The HINDU Notes – 11th April
📰 THE HINDU – CURRENT NOTE 11 April
- The nilgai or blue bull is the largest Asian antelope and is endemic to the Indian subcontinent.
- Nilgai prefer areas with short bushes and scattered trees in scrub forests and grassy plains.
- They are common in agricultural lands, but hardly occur in dense forest.
- Major populations occur in the Terai lowlands in the foothills of the Himalayas (northern India), but the antelope is sparsely found in Nepal and Pakistan and is extinct in Bangladesh.
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
- The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted for protection of plants and animal species.
- Objective: The Act provides for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants
- It has six schedules which give varying degrees of protection.
- Schedule I and part II of Schedule II – absolute protection – offences under these are prescribed the highest penalties.
- Schedule III and Schedule IV species are also protected, but the penalties are much lower.
- Schedule V includes the animals which may be hunted.
- The plants in Schedule VI are prohibited from cultivation and planting.
- Enforcement can be performed by agencies such as the Forest Department, the Police, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB), the Customs and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
- The Sindhi language has 52 alphabets against 35 in Hindi; it has 101 words for ‘elephant’; 28 commonly used words for camel, and an equal number of words for water.
- Its vast lexicon lent it the sobriquet of being the most ‘oxygenated language’.
- In a major step aimed at conserving and disseminating the Sindhi language, the National Council for Promotion of Sindhi Language (NCPSL), affiliated with the Union HRD Ministry, on 10 APRIL 2017 released software tools and eBooks developed by the Centre for development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in order to adapt Sindhi into the digital medium.
- Owing to its peculiar geographical location, Sindhi embraced the gamut of Indo-Iranic languages including Uzbeki, Persian, Pushto, Hindi, Urdu, and Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil.
- The occasion marked the 50th year since Sindhi was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution by the 21st amendment of the Constitution.
- The Partition of 1947 resulted in the community being scattered and living as a Diaspora across the globe, leading to the atrophying of the language.
- As a result, the community’s leaders endeavoured to get the language included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution.
- Steps have been taken for the conservation and propagation of the Sindhi language – both in the Devnagiri and Arabic scripts.
🌐 Aadhaar must for access to Survey of India maps
- The Survey of India, the country’s oldest scientific organisation and official maker of maps, has set up a web portal called Nakshe that allows 3,000 of its 7,000 maps to be downloaded for free.
- The only caveat is that one would require an Aadhaar number for such access.
- The SoI maps -prepared for defence and civilian purposes – are considered a standard reference for the shape, extent and geographic features of the country.
- The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Bill, 2016 specifically says that the number can’t be used as proof of citizenship or domicile.
Survey of India
🌐 Govt. to get tough on traffic offences
- The Lok Sabha on 10 April 2017 cleared amendments to the motor vehicles law that will substantially increase the penalty for traffic violations, allow learner’s driving licences to be issued online and penalise contractors for faulty road designs.
- Driving without a licence may soon lead to a minimum fine of Rs. 5,000 as against Rs. 500 at present, according to the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2016.
- Similarly, for over-speeding, the penalty may go up to Rs. 1,000- 2,000 from Rs. 400.
- Not wearing seatbelts would result in a minimum penalty of Rs. 1,000 against Rs. 100 at present.
- The traffic violation penalties will also increase 10% each year once the Bill becomes a law.
- To become a law, the Bill, which will amend the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, must be passed in the Rajya Sabha, followed by President Pranab Mukherjee’s consent.
- The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha by voice vote after various opposition amendments were rejected.
- The Centre also plans to make submission of Aadhaar number mandatory for applying for a driving licence and vehicle registration by making an enabling provision in the Bill.
🌐 Ship rescue: China refuses to credit India
- China on 10 April 2017 declined to give the Indian Navy any credit for the rescue of hostages from a commercial ship pirated near the Gulf of Aden.
In response to a question, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that at 5 p.m. on April 8, the 25th convoy of theChinese Navy that was conducting an escort mission received a report about the hijack of the ship 0S 35, registered in Tuvalu, in the waters west of Socotra in the Arabian Sea.
- “Fleet vessel Yulin immediately set out after the vessel. A rescue operation started in the early morning of April 9. Under the cover of helicopters…, the Navy’s special force members boarded the ship and rescued the 19 crew members. Both the ship and the crew members are safe now.”
- The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s account, which excludes any reference to Indian participation in the operation, is in sharp contrast to a statement issued in New Delhi.
- The Indian Navy spokesperson was quoted as saying: “In a show of international maritime cooperation against piracy, a boarding party from the nearby Chinese Navy ship went on board the merchant ship, while an Indian naval helicopter provided air cover for the operation. It has been established that all 19 Filipino crew members are safe.”
- She did not give any additional detail when asked about India’s participation in the rescue.
🌐 Australian uranium to arrive soon
- Australia will start supplying uranium to India “as soon as possible”, the visiting Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said on 10 April 2017.
- Australia’s promise on uranium was announced even as both countries signed six agreements, including one on countering terrorism.
- Australia is already partnering with India’s 24×7 Power For All, Smart Cities and Make in India programmes.
- Mr. Modi welcomed the passage of the Civil Nuclear Transfers to India Act in the Australian Parliament, opening up opportunities for Australia to support Indian energy generation.
- Australia has about 40 per cent of the world’s uranium reserves and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of yellow cake annually.
- Both sides agreed to extend bilateral engagement to the Asia- Pacific region.
- In this context, a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting agreed to hold a bilateral maritime exercise named AUSINDEX in the Bay of Bengal in 2018 and also pledged to hold a joint exercise of the Special Forces later this year.
Both sides welcomed the decision for the first bilateral Army-to- Army exercise later this year.
- As part of the emerging Asia- Pacific focus of India-Australia ties, the joint statement took a firm position against China’s growing presence in the South China Sea region and said, “Both leaders recognised that India and Australia share common interests in ensuringmaritime security and the safety of sea lines of communication.
- Both leaders recognised the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, as well asresolving maritime disputes by peaceful means.
🌐 Only Parliament can allow additions to OBC list
- The Lok Sabha on 10 April 2017 cleared the Constitution 102nd Amendment Bill, that grants constitutional status to the Backward Classes Commission, now called the National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes.
- The Bill also enjoins that any addition to the Central list of communities under the Other Backward Classes will have to be cleared through Parliament.
- Minister for Social Justice and empowerment Thawarchand Gehlot said that the bill would ensure the rights of the Other Backward Classes, and give the National Commission for Backward Classes the constitutional safeguards enjoyed by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
- Mr Gehlot also tried to allay fears expressed by several opposition parties on the Centre’s encroachment on the rights of State government to include the names of OBC castes in the Central list.
- “I want to assure all the honourable members that their fears of an attack on the rights of the State government via this bill are unfounded,” he said.
National Commission for Backward Classes
🌐 Hasina invites Indian companies to Bangladesh, promises SEZs
- Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina invited Indian companies to invest in the country’s infrastructure sector that requires investments of about $20 billion a year till 2030, promising to exclusively dedicate at least three of the 100 proposed special economic zones in the country for Indian investors.
Ms. Hasina said, stressing that apart from a bilateral investment pact to protect Indian investors, the country was also offering packages that allow 100% repatriation of profits and invested capital by foreign investors.
- With a per-capita income of $1,446 and a growth rate of 6% to 7% in the last eight years, Bangladesh offers a fast-growing domestic market of 160 million consumers as well as special duty-free access to various global markets, Ms. Hasina pointed out, expressing hope that the country’s economy will grow at 8% by 2020.
- As many as thirteen pacts were signed between Indian and Bangladeshi firms at the India Bangladesh Business Forum summit, entailing investments of about $9 billion.
- Apart from joint ventures between public sector firms of the two countries, these pacts included a $2-billion deal between Adani Power Limited and Bangladesh Power Development Board for purchasing power from the company’s 1,600 MW Power Plant in Jharkhand.
- Bilateral trade between India and Bangladesh had grown 17% in the past five years to reach $6.5 billion, but Bangladesh’s exports have failed to cross the billion- dollar mark.
🌐 Align bank pay to that in CPSEs: BBB
- The Bank Board Bureau (BBB) has recommended that the government bring in reforms in the compensation process in public sector banks on the lines of Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs).
- BBB, set up in April 2016 to select board members including MD & CEO in PSBs, put out the list of recommendations that it had submitted to the government on its website.
- BBB has suggested compensation reforms in PSBs so that best practices can be introduced ‘on the lines already prevalent in Central Public Sector Enterprises.’
- To attract high quality talent for non-executive directors and chairmen, BBB suggested a level-playing field with the private sector with respect to role, responsibility and remuneration.
🌐 ‘Zero recovery’ for damaged corals
- Coral bleached for two consecutive years at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has “zero prospect” of recovery, scientists warned on 10 April 2017, as they confirmed the site has again been hit by warming sea temperatures.
Researchers said last month they were detecting another round of mass bleaching this year after a severe event in 2016, and their fears were confirmed after aerial surveys of the entire 2,300-kilometre long bio-diverse reef.
- It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offer zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016.
- It is the fourth time coral bleaching – where stressed corals expel the algae that live in their tissue and provide them with food – has hit the reef after previous events in 1998 and 2002, scientists said.
🌐 ‘Silk Road’ train begins 18-day journey
- The first-ever freight train from Britain to China, laden with whisky, soft drinks and baby products, started its mammoth journey on 10 April 2017 along a modern-day “Silk Road” trade route.
- The 32-container train, around 600 metres long, left from the vast London Gateway container port on the River Thames estuary, bound for Yiwu on the Chinese east coast.
- It was seen off on its 18-day, 12,000-kilometre journey.
- The first train from China to Britain arrived on January 18, filled with clothes and other retail goods, and 10 April 2017 departure was the first journey in the other direction.
- The rail route is cheaper than air freight and faster than sea freight, offering logistics companies a new middle option.
- The train will go through the Channel Tunnel before travelling across France, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan before heading into China.
- The containers will be taken off and put on different wagons at the Belarus border, as the former Soviet Union countries use a wider rail gauge.
- The containers switch back to standard gauge rails at the Chinese border, an operation that typically takes around two hours.
🌐 NASA balloon launch again delayed
- The launch of NASA’s super pressure balloon – carrying a space observatory designed to detect high-energy cosmic rays – was postponed for the third time on 10 April 2017 due to poor weather conditions.
- Wind speeds were just slightly above those required for launch, and with the uncertainty for precipitation in the area, the team made the decision to postpone for the day.
- This was the third scheduled launch attempt for NASA’s 2017 Wanaka Balloon Campaign from New Zealand.
- The first attempt was cancelled due to unacceptable stratospheric wind conditions. The second attempt was cancelled due to a mechanical issue with a crane used for launch operations, which has since been resolved.
- The purpose of the flight is to test and validate the super pressure balloon (SPB) technology with the goal of long duration flight of over 100 days at mid-latitudes.
- In addition, the Extreme Universe Space Observatory on a Super Pressure Balloon (EUSO-SPB) will be on the test flight.
- EUSO-SPB is designed to detect high-energy cosmic rays originating from outside our galaxy as they penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere.