Insights Daily Current Events, 02 April 2016

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Insights Daily Current Events, 02 April 2016


 

Paper 3 Topic: Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology.

Create your own blood bank account

Indian Red Cross Society has launched a unique mobile app using which one can create their own personal blood bank account.

How this account can be utilized?

With this a person can deposit blood (by donating) and withdraw it as and when required, and can even transfer blood to a friend’s account.

Key facts:

  • The app is based on the ‘banking’ concept. It is part of a larger digital blood banking initiative that the Indian Red Cross Society has rolled out along with J. Walter Thompson India.
  • To be initially launched in Bengaluru, it will be extended across the country in phases.
  • The app has been designed to encourage blood donations and ensure availability. The app would enable people to deposit their blood on a regular basis. Users can open a Blood Bank Account at any Red Cross-affiliated Blood Bank.
  • The account can be created through the app and a unique account number will be assigned to each individual. The app will record the required information, track the account and provide timely reminders on when the next savings (blood donation) is due. And most importantly, users can make ‘Blood Transfers’ to their near and dear ones at the click of a button.
  • It will also allow blood bank account holders to keep track of the blood deposit cycle on the digital platform.

Why such an app was necessary?

In order to maintain stock, blood banks depend heavily on replacement donors. Even if a person finds the right group in a bank, the blood is usually made available only with the replacement. The app is meant to avoid all these hassles.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Land reforms in India.

NITI Aayog finalises Model Act for farm land lease

An expert panel appointed by NITI Aayog has submitted its recommendations to create a model law to formalise leasing of agricultural land.

What necessitated this?

Due to lack of any legal framework for leasing, the informal tenants of agricultural land have, in many parts of the country, been deprived access to institutional credit, disaster relief, and other support services.

  • The situation, where beneficiaries of agricultural support services have been the land-owners and not the actual tillers, has fuelled problems of farmer suicides, default on agricultural loans among others.
  • Also, agricultural land leasing has hitherto been informal due to legal restrictions imposed by some states, and these restrictions have affected agricultural productivity growth.

What’s there in the proposed model law?

  • One of the key objectives of the model law is to facilitate insurance, disaster relief, and bank credit to the tenant without mortgaging of the leased land. Since the draft model law moots clear ownership of land with the lessor, it disallows using the asset for mortgage purposes.
  • The Act is meant for States that plan to legalise farm land leasing. State governments are expected to improvise it to suit the local socio-political requirements.
  • Land ownership will remain secure and will revert to the owner and in case the parcel of land is sold before the tenure of the lease is complete, the rights of the tenants will be secure. No changes will be made in the land records.
  • Attestation of the lease is proposed to be done at the level of the sarpanch, local bank official or notary.
  • The Model Act also proposes that farmers and farmer groups be allowed to lease out land. The definition of ‘farm land’ is proposed to be broadened to include food processing.
  • The Model Act proposes quicker litigation process in case of disputes, by suggesting recourse through criminal proceedings and special tribunal. It is expected that the dispute settlement will be taken up at the level of the Gram Sabha, Panchayat and Tehsildar.
  • At present, only land owners can avail of crop insurance schemes or loans. Also, disaster relief in case of drought and crop damage is provided only to the owners and not cultivators. The Model Act will enable share croppers to receive such benefits and relief. Lessee cultivators could raise crop loans on the basis of expected produce.
  • The proposed model law, however, does not restrict the owner of the land from selling the asset even during the lease period, as long as the cultivation rights of the tenant are not affected.

Background:

To review the existing agricultural tenancy laws of various states and prepare a model agricultural land leasing act, the NITI Aayog, in September 2015, had set up an Expert Committee on Land Leasing headed by T Haque. Prior to submitting its report to the NITI Aayog, the committee held several rounds of discussion with states, farmer organisations and civil society groups.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment.

SBI wants banks to hold government’s cash balance

In view of the liquidity crunch that banks have been facing for the last few months, the State Bank of India (SBI) – the country’s largest lender – has demanded that the government’s cash balances to be kept with the lenders (Banks) and not with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Why?

Currently, the issue of high volatility in currency holdings of public (both in the form of cash and jewellery) as well as Government’s cash balances with RBI is leading to volatility in system liquidity.

  • If cash balances are placed with public sector banks, instead of with RBI, the cash remains within the banking system and does not create unnecessary volatility in money markets.
  • Besides, such an action will provide a clear picture of the money available within the system which will not get distorted by government borrowing.
  • Also, if government keeps its cash with banks, it can even earn interest which the banks will offer. RBI offers no interest to the government for keeping its cash.

Background:

With government curtailing its spending towards the end of the last financial year, its cash balances with RBI had gone up. Bankers estimate the liquidity deficit in the system in March 2016 was over Rs. two lakh crore, mainly on account of lack of government spending, and the deficit was higher than the comfort level of RBI which is around Rs.75,000 crore.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Obama and President Xi of China Vow to Sign Paris Climate Accord

President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China have decided to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change on April 22 (Earth Day), the first day the United Nations accord will be open for government signatures.

  • The two world leaders made the announcement on the sidelines of a nuclear security meeting in Washington.
  • Combined, the United States and China account for about 40% of global emissions.

Paris Agreement:

The Paris Agreement, reached in December, is the first global accord to commit nearly every nation to take domestic actions to tackle climate change.

  • The agreement requires any country that ratifies it to act to stem its greenhouse gas emissions in the coming century, with the goal of peaking greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and continuing the reductions as the century progresses.
  • Countries will have to aim to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2°C by 2100 with an ideal target of keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C.
  • The agreement also includes a provision requiring developed countries to send $100 billion annually to their developing counterparts beginning in 2020. This figure is expected to increase with time.
  • The agreement gives countries considerable leeway in determining how to cut their emissions but mandates that they report transparently on those efforts. Every five years nations will be required to assess their progress towards meeting their climate commitments and submit new plans to strengthen them. Some elements in the agreement are binding-like reporting requirements.
  • The Paris Agreement will enter into legal force only when enough countries have signed on: Together they have to be responsible for causing 55% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States, issues and challenges pertaining to the federal structure, devolution of powers and finances up to local levels and challenges therein.

Coterminous LS, State polls not feasible: Quraishi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advocacy of making Lok Sabha and State Assembly polls coterminous has set off a debate on whether, in fact, this move is at all feasible or practically implementable.

Why this is needed?

It is necessary due the administrative issues arising out of frequent and successive elections in various states. Also, the way the electoral calendar of the country is set up, there are polls every year in some part of the country or the other. With the Model Code of Conduct coming into force in one State or the other and even for the Centre in some cases, this leads to administrative lethargy, and issues.

Why this is not feasible?

Constitutionally it will be impossible to implement this mandate. According to this mandate, if, for example, the central government falls, all state assemblies have to be dissolved too. This would, however, disturb the mandate of those governments.

What’s the way ahead?

Solutions should be found to the specific worries with regard to electoral calendar of the country and its effect on administration and the financial health of political parties. All of these issues can be tackled through electoral reforms, without getting into Constitutional matters.

What has the expert committee said?

A parliamentary standing committee of Law and Justice that had been asked to go into the issue in detail had recommended a two-phase election schedule to make the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls coterminous.

  • In its recommendations, the committee suggests a two-phase poll, with States divided into two groups, one for which elections would be in the middle of the current Lok Sabha (16 States) and another where elections will be held at the end of the current Lok Sabha (19 States).
  • By this process, at least half the States in India will have polls alongside Lok Sabha polls, and the rest in the middle of that term.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

More heatwaves likely this summer

Meteorologists have said that an average rise of 1 degree Celsius in summer temperatures over most of India would mean more days of extreme heat as well as a higher likelihood of heat waves compared to last year.

What is a heatwave?

The Indian Meteorology Department (IMD) defines a heatwave as an excess of five to six degrees C over the maximum daily temperature (over a 30-year period) of less than 40 degree C or an excess of four to five degree C over a normal historical maximum temperature of over 40 degree C.

  • The IMD declares a heat wave when the actual maximum temperature is above 45 degree C.

Concerns:

More heatwaves could mean a greater public health concern. Last year, heat waves killed over 1,500 in Andhra Pradesh alone.

What the Met department said?

The Met Department has stated that the summer months of 2016 would be warmer than normal across all meteorological sub-divisions of the country and above-normal, heat wave (HW) conditions are very likely over central and northwest India during the period.

Why there is increased frequency and duration of heat waves?

The IMD concurs that the frequency and duration of heat waves over the country are increasing and attributes it to increasing greenhouse gases due to anthropogenic activity and the El Nino — characterised by the warming of sea surface temperatures over the Pacific Ocean and correlated with droughts in India — that is also linked to more heat waves.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 2 Topic: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

SC can’t be bypassed on inter-State disputes: Haryana

The Haryana government has invoked judicial precedents in the Cauvery river water sharing dispute case involving Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka to submit in the Supreme Court that no State Assembly can pass a law to negate the apex court’s constitutional powers to adjudicate and decide inter-State disputes.

  • This has been stated by Haryana during a hearing of the Presidential Reference on the validity of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act of 2004 — which has jeopardised the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal project.
  • The Haryana government argues that a law passed by the State legislature to circumvent or render infructuous a Supreme Court verdict is a clear encroachment by the lawmakers into the judiciary’s terrain.

Background:

The Supreme Court, in March 2016, ordered status quo on the land meant for the Sutlej-Yamuna Link canal after Haryana alleged attempts by Punjab to alter its use by levelling it.

  • This issue escalated when the Punjab assembly passed the Punjab Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal (Rehabilitation and Re-vesting of proprietary Rights) Bill, 2016 to de-notify the land acquired to build the canal in Punjab.
  • Haryana argues the Bill, awaiting the Governor’s assent, would negate the Supreme Court’s 2004 decree calling for unhindered construction of the canal which will give Haryana its share of water.

Controversy surrounding the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal:

The creation of Haryana from the old (undivided) Punjab in 1966 threw up the problem of giving Haryana its share of river waters. Punjab was opposed to sharing waters of the Ravi and Beas with Haryana, citing riparian principles, and arguing that it had no water to spare.

  • However, Centre, in 1976, issued a notification allocating to Haryana 3.5 million acre feet (MAF) out of undivided Punjab’s 7.2 MAF.
  • To enable Haryana to use its share of the waters of the Sutlej and its tributary Beas, a canal linking the Sutlej with the Yamuna, cutting across the state, was planned. In April, 1982, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ceremonially dug the ground at Kapoori village in Patiala district for the construction of the 214-km Sutlej-Yamuna Link (or SYL) canal, 122 km of which was to be in Punjab, and 92 km in Haryana.
  • A tripartite agreement was also negotiated between Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan in this regard.
  • However, following the protests in Punjab, the Punjab Assembly passed The Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, terminating its water-sharing agreements, and thus jeopardising the construction of SYL in Punjab.

Sources: the hindu.


 

Paper 3 Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Government Launches Intellectual Property Information Portal

The government has launched a portal which will act as a single window interface for information on intellectual property and provide guidance on leveraging it for competitive advantage.

About the Portal:

The Indian IP Panorama is a customised version of IP Panorama Multimedia toolkit, developed by World Intellectual Property Organisation, Korean Intellectual Property Office and Korea Invention Promotion Association.

  • The Indian IP Panorama has been developed under the aegis of Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) and DIPP, Government of India by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), in close coordination with the Indian IP office.
  • The portal seeks to increase awareness and build sensitivity towards IP, among stakeholders in the SME sector, academia and researchers.
  • The toolkit has been adapted to cater to SMEs and startups, especially in the ICTE sector of India, based on an agreement signed between WIPO and DeitY.
  • The Indian IP Panorama is in accordance with Indian IP laws, standards, challenges and needs of the Indian ICTE sector.
  • The five modules of the Indian IP Panorama include importance of IP for SMEs, Trademark, Industrial design and Invention and Patent.

About WIPO:

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is one of the 17 specialized agencies of the United Nations.

  • It was created in 1967 “to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world.”
  • It has currently 188 member states, administers 26 international treaties, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Non-members are the states of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands, South Sudan and Timor-Leste. Palestine has observer status.
  • India is a member of WIPO and party to several treaties administered by WIPO.

Sources: the hindu.