Anti-superstition Bill gets Karnataka Cabinet nod
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
Army carries out operation against Naga rebels near Myanmar border.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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).
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A step closer to treating oral cancer without surgery
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.