04, April 2018

  1. Icarus- farthest star

Source: The Hindu

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has discovered the farthest individual star ever seen — an enormous blue stellar body nicknamed Icarus located over halfway across the universe.

Key facts:

  • The star, harboured in a very distant spiral galaxy, is so far away that its light has taken nine billion years to reach Earth. It appears to us as it did when the universe was about 30% of its current age.
  • The star, located in a distant spiral galaxy, is at least 100 times further away than any other star previously observed, with the exception of things like the huge supernova explosions that mark the death of certain stars.

Gravitational lensing:

  • The scientists took advantage of a phenomenon called ”gravitational lensing” to spot the star.
  • It involves the bending of light by massive galaxy clusters in the line of sight, which magnifies more distant celestial objects. This makes dim, faraway objects that otherwise would be undetectable, like an individual star, visible.

Significance of this discovery:

  • These observations by astronomers from NASA provide a rare and detailed look at how stars evolve, especially the most luminous stars. Detecting the amplification of a single and pinpoint background star has provided a unique opportunity to test the nature of dark matter in the cluster.

Hubble Space Telescope:

  • The Hubble Space Telescope is a large telescope in space. NASA launched Hubble in 1990.
  • It was built by the United States space agency NASA, with contributions from the European Space Agency.
  • Hubble is the only telescope designed to be serviced in space by astronauts.
  • Expanding the frontiers of the visible Universe, the Hubble Space Telescope looks deep into space with cameras that can see across the entire optical spectrum from infrared to ultraviolet.

  1. ‘one candidate, one seat’

Source: The Hindu

The Election Commission has told the Supreme Court that it supports the proposal to allow one candidate to contest from only one constituency in an election. The EC expressed this view in an affidavit it filed in the petition over the matter.

Background:

  • The Supreme Court had in December 2017 issued notices seeking replies from the Election Commission and the Centre on the issue. At the time, the Supreme Court had said the practice of one candidate contesting multiple seats was a drain on the exchequer since it necessitated by polls.
  • A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging Section 33(7) of the Representation of the People Act of 1951 that allows a person to contest elections to Parliament and state assemblies from two constituencies and sought an end to the practice.

Issues:

  • Political parties across the country field senior leaders from more than one seat in a bid to ensure victory. If they win from multiple seats, these leader are then required to vacate other seats and continue to hold only one. This means a general election is usually followed closely by a bye-election to the seats that have been vacated.

Section 33(7) of RPA:

  • Section 33(7) of the Representation of People’s Act permits a candidate to contest any election (Parliamentary, State Assembly, Biennial Council, or bye-elections) from up to two constituencies. The provision was introduced in 1996 prior to which there was no bar on the number of constituencies from which a candidate could contest.

Why candidates should be barred from contesting from more than one seat?

  • One person, one vote & one candidate, one constituency is the dictum of democracy. However, as per the law, as it stands today, a person can contest the election for the same office from two constituencies simultaneously.
  • When a candidate contests from two seats, it is imperative that he has to vacate one of the two seats if he wins both. This, apart from the consequent unavoidable financial burden on the public exchequer, government manpower and other resources for holding bye-election is also an injustice to the voters of the constituency which the candidate is quitting from.

Alternative suggested by the Election commission:

  • The ECI has alternatively suggested that if existing provisions are retained then the candidate contesting from two seats should bear the cost of the bye-election to the seat that the contestant decides to vacate in the event of his/her winning both seats. The amount in such an event could be Rs 5 lakh for assembly election and Rs 10 lakh for parliament election.

  1. NIRF

Source: The Hindu

The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) outlines a methodology to rank institutions across the country.

  • The parameters for ranking broadly cover “Teaching, Learning and Resources,” “Research and Professional Practices,” “Graduation Outcomes,” “Outreach and Inclusivity,” and “Perception”.
  • The 2018 rankings include nine different categories-overall, universities, engineering, colleges, management, pharmacy, medical, architecture, and law. Out of which sections like medical, architecture and law have been introduced this year.
  • Ranking promotes competition among the Universities and drive them to strive for excellence. The rankings assume significance as performance of institutions has been linked with “Institutions of Eminence” scheme.

Institutions of Eminence scheme:

  • The institutes of eminence scheme under the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry aims to project Indian institutes to global recognition.
  • The 20 selected institutes will enjoy complete academic and administrative autonomy.
  • The government will run 10 of these and they will receive special funding.
  • The selection shall be made through challenge method mode by the Empowered Expert Committee constituted for the purpose.
  • Only higher education institutions currently placed in the top 500 of global rankings or top 50 of the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) are eligible to apply for the eminence tag.
  • The private Institutions of Eminence can also come up as greenfield ventures provided the sponsoring organisation submits a convincing perspective plan for 15 years.

  1. SC/ST Atrocities Act

Source: The Hindu

The government has filed a petition seeking review of the Supreme Court order diluting the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which protects marginalised communities against discrimination and atrocities.

Issues

  • On March 20, the Supreme Court banned automatic arrests and registration of criminal cases under the SC/ST Act, triggering widespread criticism and outcry from the dalit community.
  • The apex court said public servants can’t be prosecuted without the approval of the appointing authority, and private citizens too should be arrested only after an inquiry under the law.
  • It further ruled that preliminary inquiry in a case under the Act would be conducted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police to ensure the allegations are not frivolous.
  • The amendment in the law was a bid to protect honest public servants discharging bona fide duties from being blackmailed with false cases under the Act.

What’s the concern now?

  • Dalit organisations and some political parties fear the dilution of the provisions of the Act might lead to increase in violence against Dalits.

SC/ST Act:

  • The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is popularly known as POA, the SC/ST Act, the Prevention of Atrocities Act, or simply the Atrocities Act. The SC/ST Act was enacted on September 9, 1989. The rules for the Act were notified on March 31, 1995.
  • The SC/ST Act lists 22 offences relating to various patterns or behaviours inflicting criminal offences and breaking the self-respect and esteem of the scheduled castes and tribes community. This includes denial of economic, democratic and social rights, discrimination, exploitation and abuse of the legal process.
  • According to the SC/ST Act, the protection is provided from social disabilities such as denial of access to certain places and to use customary passage, personal atrocities like forceful drinking or eating of inedible food sexual exploitation, injury etc, atrocities affecting properties, malicious prosecution, political disabilities and economic exploitation.
  • For speedy trial, Section 14 of the SC/ST Act provides for a Court of Session to be a Special Court to try offences under this Act in each district.
  • The prime objective of the SC/ST Act is to deliver justice to marginalised through proactive efforts, giving them a life of dignity, self-esteem and a life without fear, violence or suppression from the dominant castes.

  1. Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)

Source: The Hindu

The world’s chemical watchdog is meeting after a British laboratory said it had not proved that Russia manufactured a deadly nerve agent used to poison a former Russian spy.

The talks at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have been requested by Moscow which said it wanted to “address the situation around the allegations in regards to the incident in Salisbury.”

OPCW:

  • The OPCW is an independent, autonomous international organisation with a working relationship with the United Nations.
  • The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997.
  • As of today OPCW has 192 Member States, who are working together to achieve a world free of chemical weapons.
  • The organisation was awarded the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize “for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons”.

The OPCW Member States share the collective goal of preventing chemistry from ever again being used for warfare, thereby strengthening international security. To this end, the Convention contains four key provisions:

  • Destroying all existing chemical weapons under international verification by the OPCW.
  • Monitoring chemical industry to prevent new weapons from re-emerging.
  • Providing assistance and protection to States Parties against chemical threats.
  • Fostering international cooperation to strengthen implementation of the Convention and promote the peaceful use of chemistry.



Leave a Reply