18, July 2017

Made in India for Global Health

“Sohum”- An innovative Newborn hearing screening Device

  • The indigenously developed newborn hearing screening device – SOHUM was formally launched by the Minister of State for Science and Technology & Earth Sciences.
  • The newborn hearing screening device developed by School of International Biodesign (SIB) startup M/s Sohum Innovation Labs India Pvt. Ltd.
  • The aim is to screen two percent of hospital-born babies in the first year, before scaling up. The project has ambitious plans – to help every baby born in India be screened.

1.Minister of Railways Inaugurates Sindhudurg leg of the Science Express

Source: PIB

This phase of train is being referred as ‘Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS)’ highlighting  the global challenge of climate change.

‘Science Express Biodiversity Special (SEBS)’, it showcased the rich biodiversity of India and its conservation measures.

Science Express Exhibition Train Programme:

  • Science Express is a flagship programme of the of Science & Technology (DST), under Union Ministry of Science and Technology. Minister of Railways inaugurates Sindhudurg leg of the Science Express
  • It is an innovative mobile science exhibition mounted on a 16 coach AC train, travelling across India since October 2007.
  • So far, it has made eight tours of the country, travelling about 1,53,000 km and exhibiting at 495 locations.
  • Over its 1712 exhibition days, Science Express received an overwhelming response and 64 crore visitors.
  • Science Express has become the largest, the longest running and the most visited mobile science exhibition and has registered twelve entries in the Limca Book of Records.
  • Exhibition is open to all and there is no entry fee. It primarily targets students and teachers.

Phases of Science Express and Themes:

  1. Phase I to IV- Cutting-edge research in Science and Technology being carried out worldwide
  2. Phase V to VII- Biodiversity – ‘Science Express Biodiversity Special (SEBS)’
  3. Phase VIII- Global challenge of climate change – ‘Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS)’
  4. Phase IX- Global challenge of climate change – ‘Science Express Climate Action Special (SECAS) – II’

Key facts:

  • SECAS II is a unique collaborative initiative of of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC), Dept. of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Railways, Govt of India; Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and Vikram A Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC).
  • Of the 16 coaches of SECAS – II, exhibition in 8 coaches put up by MoEFCC,
  • Is exclusively devoted to information, case studies and material related to various aspect of Climate change, the underlying science, impacts, adaptation activities, mitigation solutions and policy approaches in a manner that is easy to understand and interesting for not just school students but also the masse
  • In rest of the rake, there are exhibits and activities put up by Dept. of Science & Technology (DST) and Dept. of Biotechnology (DBT).

2.United Nations Peacekeeping Course for African Partners (UNPCAP-02) Commences at Manekshaw Centre

Source: PIB

The Centre for United Nations Peacekeeping (CUNPK) is conducting jointly with the US, the second edition of United Nations Peacekeeping Course for African Partners (UNPCAP-02) in New Delhi

Key facts:

  • The course is aimed to build and enhance the capacity of the African Troop Contributing Countries to the UN and to further train the trainers from these countries.
  • The course, which revolves around the concept of training the trainers, as stated by the UN, is one of the many steps that India has initiated towards active contribution to peace support activities. Course is being attended by officers from 19 countries including India. The students include officers who are currently employed in their respective peacekeeping training centres in African peacekeeping training institutions.
  • The training incorporates topics on operational and logistical matters, humanitarian issues, thematic topics, Blackboard and table Top exercises and mission brief
  • The course is also targeted to assist the student officers to further train officers in their respective countries on the nuances of peacekeeping. Internationally the course is already being seen as a milestone in many ways.


  • The USI- CUNPK was set up in year 2000 as a joint venture between the MEA, Army Headquarters and the USI.
  • The USI nurtured its growth into an internationally recognised centre of excellence.
  • It functioned from the USI under its aegis till it moved out in Aug 2014 after a fire incident in its premises. The Army Headquarters informed the USI in Apr 2015 that it had decided to delink the CUNPK from the USI.


The Institution had established international linkages in the field of peacekeeping, peacebuilding and the responsibility to protect and has continued these activities. Details of these are given in the succeeding paras.

3.Innovation in Higher Education

Source: PIB

Innovation and upgradation of infrastructure in higher education institutions is an on-going endeavour and the Central Government is making a constant effort in this direction.

Schemes related to Innovation in Higher Education:

The University Grants Commission (UGC) under the Scheme “General Development Assistance” provides financial assistance to eligible Central Universities, Deemed Universities, State Universities and colleges.

The main objective of the grant, inter-alia, is to set up new infrastructure and strengthen/upgrade existing infrastructural facilities in the institutions.

  • Further, in order to encourage innovation and infrastructure development, the UGC has launched various schemes and initiatives such as Universities with Potential for Excellence (UPE), Centre with Potential for Excellence in Particular Area (CPEPA), Special Assistance Programme (SAP), Research Projects, Basic Science Research and Inter-University Centres.
  • The Central Government has launched several new initiatives viz. National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), Impacting Research Innovation & Technology (IMPRINT), Uchchatar Avishkar Yojna (UAY), Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) & Global Research Interactive Network (GRIN) in the field of education to encourage innovation and research in the country.

They are:

  1. Under the NIRF, Educational Institutions are ranked by an independent ranking agency on the basis of objective criteria.
  2. Under the IMPRINT, the Government has taken the initiative to address major engineering challenges through the collaborative efforts of the IITs and Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
  3. The objectives of UAY scheme are to promote innovation in IITs, addressing issues of manufacturing industries; to spur innovative mindset; to co-ordinate action between academia & industry and to strengthen labs & research facilities.
  4. GIAN scheme facilitates partnership between Higher Educational Institutions of the country and other countries in order to tap international talent pool of scientists and entrepreneurs.
  5. The initiative of SWAYAM has been launched which intends to provide massive open online courses (MOOCs) for the students across the country with the objective of expanding the reach of quality education to the students using the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools.
  6. Under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA), financial support is provided to improve infrastructure availability in the State Higher Educational Institutions and also to promote research and innovation.

4.How India chooses its President

Source: The Hindu

Ever wondered why the President of the world’s largest democracy is not elected by its people?

  • The term of Pranab Mukherjee as the 13th President of India will end. Political parties have already began the process of searching for a suitable presidential candidate. But ever wondered why the President of the world’s largest democracy is not elected by its people?
  • Technically the citizens of India elect the President. Just that the elections are indirect. In a general election, citizens above the age of 18 exercise their franchise to elect their representatives for Legislative Assembly and Parliament. It is these legislators who in turn vote to choose a President.
  • The value of the vote of each legislator varies based on the population of the State he/she belongs to. The voting takes place by means of secret ballot through single transferable vote.
  • To win the election, the presidential candidate must poll above the 50% cut off as the first preference.

what does indirect mean?

  • The President of India is elected by an electoral college.
  • This college comprises the elected representatives of the government that form the government after being elected in the state assembly and national elections.
  • The citizens of the country directly elect these representatives. It is these elected representatives who then vote for the President, in theory representing the people who would ideally vote for the President.
  • Nominated members of state assemblies and the two Houses are not allowed to participate in the presidential election as they have been nominated by the President herself.
  • Issuing whips to garner votes for a particular candidate is also prohibited.

All MPs and MLAs have a certain number of votes

However, a lengthy calculation designates the value of votes of every elected MLA and MP.

  • For the MLA, the number is decided by the total population of the state divided by the number of elected members to the legislative assembly, further divided by 1000. The population data is taken from the 1971 census. This census will be used until 2026.
  • The value of the vote of an MP is decided by dividing the total value of votes of all MLAs of the whole country, divided by the total number of elected MPs in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
  • The total value of the state vote is calculated by multiplying the value of vote of one MLA with the total number of elected MLAs.

How do these MLAs and MPs vote?

  • Unlike a traditional ballot, where the voter casts one vote only for her selected candidate, a presidential election ballot does not follow this system.
  • What it follows is the Single Transferable Vote system: According to this, each voter marks out her preference for the presidential candidate. If there are five candidates for example, the voter will give five preferences. It is mandatory to give a first preference as the vote will be declared invalid in its absence. However, if the voter doesn’t give other preferences, the vote will be considered valid.

Vote Quota

  • The vote quota has come about as a result of Proportional Representation which ensures equal representation to all groups.
  • Simply casting votes or indicating preference is not enough as the person with the most number of votes or first preference does not win the presidential election.
  • The total number of valid votes decide how many votes will a candidate need in order to be declared winner. This number is divided by two and added to one to form the benchmark of winning. For example, if there are 50,000 valid votes, then the candidate would require (50,000/2)+1, which is equal to 25,001 votes.
  • Should any candidate fail to reach the vote quota, the candidate with the minimum number of votes is eliminated and her votes are transferred to the other candidates on the basis of the second preference.
  • If the vote quota is achieved, a winner emerges but if it doesn’t, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated again and others get her votes on the basis of the third preference.

5.Centre seeks debate in SC on J&K special status

Source: The Hindu

The Centre asked the Supreme Court to debate on the special status granted to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was both a sensitive and constitutional matter.

Plea said that non-residents in J&K faced discrimination

The top law officer was responding to a PIL plea filed by a Delhi-based NGO, We the Citizens, contending that the J&K government, given the State’s special autonomous status under Articles 35A and 370, was discriminatory against non-residents as far as government jobs and real estate purchases were concerned.

What the State government argued over the Article 370?

  • The State government argued that its special status was sourced from the 1954 Presidential Order, which gave special rights to the State’s permanent residents.
  • The hearing comes in the backdrop of an earlier Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which ruled that Article 370 assumed a place of permanence in the Constitution and the feature was beyond amendment, repeal or abrogation. The court said Article 35A gave “protection” to existing laws in force in the State.

High Court observed Article 370

  • Article 370 though titled as ‘Temporary Provision’ and included in Para XXI titled ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’ has assumed place of permanence in the Constitution,” it observed.
  • It [Article 370] is beyond amendment, repeal or abrogation, in as much as the Constituent Assembly of the State before its dissolution did not recommend its Amendment or repeal.
  • It also observed that the President under Article 370 (1) was conferred with power to extend any provision of the Constitution to the State with such “exceptions and modifications” as may be deemed fit subject to consultation or concurrence with the State government. The High Court said J&K, while acceding to the Dominion of India, retained limited sovereignty and did not merge with it.

Implications of Article 370

Article 370 specifies that except for Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Communications the Indian Parliament needs the State Government’s concurrence for applying all other laws.  This has some peculiar implications as follows:

Applicability of parts

  • Most provisions of the Constitution which are applicable to other states are not applicable to J&K. Part VI in whole is not applicable to Jammu & Kashmir.

Jurisdiction of Indian Parliament

  • The Jurisdiction of the Parliament of India in relation to Jammu and Kashmir is confined to the matters enumerated in the Union List, and also the concurrent list.
  • There is no State list for the State of Jammu and Kashmir. At the same time, while in relation to the other States, the residuary power of legislation belongs to Parliament, in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the residuary powers belong to the Legislature of the State, except certain matters to which Parliament has exclusive powers such as preventing the activities relating to cession or secession, or disrupting the sovereignty or integrity of India.
  • The power make laws related to preventive detention in Jammu and Kashmir belong to the Legislature J & K and not the Indian Parliament. Thus, no preventive detention law made in India extends to Jammu & Kashmir.
  • Kashmir enjoys some other privileges over and above the other states of India. For example, the plenry power of parliament with respect to alteration of the name or territories of the State (Art.3) does not extend to the state. Similarly, International treaty or agreement affecting any part of the territory of the state (Art.253) doesn’t extend to Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Article 253 empowers the Parliament to make any law for the whole or any part of the territory of India for implementing any treaty, agreement or convention with any other country or countries or any decision made at any international conference, association or other body.
  • Any action of the Union Legislature or Union Executive which results in alteration of the name or territories or an international treaty or agreement affecting the disposition of any part of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir requires the consent of the State Legislature.


  • Initially, Article 356 and 357 did not apply to India. However, these two articles related to suspension of the Constitutional machinery in the state have been extended to the state by the Amendment Order of 1964. However, Failure means failure of the constitution machinery as set up by the Constitution of the State and not the provisions in part VI of the Constitution of the India. As a result, where the failure of the Constitutional machinery takes place in Jammu & Kashmir, two types of Proclamation may be made
    • The President’s Rule under Art. 356 of the Indian Constitution (as in the case of the other States of the Indian Union)
    • The Governor under section 92 at the Constitution of J&K for which there is no counter part in any other State of India.
  • The Union of India has no power to declare Financial Emergency under Article 360 in the state.

Fundamental Rights

  • Apart from the rights enjoyed by all states of India, some special right as regards employment, acquisition of property and settlement have been conferred on permanent resident of the State by constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. Right to property is still a fundamental right in the state.

DPSP & Fundamental Duties

  • Part IV (Directive Principles of the State Policy) and Part IVA (Fundamental Duties) of the Constitution are not applicable to J&K.

Amendment of the Constitution

  • The provisions of Art. 368 of the Constitution of India are not applicable for the amendment of the State Constitution of Jammu & Kashmir. The Jammu & Kashmir assembly by two third majority amend its own constitution (except in those matters that are related to relationship of the State with the Union of India)
  • The Union has no power to suspend the Constitution of J&K.

Jammu & Kashmir High Court

  • The High Court of J&K has limited powers as compared to other High Courts within India. It cannot declare any law unconstitutional. Unlike High Courts in other states, under Article 226 of the Constitution, it cannot issue writs except for enforcement of Fundamental Rights.

6.Indonesia renames part of South China Sea

Source: The Hindu

Indonesia has named waters in its exclusive economic zone that overlap with China’s expansive claim to the South China Sea as the North Natuna Sea, an assertion of sovereignty that has angered Beijing.

The decision announced by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs has been in the works since mid-2016 and was vital to law enforcement at sea and securing Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone.

China claims South China sea:

  • China claims most of the South China Sea, putting it in dispute with many southeast Asian nations, and has carried out extensive land reclamation and construction on reefs and atolls to bolster its claims.
  • The map of Indonesia has clear coordinates, dates and data, and the government would not negotiate with other nations that make unconventional claims… including those who insist on a map of nine broken lines.
  • Philipppines also has claims to the South China Sea. But Filipino officials behind an arbitration case in which the Philippines won a resounding victory over China last year are expressing alarm that Beijing continues to defy the decision.

South China Sea Dispute

  • China has been aggressively claiming the entire South China Sea as its own.
  • The other countries that claim the various territories in the South China Sea are Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
  • The South China Sea is part of Pacific Ocean spreading an area of some 35 lakh square km with eight littoral countries/territories viz. China, Taiwan, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and Vietnam. It is strategically located in the international shipping route that sees the passage of world’s half of the merchant ships.
  • The sea is rich in energy reserves including petroleum, mineral and fishing resources. It is made of some 200 tiny islands, coral reefs, shoals, sandbanks etc. grouped into three archipelagos of Spratlys, Paracels and Pratas. The Macclesfield Bank and Scarborough Shoal are also part of South China Sea.
  • Several countries have made competing territorial claims over the South China Sea. Such disputes have been regarded as Asia’s most potentially dangerous point of conflict.

7.Eco-bridges for the movement of tigers

Source: The Hindu

In a first of its kind, Telangana State will have eco-friendly bridges over a canal cutting across the tiger corridor linking the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra with the forests in Telangana’s Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.

  • The intervention requires the laying of fertile soil to grow grass and plants over the structure, so that fragmentation of the reserve forest is camouflaged.
  • The concept emerged after visits by experts from the Wildlife Board of India and the Wildlife Institute of India. They were concerned about the large-scale destruction of pristine forest along the corridor, which would result in cutting off tiger movement between TATR and Bejjur.
  • The Telangana Irrigation Department has given its consent for the construction of the eco-bridges. Recommendations on the size and locations of the bridges are awaited from the National Board of Wildlife.

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

  • Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is a Tiger reserves in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra state in central India. It is notable as Maharashtra’s oldest and largest National Park.
  • It is one of India’s 41 “Project Tiger” – Tiger reserves.
  • Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve was established as second Tiger Reserve in the Maharashtra State, in 1994-95. Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve area constitutes a unique ecosystem, comprising, wide variety of flora and fauna including diverse and rich avi-fauna with unique natural scenic beauty.
  • Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve is a popular tourist destination in India. There is significant increase in tourist’s inflow during the recent years.
  • The area represents Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests in the Tiger habitat. It has a viable population of 40+ Tigers with high frequency of Tiger sighting.
  • Beside Tiger, it is abode to number of prominent wild denizens like Leopard, Wild dog, Sloth bear, Gaur, Sambar, Barking deer, Cheetal, Chausinga, Nilgai, Wild boar alongwith rare ones like Ratel, Flying squirrel, Pangolin and Rusty spotted cat. The continuity with forests of Chandrapur, Bramhapuri and Central Chanda Division enrich the conservation prospects of these species.

8.Tata Motors develops country’s first biomethane bus

Source: Indian Express

The use of Bio-CNG will contribute in a positive manner to the Smart Cities proposition of keeping them clean and is a good option for wet garbage management.

  • Tata Motors has developed country’s first Bio-CNG (bio-methane) bus which was unveiled recently at a bio-energy programme, ‘Urja Utsav’.
  • The firm, which is India’s largest commercial vehicles manufacturer, said the bio-methane engines could be used in LCV, ICV and MCV buses.
  • Bio-Methane bus is a step towards developing environment-friendly vehicles. Biomethane escapes into the atmosphere unused. If trapped and used in engines, it reduces the net impact on the environment and at the same time produces useful power.

CNG-powered engine and a Bio CNG-powered Engine:

  1. The difference between a regular CNG-powered engine and a bio CNG-powered is not very vast.
  2. While in CNG, the Methane gas co-exists with other heavier hydrocarbons (for which the end application Stoichiometry – air fuel ratio is not adjusted), Bio CNG has only Methane in it and thus it is also called as bio-Methane. Furthermore, this makes Bio CNG more application friendly and efficient than regular CNG.

9.Nine-judge Supreme Court bench to decide whether right to privacy is fundamental

Source: Indian Express

The issue whether privacy is a fundamental right is pivotal to the challenge to the validity of the Aadhaar scheme and touchstone of right to privacy, said a bunch of petitions before the court.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday referred to a nine-judge constitution bench the question whether right to privacy is a fundamental right on which hinges the challenge to the validity of the Aadhaar scheme.

Supreme court says:

  • The bench will decide “whether there is no right of privacy in the Indian Constitution”. The apex court said that the nine-judge bench will also examine the correctness of the position taken by a eight-judge bench in 1954, and subsequently by a six-judge bench in 1962.
  • The court said both in 1954 and 1962, the benches had held that privacy is a not a fundamental right. However, after the mid-1970s, benches of two and three -judges had consistently taken the position that privacy is a fundamental right.
  • The issue whether privacy is a fundamental right is pivotal to the challenge to the validity of the Aadhaar scheme and touchstone of right to privacy, said a bunch of petitions before the court.
  • The petitioners have contended that the collection of iris scan and fingerprints by the State violate the right to privacy of the citizens. The apex court said that if the nine-judge bench after examining the matter decides that right to privacy is a fundamental right then all matters relating to the Aadhaar scheme will go back to the original three-judge bench.

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