Polity & Governance
- PMO’s no to smart cards, insists on Aadhaar
- Supply of look-alike drugs in Kerala hospitals to end
- Panel gives green light to Sagarmala port project
Environment & Ecology
- Massive effort to conserve Olive Ridleys
- World’s Wild Tiger Count Rising for First Time in a Century
- Egypt, Saudi Arabia to build joint bridge over Red Sea
Defence & Security Issues
- To prevent Pathankot-like attacks, India plans 5-layer ‘lock’ at Pakistan border
Science & Technology
- A new state of matter detected
- Sun Pharma gets USFDA nod for BromSite
Polity & Governance
PMO’s no to smart cards, insists on Aadhaar
The government has now decided to stop issuing new smart cards to beneficiaries of government schemes as Aadhaar is now backed by a law.
- The government had recently said that over 100 crore people, constituting 93% of the adult population, had a unique identification (UID) number under the Aadhaar platform.
- The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has issued strict instructions to the Information Technology Ministry to ensure that States and the Central government stop issuing smart cards for new programmes for beneficiaries, and to rely on the Aadhaar-based Direct Benefit Transfer platform instead.
- PMO has asked the department to examine the need for state and central government departments to issue separate smart cards in the light of the near universal coverage of Aadhaar and the delivery of the most public welfare benefits through Aadhaar enabled platforms.
- The IT department has also been asked to prepare policy on the delivery of various public services using Aadhaar, Jan Dhan Yojana and existing platforms without the issuance of new smart cards.
- The move will impact ministries such as Labour, Social Justice and Health, which are in the process or have already rolled out smart cards.
- Experts are sceptical of the government’s move. They argue, “Smart cards are always better than biometrics. If that was not the case, the global financial infrastructure today will be working on biometrics and not on smart cards.”
- Also, smart cards work using cryptography, which is more fool-proof than biometrics. Biometrics allow for remote, covert and non-consensual identification.
Supply of look-alike drugs in Kerala hospitals to end
The Kerala Medical Services Corporation Limited (KMSCL) has decided to stop procuring look-alike medicines to government hospitals and dispensaries in the State.
- KMSCL, the government company that procures all essential medicines for government hospitals, will no longer accept medicines with the same label.
- KMSCL has now included a clause in its tender which says labels and colours of all medicines should be different. Manufacturers failing to comply with this will invite a penalty of five per cent of the total value of the drugs in question and its rejection too.
- KMSCL has initiated measures to stop the procurement of look-alike medicines in the wake of complaints of wrong usage and confusion, reported from different parts of the State.
- Several medicines meant for critical health issues were wrongly administered to other patients as the medicines looked similar.
- Various civil society groups had also raised concerns over the situation that put the lives of people, including children, at risk in the State. Following this, the doctors had demanded withdrawal of all look-alike medicines.
Panel gives green light to Sagarmala port project
The apex committee for the Sagarmala project has approved the national perspective plan on Sagarmala port project.
- The project, envisaging port-led development, targets to provide one crore employment, direct employment to 40 lakh persons and indirect employment to 60 lakh persons.
About Sagarmala port project:
The Sagarmala project seeks to develop a string of ports around India’s coast.
- The objective of this initiative is to promote “Port-led development” along India’s 7500 km long coastline.
- The Union Ministry of Shipping has been appointed as the nodal ministry for this initiative.
- The project aims to develop access to new development regions with intermodal solutions and promotion of the optimum modal split, enhanced connectivity with main economic centres and beyond through expansion of rail, inland water, coastal and road services.
- It also aims at simplifying procedures used at ports for cargo movement and promotes usage of electronic channels for information exchange leading to quick, efficient, hassle-free and seamless cargo movement.
- It also strives to ensure sustainable development of the population living in the Coastal Economic Zone (CEZ).
Three pillars of focus:
The Sagarmala Project Stands on Three Pillars of Focus
- Supporting port-led development with pro-active policy initiatives and providing institutional framework to assist all stakeholders.
- Modernising port infrastructure.
- Developing integrated transport infrastructure for connecting the coast to the hinterland.
Environment & Ecology
Massive effort to conserve Olive Ridleys
Wildlife authorities have launched a massive exercise to conserve Olive Ridley turtles in the Krishna Wildlife Sanctuary (KWS) in Andhra Pradesh.
- Members of the Yanadi tribeare directly involved in the conservation bid. They have been given the task of collecting the eggs on the beach and maintaining the rookeries.
- The officials, in collaboration with the local communities, have collected over 10,500 eggs of the turtles. They are being conserved in the rookeries set up within the KWS limits.
- 139 artificial nests have been arranged in the three rookeries set up as part of the in situ conservation method.
About Olive Ridley turtles:
- The Olive ridley turtles are the smallest and most abundant of all sea turtles found in the world, inhabiting only in warmer waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.
- These turtles, along with their cousin the Kemps ridley turtle, are best known for their unique mass nesting called Arribada, where thousands of females come together on the same beach to lay eggs.
- Though found in abundance, their numbers have been declining over the past few years, and the species is recognized as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red list.
- The Olive Ridley turtles live in the Indian Ocean, but they can’t mate there.
- They have to come all the way to the Bay of Bengal by travelling thousands of kilometres to mate and to lay eggs.
- Interestingly, the male turtles won’t reach the sandy stretch, but wait for their mates to return to the waters. After laying eggs, both male and female turtles return to their native ocean.
- After laying the eggs in the sandy stretches, they begin their return journey. Hatching takes place naturally and the baby turtles too swim back to the Indian Ocean by June every year.
- EGREE Foundation, a GOI-UNDP-GEF project to protect the flora and fauna in the East Godavari River Estuarine Ecosystem Region, are conducting awareness programmes among the fishermen and preventing them from catching the turtles using fishing nets.
- Similarly, they are also conducting sensitization programmes for various stakeholders, including officials and representatives of industries.
- WWF-India, along with the fishermen community, has been involved in protecting the Olive ridley rookery at the mass nesting site at Rushikulaya, in Orissa, by fencing off the nesting area and patrolling it till hatching and ensuring a safe passage for the hatchlings to the sea.
[Ref: Hindu, WWF-India]
World’s Wild Tiger Count Rising for First Time in a Century
According to the World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum (GTF), The number of wild tigers has gone up globally by 22 per cent to 3,890, from the earlier 2010 estimate of 3200.
- India’s own tiger population has gone up significantly from 1706, as per its own national estimates, reported by the IUCN in 2010.
- Despite countries such as India, Nepal, Russia and Bhutan registering a spike in tiger population, the status of the animal remains “endangered”.
- Also, this is the first time tiger counts are increasing since 1900, when there were more than 100,000 tigers in the wild.
Interestingly, India alone holds more than half of the world’s tigers, with 2,226 tigers roaming reserves across the country, from the southern tip of Kerala state to the eastern swamps in West Bengal, according to its last count in 2014.
What is Tx2 goal?
- According to the WWF, hundred years ago there were 100,000 wild tigers. By 2010, there were as few as 3,200. Therefore, in 2010, tiger range governments agreed to act to double wild tigers by the next Chinese Year of the Tiger in 2022. This goal is known as Tx2.
Egypt, Saudi Arabia to build joint bridge over Red Sea
Saudi King Salman has announced that a bridge linking his country with Egypt will be built over the Red Sea to boost trade.
- This step to connect the two continents, Africa and Asia, is a qualitative transformation that will increase trade between the two continents to unprecedented levels.
Defence & Security Issues
To prevent Pathankot-like attacks, India plans 5-layer ‘lock’ at Pakistan border
The government has given its nod to the ‘Comprehensive Integrated Border Management System’ (CIBMS) for 24x7x365 surveillance of the border through technology.
- It is a five-layer elaborate plan to completely stop infiltration on the 2,900-km western border with Pakistan. Five layers include:
- CCTV cameras.
- Thermal image and night-vision devices.
- Battlefield surveillance radar.
- Underground monitoring sensors.
- Laser barriers.
- The system entails round-the-clock surveillance through sophisticated technology which in effect will totally “lock” India’s western border to prevent Pathankot-like terror attacks and smuggling.
- The integrated set-up will ensure that if one device doesn’t work, another will alert the control room in case of a transgression.
- Laser barriers will cover 130 unfenced sections including riverine and mountain terrain from Jammu & Kashmir to Gujarat — often used by the infiltrators.
- The new plan would also help security forces catch those who help in infiltration from the Indian side of the border, as the radars would have a 360-degree coverage and the cameras would work dayand-night looking on both sides.
Interestingly, it is also the first time since Independence that India will completely lock its western border.
[Ref: Hindu, ToI]
Science & Technology
A new state of matter detected
An international team of scientists has successfully detected a mysterious new state of matter known as a quantum spin liquid which causes electrons [thought to be nature’s indivisible building blocks] to break into pieces.
- Scientists have found this new state in a two-dimensional material with a structure similar to graphene.
- They were first predicted 40 years ago and were thought to be hiding in certain magnetic materials, but had not been conclusively sighted in nature.
In a typical magnetic material, electrons each behave like tiny bar magnets. When a material is cooled to a low enough temperature, they will order themselves so that all the north magnetic poles point in the same direction. But in a material containing a spin liquid state, even if cooled to absolute zero, the bar magnets would not align but form an entangled soup.
Sun Pharma gets USFDA nod for BromSite
Sun Pharmaceutical Industries has received approval from the US health regulator USFDA for its non-steroid drug BromSite.
- BromSite (bromfenac ophthalmic solution) is the first non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) approved by the USFDA to prevent pain and treat inflammation in the eye for patients undergoing cataract surgery; other NSAIDs in this class are currently indicated for the treatment of inflammation and reduction of pain.