have been constructed in rural India, increasing the coverage from 39% to 69% now; another 3.8 million have sprung up in cities and towns and another 1.4 million are presently under construction.

CENTRE

  • The key problem with the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is that the government is primarily focussed on promotions and events of a repackaged scheme than its implementation.
  • The SBM was earlier known as the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan under the UPA government.
  • The overall ratings have gone down on three parameters in the World Bank report dated February 2, 2017:
  1. progress towards achievement of programme development objectives from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘moderately satisfactory’;
  2. overall implementation progress from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘moderately unsatisfactory’;
  3. overall risk rating from ‘nil’ to ‘substantial’.
  • For 2017-18, the government has allocated ₹13,948 crore for the Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) project; for the Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) project, the allocation was merely ₹2,300 crore.
  • The focus of the SBM-G should be on behavioral change; the guidelines also require that 8% of the funds be allocated for information, education and communication activities..

General Studies-03

In undated audio, Baghdadi urges Islamic State militants to keep fighting

  • Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi exhorted followers on September 29 to stand fast and keep fighting in his first purported audio communication in almost a year during which his jihadist group lost much of its self-proclaimed “caliphate”.
  • The audio, partly dedicated to religious scriptures, came after several reports Baghdadi had been killed. His last recording was in November 2016, two weeks after the start of the battle to recapture the city of Mosul from Islamic State (IS).
  • The date of the 46-minute recording, released via the al-Furqan news organisation, was not clear.
  • But in it, Baghdadi makes an apparent reference to recent events including North Korean threats against Japan and United States and the recapture two months ago of Mosul by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces.
  • The U.S. State Department said it’s not in a position to confirm the authenticity of the recording.

‘Cards may land banks with a ₹3,800 cr. hole’

  • The Centre’s digital payments push, mainly card payments through PoS machines, may leave already capital starved banks bleeding by ₹3,800 crore annually, warns a report.
  • After November’s note-ban, the government has pushed banks into deploying millions of point-of-sale (PoS) machines to encourage online payments.
  • This has resulted in increase in debit plus credit cards transactions at PoS from ₹51,900 crore in October 2016 to ₹68,500 crore in July 2017.

NIA focus on 32 Kerala ‘conversions’

News:

  • The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said it was scrutinising over 30 cases in Kerala where Hindu women were allegedly lured, forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men.

Beyond News:

  • NIA had asked the Kerala police for details of forced conversions at Therbiyathul Islam Sabha in Kozhikode, a religious centre authorised by the Kerala government.
  • An NIA official said the State police sent the details of 92 cases but in the initial phase, the agency was concentrating only on 32 cases, which involved Hindu women.
  • Supreme Court had last month asked the federal anti-terror agency to investigate the case of Akhila Asokan alias Hadiya, a 25-year-old Hindu woman, who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man.
  • Akhila’s parents had moved the Kerala High Court in 2016 alleging that she was radicalised and converted to Islam and forcibly married to a Muslim man.
  • The High Court annulled the marriage and Akhila’s husband Shafin Jahan moved the Supreme Court, which in turn asked the NIA to investigate the ‘love jihad’ case.

[Op-Ed]Hope in Darjeeling — On end of blockade

Back ground:

The announcement on ending the bandhcame from Bimal Gurung of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, led the agitation

  • With a breakthrough ending the 104-day-long blockade in the Darjeeling hills, the Union and West Bengal governments must move forthwith to consolidate the ‘truce’ and address the setback to livelihoods and the local economy suffered over this period.

The blockade had severely hit life in the hill districts, and it is clear that local support for the agitation was waning.

Current situation:

  • The Minister did not commit to “tripartite talks” on the separate statehood issue as demanded by the GJM, he promised discussions on other issues while impliedly recognizing the leadership of the official faction.
  • The current impasse is a direct outcome of the failure to substantively devolve power to the GTA as promised.
  • The State government has suggested that it is not averse to tripartite talks over some of the GJM’s demands, but it is not clear whether Ms. Banerjee will agree to talk to Mr. Gurung. Talks involving the Centre, the State government and the GJM are, however, essential.
  • This is the best mechanism to discuss the empowerment of the GTA, which is necessary to address the grievances of the residents of Darjeeling.

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General Studies-02

China orders North Korean business on its soil closed under UN curbs

News:

  • China on Thursday ordered North Korean-owned businesses on its soil to close, cutting foreign revenue for the isolated North under U.N. sanctions imposed over its nuclear and missile programs.

Beyond news:

  • China is North Korea’s main trading partner, making Beijing’s cooperation essential to the success of sanctions aimed at stopping the North’s pursuit of weapons technology.
  • China, long North Korea’s diplomatic protector, has gone along with the latest penalties out of growing frustration with leader Kim Jong Un’s government.
  • North Korean businesses and ventures with Chinese partners must close within 120 days of the U.N. Security Council’s September 11 approval of the latest sanctions, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Proposal made to swap Kulbhushan Jadhav for terrorist: Pakistan Foreign Minister.

News:

Pakistan received a proposal to swap Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav for a terrorist who carried out the horrific 2014 Peshawar school attack and is now jailed in Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Khwaja Muhammad Asif has claimed.

Beyond News:

  • There is no mention to the name of the terrorist and the National Security Advisor who made the proposal.
  • Mr. Jadhav, a 46-year-old retired Indian Navy officer, was sentenced to death by Pakistan’s Field General Court Martial in April for his alleged “involvement in espionage and sabotage activities” against Pakistan.
  • India has accused Pakistan of violating the Vienna Convention by repeatedly denying consular access to Mr. Jadhav.
  • In a hearing of the case on May 18, a 10-member bench of the Inyernational Court of Justice (ICJ) restrained Pakistan from executing Mr. Jadhav.
  • Pakistan has said the Indian national would not be executed until he has exhausted his mercy appeals.
  • The Pakistan Taliban had claimed responsibility for the gruesome Peshawar school attack in 2014 in which nearly 150 people, mostly school children, were killed.

BHU appoints its first woman chief proctor

News:

  • Chief Proctor of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) O.N. Singh resigned late on Tuesday, taking “moral responsibility” for the lathi charge on students demanding justice for a colleague who was molested on the campus.

Beyond news:

  • The incidents on the campus over the last few days has raised questions on the safety of women students in one of Asia’s largest residential campuses.
  • The BHU is spread over a sprawling 1,360 acres.
  • Vehicular movement around hostels will now be restricted and better lighting will be provided at night.
  • CCTV cameras will be installed at sensitive places within the campus and a mechanism for checking of vehicles will also be implemented.
  • Women guards will soon be deployed in girls’ hostels while a committee will be formed at the hostel level to provide suggestions to the administration on the safety demands and other necessary issues faced by those staying in the hostels.
  • A dedicated helpline number will also be started.

{Op-Ed}Falling off the health-care radar

Key aspect:

  • The National Health Policy (NHP), 2017 is unable to see the wood for the trees. Life and death questions are dealt with perfunctorily or simply overlooked.

For example, it overlooks the rapid rise in the share of the old (60 years or more), and associated morbidities, especially sharply rising non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and disabilities. With rising age, numerous physiological changes occur and the risk of chronic diseases rises. The co-occurrence of chronic diseases and disability elevates the risk of mortality.

Loneliness & isolation:

  • Loneliness is a perceived isolation that manifests in the distressing feeling that accompanies discrepancies between one’s desired and actual social relationships.
  • The link between loneliness and mortality is mediated by unhealthy behaviours and morbidity.
  • The fact that loneliness predicts health outcomes even if health behaviours are unchanged suggests that loneliness alters physiology at a more fundamental level.
  • Research shows that loneliness increases vascular resistance and diminishes immunity.

From a policy perspective, health systems have to be configured to deal with not one NCD but multiple NCDs to manage them better. The impact of multi-morbidity on an old person’s capacity, health-care utilisation and the costs of care are significantly larger than the summed effects of each. Besides, the reconfigured medical system must be complemented by stronger family ties and social networks. This is not as Utopian as it may seem as examples of such complementarities abound.

General Studies-03

{op-Ed}Policy flip-flops risk harming ‘Make in India’ drive.

 

  • General Electric has warned the Indian government it risks losing jobs and having to pay “substantial” penalties if it follows through on a threat to cancel a $2.6bn contract for railway engines.

Key aspect :

  • Surprise policy shifts, such as an apparent U-turn over a locomotive deal with General Electric (GE), risk undermining Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship ‘Make in India’ initiative, which aims to create millions of jobs and boost growth.

About GE:

  • GE won the $2.6 billion contract in 2015 to supply 1,000 diesel locomotives — the biggest direct investment in India by a U.S. firm and the first deal awarded to a foreign firm after India allowed 100 per cent foreign investment in railways – part of efforts to overhaul its creaking, colonial-era infrastructure.

Railway ministries stand:

  • Railway Ministry said last week that it wouldn’t need diesel after all — hoping to save on fuel and maintenance costs — and suggested GE might want to make electric engines instead.
  • Electric engines are usually used for passenger trains, while diesel is used for freight. Around 25-30 percent of India’s locomotives are diesel-engined.

immediate impact:

  • The policy shift could cost New Delhi in compensation – GE is already building a factory for the diesel locos – but executives and investors say it is also an important test for a government that needs foreign investment to create jobs and reboot growth ahead of a 2019 general election.
  • GE has already shipped its first diesel locomotive to India and is completing the factory.
  • It has created around 1,000 jobs at the plant and a maintenance shed, and 5,000 jobs in the supplier network.

The way the wind blows

  • Over the past few months, two seemingly conflicting developments have emerged around wind energy in Tamil Nadu.
  1. The first is a milestone for the wind energy sector in the State. On July 11, the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) evacuated more than 5,000 MW of wind power, replacing almost 1,000 MW of thermal power and operating several other plants at half capacity. Wind power accounted for almost a third of the State’s electricity demand that day.
  2. Second revolves around the bleak market sentiment for wind developers in the State and across the country. In February this year, India took baby steps towards discovering wind energy tariffs through auctions rather than feed-in tariffs fixed by regulatory commissions.
  • Under the first auctions held for 1,000 MW, wind prices fell to a new low at 3.46 per unit from the previous low of 4.16 per unit fixed by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission.
  • Tamil Nadu recently announced its plans to procure 500 MW through auctions with a base price of 3.46 per unit, but the wind energy companies filed a petition with the Madras High Court opposing the move since they felt that it would cut into their profit margins.
  • The court allowed Tangedco to go ahead with the auctions, which led to another record low price of ₹3.42 per unit.

CCS clears internal security scheme

News:

  • The Union Cabinet has approved a ₹25,000-crore internal security scheme to strengthen the country’s law and order mechanism and mordernise the police forces, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Wednesday.

Beyond news:

  • The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its approval for the implementation of the umbrella scheme, Modernisation of Police Forces (MPF), for 2017-18 to 2019-20.
  • A Central budget outlay of ₹10,132 crore had been earmarked for internal security-related expenditure for Jammu and Kashmir, northeastern States and those affected by left wing extremism (LWE).
  • A scheme for special Central assistance (SCA) for 35 districts worst hit by LWE had been introduced with an outlay of ₹3,000 crore to tackle the issue of underdevelopment.
  • An outlay of ₹100 crore had been earmarked for police infrastructure upgradation, training institutes, investigation facilities, etc. in the northeastern States.

General Studies-04

Bajrang Dal prevents marriage of Hindu girl with Muslim boy in Meerut

News:

  • Workers of the Bajrang Dal on Wednesday prevented the marriage of a Hindu girl with a Muslim boy in Meerut on Wednesday.

Beyond news:

  • They accused the police of facilitating ”love jihad.”
  • The Meerut incident comes four days after a similar one in Hapur, where sangh parivar workers tried to assault Shoeb Alam and Vidya who got married and were living together in Dev Lok Colony.
  • The police told the Hindutva activists that it was not a case of “love jihad” as Vidya married Shoeb out of her own will and was living with him willingly.

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HINDU NOTES-SEPT 27 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

HINDU NOTES-SEPT 27 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

Current affairs, Daily Capsule, Daily challenge, hindu notes, The Hindu Notes, UPSC exam

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General Studies-02

Anti-superstition Bill gets Karnataka Cabinet nod

News:

  • The Karnataka Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the much-delayed and debated Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifices and other Inhuman Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017, popularly known as the Anti-Superstition Bill.

Beyond News:

  • The Bill has proposed to ban made snana (rolling over banana leaves with food left over by Brahmins) at Kukke Subrahmanya temple in Dakshina Kannada district.
  • However, it has not banned astrology or vaastu.
  • The Bill has been drafted on the lines of the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifices and Other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013.
  • It has provisions to deal strongly with cruel practices, such as human sacrifice, witchcraft, exorcism, parading women in the naked, and sexual exploitation by invoking supernatural powers.

In major police modernisation scheme, Centre to give big support to States

News:

  • The Union government will support the States under a new umbrella police modernisation scheme for three years until 2019-20 and ₹25,060 crore will be allocated for this programme.

Beyond News:

  • The Centre will provide 80% of the financing and the State the rest.
  • This decision, will take forward internal security, law and order, women’s safety, modern weapons’ procurement, logistics support, hiring of helicopters, upgrade of police wireless, national supply network and e-prison project.
  • It will cover the northeastern States, Jammu and Kashmir and Left-wing extremism affected States.

[Op-Ed] Power problem — On Saubhagya scheme

  • The Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, or the ‘Saubhagya’ scheme, launched by Mr. Modi aims to make electricity accessible to every household by the end of 2018.
  • Under the scheme, expected to cost a little over ₹16,000 crore, poor households that have no access to electricity will be provided electricity connections free of cost.
  • This builds on previous work carried out under the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana launched in 2015, and the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana launched by the UPA government in 2005, both of which also aimed to provide free electricity connections to the poor.
  • In particular, it hopes to improve electricity access within villages that are already classified as “electrified”, according to the criterion that 10% of households enjoy access to electricity.

However, the Saubhagya scheme does very little to address the real problem of affordability.

  • The plant load factor (PLF) of coal and lignite-based plants, an indicator of capacity utilisation of power generation units, has dropped consistently over the decade from 77.5% in 2009-10 to 59.88% in 2016-17, according to data from the Central Electricity Authority.
  • This is due to demand for electricity from State distribution companies dropping in tandem with their deteriorating financial status.
  • The Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana (UDAY), introduced two years ago to restructure the debt of State distribution agencies, has failed to make enough of a difference to this state of affairs.
  • This in turn holds back investment in power generation units. Saubhagya, unfortunately, does very little to address the fundamentals of India’s crippling power problem.

Air India ties up with PNB, IndusInd for ₹ 3,250 cr loan

News:

  • Air India has tied up with public sector lender Punjab National Bank and private lender IndusInd to secure loans to the tune of over ₹3,000 crore for meeting working capital requirements.

Beyond news:

  • Earlier this month, the disinvestment-bound Air India had floated tenders for availing government guarantee backed INR short-term loans totalling up to ₹3,250 crore in the first phase to meet its urgent working capital.
  • Banks were asked to submit their financial bids by September 19, indicating the amount of government-guaranteed short-term loans they were willing to offer.

General Studies-03

Army carries out operation against Naga rebels near Myanmar border.

News:

  • The Indian Army has inflicted heavy casualties on NSCN(K) cadres in an operation close to the Myanmar border, the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command has said.

Beyond News:

  • In tweets, the Command said the Army suffered no casualties in the operation against the Naga militant group.
  • The firefight started in the early hours of Wednesday, when an Army patrol was moving along the border with Myanmar.
  • In June 2015, Indian troops crossed over into Myanmar to carry out a surgical strike against NSCN(K), a few days after 18 Army jawans were killed by the militant group in Chandel district of Manipur.

C.N.R Rao chosen for international honour for materials research

News:

  • Eminent scientist, Professor C.N.R Rao, has become the first Asian to be chosen for the prestigious Von Hippel Award for his immense contribution in materials research.

Beyond News:

  • The award is the US-based Materials Research Society’s (MRS) highest honour.
  • Mr. Rao’s immense work were on novel functional materials, including nano materials (having particles of nano scale dimensions), graphene (the strongest and thinnest material) and 2D materials, superconductivity, and colossal magneto resistance (change in electrical resistance of a material in a magnetic field).

These bold key words becomes significant. Go through it in detail.

A step closer to treating oral cancer without surgery

News:

  • Researchers in Mumbai have moved a step closer to treating surface tumors such as oral, breast and cervical cancer and other tumors such melanoma and colon cancer through photo thermal ablation using gold-polymer nano particles and near infrared light.

Beyond News:

  • The researchers from Mumbai’s Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and Tata Memorial Centre have synthesised hybrid polymer-gold nano particles as photo thermal agent to ablate solid tumors.

Key finding:

  • The near infrared light heats up the nano particles and the heated nano particles, in turn, can kill the cancer cells.
  • Unlike other agents tried out by others, the hybrid nano-particles used by the Mumbai team has no toxicity, is biodegradable and gets cleared from the body through urine.
  • The team used a thermoresponsive polymer (poly(N-vinyl caprolactam)) nanoshell which can be loaded with an anticancer drug.
  • The polymer nano-shell is coated with gold nano-particles.
  • Besides killing the cancer cells through thermal ablation, the polymer degrades at about 43 degree C and releases the drug to completely kill the tumor.
  • Cancer cells get killed above 42 degree C.

Dino-killing asteroid’s impact on bird evolution

Dinosaur killing asteroid impact (1)

  • Human activities could change the pace of evolution, similar to what occurred 66 million years ago when a giant asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs, leaving modern birds as their only descendants.
  • That’s one conclusion drawn by the authors of a new study published in Systematic Biology.
  • Jacob Berv from Cornell University and Daniel Field from University of Bath suggest that the meteor-induced mass extinction (a.k.a. the K-Pg event) led to acceleration in the rate of genetic evolution among its avian survivors.
  • These survivors may have been much smaller than their pre-extinction relatives.

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HINDU NOTES-SEPT 26 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

HINDU NOTES-SEPT 26 2017 [UPSC Current affairs DAILY CAPSULE]

Current affairs, Daily Capsule, Daily challenge, hindu notes, The Hindu Notes

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General Studies-02

PM launches ‘Saubhagya’ plan for household electrification

  • It is Rs. 16,000 crore scheme, Saubhagya, under which households across the country that have no access to electricity, will be given power connections free of cost.
  • Under the PM Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana (Saubhagya), every household in the country, whether it is in a village or a city or in a far-flung area, will be given an electricity connection.
  • No price will be charged for the poor to get an electricity connection, and the government will go to their houses to give them the connection.

SC refuses more time for medical admissions

News: 

  • The Supreme Court has refused to extend the deadline for filling up vacant seats in medical super-speciality, post-graduate and MBBS courses.

Beyond News:

  • A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra refused to extend the September 14 time limit, especially in the case of super-speciality courses.
  • In a four-page order on September 22, the Bench referred to the apprehensions raised in the various pleas that many seats remained vacant and there was a need to extend the date for admissions.
  • Court dismissed the pleas, saying the concern voiced in them “travels from rational sphere to emotional sphere.”
  • It acknowledged the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) stand that discipline was essential in academic admission matters and any extension would result in chaos.
  • Ineligible students would benefit from such confusion, leaving the worthy ones in dire straits.

Who were behind this?

  • Among the applications was one by 23 doctors from various parts of the country seeking an extended round of counselling for the candidates who had qualified in the NEET-SS examination to fill up vacant seats available in government and private medical colleges.

What is NEET SS?

  • NEET-SS is an eligibility-cum-ranking examination prescribed as the single entrance examination to various DM/M.Ch. courses under the Indian Medical Council (Amendment) Act, 2016.

India, S. Korea to upgrade FTA at ‘earliest’

  • Even as the India-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will be expanded soon to boost bilateral trade and investment, New Delhi has voiced concerns about the low utilisation of the FTA by India due to the ‘complicated’ provisions in the pact as well as South Korea’s regulations.
  • The recent bilateral talks in Seoul saw India cite the difficulties being faced by its English teachers in getting permission to teach in South Korea.
  • Indian English language teachers should be getting opportunities to teach in primary and secondary schools in South Korea, this is not being implemented effectively in practice.
  • This is because the ‘English Program in Korea’ (EPIK) stipulates that those eligible to teach English in South Korea must “be a citizen of a country where English is the primary language.”

General Studies-03

Solving food challenges with more research

  •  According to estimates, the global population is likely to exceed 9 billion by 2050, with 5 billion people in Asia alone.
  • The capacity to produce enough quality food is falling behind human numbers.
  • Food production in the region must keep pace, even as environment sustainability and economic development are ensured.

Solutions for these scenario:

  • The answer to these challenges lies in research for sustainable development.
  • As the second goal of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals says: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.”
  • India’s fivefold increase in grain production over the past 50 years is largely the result of strong scientific research that has focussed on high-yielding crop varieties, better agronomic practices, and pro-farmer policies.

However, India continues to face challenges such as food insecurity and malnutrition, particularly in rural areas.

Worrying downgrade

Snow leopard downgraded from endangered to vulnerable

Snow-leopard -endangered

  • The elusive and charismatic snow leopard has lost its endangered status in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, causing genuine worry among wildlife biologists, who believe this sends out the wrong signal to those working to protect it.
  • If the argument for a downgrade to vulnerable status from endangered is that conservation actions have reduced the threat to the cat in its remote habitat in the alpine zones of the Himalayas and trans-Himalayas.

Projects:

  • India has worked to protect these animals, and even launched a programme on the lines of Project Tiger for its conservation, covering 128,757 sq. km of habitat in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • An insurance programme in which residents of a part of Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh participated also worked well.
  • There is also an upcoming international collaborative effort, the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program, involving the countries that make up the range of this graceful animal.

It is vital that this momentum should not be lost merely on account of the technicality that the estimated numbers have crossed the threshold for an ‘endangered’ classification, which is 2,500.

Concerns: 

  • It would be a disservice to conservation if governments shift their focus away from the big challenges to the snow leopard’s future: trafficking in live animals in Central Asia, and hostility from communities because of its attacks on livestock.
  •  New research indicates that even when wild prey is available, the attacks on livestock by snow leopards have cumulatively been on the rise.
  • A more fundamental worry is over the likely loss of habitat owing to changing climate patterns.

its recommended to go through various IUCN List & animals from india in those categories. We will provide a detailed article regarding this at the earliest.

Removing toxic metals from tannery waste

News:

  • Removing hexavalent chromium from industrial effluents, particularly untreated tannery waste, will become easier and more efficient by the work of a team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (CSIR-IICB), Kolkata.

Beyond News: 

  • The heat-dried fungal biomass converts Cr(VI) — which is neurotoxic, genotoxic and a carcinogen — to a non-toxic trivalent form of chromium, thus eliminating the problems of disposing Cr(VI)-containing waste.
  • Cr(VI) is found in very high concentration in tannery waste.
  • In experiments carried out in the lab using potassium dichromate solution, the adsorption capacity of the biomass was found to be as high as over 100 mg per gram of dry weight.
  • In the case of untreated tannery waste, the fungal biomass was able to remove over 70% of Cr(VI).
  • It can also remove other toxic metals such as lead and arsenic, which are normally found in tannery waste.

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