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Insights Daily Current Affairs, 12 July 2017


Insights Daily Current Affairs, 12 July 2017


Paper 2 Topic: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.


SC stays cattle sale rules across nation


The Supreme Court has stayed centre’s May 26th notification banning the sale of cattle in livestock markets for slaughter and religious sacrifices. The order came after the centre accepted that public outcry and objections from the states about the law’s impact on livelihoods made it realise that the rules need tweaking.

  • The court was taking up a bunch of petitions challenging the amendments to the rules framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.



What’s the issue?

The centre, on May 26th, notified the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules, 2017. The notification banned the sale of cattle in livestock market for slaughter and religious sacrifices. This had dismayed cattle traders, butchers and beef eaters. Farmers were also hit as they were also barred from selling non-milch and ageing cattle thus being deprived of their traditional incomes. Various states too opposed the notification saying that it would impact the livelihoods of many.

  • The validity of the rules was challenged in various high courts and the SC. The Madurai bench of Madras HC had stayed the rules.


Way ahead:

The centre has acknowledged that the law needs some tweaking keeping in mind the concerns raised by various stakeholders. It has also clarified that tweaking does not mean repeal. It would shortly come out with necessary amendments.


Sources: the hindu.


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


Earth facing sixth mass extinction


The sixth mass extinction of life on Earth is unfolding more quickly than feared, scientists have warned. Scientists call this as a case of biological annihilation occurring globally.

  • Globally, the mass die-off — deemed to be the sixth in the last half-billion years — is the worst since three-quarters of life on the Earth, including the non-avian dinosaurs, were wiped out 66 million years ago by a giant meteor impact. On an average, two vertebrate species disappear every year.

sixth mass extinction

Supporting data:

  • More than 30% of animals with a backbone — fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals — are declining in both range and population.
  • The mammal species that were monitored have lost at least a third of their original habitat. 40% of them — including rhinos, orangutans, gorillas and many big cats — are surviving on 20% or less of the land they once roamed. The loss of biodiversity has recently accelerated.
  • Several species of mammals that were relatively safe one or two decades ago are now endangered, including cheetahs, lions and giraffes. There are as few as 20,000 lions left in the wild, less than 7,000 cheetahs, 500 to 1,000 giant pandas, and about 250 Sumatran rhinoceros.
  • Tropical regions have seen the highest number of declining species. In South and Southeast Asia, large-bodied species of mammals have lost more than four-fifths of their historical ranges.
  • While fewer species are disappearing in temperate zones, the percentage is just as high or higher. As many as half of the number of animals that once shared our planet are no longer here, a loss described as “a massive erosion of the greatest biological diversity in the history of Earth”.


Factors behind the loss?

The main drivers of wildlife decline are habitat loss, overconsumption, pollution, invasive species, disease, as well as poaching in the case of tigers, elephants, rhinos and other large animals prized for their body parts. Climate change is poised to become a major threat in the coming decades.


Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential; citizens charters, transparency & accountability and institutional and other measures.


5 States, a UT sign pact with Centre on e-Marketplace


In a spirit of cooperative federalism, 5 States and a Union Territory (UT) have formally adopted the Centre’s initiative called the Government e-Marketplace (GeM).

  • The States and the UT that signed an MoU with the Centre include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Telangana, Puducherry and Arunachal Pradesh.

e-market places

What you need to know about GeM?

It aims to ensure that public procurement of goods and services in India worth more than Rs. 5 lakh crore annually is carried out through the online platform for transparency and to eliminate corruption.

  • It aims to transform the way in which procurement of goods and services is done by the Government Ministries/Departments, PSUs, autonomous bodies etc.
  • DGS&D with technical support of NeGD (MeitY) has developed GeM portal for procurement of both Products & Services.
  • GeM is a completely paperless, cashless and system driven e-market place that enables procurement of common use goods and services with minimal human interface.


Sources: the hindu.


Paper 2 Topic: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.


U.S. may tighten rules for foreign students


US is planning to tighten rules for foreign students. A proposal is under consideration by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

  • The proposal is part of an ongoing review of the immigration policy to ensure that it “promotes the national interest, enhances national security and public safety and ensures the integrity of our immigration system.”


Current regulations:

Under current regulations, international students can stay in the U.S. as long as they are enrolled for a programme. Students who enter the U.S on F-1 visas are issued an entry document with an end date that states “duration of stay”, which is theoretically open-ended. They can stay as long as they have a valid I-20 document, which is issued by the university, with all details regarding the student’s programme of study, financing, etc. They can also move from one programme to another and from one institution to another, by a notification to the DHS, based on a new I-20 document that the institution issues.


Implications of the new move:

Foreign students in the United States may be required to reapply every year for permission to stay in the country. It will make their visa status time-bound. The proposed measures could increase costs and paper work for students and universities.


Implications for India:

Since the proposal requires fees to be paid each time a student reapplies, it could make the U.S. a less attractive destination for students from India.

Indians are the fastest growing group among the international student population in the U.S. There are 1,66,000 students from India pursuing higher education in the U.S. now, up from about 1,00,000 two years earlier. A large majority of them pursue science, technology, engineering and math courses. Around 1.4 million international students are currently present in the U.S.


Sources: the hindu.


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


Sensor network to map and predict pollution, effluents in Godavari


A group of U.S. researchers is working on a system to map undulating pollution trends in the Godavari, India’s second longest river.

  • Using a mix of methods, including satellite-monitoring, traversing stretches of the river to collect water samples and using special sensors to measure bacterial and chemical pollution, the researchers are trying to develop a cost-effective forecast system.
  • Through cloud-based data collection and real-time mapping systems, the research and implementation teams intend to demonstrate the importance and value of detecting and anticipating pollutants that enter the river in the form of human waste, organic materials, and chemical contaminants.
  • The exercise is part of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project to support the programme of the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) to provide city-wide sanitation improvements in urban Andhra Pradesh. Sensors to monitor river pollution are an emerging technological approach in India.


Objectives of the project:

  • The long-term objective is to be able to inform State officials and citizens of a probable spike in, say, levels of dangerous microbes or effluents, similar to weather and air pollution forecasts.
  • Also, it is to be able to access “raw data” that could be used to inform the efficacy of a proposed faecal sludge treatment plant and whether behavioural interventions — including incentives or punishments — to restrict activities that pollute the river could actually work.


About Godavari River:

The Godavari is the second longest river in India after the river Ganges having its source at Tryambakeshwar, Maharashtra.

  • It starts in Maharashtra and flows east for 1,465 kilometres (910 mi) emptying into Bay of Bengal draining the Indian states Maharashtra (48.6%), Telangana(18.8%), Andhra Pradesh (4.5%), Chhattisgarh (10.9%), Madhya Pradesh (10.0%), Odisha (5.7%), Karnataka (1.4%) and Puducherry through its extensive network of tributaries.
  • Measuring up to 312,812 km2 (120,777 sq mi), it forms one of the largest river basins in the Indian subcontinent, with only the Ganges and Indus rivers having a drainage basin larger than it in India.
  • Important tributaries include Pravara, Purna, Manjira, Pranhita, Indravati and Sabari.


Sources: the hindu.


Facts for Prelims:


India to celebrate Falun Gong:

  • Falun Gong, the ancient Chinese holistic system that is banned in China, will be celebrated in India on July 15 with a parade and Human Word Formation in the capital. The event would highlight the persecution against the practitioners in China. The practice is banned in China.
  • Falun Gong is a Chinese spiritual practice that combines meditation and qigong exercises with a moral philosophy centered on the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.
  • The practice emphasizes morality and the cultivation of virtue, and identifies as a qigong practice of the Buddhist school, though its teachings also incorporate elements drawn from Taoist traditions.
  • Through moral rectitude and the practice of meditation, practitioners of Falun Gong aspire to eliminate attachments, and ultimately to achieve spiritual enlightenment.


Pope Francis adds fourth path to sainthood:

  • Pope Francis has issued an apostolic letter creating a new category — a fourth one — under which someone could possibly become a saint. The pathway focuses on people who sacrifice their lives for others.
  • The category added, called an oblatio vitae or a “free offering of one’s life” as described by the Vatican, involves people who freely accept an imminent death for the good of others.
  • Previously, gaining consideration for sainthood in the Catholic Church took only three routes: martyrdom (dying for your faith); living a life of heroic, Christian values; or having a saintly and devout reputation. One of the most well-known figures to take one of those paths in recent times was humanitarian Mother Teresa, who was canonized as Saint Teresa of Calcutta in 2016.


Minimum qualifications for coop. societies’ polls:

  • Rajasthan has become the country’s first State to lay down the minimum educational qualifications for contesting elections to village cooperative societies and various other cooperative bodies. The State Cooperative Societies Rules, 2003, were amended for the purpose and notified.
  • The educational qualifications will range from Class V to Class VIII for election as members of governing boards of dairy societies, farming societies, consumer societies, weavers’ societies, housing construction societies, urban banks, primary land development banks, credit societies, salary earners’ societies and cooperative unions.