The HINDU Notes – 09th JUNE 2017(Daily News Paper Analysis For UPSC IAS)
- Retail prices for petrol and diesel would be revised on a daily basis starting from June 16, compared to the present system where oil marketing companies usually adjust prices on a fortnightly basis.
- The public sector oil marketeers — Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum and Bharat Petroleum — launched a pilot project in May for daily dynamic pricing at petrol pumps in Udaipur, Puducherry, Visakhapatnam, Jamshedpur and Chandigarh.
- Based on the ‘successful implementation’ of the pilot project, the firms have decided to start daily revision across the country.
- Daily revisions will make retail prices more reflective of the current market conditions.
- Minimises the volatility in the retail sales price of petrol and diesel.
- Increased transparency
- The Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot is in the spotlight once again, as scientists have discovered a new genus and six new species of freshwater crabs in these mountainous forests.
- With the recent finding in Kerala, freshwater crab diversity in the State has risen to 34 species, the highest in the country. Nearly 50% of crabs in the Western Ghats (27 of 47 species) occur here.
- All six species were discovered on the Kerala side.
- Karkata,which stands for crab in Sanskrit, has been given a separate genus, indicating a higher order of distinctive features. It is endemic to the Western Ghats.
- Three weeks after the successful completion of India’s first uterine transplants, both patients – a lady from Solapur and another from Gujarat – were discharged, said doctors at the Pune-based Galaxy Care Laparoscopy Institute where the operations were performed.
- The woman from Solapur, who suffers from congenital uterus absence, was fitted with her mother’s womb which was retrieved mainly through laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgery (MIS) after a nine-hour operation.
- The second womb transplant, of a lady from Baroda with a dysfunctional uterus and suffering from Asherman’s Syndrome (adhesions or internal scar tissues), was achieved in even lesser time the following day.
- Pregnancies in the future for them would be in-vitro fertilization (IVF) as opposed to natural conception.
- Dr. Puntambekar said that sperms had been taken from the respective husbands of the patients and that eight embryos had been frozen.
- “We will have to wait for another six months at least before the embryos would can be implanted in the transplanted wombs,” he informed.
- The cervical biopsy tests to gauge organ rejection after the uterus transplant carried out on both patients in the first and second weeks after the operation showed no signs of organ rejection.
- A majority of the 20-odd uterine transplant operations performed round the world to date have often been frustrated by organ rejection (in which the patient’s immune system attacks the organ; an infection of the organ; or problems with the organ’s blood supply).
- Only a handful of these sometimes-controversial operations have met with success, primarily in Sweden.
- A certain and easy way to find out pollution levels in water will be introduced in the coming weeks.
- Based on the proposal of the Telangana State Pollution Control Board (TSPCB), the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is working on coming up with a Water Quality Index, on the lines of Air Quality Index (AQI).
- A committee has been formed with senior environment scientists to formulate models to assess the water quality.
- The committee, which met twice till now, has closely studied similar models existing in Australia and Canada.
- Since developing an index for water quality is complex than air quality, we decided to have three different models for lakes and rivers, ground water and coastal waters. The parameters that will be considered will differ for each of the model.
- The Pollution Control Boards of various States are at present testing the models and checking for the accuracy of the output.
- By this month end, the final draft of the Water Quality Index will be ready and it will reviewed by the Chairman of the CPCB after which it will be made public.
- The Drug Controller will soon restrict manufacturing of controversial hormone drug Oxytocin to public sector undertakings (PSUs).
- Oxytocin at present is banned in the retail markets after it was found that indiscriminate use of Oxytocin in milch animals and by farmers was causing irreversible hormone damage.
- Controversial usage: The drug is used by diary owners and farmers to boost milk production and make vegetables look bigger and fresher.
- Oxytocin is a hormone known to trigger a wide variety of physical and psychological effects and is commonly used to facilitate childbirth.
Chinas state-run news agency Xinhua has announced a USD one million fund to institutionalise media cooperation among the BRICS countries including awards for journalists from the five member states. This was announced at the recently held BRICS media forum.
- The plan will promote six objectives, including “balanced reporting”— a view shared by several speakers at the forum, who called for alternative media narrative, which did not take the cue from Washington or London.
- The proposal would also focus on joint development of BRICS digital media, financial information services and promoting people- to-people contacts.
- Journalists from 27 media organisations from BRICS countries took part in the BRICS Media Forum.
- The forum with the theme Deepening media cooperation among BRICS countries, promoting equity and justice in international media was proposed by Xinhua and jointly initiated with Brazils CMA Group, Russias Sputnik News Agency and Radio, the Hindu Group of India and South Africas Independent Media.
- BRICS brings together five major emerging economies, comprising 43% of the world population, having 30% of the world GDP and 17% share in the world trade.
- The acronym BRIC was first used in 2001 by Goldman Sachs in their Global Economics Paper, “The World Needs Better Economic BRICs” on the basis of econometric analyses projecting that the economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China would individually and collectively occupy far greater economic space and would be amongst the world’s largest economies in the next 50 years or so.
- As a formal grouping, BRIC started after the meeting of the Leaders of Russia, India and China in St. Petersburg on the margins of G8 Outreach Summit in 2006.
- The grouping was formalized during the 1st meeting of BRIC Foreign Ministers on the margins of UNGA in New York in 2006. The 1st BRIC Summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on 16 June 2009.
- It was agreed to expand BRIC into BRICS with the inclusion of South Africa at the BRIC Foreign Ministers’ meeting in New York in September 2010. Accordingly, South Africa attended the 3rd BRICS Summit in Sanya, China in April 2011.
DGFT may come under Revenue dept
The Centre is considering a proposal to shift the entire Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) office to the Department of Revenue (DoR) from the Department of Commerce (DoC) — as part of measures to simplify processes relating to export and import.
- The suggestion — billed as a major trade facilitation measure and in line with the Centre’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ initiative — was mooted recently by the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in the DoR within the Finance Ministry.
- The DGFT’s role includes Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) formulation and implementation — to in turn boost India’s exports.
- It is manned mainly by the Indian Trade Service (ITS) cadre officials, but is usually headed by an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.
- If the proposal, that the CBEC put forward in a recent inter-ministerial meeting convened by the Cabinet Secretariat, is accepted, the DGFT will be placed within the DoR and staffed entirely by Indian Revenue Service (IRS) official.
- The proposal will be taken up again soon, most probably in the first week of July.
- This development follows the DoC recently seeking to hive off non-core areas including FTP implementation. This is to better utilise the DoC’s resources (including ITS cadre officials) in ‘core focus areas’ such as FTP formulation as well as in India’s trade negotiations.
- The CBEC, however, is learnt to have said that it was getting several complaints from those in the foreign trade sector saying the current division of trade facilitation-related work between DoC and DoR was resulting in ‘red tapism’ and delays.
To ensure greater ease of doing business, it will be better if the entire trade facilitation work is brought under a single interface, the CBEC said. India is currently ranked 130th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s (ease of) Doing Business report (2017) and further lower at 143rd when it comes to ‘trading across borders’.
- The shifting of DGFT office would require amendments in the concerned laws — the Foreign Trade (Development & Regulations) Act and the Customs Act.
- Another factor that could strengthen the CBEC’s proposal is that it (CBEC) currently houses the Secretariat of the inter-ministerial National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF), which was established in August 2016, consequent to India ratifying the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in April 2016.
- The TFA has provisions to help ease flow of goods across borders. The pact has measures to ensure effective cooperation between customs and other concerned authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues.
The NCTF is chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and comprises Secretaries of the departments concerned with trade issues including DoR and DoC.
Indian-American among 12 new astronauts chosen by NASA
- U.S. Space Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has chosen 12 new astronauts, including an Indian-American, from a record number of over 18,000 applicants, who will be trained for missions into Earth orbit and to deep space.
- Lt Col Raja “Grinder” Chari, 39, is a commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
- Hailing from Waterloo, Iowa, Mr. Chari earned a Master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT and graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School. His father is from India.
- After completing two years of training, the new astronaut candidates could be assigned to missions performing research on theInternational Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and flying on deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.
- The 12 new candidates include six military officers, three scientists, two medical doctors, a lead engineer at SpaceX and a NASA research pilot.