The HINDU Notes – 23rd JUNE 2017(Daily News Paper Analysis For UPSC IAS)
Presidential election: Meira Kumar is Opposition candidate
- The Opposition unanimously selected former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar as its candidate for the presidential election.
- If the decision to challenge the BJP nominee, Ram Nath Kovind, sprang from a desire to jointly fight “an ideological battle” against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in the lead-up to 2019, the fact that Ms. Kumar is from Bihar played a role in her selection.
- With the defection of the Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) to the BJP camp, the presence of Ms. Meira Kumar in the fray might embarrass the JD(U).
- Of course, the numbers remain stacked in favour of the BJP-led NDA’s candidate.
Kulbhushan Jadhav files mercy petition before Pakistani military chief
- The Pakistani military announced that former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav had filed a mercy petition with Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa with a confessional statement that he was involved in subversive activities in Balochistan.
- Mr.Jadhav was sentenced to deathby a military court in April 2017 for espionage and terrorism.
- The International Court of Justice in May 2017 halted the execution on India’s appeal.
- India lashed out at Pakistan for the “lack of transparency” in Mr. Jadhav’s trial and mercy petition process, and indicated that Pakistan’s release of the video was an “attempt to introduce prejudice” in the ongoing International Court of Justice appeal.
A law, this time for Antarctica
What is in news?
India is drafting a dedicated Antarctica policy and a law that will likely be tabled in the winter session of Parliament.
Ministry of Earth Sciences officials tasked with drafting the law
A committee that includes Biman Patel, Vice-Chancellor, Gujarat National Law University, has been asked to draft the new ‘Antarctica law.’
Objectives of Antarctica policy:
The treaty is framed to ensure ‘in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord.’
It prohibits military activity, except in support of science; prohibits nuclear explosions and the disposal of nuclear waste; promotes scientific research and the exchange of data; and holds all territorial claims in abeyance.
Conservation of Antarctic Seals (1972)
Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (1980
Antarctic Treaty System (ATS):
Regulate international relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth’s only continent without a native human population.
For the purposes of the treaty system, Antarctica is defined as all of the land and ice shelves south of 60°S latitude.
The treaty, entering into force in 1961 and having 53 parties as of 2016,sets aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, establishes freedom of scientific investigation and bans military activity on that continent.
The treaty was the first arms control agreement established during the Cold War.
The Antarctic Treaty Secretariat headquarters have been located in Buenos Aires, Argentina, since September 2004.
The main treaty was opened for signature on December 1, 1959and officially entered into force on June 23, 1961
The original signatories were the 12 countries active in Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year (IGY) of 1957–58.
The twelve countries that had significant interests in Antarctica at the time were: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States.
About Indian Antarctic Program :
The Indian Antarctic Program is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional program under the control of National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India.
It was initiated in 1981 with the first Indian expedition to Antarctica
. Under the program, atmospheric, biological, earth, chemical, and medical sciences are studied by India, which has carried out 30 scientific expeditions to the Antarctic as of 14 October 2010.
Indian research stations in Antarctica:
In 1981 the Indian flag unfurled for the first time in Antarctica, marking the start of Southern Ocean expeditions under the environmental protocol of the Antarctic Treaty (1959).
The first permanent settlement was built in 1983 and named Dakshin Gangotri. In 1989 it was excavated and is being used again as supply base and transit camp.
The second permanent settlement, Maitri, was put up in 1989 on the Schirmacher Oasis and has been conducting experiments in geology, geography and medicine. India built a freshwater lake around Maitri known as Lake Priyadarshini. Maitri accomplished the mission of geomorphologic mapping of Schirmacher Oasis.
Located beside Larsmann Hill at 69°S, 76°E, Bharati is established in 2015. This newest research station for oceanographic research will collect evidence of continental breakup to reveal the 120-million-year-old ancient history of the Indian subcontinent. In news sources this station was variously spelled “Bharathi”,”Bharti”[ and “Bharati”.
Pattiseema comes to the rescue of delta farmers again
- Water that flowed for the third time from the ambitious Rs.1,300-crore Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Scheme (PLIS) taken up by the Andhra Pradesh government for linking the Godavari and Krishna rivers.
- It has come to the rescue of farmers in 13 lakh acres in four districts in the Krishna River Delta.
- The water from Pattiseema has now become the lifeline of the delta farmers, who otherwise suffered year after year as the water in Krishna river virtually got reduced to a trickle with too many projects upstream.
- Twelve of the 24 pumps of the PLIS were switched on to pump 4,200 cusecs.
- Besides strengthening supply to Krishna delta, the river-linking lift irrigation project effectively tapped at least some of the water from the mighty Godavari river, 3000 tmcft of which otherwise flows waste into the sea every year.
- The government finished the PLIS and bridged gaps in the 177-km Polavaram Right Main Canal to facilitate its flow into Krishna delta surmounting efforts by political rivals to prevent farmers to give up their land needed for the project.
PSLV will lock heavy weight Cartosat-2 into orbit on Friday
- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is all set for the launch of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV- C38 carrying the Cartosat-2 series satellite, along with 30 co-passenger satellites.
- It will be the 17th flight of the four-stage PSLV in the XL (extended) version with strap-on motors.
- The rocket weighing 320 tonnes at lift-off uses solid propellant for the first and third stage and the strap-ons, while the second and fourth stage use liquid propellant.
- The 31 satellites, together weighing 955 kg, will be lifted into a 505-km polar sun synchronous orbit.
- In February 2017, the PSLV-C37 mission launched 104 satellites into orbit, in a milestone achievement.
- The Cartosat-2 earth observation satellite, weighing 712 kg, is the primary payload aboard PSLV-C38 and will be the first to be injected into orbit, 16 minutes from lift-off. The imagery provided by the satellite will be used for cartographic applications, coastal land use and regulation, road network monitoring, water distribution, land use mapping and geographical information system applications.
- The PSLV-C38 payload includes NIUSAT, a nano satellite designed and developed by the Noorul Islam University in Kanyakumari district.
- It will provide imagery for crop monitoring and disaster management support applications.
- The rest of the payload comprises 29 nano satellites from 14 countries – Austria, Belgium, Chile, the Czech republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, United Kingdom and the U.S.
- They are being launched as part of the commercial pact between the Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of ISRO, and the international customers.
‘Plastic bullets’ sent to Kashmir
- New Delhi has supplied forces in Jammu and Kashmir with over one lakh plastic bullets to control crowds in the valley
- Besides, it has also supplied forces with PAVA (made of pelargonic acid vanillyl amide, an organic compound found in natural chilli pepper) shells that are more pungent, to increase their effectiveness.
- The new shells consist of oleoresin, which is more natural and pungent in comparison to the chemical-based PAVA shells
- A plastic bullet or plastic baton round (PBR) is a less-lethal projectile fired from a specialised gun.
- Although designed as a non-lethal weapon, they have caused a number of deaths. They are generally used for riot control.
- Plastic bullets were invented in 1973 by the British security forces for use against rioters in Northern Ireland.
- They were developed to replace their rubber bullets in an attempt to reduce fatalities. If misused they can still cause fatal injury.
- An unrelated small-calibre handgun bullet made of plastic is sometimes used for short range target practice (see recreational use).
- A typical plastic bullet weighs around 130 g. The bullets were originally intended to be effective from 33–64 m
Under the graded response, security forces have various options:
- Tear smoke shells
- PAVA shells
- rubber bullets that are fired from gas guns
- plastic bullets and pellets guns—before actually opening fire.
Army’s search for basic assault rifle set to start again
- The Army’s continued efforts to procure a basic assault rifle is all set to start again.
- Specifications for a new 7.62mm assault rifle are expected to be finalised in the next few days after which a global tender will be issued.
- The rifle requirement is tri-service and the Army is the lead agency.
- This comes even as the Army has rejected the indigenous rifle developed by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) which is currently undergoing trials.
- Army sources said that four of the eight rifles provided were not fit for trials as some inconsistencies were found.
- A senior source in the Army said that during an internal evaluation, “excessive number of faults and stoppages to the extent of more than 20 times the maximum permissible standards” were observed in the prototype.
- Ordnance Factory Board team hadsuo motudeveloped the 7.62 x 51 mm assault rifle in a short span of 6 months and it said that “global benchmarks of similar variety of the rifle were used as a standard.”
- The Army currently uses the indigenous INSAS (Indian National Small Arms System) which it has been trying to replace for a long time.
- In December 2011 a global hunt was launched for interchangeable barrels capable of firing both 5.56mm and 7.62mm calibre bullets which was cancelled in 2015 as none of the companies could meet the over-ambitions GSQRs (General Staff Qualitative Requirements).
- After that the Army decided to go for 7.62mm calibre and a new Request for Information (RFI) was issued in September 2016.
Centre to rejig Air India’s debt
- Amid fresh talk of the Tata group evincing interest in buying out the cash-strapped national carrier Air India, Civil Aviation Ministry officials said that the Centre’s primary focus was to restructure the airline’s debt before it can reach out to potential buyers.
- Officials have also dismissed the notion that any back-channel talks were underway with Tata Sons, and asserted that the stake sale would be done through a transparent bidding process.
- “Our first goal is to restructure Air India’s huge debt of around Rs. 50,000 crore. Otherwise, how will we find buyers?” a senior ministry official said, on the condition of anonymity.
- To make the debt-saddled airline attractive for disinvestment, the Aviation Ministry may ask the Finance Ministry to take over a part of the airline’s debt.
- “For the first time in almost a decade, the airline registered operational profit of Rs.105 crore in 2015-16. The airline is showing signs of revival operationally and that will be our selling point to the Finance Ministry,” the official said.
- The Centre will also seek to negotiate afresh with banks to take over a portion of debt as equity in the airline even as such negotiations in the past have failed.
- If the two options on debt-restructuring do not materialise, the national carrier will have to sell off its assets to reduce its debt.
- Although the Aviation Ministry has proposed an overhaul in Air India’s management with increased private sector participation, it is wary to the idea of complete privatisation of the national carrier. “The government may retain a minority stake in Air India. The idea is to bring industry professionals in running the airline,” an official said.
Resolve 55 accounts in 6 months or face IBC: RBI
- RBI has asked banks to resolve 55 high value cases of bad loans within six months or face the prospect of being directed to go in for the new insolvency resolution mechanism under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC).
- Earlier this month, Reserve Bank of India identified 12 accounts for insolvency proceedings with each of them having over Rs. 5,000 crore of outstanding loans, accounting for 25% of total NPAs of banks.
- In cases where a viable resolution plan is not agreed upon within six months, banks would be asked to file insolvency proceedings against the defaulters under the IBC, sources added.
- The banking sector is saddled with NPAs of over Rs. 8 lakh crore, of which Rs. 6 lakh crore is with public sector banks (PSBs).
- The 12 identified cases account for 25% or about Rs. 2 lakh crore of NPAs.
- IBC has defined time-frame for the resolution and there is 14-day time period for admission or rejection of a case by National Company Law Tribunal. After a case is accepted by NCLT, the creditor would get 30 days to hire insolvency practitioners and then the entire process to be completed in 180 days which will look at various possibilities including revival of projects or liquidation.
Meet on preserving endangered Manipur deer held
What is in news?
- A two-day workshop on how people and brow-antlered deer (Sangai), can co-exist, concluded in Manipur .
- S.A. Hussain, a delegate, stressed the need to create a system where man and deer can co-exist peacefully. Due to lack of funds and poaching, sangai may become extinct sooner than expected.
- The sangai is an endemic and endangered subspecies of brow-antlered deer found only in Manipur, India.
- Sangai is Schedule – I animal, according to wildlife (Protection) act, 1972 and classified as Endangered (EN) by the IUCN.
- It is also state animal of Manipur.
- Its common English name is Manipur brow-antlered deer and the scientific name, Rucervus eldii eldii.
- It lives in the marshy wetland in Keibul Lamjao about 45 km from Imphal.
- Its habitat is located in the southern parts of the Loktak Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake in eastern India.
About Keibul Lamjao National Park:
- Is a national park in the Bishnupur district of the state of Manipur in India.
- The only floating park in the world, located in North East India, and an integral part of Loktak Lake.
- The national park is characterized by many floating decomposed plant materials locally called phumdis.
- To preserve the natural refuge of the endangered Manipur Eld’s deer or brow-antlered deer (Cervus eldi eldi), or sangai also called the dancing deer, listed as an endangered species by IUCN, the park which was initially declared to be a sanctuary in 1966, was subsequently declared to be a national park in 1977 through a gazette notification.