The HINDU Notes – 18th July 2017(Daily News Paper Analysis)
Highest voter turnout ever for presidential election
- The presidential election recorded probably the highest ever turnout of over 99%, with all eligible voters casting their ballots in at least 10 States and one Union Territory.
- The election was conducted at 32 polling stations, including in Parliament and the State Assemblies.
- Presidential Election Returning Officer and Lok Sabha Secretary General Anoop Mishra said reports on voting percentages from Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur and Tripura were yet to be added.
- The counting of votes is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. on July 20.
- In terms of the value of the votes, the Sikkim Assembly has the lowest of seven and Uttar Pradesh the highest of 208.
- The total value of the votes of the Electoral College, which comprises 776 MPs and 4,120 MLAs, is 10,98,903.
GM mustard policy: SC gives govt. time
- The government informed the Supreme Court that a policy decision on the commercial release of the Genetically Modified (GM) mustard crop is yet to be finalised.
- The Centre said it was poring through the various suggestions on and objections to the commercial rollout of the GM crops.
- A Bench, led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, granted the government one week to report back on when the policy would be finalised.
- It said the policy should be good-intentioned and well-informed.
- The court had on October 17, 2016, extended the stay on the commercial release of the GM mustard until further orders.
- It had asked the Centre to collect public opinion before the release.
- The government had assured the court that there would be no commercial release of GM seeds till the views of the public were collected and placed before the appraisal committee.
- The hearing was conducted on the basis of a petition filed by activist Aruna Rodrigues, who had alleged that the government was sowing GM seeds without the relevant tests.
- Mustard is one of India’s most important winter crops, sown between mid-October and late November.
- Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Ms. Rodrigues, alleged the government was sowing the seeds in various fields and that the bio-safety dossier, which has to be made public by putting it on the website, had not yet been done.
Eco-bridges for the movement of tigers
In a first of its kind, Telangana State will have eco-friendly bridges over a canal cutting across the tiger corridor linking the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra with the forests in Telangana’s Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.
- The intervention requires the laying of fertile soil to grow grass and plants over the structure, so that fragmentation of the reserve forest is camouflaged.
- The concept emerged after visits by experts from the Wildlife Board of India and the Wildlife Institute of India. They were concerned about the large-scale destruction of pristine forest along the corridor, which would result in cutting off tiger movement between TATR and Bejjur.
- The Telangana Irrigation Department has given its consent for the construction of the eco-bridges. Recommendations on the size and locations of the bridges are awaited from the National Board of Wildlife.
Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve
- Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve is a Tiger reserves in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra state in central India. It is notable as Maharashtra’s oldest and largest National Park.
- It is one of India’s 41 “Project Tiger” – Tiger reserves.
- Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve was established as second Tiger Reserve in the Maharashtra State, in 1994-95. Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve area constitutes a unique ecosystem, comprising, wide variety of flora and fauna including diverse and rich avi-fauna with unique natural scenic beauty.
- Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve is a popular tourist destination in India. There is significant increase in tourist’s inflow during the recent years.
- The area represents Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests in the Tiger habitat. It has a viable population of 40+ Tigers with high frequency of Tiger sighting.
- Beside Tiger, it is abode to number of prominent wild denizens like Leopard, Wild dog, Sloth bear, Gaur, Sambar, Barking deer, Cheetal, Chausinga, Nilgai, Wild boaralongwith rare ones like Ratel, Flying squirrel, Pangolin and Rusty spotted cat. The continuity with forests of Chandrapur, Bramhapuri and Central Chanda Division enrich the conservation prospects of these species.
Centre seeks debate in SC on J&K special status
- The Centre has asked the Supreme Court to debate on the special status granted to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was both a sensitive and constitutional matter.
- Public Interest Litigation : a PIL plea filed by a Delhi-based NGO, We the Citizens, contending that the J&K government, given the State’s special autonomous status under Articles 35A and 370, was discriminatory against non-residents as far as government jobs and real estate purchases were concerned.
- J and K government response:
- The State government argued that its special status was sourced from the 1954 Presidential Order, which gave special rights to the State’s permanent residents.
- The hearing comes in the backdrop of an earlier Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which ruled that Article 370 assumed a place of permanence in the Constitution and the feature was beyond amendment, repeal or abrogation.
- The court said Article 35A gave “protection” to existing laws in force in the State.
China holds military drill near Arunachal border, ‘enemy’ aircraft the target
- China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has held “live-fire drills” in Tibet, close to the India’s border in Arunachal, to practice quick movement of troops and destroy enemy aircraft.
- The drill is being seen as a message to the Indian government and military, as China claims large parts of Arunachal, India’s easternmost state, as southern Tibet.
- The drill was held in the Tibet Autonomous Region in the middle and lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo river, which is located in the upper stream of the Brahmaputra river which flows through China, India and Bangladesh.
- The Yarlung Zangbo enters India through Arunachal where it is called Siang before it becomes the Brahmaputra in Assam. China has been building dams over it, causing concern in India that it could affect the flow of the Brahmaputra.
Indonesia renames part of South China Sea
- Indonesia will now refer to the northern areas of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the “North Natuna Sea” in an act of defiance against Beijing’s territorial ambitions in the region, the media reported.
- It unveiled a new map with the renamed territory.
- “We need to continue updating the naming of the sea and report to the UN about the borders,” Oegroseno told Indonesia’s state-run news agency Antara.
- “This [system] would allow the international community to know whose territory they pass through,” he added.
- Part of the renamed area falls in China’s “nine-dash line” — waters extending hundreds of miles to the south and east of China’s island province Hainan.
- China claims the entirety of the sea, but Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei and Malaysia all have competing territorial claims to parts that are near their respective shores, reports CNN.
- Indonesia is not the first country to rename part of the South China Sea.
- In 2011, the Philippines renamed the waters as the “West Philippine Sea” and two years later took the territorial dispute before an international tribunal at The Hague.
- In July 2016, the tribunal ruled in favour of the Philippines, concluding that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the South China Sea.
- China responded by calling the ruling a farce.
Payments bank Fino PayTech expects to become profitable in 2-3 years
- Many are not convinced with the business model of payments bank since lending is disallowed.
- A payments bank can raise deposits up to Rs. 1 lakh per customer.
- Of the 11 companies that were given in-principle nod by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to set up payments banks in August, 2015, three —Tech Mahindra, Cholamandalam Finance and Dilip Shanghvi-IDFC Bank-Telenor JV, have already dropped out. T
- his leaves only eight applicants in the fray–India Post, Airtel Money, Reliance Industries, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Aditya Birla Nuvo, Vodafone MPesa, Fino PayTech and NSDL.
- Fino PayTech expects to become profitable in 2-3 years.
Eco-friendly plastics, anyone?
- Scientists have developed eco-friendly plastics using lemon extracts and carbon dioxide that may replace potentially cancer-causing materials widely used in everyday items such as phone cases, baby bottles and DVDs.
- Researchers led by Arjan Kleij from Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ) in Spain, developed a method to produce polycarbonates from limonene and CO2, both abundant and natural products.
- Several million tonnes of polycarbonate are produced every year around the world. However, worries about the dangers of this material are increasing because of the toxicity of its precursors, especially bisphenol-A (also known as BPA), a potential carcinogen.
- Limonene, which can be isolated from lemons and oranges, is able to replace a dangerous building block currently used in commercial polycarbonates – bisphenol-A (also known as BPA).
- Although BPA has been repeatedly classified as a safe chemical by American and European agencies, some studies point out that it is a potential endocrine-disruptor, neurotoxic, and carcinogen.
- Some countries such as France, Denmark and Turkey have banned the use of BPA in the production of baby bottles.
- “BPA is safe, but still causes concerns and is produced from petroleum feedstock,” Kleij said.
- This limonene-derived polymer also has the highest glass transition temperature ever reported for a polycarbonate.
- Having a high glass transition temperature has other implications – the new plastics require higher temperatures to melt, which make them safer for everyday use.