ias-toppers-coral-bleaching-great-barrier-reef
Current Affairs Analysis

30th November 2016 Current Affairs Analysis – IASToppers

Great Barrier Reef; What is coral bleaching and how it occurs? What is Civil Registration System (CRS)? North-Eastern Space Applications Centre (NE-SAC); Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; 'Visual Impairment Intracranial Pressure'; Asia’s first cycle highway; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
November 30, 2016

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Even nil vacancies won’t cut backlog: Report
  • Son has no legal right in parents’ house, can stay at their mercy: HC

Social Issues

  • Sex ratio at birth on the decline

Environment & Ecology

  • Australia’s Great Barrief Reef sees largest coral die-off ever
  • ISRO drones help map disasters in north-east
  • ‘Industries should use recycled groundwater’

Bilateral & International Relations

  • AIIB driven by projects and not politics: Alexander

Science & Technology

  • ‘Spinal fluid changes harm astronauts’ vision’

Key Facts for Prelims

  • Asia’s first cycle highway

 

Polity & Governance

Even nil vacancies won’t cut backlog: Report

As per a study conducted by the National Court Management Systems Committee (NCMSC), more judges in the High Courts, or even filling all the vacancies in them, does not necessarily end pendency.

ias-toppers-national-court-management-systems-committee

Background:

  • The study was ordered and commissioned by the Supreme Court through an order dated August 20, 2014 while hearing Imtiyaz Ahmad versus State of Uttar Pradesh.
  • The court had directed the committee to study the recommendations made by the Law Commission of India on pendency and the relation between backlog and judges’ strength.

Highlights of the study:

  • The study notes that not a single High Court has been able to eliminate backlog even when vacancies are non-existent or very low (say zero to 20%).
  • The study also questions Chief Justice Thakur’s recent observation that 70,000 judges are required to clear pendency.
  • The committee says blindly increasing judicial strength with the sole aim to hike the rate of disposal of cases and avoid backlog was skewed logic. In fact, it said, avoiding backlog seems to be the “central and sole objective” of having more judges in the High Courts.
  • According to the study, the current method of calculating judges’ strength in High Courts is not scientific or robust, nor has it produced desired results of pendency resolution.
  • The report calls for a long-term scientific method to assess the number of judges required in a court. It said judges’ strength should be augmented after calculating the judicial hours required to hear and dispose of cases on the basis of their individual nature and complexity.

Problem of judicial strength & pendency of cases:

Effective judicial strength has not expanded adequately to meet the rising inflow of cases in the country.

  • In the last five years, the number of new cases filed in the High Courts of India has increased by 24% and pendency by 32%. Yet, effective judge strength has increased only by 8.5%.
  • Only 49 judges have been added to the effective strength of High Courts in five years in the whole country to deal with 3.72 lakh additional new cases — this means an average of 7,591 cases per new judge — and 7.2 lakh additional pendency at the rate of 14,693 cases per new judge.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Son has no legal right in parents’ house, can stay at their mercy: HC

The Delhi High Court has ruled that a son, irrespective of his marital status has no legal right to live in his parent’s house.

ias-toppers-son-has-no-legal-right

Important observations by the court:

  • Parent’s house means, the house self-acquired by the father/mother. The son can reside in there only at his parent’s mercy up to the time the parents allow.
  • The son and his wife were allowed to stay at their parent’s home when their relations were cordial and it doesn’t mean that they have to bear his burden throughout their life.
  • In the case where the house is self-acquired, the son, married or unmarried, has no legal right to live there.

Background:

  • The judgment was pronounced by the court while dismissing an appeal by a man and his wife challenging the order of a trial court. The trial court asked the couple to vacant the first floor of his parent’s property in west Delhi.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Social Issues

Sex ratio at birth on the decline

The latest data from the Civil Registration System (CRS) has come to light and it brings out some alarming pointers.

ias-toppers-civil-registration-system

Key facts:

  • The Office of the Registrar General of India has released the data.
  • The Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) based on CRS figures indicate the gap between registered male and female births, calculated as the number of females per thousand males.

Highlights of the report:

  • Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) continues to worsen in India. The SRB has declined to 887 in 2014 from 898 in 2013.
  • The ratio has been declining since 2011 when the figure was 909. Thus, Sex ratio at birth is still on the decline.
  • SRB has been reported in Lakshadweep (1043), followed by Andaman and Nicobar Islands (1031) and Arunachal Pradesh (993).
  • Lowest SRB has been reported in Manipur (684), Rajasthan (799) and Tamil Nadu (834). These states have worst SRB.
  • The level of registration of births with CRS has been improving. In 2014, it is estimated that 88.8% births were registered, up from 85.6 % in 2013. 16 States/UTs recorded all births.
  • The new date show that the majority of births in 2014 occurred in an institution i.e. government or private hospital.
  • Institutional delivery accounted for 72% of all births. Another 14.1% births were attended by physicians/nurse/midwife. However, around 3.8% of the cases were still attended by an untrained midwife.
  • While 38.7% of the total registered deaths had occurred in institution, 23.3% did not receive any medical attention at the time of death.
  • Only about 8.0% of the deceased received medical attention from qualified allopathic professional.

What is Civil Registration System (CRS)?

  • A Continuous, Permanent and Systematic recording of births and deaths obtained under the Registration of Births and Death Act (RBD Act), 1969 is called the Civil Registration System.

RBD Act:

  • The history of Civil Registration System (CRS) in India dates back to the middle of the 19th century. In 1886 a Central Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act was promulgated to provide for voluntary registration throughout British India.
  • Post-independence, the RBD Act was enacted in 1969 to promote uniformity and comparability in the registration of Births and Deaths across the country and compilation of vital statistics based thereon.
  • With the enactment of the Act, registration of births, deaths and still births has become mandatory in India.

Present scenario:

  • The Registrar General, India (RGI) at the Central Government level coordinates and unifies the activities of registration throughout the country.
  • However, implementation of the statute is vested with the State Governments. The registration of births and deaths in the country is done by the functionaries appointed by the State Governments.
  • Directorate of Census Operations are the sub-ordinate offices of Office of the Registrar General, India and these offices are responsible of monitoring of working of the Act in their concerned State/UT.
  • The Act mandates the use of uniform birth and death reporting forms and certificates throughout the country.
[Ref: The Hindu, censusindia.gov.in]

 

Environment & Ecology

Australia’s Great Barrief Reef sees largest coral die-off ever

The Australians scientists have announced that the Great Barrier Reef suffered from its worst coral die-off ever recorded.

  • The scientists stated that warm seas around the Great Barrier Reef have killed two-thirds of a 700 kilometers stretch of coral in the past nine months.
  • The northern region of the reef had escaped with minor damage in earlier bleaching events in 1998 and 2002.
  • Bleaching of the 2300-kilometre long reef was one of the foremost reasons of the damage.

Highlights of the study:

ias-toppers-great-barrier-reef

  • The reef suffered its most severe bleaching in recorded history, due to warming sea temperatures during March 2016 and April 2016.
  • The underwater surveys and aerial studies revealed that a 700-kilometre stretch of reefs in the less-accessible north lost two-thirds of shallow-water corals in the past eight to nine months.
  • Most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • There is a minimal damage in the central and southern regions, including major tourist areas around Cairns and the Whitsunday Islands, of the reef.

What is coral bleaching and how it occurs?

ias-toppers-coral-bleached

  • Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, which in turn drain them of their colour.
  • The coral uses the organic products of photosynthesis to help it grow. Therefore, algae are vital for them.
  • The loss of algae makes the host vulnerable to disease, which will eventually make them die.
  • However, coral can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonise them.

About Great Barrier Reef:

ias-toppers-australia-great-barrier-reef

  • The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system.
  • It is composed of over 2900 individual reefs and 900 islands.
  • The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
  • The reef is so vast that it can be seen from outer space.
  • It is also the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms. This reef structure is composed of and built by billions of tiny organisms, known as coral polyps.
  • In 1981, it was selected as a World Heritage Site.
  • A large part of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which helps to limit the impact of human use.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

ISRO drones help map disasters in north-east

ISRO’s Shillong-based North-Eastern Space Applications Centre (NE-SAC) has tested unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to map various problems and disasters in the north-eastern region of the country.

Background:

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is using drones to map disasters in north-eastern States by collecting land details and add it to data from remote sensing satellites.

Key facts

  • NE-SAC has taken the initiative for design and assembling of UAVs for various applications to assess several regional problems in the northeast region.
  • UAVs can perform efficient surveys for disaster-prone or physically inaccessible areas. It can undertake quick damage assessment of floods, landslides and earthquakes and enable timely relief measures.
  • These drones providing ground-based details which are generally combined with data from ISRO’s remote sensing satellites.
  • Recently they were used for to map the area affected by landslides along NH40, Meghalaya’s life line.
  • It also gave the extent of damage caused to pest-infested paddy fields in Naramari village of Assam.

About NE-SAC:

ias-toppers-north-eastern-space-applications-centre

  • North-Eastern Space Applications Centre (NE-SAC) is a joint initiative of Department of Space (DoS) and North Eastern Council.
  • It was started in the year 2000. It is located at Umiam (near Shillong), Meghalaya.
  • It aims to provide developmental support to the North Eastern region using Space technology-based communication and technology.
  • Its mandate is to develop high technology infrastructure support to enable NE states to adopt space technology for their development.
  • NE-SAC provides developmental support by undertaking specific application projects using remote sensing, satellite communication, GIS and conducts space science research.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

‘Industries should use recycled groundwater’

The Union Water Ministry is planning to impose restrictions on how industries, farmers and various groups can use groundwater by amending to a Bill on groundwater management.

ias-toppers-groundwater

Background:

  • Earlier in 2016, the Water Ministry had made public a draft Bill that proposed significant changes to the way groundwater will be regulated.

Key provisions of the bill:

  • The bill seeks to sharply regulate extracting pristine water from aquifiers which is currently the norm in much of the country. Failing to adhere it will invite stringent punishment.
  • It seeks to guarantee every individual a certain amount of water “for life” and protecting groundwater from undue exploitation and pollution.
  • Industries can only use recycled water, and activities such as gardening must use treated sewage water.
  • It also mandates the use of rainwater harvesting in residential projects.
  • However, this new version of the Bill does not compel companies and other stakeholders to use recycled water. It only demands t users “give priority” to recycling water.

Why this bill is necessary?

Groundwater depletion is among the grave ecological threats that the country faces. It has become serious concern to use groundwater judiciously. The groundwater is source to around 85 % of drinking water and 65% of water for irrigation. However, water being State subject in the seventh schedule of constitution has stalled previous plans to address the problems. Even existing laws give the owners of a piece of land complete right over its groundwater.

[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Bilateral & International Relations

AIIB driven by projects and not politics: Alexander

As per Danny Alexander, a Vice-President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the AIIB is essentially a multilateral development bank that is driven solely by the “quality of projects and not politics”.

Danny Alexander
Danny Alexander

Background:

  • This clarification came against the backdrop of India’s strategic concerns regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that covers areas including Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.
  • CPEC is the so-called ‘flagship’ project of China’s One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) initiative, aimed at developing infrastructure in more than 60 countries. OBOR is among those that will get AIIB funding.

About AIIB:

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an international financial institution that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region.

ias-toppers-aiib

  • It has 57 member states.
  • It was proposed as an initiative as well as hosted by the government of China.
  • It was founded in October, 2014, and will have its headquarters in Beijing.
  • Its goals are also to boost economic development in the region, create wealth, prove infrastructure, and promote regional cooperation and partnership.

Funding:

  • The value of AIIB’s authorized capital amounts to $100 billion, with almost $30 billion invested by China.
  • The bank expects to lend $10 billion to $15 billion a year for the first five years of its operations, beginning in the second quarter of 2016.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Science & Technology

‘Spinal fluid changes harm astronauts’ vision’

A recent research has found that astronauts may experience blurry vision and impaired eyesight after long spaceflights due to changes in spinal fluid that occur while in microgravity.

ias-toppers-eyesight-astronauts

  • The research offers the first quantitative evidence on the fact that cerebral spinal fluid plays a direct role in visual impairment syndrome.

Key findings:

  • The syndrome known as ‘Visual Impairment Intracranial Pressure’ (VIIP) was reported in nearly two-thirds of astronauts after long-duration missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). 
  • Some of the astronauts experienced severe structural changes that were not fully reversible upon their return to Earth.
  • The problems include flattening at the back of their eyeballs and inflamed optic nerves, which can lead to far-sightedness.
  • Long-term space flyers also had significantly increased post-flight flattening of their eyeballs and increased optic nerve protrusion.
  • On Earth, this spinal fluid system is designed to accommodate changes whether a person is sitting, standing or lying down. But in space, the system is confused by the lack of the posture-related pressure changes.
  • Researchers initially thought that the problems were due to changes in the way blood is distributed in the body in microgravity, with more fluid lingering around the head area.
  • But this was later falsified when researchers studied before and after brain scans on seven astronauts who had spent multiple months at the orbiting space station.
  • Researchers found that long-duration astronauts had significantly more cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain. This fluid typically helps cushion the brain and spinal cord while circulating nutrients and removing waste materials.
[Ref: The Hindu]

 

Key Facts for Prelims

Asia’s first cycle highway

ias-toppers-asias-first-cycle-highway

  • Asia’s first and longest cycle highway was inaugurated in Uttar Pradesh.
  • It is also India’s first cycle highway.
  • The 207-km-long cycle highway runs between Etawah and Agra.
  • It runs parallel to the main highway. It is about 7-feet-wide and is separated by a divider from main highway which ensures the safety of cyclists.
  • It criss-crosses the natural beauty of the Chambal and Yamuna rivers.

 

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