09 , March 2018

1.‘SUVIDHA’-100% Oxo-biodegradable Sanitary Napkin – under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP)
Source : PIB

Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers and Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Ananthkumar announced the launch of ‘Suvidha’, the 100% Oxo-biodegradable Sanitary Napkin, under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP). The affordable sanitary napkin will be available for Rs. 2.50 per padat over 3200 Janaushadhi Kendrasacross India and would ensure ‘Swachhta, Swasthya and Suvidha’for the underprivileged Women of India.

SUVIDHA napkins would be physically available at all Janaushadhi Kendras in the country by May 28, 2018 – World Menstrual Hygiene Day

Unhygienic aids cause fungal infections, Reproductive Tract Infection, Urinary TractInfection, Cervical cancer and also make women vulnerable to infertility. Moreover, the disposal of non-biodegradable sanitary napkins available today creates a huge environmental problem. The 100% biodegradable SUVIDHA napkin would ensure Swachhta.

‘Oxo-biodegradable’ is a special additive is added in the SUVIDHA napkin which makes it biodegradable when it reacts with oxygen after it is used and discarded.

2.Udyam Sakhi Portal Launched for Women Entrepreneurs
Source : PIB

The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(MSME) launched a portal for women entrepreneursof India: www.udyamsakhi.org.

The portal is a network for nurturing entrepreneurship and creating business models for low cost products and services in order to empower women and make them self-reliant and self-sufficient.

The portal provides assistance through its platform for entrepreneurship learning tools, incubation facility,training programs for fund raising, providing mentors, one-on-one investor meet, provide market survey facility and technical assistance.

3.I – Metros’ -an association of all Indian Metro Rail companies
Source : PIB

I-METROS”, an association of all Indian Metro Rail companies was launched at the Conference on “Indian Metros: Collaborating for Excellence” held at Metro Bhawanhere . The platform will be a forum for exchange of ideas, pooling of knowledge and sharing of experience, best practices, innovations etc. among the Indian Metro Rail companies to nurture excellence in performance.

The journey of the Delhi Metro and said that Delhi Metro has been a real success story which has set benchmarks for othermetro organisations in the country.

I- METROS:

  • “I-Metros” is proposed to be a platform to provide a forum for exchange of ideas, pooling of knowledge and sharing of experience, best practices, innovations etc. among the Indian Metro rail companies to nurture excellence in performance.
  • This society will be registered under Society Registration Act-1860.
  • The objective of forming this association is to provide a common platform for all Metro rail companies for sharing experience, information, best practices, innovations etc.
  • This association will also undertake and promote techno-economic studies and research. It will safeguard the interest and rights of metro rail companies and will be resource tank of information for decision making.

4.Sukhad Yatra App and Toll-free Emergency number for Highway users
Source : PIB

Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation launched a mobile App and Toll-free Emergency number for Highway users .

Sukhad Yatra mobile application has been prepared by National Highways Authority of India, NHAI, to empower the Highway user. The key feature of the app includes provision for the user to enter road quality-related information or to report any accident or pothole on the highway. It also provides users with real-time data related to waiting time expected at Plazas and various facilities like points of interest, highway nest/nest mini, etc., available across the highway. The app can also be used by the users to purchase the FASTag tag and further facilitate the highway user experience.

A toll-free number, 1033, will enable users to report an emergency condition, or highway-related feedback, across the highway. The service has also integrated with various ambulance/tow away services along the road to ensure rapid response time in emergency. The service is supported by a multi-lingual support and user location tracking features to provide the user with accurate and responsive complaint resolution.

5.Karnataka govt. unveils State flag
Source: The Hindu

The Karnataka government has unveiled the State flag ( nada dhwaja ) for Karnataka. If approved by the Centre, Karnataka will be the second State to have a flag after Jammu and Kashmir.

The proposal will be now sent to the Union Home Ministry for approval since a State has no powers to announce its own flag.

Backdrop:

  • The government in Karnataka constituted a nine-member committee to design a state flag and look into the legalities of it.
  • The State Cabinet had earlier approved the proposal of having separate flag for Karnataka

Flag in Karnataka:

  • Karnataka has had an unofficial flag since the mid 1960s.
  • The red and yellow flag was created by Kannada writer and activist Ma Ramamurthy for a pro-Kannada political party called the Kannada Paksha.
  • For years, there has been a demand to recognise it as the state’s official flag.
  • Recently unveiled the red-white-yellow flag has the State emblem at the centre

Legal sanctity:

  • The existing legal provisions do not prohibit states from having their own flags
  • When asked about the Constitutional provisions for a State to have its own flag, Karnataka CM said there was no bar in the Constitution on the States having their own flag.

6.Protecting couples from mobs
Source: The Hindu

The draft Prohibition of Unlawful Assembly (Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances) Bill, 2011 was proposed by the Law Commission. It has long been pending, and the Supreme Court is now expected to frame guidelines on this.

Purpose of the Bill:

  • Community opposition to inter-caste, inter-community and inter-religious marriages have long been a social concern.
  • The current penal law lacks direct application to the illegal acts of such caste assemblies. The Bill is thus meant to penalise honour killings in the name of upholding community honour or family honour.
  • The legislation primarily aims at preventing the unlawful interference from caste panchayats. It is intended to uphold the right of consenting adults to marry persons of their own choice.

Key provisions in the Bill:

Definition of murder:

  • The Law Commission has concluded that honour killing does not require a separate provision.
  • The definition of murder in Section 300 of the Indian Penal Code would suffice “to take care of the situations leading to overt acts of killing or causing bodily harm to the targeted person who allegedly undermined the honour of the caste or community.”

Unlawful assembly:

  • The 2011 Bill defines “unlawful assembly” as a group of persons who congregate with the “view or intention to deliberate on or condemn any marriage.
  • They condemn such marriages on the basis that such marriage has dishonoured the caste or community tradition or brought disrepute to all or any of the persons forming part of the assembly or the family or the people of the locality concerned.
  • “Marriage” under the draft legislation includes “proposed or intended marriage.”

Punishments:

  • The punishments are meted out in a phased manner.
  • Participating in any unlawful assembly is punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than six months but which may extend to one year and is also liable to a fine of up to Rs. 10,000.
  • Making exhortations that endanger the liberty of a couple is punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than one year but which may extend to two years and is also liable to a fine of up to Rs. 20,000.
  • Criminal intimidation of the couple or their relatives or supporters is punishable with imprisonment for a term of not less than one year but which may extend to three years and is also liable to a fine of up to Rs. 30,000.
  • The maximum punishment in case of actual harm or injury caused shall extend to seven years of imprisonment.
  • The provisions under the proposed law do not negate the offences under IPC but only adds to them.

Special Courts

  • The cases will be tried in Special Courts presided over by a sessions judge or additional sessions judge.
  • The special courts will be set up by states in consultation with the High Courts.
  • It will have the power of a Sessions Court.
  • It can take cognisance of any offence upon receiving a complaint of facts, or upon a police report of such facts.
  • It can also take suo motu cognisance of the cases.
  • The court can take cases without the accused being committed to it for trial.

Authority

  • The Collector or the District Magistrate is entrusted with the responsibility for the safety of the persons targeted.
  • This is in case any illegal decision is taken by the khap panchayat.
  • He/she shall take necessary steps to prohibit the convening of such illegal gatherings.

So far, 23 States have responded to the Bill with suggestions. The other six states have not responded yet. The Supreme Court has now stepped in to fill this legislative vacuum. The SC is expected to frame guidelines on this, in a judgment to protect adult couples from the fury of the mob.

7.Supreme Court recognises living will, right to die with dignity
Source: The Hindu

  • The Supreme Court recognised the living will made by persons suffering from chronic terminal diseases and likely to go into a permanent vegetative state.
  • The apex court said it has laid down guidelines on who would execute the will and how nod for passive euthanasia would be granted by the medical board.
  • Chief Justice Dipak Misra said other members of the five-judge Constitution bench have concurred on the guidelines and directives passed by it.
  • Recognising the right to die with dignity as a fundamental right under Article 21 (Right to Life), the court said its guidelines and directives shall remain in force till a legislation is brought to deal with the issue.
  • A living will is a document prepared by a person in their healthy sound state of mind under which they can specify in advance whether or not they would like to opt for artificial life support if he/she is in a vegetative state, due to an irreversible terminal illness, in the future or not.

8.WHO launches plan for cheaper TB drugs
Source: The Hindu

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently invited pharmaceutical companies around the world to submit proposals to manufacture affordable version of newer medicines for treatment of drug resistant tuberculosis.

India’s condition:

  • India has nearly 1.3 lakh DR-TB patients. However, the Health Ministry gets only 10,000 doses of Bedaquiline and 400 doses of Delaminid.
  • The medicines are obtained as donations from Janssen(US) and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals(Japan), the respective manufacture.
  • In the case of HIV, one company, Cipla, came up with a ‘AIDS cocktail’ combination of Stavudine, Lamivudine and Nevirapine, enabling effective treatment.

Purpose:

  • The aim was to replicate the success of addressing the HIV epidemic.
  • One of the aims is to achieve more competitive market and more affordable prices.
  • Inclusion within the scope of PQ has also incentivised the development of fixed dose combinations, which have yielded much better results for patients.

Expression of Interest (EoI):

  • WHO has requested drug makers to submit an Expression of Interest (EoI) for Bedaquiline and Delaminid, two new-generation drugs, recommended for drug resistant-TB.
  • Under WHO norms, drugs submitted upon such requests and complying with its standards are included in a list for procurement by the UN and other organisations.

Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS):

  • Cheaper drugs to treat HIV became possible at the time as the Indian Patents Act did not provide for product patents on pharmaceutical products, until required by the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
  • India became TRIPS compliant with pharma product patents in 2005.

Access to affordable drugs:

  • With WHO’s backing, India will be able to accelerate introduction of generics.
  • Inclusion of the two new drugs, Bedaquiline and Delaminid, in the pre-qualification call is being interpreted by aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) as WHO’s backing for generics.

To address challenges of drug-resistant:

  • WHO considers the two drugs key compounds to address challenges of drug-resistant TB.
  • WHO also want to encourage generic competition to start finding ways to make these medicines available in countries where they are not yet registered.
  • The EoI allows generics manufacturers interested in producing these two drugs, and currently facing technical challenges, to address their questions to WHO’s pre-qualification team.

9.Rydberg polarons
Source: The Hindu

An international team of physicists have successfully created a “giant atom” and filled it with ordinary atoms, creating a new state of matter termed “Rydberg polarons”. These atoms are held together by a weak bond and are created at very cold temperatures.

It uses ideas from two different fields: Bose Einstein Condensation and Rydberg atoms.

  • A BEC (Bose Einstein Condensate) is a liquid-like state of matter that occurs at very low temperatures. A BEC can be perturbed to create excitations which are akin to ripples on a lake. Here, researchers have used a BEC of strontium atoms.
  • Electrons in an atom move in orbits around the nucleus. A ‘Rydberg atom’ is an atom in which an electron has been kicked out to a very large orbit. These have interesting properties and have been studied for a long time.
  • In this work, researchers used laser light on a BEC of strontium atoms so that it impinges on one strontium atom at a time. This excites an electron into a large orbit, forming a Rydberg atom. This orbit is large enough to encircle many other strontium atoms inside it.
  • As the electron moves around many strontium atoms, it generates ripples of the BEC. The Rydberg atom becomes inextricably mixed with these ripples and forms a new super-atom called a ‘Rydberg polaron’.

Use of  Rydberg polarons :

A particularly interesting implication is for cosmology. Our universe is believed to be filled with a mysterious ‘dark matter’ which exerts a gravitational force on other matter.

Some theories of dark matter postulate that it is a cosmic Bose Einstein Condensate, perhaps composed of an as-yet-unknown type of particle. If we are indeed living in an invisible all pervading Bose Einstein Condensate, this experiment can suggest ways to detect it.

10.India can bridge IT staff shortage in Japan’
Source: The Hindu

Japan is facing a shortage of information technology professionals due to an ageing population and falling birth rate. India can fill the gap with its huge talent pool, executive vice-president of Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), said.

IT professionals in Japan:

  • There are about 920,000 IT professionals in Japan. There is an immediate demand for more than 200,000 professionals. The shortage is likely to touch 800,000 by 2030.
  • In 2016, there were 5,549 certified highly skilled foreign professionals registered in Japan.
  • Of this 3,621 professionals were from China, 290 from the U.S. and 266 from India.

Easing of rules:

  • Japan eased rules for issuance of green card and permanent residency status for highly skilled professionals in April last year.
  • The new norms shortened the required period for permanent residency to one year from five years earlier.

Easier to learn Japanese language for China:

  • All the top Indian professionals are eager to go to the U.S. Competition is tough in U.S. When you compare that to Japan, life is much easier.
  • China is the most populous nation and it is easier for a Chinese to learn the Japanese language. It is also closer to Japan. Also, about 30,000 Japanese firms operate in China, much more than in U.S.
  • In India 1,369 companies from Japan have set up base while only 71 Indian companies operate in Japan. Of the total number of Japanese companies operating in India, 220 are out of Maharashtra, 197 in Tamil Nadu and 162 in the National Capital Region.

New U.S. policy:

  • The U.S. administration last month imposed curbs on H-1B visas affecting companies such as TCS, Infosys and Wipro, which rely on the visas to do work for American firms.
  • As per the new U.S. policy, companies will have to prove that its H-1B employee at a third-party site has specific and non-qualifying speculative assignments in a speciality occupation.
  • Now on, H-1B visas would be valid only for the period for which the employee has work at a third-party site.
  • Earlier, it was valid for three years at a time and the move came ahead of H-1B visa filing which starts on April 2.

Japan as a third largest investor for India:

  • Japan has set an inward foreign investment target of $330 billion by 2020.
  • Japan has become the third-largest investor for India after Mauritius and Singapore.
  • Companies such as Panasonic, Toshiba, Hitachi have already initiated the process of establishing an R&D centre in India.
  • Japan also eased rules for Indian travellers and from January this year, applicants do not require to submit their employment certificate and letters of explanation for multiple-entry visas. The number of documents to be submitted has been cut to three.



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