IASToppers 5th July 2016
Current Affairs Analysis

5th July 2016 Current Affairs Analysis

Logistics Data Tagging; Multi-Modal Logistic Parks; Human Capital Index 2016; Jupiter’s Magnetosphere; etc.
By IT's Current Affairs Analysis Team
July 05, 2016

Contents

Polity & Governance

  • Vacancies in high courts touch 470 as govt.-judiciary logjam continues
  • Chhattisgarh CM inaugurates India’s first commercial court in Raipur

Economy

  • Jawaharlal Nehru Port Becomes First Port in Country to Implement Logistics Data Tagging of Containers
  • Govt plans logistics parks at 15 locations
  • FDI in airlines may hit air pocket with Centre’s circular on ownership
  • India was ranked 100th last year out of total 124 countries included in the 2015 index.

Defence & Security Issues

  • Manohar Parrikar open to an all-women battalion in Army

Science & Technology

  • Indian-origin scientist leads team to build drones that navigate like birds
  • NASA’s Juno spacecraft swims into Jupiter’s magnetosphere
  • Researchers build super-sensitive e-nose
  • New camera can take images at speed of light

Also in News

  • World’s largest charkha to be unveiled at Terminal-3 today

 

Polity & Governance

Vacancies in high courts touch 470 as govt.-judiciary logjam continues

Amid the continuing tussle between the government and the judiciary over the contentious clause in the Memorandum of Procedure (MoP) on appointment of judges, the number of vacancies of High Court judges has grown to 470 out of the sanctioned strength of 1079. In other words, over 45% of the positions of High Court judges are vacant.

What’s the issue?

  • The judiciary has been at loggerheads with the legislature/executive since the Supreme Court in October 2015 struck down the National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) Act and the 99th Constitutional Amendment which envisaged a role for the government in the appointment of judges to the highest courts.
  • As a compromise it was agreed that the government would draft a revised Memorandum of Procedure on appointment of judges which would address the concerns of the government and legislature.
  • However, a clause in the revised draft MoP empowering the government to reject the names suggested by the Supreme Court Collegium was not acceptable to the judges.
  • Contrary to the assertion by the government that it is expediting the process of filling up vacancies in the High Courts, the trend in the last six months shows that the process has come to a virtual standstill.
  • The data also states that eight high courts — Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, Allahabad, Punjab and Haryana, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Patna and Rajasthan — are functioning with acting Chief Justices.
  • The judiciary and the government have also been engaged in a tug of war over the number of vacancies at the lower courts and its impact on the backlog of cases.

What is the root cause of the logjam?

  • At the root of the problem is the clause in the MoP (which outlines the modus operandi to be followed in appointment of judges) that gives the government the right to reject names suggested by the Supreme Court Collegium system.
  • The clause on the right to reject a recommendation on grounds of national security gives primacy to the government on appointment of judges unlike the current practice where government is bound to accept a recommendation by the Collegium — comprising four senior-most judges of the Supreme Court and the CJI — if a recommendation is sent again.
  • The revised MoP further provides that once the Centre has rejected a recommendation it will not be bound to reconsider it even after reiteration by the collegiums.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Chhattisgarh CM inaugurates India’s first commercial court in Raipur

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister inaugurated country’s first commercial dispute resolution centre and commercial court in the state capital.

  • The commercial court is located in Naya Raipur area of the city.

Key facts:

  • The first Commercial Court and Commercial Disputes Resolution Centre complex has ultra-modern facilities like e-Court, e-Library, e-Filing, Video-conferencing and e-Summons.
  • The court also consists of arbitration centre and a mediation centre.
  • It will help in improving the judicial system and the investors and business world. It will also facilitate the investors in their commercial dealings.
[Ref: BS]

 

Economy

Jawaharlal Nehru Port Becomes First Port in Country to Implement Logistics Data Tagging of Containers

Jawaharlal Nehru Port becomes the first port in the country to implement logistics data tagging of containers.

  • Jawaharlal Nehru Port implemented the logistics data bank tagging of containers, first of its kind facility.
  • An RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Tag) tag would be attached to each container which would be tracked through RIFD readers installed at different locations.

What are the benefits of logistics data tagging of containers?

  • Logistics data tagging of containers will help importers/exporters track their goods in transit through logistics data bank service.
  • This would provide the ‘Visibility’ and ‘Transparency’ of the EXIM Container Movement by covering the entire movement through rail or road till the ICDs (Inland Container Depot) and CFSs (Container Freight Station).
  • This service will integrate the information available with various agencies across the supply chain to provide detailed real time information within a single window.
  • This would help in reducing the overall lead time of the container movement across the western corridor and lower the transaction costs incurred by shippers and consignees.
  • This has been one of the important ‘Ease of Doing Business’ initiatives implemented at Jawaharlal Nehru Port focused towards document, time and cost reduction for the benefit of trade.

What is RFID tagging?

RFID tagging is an ID system that uses small radio frequency identification devices for identification and tracking purposes.

  • Radio-frequency identification(RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects.
  • An RFID tagging system includes the tag itself, a read/write device, and a host system application for data collection, processing, and transmission. An RFID tag (sometimes called an RFID transponder) consists of a chip, some memory and an antenna.
  • RFID tags that contain their own power source are known as active tags. Those without a power source are known as passive tags. A passive tag is briefly activated by the radio frequency (RF) scan of the reader.

Applications of RFID tags:

  • RFID tags are used in many industries, for example, an RFID tag attached to an automobile during production can be used to track its progress through the assembly line; RFID-tagged pharmaceuticals can be tracked through warehouses; and implanting RFID microchips in livestock and pets allows positive identification of animals.

Concerns over its usage:

  • Since RFID tags can be attached to cash, clothing, and possessions, or implanted in animals and people, the possibility of reading personally-linked information without consent has raised serious privacy concerns.
[Ref: PIB]

 

Govt plans logistics parks at 15 locations

Aiming to ensure hassle-free freight movement, the Centre is planning to set up Multi-Modal Logistic Parks (MMLPs) in 15 places across the country with the investment of over Rs 33,000 crore.

  • These parks will be built under the ministry’s Logistics Efficiency Enhancement Programme (LEEP).
  • The parks are expected to serve four key functions:
  1. Freight aggregation and distribution,
  2. Multimodal freight movement,
  3. Storage and warehousing, and
  4. Value-added services such as custom clearances.
  • The concept note for LEEP says the transport ministry will form a multi-modal company (MMC), which will manage the development of logistic parks and will have representation from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), Indian Railways, Airports Authority of India (AAI), Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and Indian Ports Association (IPA).
  • According to the proposal, a total of 4,800 acres is needed for the development of the proposed 15 multimodal logistics parks, including land for storage space, allied infrastructure, trunk infrastructure and land for future expansion. A total cost of Rs 10,700 crore will be needed for land acquisition.

About LEEP:

  • In a bid to improve India’s road logistics efficiency, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) is implementing a logistics efficiency enhancement programme (LEEP), which aims to support the `Make in India’ initiative through a `Move in India’ drive.
  • The programme is financed by the World Bank.
  • Through the programme, the government is trying to improve efficiency and reduce logistics costs by as much as 10%.
[Ref: LiveMint, PIB]

 

FDI in airlines may hit air pocket with Centre’s circular on ownership

Experts have described Centre’s one of the circular related to ownership to control and ownership of airlines.

What’s the issue?

  • The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) had issued the circular retaining the clause which said substantial ownership and effective control (SOEC) should vest with Indian nationals.
  • Experts have described the circular ‘contradictory’ and ‘confusing’ as it runs contradictory to its decision to raise foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in airlines to 100 per cent.
  • According to the experts, there was no clarity on the ownership clause for foreign airlines among both the civil aviation ministry and the DIPP.

Contradictory rule:

  • While the DIPP circular mentions that 100 per cent FDI equity is permitted for scheduled domestic airlines and regional air transport services, it also adds that “there is no change in the Other Conditions mentioned in the FDI policy for this sector.”
  • The other conditions for the civil aviation sector, in the FDI policy (2016), clearly mention that an air operator permit will be granted to a company only if it is registered in India, the Chairman and two-thirds of its directors are Indian citizens and substantial ownership and effective control is vested in Indian nationals.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

India was ranked 100th last year out of total 124 countries included in the 2015 index.

India was ranked low at 105th position globally on a worldwide Human Capital Index 2016.

About the index:

  • Human Capital Index measures countries’ ability to nurture, develop and deploy talent for economic growth.
  • It is released by Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF).

Key facts:

India & its neighbour:

  • India was ranked 100th last year out of total 124 countries included in the 2015 index.
  • India ranks much below China’s 71st position while Bangladesh, Bhutan and Sri Lanka are also placed higher on the index.
  • Pakistan ranks further lower at 118th place.
  • Among BRICS countries, India is ranked lowest as against Russia’s 28th, China’s 71st, Brazil’s 83rd and South Africa’s 88th.

Global:

  • Finland, Norway and Switzerland hold the top three positions, utilising around 85 per cent of their human capital. Japan leads when it comes to 55 year-olds and over.
  • On the global index, Japan and Sweden have moved up to 4th and 5th places and are followed by New Zealand, Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada and Belgium in top ten.

India related concerns:

As per the index,

  • India has optimised just 57% of its human capital endowment — placing it in the top of the bottom quartile of the Index.
  • Although India’s educational attainment has improved markedly over the different age groups, its youth literacy rate is still only 90% (103rd in the world), well behind the rates of other leading emerging markets.
  • India also ranks poorly on labour force participation, due in part to one of the world’s largest employment gender gaps.”

India’s positive performance:

  • On positive side, India has got better rankings on quality of education system (39th), staff training (46th) and ease of finding skilled employees (45th) indicators.
  • The report also showed that India had the largest share in the “global distribution of tertiary degree holders” at nearly 78 million while it was second largest after China on global distribution of recent graduates in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) at about 2.5 million.
[Ref: IE]

 

Defence & Security Issues

Manohar Parrikar open to an all-women battalion in Army

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar recently mooted the idea of having an all-women battalion in the Army after prevailing “psychological barriers” were shattered by the commissioning of three female fighter pilots into the IAF.

  • But the minister made it clear that “affirmative action” for women in the forces would be undertaken “gradually and smoothly” so as not to “compromise” the Army’s primary task of guarding national security.
  • This comes at a time when the US has now lifted the ban on even transgenders joining its military.

What are the impediments in implementing this idea?

  • The only restriction today is that of infrastructure (for training and accommodating women.
  • The idea of all-women battalions will require drastic changes in the recruitment and training policies because the armed forces have been inducting women only as officers since 1990s. It’s possible for central armed police forces to have “mahilla battalions” since they induct women in “other ranks” as well.

Present strength of women in armed forces:

  • As of now, women constitute a miniscule number in the 13-lakh strong armed forces, with the total number of officers being 60,000. There are just 1,436 women officers in Army, 1,331 in IAF and 532 in Navy.
[Ref: ToI]

 

Science & Technology

Indian-origin scientist leads team to build drones that navigate like birds

Scientists, led by an Indian-origin researcher, are developing biologically-inspired drones that can navigate just like birds and flying insects without needing human input, radar or satellite navigation.

Details:

  • A team of researchers is studying flying techniques that budgerigars and bees share, and applying their findings to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) control programmes.
  • They study how small airborne creatures such as bees and birds use their vision to avoid collisions with obstacles, fly safely through narrow passages, control their height above the ground and more.
  • The team compares the flight of bees and budgies in particular because they are easy animals to study.

Significance of the research:

  • The study of their behaviour could also reveal some of the basic principles of visual guidance in a number of organisms including humans.
  • Comparing the flight behaviours of these animals using high-speed cameras will lead to drastically improved UAV guidance systems.
  • The biologically-inspired principles will foster a new generation of fully autonomous UAVs that do not rely on external help such as GPS (Global Positioning System) or radar.
  • These UAVs could be incredibly useful for applications like surveillance, rescue operations, defence, and planetary exploration.
[Ref: ToI]

 

Science & Technology

NASA’s Juno spacecraft swims into Jupiter’s magnetosphere

NASA’s Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft has entered the planet’s magnetosphere, where the movement of particles in space is controlled by what is going on inside Jupiter.

  • Juno is on course to swing into orbit around Jupiter on July 4. Science instruments on board detected changes in the particles and fields around the spacecraft as it passed from an environment dominated by the interplanetary solar wind into Jupiter’s magnetosphere.
  • The motions of these particles travelling under the control of Jupiter’s magnetic field will be one type of evidence Juno examines for clues about Jupiter’s deep interior.

About the Jupiter’s magnetosphere:

The magnetosphere of Jupiter is the cavity created in the solar wind by the planet’s magnetic field.

  • It extends up to seven million kilometers in the Sun’s direction and almost to the orbit of Saturn in the opposite direction.
  • Jupiter’s magnetosphere is the largest and most powerful of any planetary magnetosphere in the Solar System, and by volume the largest known continuous structure in the Solar System after the heliosphere.
  • Wider and flatter than the Earth’s magnetosphere, Jupiter’s is stronger by an order of magnitude, while its magnetic moment is roughly 18,000 times larger.
  • The existence of Jupiter’s magnetic field was directly observed by the Pioneer 10 spacecraft in 1973.
  • The action of the magnetosphere traps and accelerates particles, producing intense belts of radiation similar to Earth’s Van Allen belts, but thousands of times stronger. Radiation belts present a significant hazard for spacecraft and potentially to human space travellers.
[Ref: Hindu, Wiki]

 

Researchers build super-sensitive e-nose

Researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium have built a sensitive electronic nose with metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) that can detect pesticides and nerve gas in very low concentrations.

Mechanism:

  • MOFs are like microscopic sponges. They can absorb quite a lot of gas into their minuscule pores. The chemical sensor can easily be integrated into existing electronic devices.
  • MOF can be applied as a thin film over the surface of, for instance, an electric circuit. Therefore, it’s fairly easy to equip a smartphone with a gas sensor for pesticides and nerve gas.

Key facts:

  • The best-known electronic nose is the breathalyser. As drivers breathe into the device, a chemical sensor measures the amount of alcohol in their breath. This chemical reaction is then converted into an electronic signal, allowing a police officer to read the result.

Significance:

  • The new MOF is the most sensitive gas sensor to date for dangerous substances.
  • MOFs can measure very low concentrations, so they could be used to screen someone’s breath for diseases such as lung cancer and multiple sclerosis (MS) in an early stage.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

New camera can take images at speed of light

Scientists have improved upon a new camera technology that can image at speeds about 100 times faster than today’s commercial cameras and could enable imaging of ultra-fast processes involving neurons, combustion and stars.

  • It is the world’s fastest receive-only camera, meaning that it can use available light for imaging and does not need additional illumination from a laser or other light source.
  • Researchers from Washington University, previously developed a single-shot compressed ultrafast photography (CUP) camera that can image at speeds of 100 billion frames per second in a single camera exposure – fast enough to capture travelling light pulses.

Significance of this new technology:

  • The new technology also opens a host of new possibilities for studying extremely fast processes such as neurons firing, chemical reactions, fuel burning or chemicals exploding.
  • The new method improves the resolution and quality of images captured with CUP.
  • Researchers are particularly interested in understanding how the brain’s neural networks operate. Using the new camera with a microscope could allow them to watch neurons fire by capturing extremely fast chemical processes called action potentials that travel through an axon at speeds that can reach more than 100 metres per second.
  • The camera can be used for real-time imaging of a single event, capturing it all in one shot at extremely high speeds.
  • Since the camera can image with just the light available it could be used with telescopes to record activities of a supernova occurring light years away.
  • The camera would also be very useful for other applications such as imaging explosions.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

Also in News

World’s largest charkha to be unveiled at Terminal-3 today

Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport’s Terminal-3 will soon boast another larger-than-life installation — the world’s largest charkha.

  • The charka has been installed by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).
  • The installation of the charkha also commemorates the centenary year of Mahatma Gandhi’s arrival from South Africa.
[Ref: Hindu]

 

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