Insights Daily Current Affairs, 17 March 2018
Topic: Parliament and State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.
No confidence motion
Context: The YSR Congress has proposed a no-confidence motion against the NDA government on the issue of granting special category status to Andhra Pradesh. The motion will be the first such move during the tenure of this NDA government.
What is a no-confidence motion?
A no-confidence motion is a parliamentary motion which is moved in the Lok Sabha against the entire council of ministers, stating that they are no longer deemed fit to hold positions of responsibility due to their inadequacy in some respect or their failure to carry out their obligations. No prior reason needs to be stated for its adoption in the Lok Sabha.
How it works?
At least 50 MPs would need to stand up and support the move. If there are 50 MPs in favour, the motion is admitted and the speaker allots a date for discussion on the motion. The prime minister or ministers reply to the charges made. The mover has the right to reply. After the debate, the speaker puts question to the house and ascertains the decision of the house by voice vote or a division.
A Motion of No-confidence need not set out any grounds on which it is based. Even when grounds are mentioned in the notice and read out in the House, they do not form part of the no-confidence Motion.
The government is expected to resign if it loses a trust vote. In case its refuses to do so, the President has the power to remove the prime minister. In the history of Indian Parliament, no Prime Minister has been forcibly removed so far. After a government loses a trust vote and resigns, it continues to function, but as a caretaker government with almost the same powers as it had before the voting.
However, a caretaker government wouldn’t have the power to take any major policy decisions since Parliament remains dissolved. A new government gets elected after the general elections.
Key facts for Prelims:
- The Rajya Sabha does not have a procedure for moving of an adjournment motion, censure motion or no-confidence motion against the Government.
- Rule 198 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in Lok Sabha lays down the procedure for moving a Motion of No-Confidence in the Council of Ministers.
- There is no mention of a no-confidence motion in the constitution.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
Context: The burden of yellow fever in any given area is known to be heavily dependent on climate, particularly rainfall and temperature which can impact both mosquito life cycle and viral replication. Now, researchers from Imperial College London and the World Health Organization (WHO) have developed a new model to quantify yellow fever dynamics across Africa using not only annual averages of these climatic measures, but seasonal dynamics.
About the new model:
The new model integrated the effects of temperature on mosquito behavior and virus transmission, and looked at monthly variation in temperature rainfall, and vegetation throughout the year across Africa. The model confirmed and quantified that, even in areas with high transmission potential for yellow fever, the risk varies throughout the year.
Significance of the new model:
This finding, in conjunction with forecasted data, could highlight areas of increased transmission and provide insights into the occurrence of large outbreaks. When used in conjunction with forecasted data, the model predictions could be useful for focusing both surveillance efforts, and the pre-positioning of material and equipment in areas and periods of particularly high risk. This would allow the facilitation of early interventions in emerging yellow fever outbreaks — which is key to prevent large scale outbreaks.
What is yellow fever?
Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by the aedes and Haemogogus mosquitoes. It is not always easy to diagnose, especially at the beginning, since its symptoms can often be confused with those of malaria, dengue fever, or other haemorrhagic fever. However, some patients will suffer from a jaundice specific to the disease, which explains why the term “yellow” is used.
What can be done against yellow fever?
To date, there is no treatment against yellow fever. Water and medicines can be given to target the symptoms, such as fever or dehydration. Vaccination is the best option to prevent outbreaks of the disease and to protect people against it.
Other strategies to combat the disease include mosquito population control, with the large scale use of pesticides and mosquito nets, as well as the treatment of stagnant water sources.
For Prelims and Mains: All about Yellow fever.
Topic: India and its neighbourhood- relations.
Rohingya refugees issue
Context: The centre has asked the Supreme Court not to intervene in the deportation of Rohingya Muslims, saying any direction by the top court on the subject would not be in the national interest.
Why should the court not intervene, according to the centre?
According to the centre, India is already facing serious problems of infiltration because of its porous border with other countries which is the root cause of spread of terrorism in the country and takes “thousands of lives” of citizens and security personnel. And securing the borders of any sovereign nation in accordance with law is an essentially function and hence the court should not issue any direction in this matter.
Also, since India is not a signatory to the United Nations convention relating to status of refugees, it is not mandatory for the court to issue a direction to stop their deportation.
Relief measures by India:
The centre is providing medical facilities to Rohingyas who have taken refuge in various states. Identity cards are being given to Rohingya refugees.
What’s the issue?
The Rohingya people are a Muslim minority group residing in the Rakhine state, formerly known as Arakan and are considered to be a variation of the Sunni religion.
The Rohingya people are considered “stateless entities”, as the Myanmar government has been refusing to recognise them as one of the ethnic groups of the country. For this reason, the Rohingya people lack legal protection from the Government of Myanmar, are regarded as mere refugees from Bangladesh, and face strong hostility in the country.
What needs to be done?
The Myanmar Government should amend or repeal the 1982 Burma Citizenship Law to provide the Rohingya people with full citizenship in the country. Bangladesh and other governments in Southeast Asia must ensure those fleeing violence and seeking protection, are granted access, at least temporarily.
- For Prelims: UN convention on refugees.
- For Mains: All about Rohingya issue.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Awareness in space.
Context: Preparing itself to deal with a potential asteroid impact, NASA has drawn up plans to build a huge nuclear spacecraft, named Hammer spacecraft, that is capable of shunting or blowing up dangerous space rocks and safeguarding life on Earth.
About the Hammer spacecraft:
- The spacecraft named Hammer (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response) is an eight tonne spaceship which could deflect a giant space rock, if it happens to hit Earth.
- It was devised by top experts, including Nasa, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and two Energy Department weapons labs.
How it works?
- The spacecraft has two ways of dispatching an asteroid collision threat. The first involves hitting the asteroid, and then steering it off-course so it doesn’t end up hitting Earth.
- The second – and more dangerous – would see the HAMMER detonating its on-board nuclear warhead to change the asteroid’s course.
Earth is hit by asteroids with surprising regularity but most are too small to do much damage or fall in unpopulated areas. NASA’s Centre for Near-Earth Object Studies now lists 73 asteroids which have a one in 1,600 chance of hitting the Earth.
Potential application of Hammer spacecraft:
- The new spacecraft could be useful in 2035, when scientists say there is a 1 in 2,700 chance the Bennu asteroid will hit us. The space boulder is currently circling the sun at 63,000mph, and has a very slim chance of plummeting into Earth. Bennu is around 500m in diameter.
- Every 6 years, Bennu’s orbit brings it within 200,000 miles of the Earth, which means it has a high probability of impacting Earth in the late 22nd Century.
- Although there is little risk it could hit the Earth, it is still considered as an NEO, or Near Earth Object, which would hit the planet with 1,450 megatons of TNT. Bennu’s impact would release three times more energy than all nuclear weapons detonated throughout history.
For Prelims and Mains: Bennu, Hammer spacecraft and OSIRIS-Rex.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology.
Context: Scientists at the ICAR-Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes (CIRB) have produced cloned calf ‘HISAR GOURAV’.
- This cloned buffalo calf is distinct from the earlier clones produced in India, as this is produced from cells of ventral side of tail of superior buffalo bull, this part is least exposed to sunlight and may have less mutation rate, and can be good choice for isolation of donor cells to produce healthy clones.
- With this achievement CIRB becomes world’s third and India’s second institute to produce cloned buffalo. This achievement has been made under the project entitled, Cloning for conservation and multiplication of superior buffalo germplasm.
- The first successful cloning was achieved by the National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal in 2010. Samrupa is the world’s first Murrah buffalo calf cloned using a simple “Hand guided cloning technique”.
India has 58% the world’s buffaloes and 35% of India’s cattle are buffaloes. Buffalo milk is 70% of the total milk yield in India, with its national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) share being larger than wheat and rice combined. Buffalo meat makes up 86% of India’s total meat exports.
- Central Institute for Research on Buffaloes is a publicly funded institute for water buffalo research. It is located at Hisar in the north Indian state of Haryana.
- It has a mandate to conserve superior animals of all buffalo breeds.
- It is the world’s largest buffalo research institute with the widest range of breeds under study.
- It has created the world’s first online Buffalopedia in several languages.
- For Prelims: CIRB, HISAR GOURAV and SAMRUPA.
- For Mains: Cloning and issues associated.
Sources: the hindu.
Topic: Disaster and disaster management.
Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES)
Context: The Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (RIMES), an UN-registered agency will collaborate with Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) to strengthen its quality, prediction ability and response capacity.
Benefits of this collaboration:
- RIMES will provide technical support to OSDMA regarding analysis of data to be generated through automatic weather stations being installed in all the gram panchayats, validation of the forecast, early warning and preparedness for lightening, heat wave, flood, draught and Tsunami.
- It would enhance the warning response capacities of the OSDMA by imparting specialized expert training. It will also help to develop a one-stop risk management system for all OSDMA needs- integration of multiple data database/servers.
- RIMES, an inter-governmental body registered under the United Nations. It is being owned and managed by 45 collaborating countries in Asia Pacific and Africa Region. The programme unit of the agency is located in Thailand.
- RIMES evolved from the efforts of countries in Africa and Asia, in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, to establish a regional early warning system within a multi-hazard framework for the generation and communication of early warning information, and capacity building for preparedness and response to trans-boundary hazards.
- At present, India is chairing RIMES.
Sources: the hindu.
Facts for Prelims:
Maharashtra to ban plastic:
Context: The Maharashtra government has decided to ban the use of plastic. The changes will be brought in with amendments to the Solid Waste Management Act 2016 and the Plastic Carry Bags (Manufacture and Usage) Rules 2006.
- Penalty: The highlight of the ban is that both manufacturers and users will be penalized. The punishment is a fine ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 and a jail term of three months.
- Implementation: Implementation will be the responsibility of local bodies and the state pollution control board (MPCB).
The ban would cover the production, use, storage, sale, distribution, import and transportation of plastic. The ban covers disposable plastic cups, plates, spoons and flex, but excludes garbage bin liners and PET bottles.
Plastic used to cover medicines, forest and horticulture products, solid waste, tree saplings and the use of plastic in special economic zones for export purposes would be exempt from the ban. Similarly, plastic covers and wrappers used for manufactured and processed products would also be exempt.
New species of water strider found in Nagaland:
Context: Scientists from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have discovered a new species of water strider from Nagaland. The species is named Ptilomera nagalanda Jehamalar and Chandra.
- Significance of this discovery: Water striders are a group of insects adapted to life on the surface of water, using surface tension to their advantage. Their presence serves as an indicator water of water quality and they are found on water surface. Other than being a good indicator of water quality, water striders also play an important role in the food chain by feeding on mosquito larvae.
- So far, only five species of water striders under the subgenus Ptilomera were known in India. With the discovery of Ptilomera nagalanda the number of species of water striders belonging to the subgenus has increased to six.
- Ptilomera is that they are only found in rocky, fast flowing streams and rivers that are not exposed to a lot of sunlight.