15, September 2016

Centre blames High Courts for vacancies

Source: The Hindu, Hindustan Times

Government of India represented by the Attorney General told the Supreme Court that the government alone can’t be blamed for judicial vacancies as many posts have been lying vacant for over five years.

The high courts had themselves initiated the process for filling up the vacancies late.

As per rules, it ought to have moved the files at least six months in advance before the actual vacancy arises. However, it hasn’t been done, the government pointed out.

Background:

  • The government and the judiciary have been at loggerheads with the CJI repeatedly pointing out that delay in judicial appointments was making it difficult for courts to function.
  • There are more than 450 vacancies in 24 high courts which have over four million pending cases.
  • The government pointed to the case of the Allahabad High Court, which has the “oldest” judicial vacancies dating back to 2007. Despite this, the appointment process started only recently, the Centre said.

Unaccounted flow of funds to NGOs a ‘major problem’: SC

Source: The Hindu

Alarmed by the huge funds received by the NGOs in India, Supreme Court is now cautious and said it will consider asking the Law Commission to bring effective law to regulate the flow of money to a total 29.99 lakh NGOs functioning in the Country.

This is a major problem. They are getting money from all over the world said Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur. So the apex court is keen in bringing a regulatory framework on NGOs.

As a matter of concern:

  • The CBI records filed in the Supreme Court in the case show that only 2, 90,787 NGOs file annual financial statements of a total of 29, 99,623 registered ones under the Societies Registration Act.
  • In some States, the CBI said the laws do not even provide for the NGOs to be transparent about their financial dealings.
  • In the Union Territories, of a total of 82,250 NGOs registered and functioning, only 50 file their returns.

How big is the problem?

  • New Delhi has the highest number of registered NGOs among the Union Territories at 76,566. But none of these organizations submit returns.
  • In Kerala, which has 3, 69,137 NGOs, there is no legal provision to submit returns.
  • The same is the case for Punjab with 84,752 and Rajasthan with 1.3 lakh NGOs.
  • Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest number of NGOs at 5.48 lakh among 26 States, has only about 1.19 lakh filing returns.
  • Tamil Nadu has about 1.55 lakh NGOs registered, however, only 20,277 file returns.
  • Andhra Pradesh has 2.92 lakh NGOs, but only 186 file financial statements annually.
  • West Bengal has 2.34 lakh registered NGOs, of which only 17,089 active NGOs file annual returns.

End sterilization camps, says Supreme Court

Source: The Hindu

The Supreme Court directed the Centre to finalize the National Health Policy by December 31, 2016 and end mass sterilization camps, saying that poor and tribal men and women cannot be reduced to mere statistics in the country’s population control campaigns.

SC said the Centre has failed in its duty to effectively monitor sterilization – a programme of national importance.

Background:

Mismanagement of sterilization camps have led to the death of several persons in recent years in many states. This case particularly came when a petition filed by activist Devika Biswas who highlighted the horrors of a January 7, 2012 mass sterilization procedure done on 53 women at a school compound in Araria district of Bihar.

There was a single surgeon wearing no gloves, passing from one patient to the next at a camp which did not even have running water.

The Court observed…

  • The court said mass sterilization camps were perverse products of the Centre’s population control campaigns driven by informal targets and incentives. They infringe on the “reproductive freedoms of the most vulnerable groups of society whose economic and social conditions make them easy targets to coercion”.
  • Improved access, education and empowerment” and not coercion should be the guiding factors behind the government’s population control campaign.
  • Policies of the government must not mirror the systemic discrimination prevalent in society… it is imperative for both the Union and the State Governments to implement schemes announced by the Union in a manner that respects the fundamental rights of the beneficiaries of the scheme,”
  • The SC issued several guidelines for the government, primarily to increase the compensation for sterilization deaths “substantially” and mandatorily explain to the patient, in his or her local language, the impact and consequences of a sterilization procedure.

Goyal calls for global implementation of ‘polluter pays’ principle

Source: The Hindu

Power Minister reiterated India’s stand for the implementation of ‘Polluter Pays’ principle on international carbon emissions.

“It is only in India where hydro-projects below 25 MW are considered renewable and those above are considered non-renewable,”

Greenhouse emissions

India is putting out about four per cent, if not less, supporting 17 per cent of the world’s population. All those greenhouse gases up there are not our responsibility. Even today, India is the only country in the world which taxes carbon.

What is “Polluter Pays” concept?

The ‘polluter pays’ principle basically works on the premise that those responsible for higher pollution—whether it is an individual factory or a country—should bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to health or the environment.

Role of Electricity in SDG:

  • Speaking about the role of electricity in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Minister said that providing electricity was key to meeting most of the goals.
  • Electricity is the fastest enabler in removing poverty,”
  • “As far as good health and wellbeing is concerned, hospitals will need electricity, and the way we use fossil fuels will also determine this parameter.”

National Hindi Divas was observed on 14 September

  • Hindi Diwas commemorates the day when the Constituent Assembly of India accepted Hindi as the official language of the country along with English.
  • The listing of Hindi as official language took place on September 14, 1949.
  • Article 351 of the Constitution asks for the promotion and development of the Hindi language in a way that it could serve as a means of expression in all matters.

Indian-American physician to receive National Humanities Medal

Source: Times of India

Indian-American physician-author Abraham Varghese, whose work has emphasized empathy in medicine, has been selected for the prestigious 2015 National Humanities Medal.

US President Barack Obama would confer the honor upon Varghese, along with 11 others.

Why Abraham Varghese?

White House said Varghese has been given the award for reminding “us” that the patient is the center of the medical enterprise.

His range of proficiency embodies the diversity of the humanities, from his efforts to emphasize empathy in medicine, to his imaginative renderings of the human drama.

What is National Humanities Medal?

Inaugurated in 1997, the National Humanities Medal honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens’ engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects.

Up to 12 medals are awarded each year.

Reliance Communications, Aircel to merge; create Rs 65000 crore entity

Source: Indian Express

The merged company will be one of India’s largest private sector companies, with an asset base of over Rs 65,000 crore and net worth of Rs 35,000 crore ($5.2 billion).

Reliance Communications Ltd has agreed to merge its mobile phone services business with smaller rival Aircel. The RCom-Aircel combination will create a telecom operator ranked fourth by customer base and revenues and number three operator by revenues in 12 important circles.

RCom and Maxis Communications Berhad (MCB) of Malaysia, which owns Aircel, will hold 50 per cent each in the merged entity with equal representation on the board and committees.

Indian-American scientist bags innovation award worth $500,000

Source: The Hindu

An Indian-origin scientist has bagged the prestigious Lemelson–MIT Prize worth $500,000 for his groundbreaking work to improve lives globally.

Ramesh Raskar is the winner of the 2016 USD 500,000 Lemelson–MIT Prize for his groundbreaking inventions, commitment to youth mentorship, and dedication to improving our world with practical yet innovative solutions.

About Lemelson-MIT Prize:

The annual Lemelson–MIT Prize honors outstanding mid-career inventors improving the world through technological invention and demonstrating a commitment to mentorship in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Jim Yong Kim heads for second term as World Bank president

Source: Financial Times

Jim Yong Kim is heading for another five-year term as president of the World Bank after no other candidates emerged during a hurried nomination process.

Indian scientists recycle fish scales into green energy

Source: The Hindu

A team of researchers at Jadavpur University here has developed a biodegradable energy harvesterfrom raw fish scales – which could be tapped as a sustainable green energy source for next generation self-powered implantable medical devices.

 Significance:

It also has the potential for personal portable electronics with reduced e-waste elements said the researchers.

Fish scales, a by-product that is usually thrown away, contain collagen fibres that possess a piezoelectric property, which means that an electric charge is generated in them in response to mechanical stress.

The researchers have synthesized flexible bio-piezoelectric nanogenerator (BPNG) from this bio-waste.

Recycling value:

The recycling of the fish by-products into the BPNG via one step process is a promising solution for the development of value-added products and also to reduce the e-waste.

The nanogenerator also scavenges several types of ambient mechanical energies such as body movements, machine and sound vibrations, and wind flow which are abundant in living environment, and even repeated tapping with a finger.

Repeatedly touching the BPNG with a finger can turn on more than 50 blue LEDs.

The group’s work could potentially be used in transparent electronics, biocompatible and biodegradable electronics, and edible electronics.

It can also be used in self-powered implantable medical devices, surgeries, e-healthcare monitoring, as well as in vitro and in vivo diagnostics, apart from its myriad uses for portable electronics.

Disposal of the fish bio-waste increases environmental pollution.

Future Scope:

In the future, the researcher’s goal is to implant a bio-piezoelectric nanogenerator into a heart for pacemaker devices, where it will continuously generate power from heartbeats for the device’s operation.

It will then degrade when no longer needed. Since heart tissue is also composed of collagen, bio-piezoelectric nanogenerator is expected to be very compatible with the heart.

Typhoon Meranti hits Chinese coast, wreaks havoc

Source: The Hindu

Typhoon Meranti, stated to be the world’s strongest typhoon so far this year, made landfall in east China’s Fujian Province, causing widespread destruction.

The typhoon that hit Xiang’an district of Xiamen city, has also been monitored as the strongest one hitting southern Fujian Province since 1949.

Strong winds shattered windows on the high-rises even as tap water supply was disrupted following the typhoon in many communities in Xiamen.

China progresses towards manned space station

Source: The Hindu

China successfully launched Tiangong-2 — its space lab, which is part of an ambitious plan, stretched along several phases, to establish a manned space station around 2022.

Subsequently, the space lab would be transferred to a slightly higher orbit, around 393 kilometres above Earth — the height of the future Chinese space station. Once this is achieved, the Shenzhou-11 manned spaceship would ferry two astronauts into space to dock with the lab in mid-to-late October.

China’s first cargo ship, Tainzhou-1, will lift-off in April 2017, to dock with Tianwgong-2, in order to provide it with fuel and other supplies.

The two astronauts will carry out experiments related to aerospace medicine, space physics and biology, quantum key transmission, space atomic clock and solar storms.

Phase-III of PMGSY to focus on Maintenance of Roads and Financial Incentives

Source: PIB

The Government said that the Phase-III  of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, PMGSY  is being finalized.

What will be the focus area?

Sustainable Maintenance of Roads and Financial Incentives to best Performing States will be the key focus areas.

Minister for Rural Development informed that Punjab, Haryana, Gujrat and Karnataka are the four States in the country, which have achieved the target of construction of rural roads under PMGSY, well before the target year of 2019, set by the Prime Minister for connecting all un-connected habitations with all-weather roads.

BRICS experts suggest smart cities to aim at bringing people together with technology as a tool

Source: PIB

  • Policy makers and experts from BRICS countries emphasized the need to focus more on bringing people in urban areas together by ending social exclusion while developing smart cities using technology only as a tool.
  • Participating in a Plenary Session on ‘BRICS Smart Cities conclave – Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh’, they stressed that adoption of technology can’t be the ultimate goal of smart city development and it should be used as a tool to meet the aspirations of the people.
  • Expressing concern over rising isolation of different social groups in urban areas, smart cities should aim at integrating people.
  • Cited the examples of initiatives taken in Brazil to end social conflicts by creating integrated neighborhoods in Brazil’s capital Rio de Janiero and Portugese city of Lisbon.
  • Experts stressed on using technology only as a tool and for bringing social and behavioral transformation.
  • During a discussion on ‘Financing Urban Infrastructure’, the experts referred to the strong correlation between inequality in access to infrastructure and inequality in incomes in urban areas.
  • They stressed on the need to ensure effective urban governance supported by a strong political leadership and vision to enable cities attract huge investments required for building infrastructure.
  • The participants stressed on the need to make urban local bodies self-reliant through enhanced resource streams including issuing of Municipal Bonds for which cities have to become creditworthy.
  • They expressed concern over investments in urban infrastructure not resulting in adequate returns to ensure repayment and called for effective measures in this regards.

Sports Ministry to launch Talent identification portal

Source: PIB

The Ministry for Youth Affairs & Sports has decided to start a Talent Search Portal under the Department of Sports.

What will the portal do?

  • The portal is intended to give a fair opportunity to talented children from every nook and corner of the country to pursue their dreams of achieving excellence in sports.
  • Details of the performance and potential of a child including video and photographs could be uploaded on the portal by children, their parents, relatives, teachers and others on the portal.
  • A format will be available on the portal to capture the key details of the child. After due scrutiny, children with potential will be given an opportunity to appear for a battery of tests which could be conducted at the nearest SAI Centre among others.
  • Those who pass the battery of tests will be admitted to the training centers of SAI.
  • Sports Ministry will also persuade the State Governments and others to admit some of such children in their centers.
  • Such talented children who are not able to leave their current places of residence for any reason may be offered a scholarship to help them pursue excellence in sports.
  • The portal will allow talented children to stake their claim for support including admission to sports training centers from the comforts of their homes and will simplify procedures. It will be particularly beneficial to the disadvantaged sections of the society.
  • The plan is to target talented children of 8 years and above. Efforts will be made to involve National Sports Federations, corporate houses and other stake-holders in the programme.


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