Polity & Governance
- 5 States, a UT sign pact with Centre on e-Marketplace
- SC stays cattle sale rules across nation
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- NGT imposes complete ban on nylon and synthetic manja
- Sensor network to map and predict pollution, effluents in Godavari
- Earth facing sixth mass extinction: study
Bilateral & International Relations
- U.S. may tighten rules for foreign students
Art & Culture
- India to celebrate Falun Gong
Science & Technology
- Electrified Droplets Create Mini Saturn Planets
Key Facts for Prelims
- Pope Francis adds fourth path to sainthood
- In a first, Rajasthan fixes minimum education qualification for cooperative body polls
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Polity & Governance
5 States, a UT sign pact with Centre on e-Marketplace
In a spirit of cooperative federalism, 5 States and a Union Territory (UT) have formally adopted the Centre’s initiative called the Government e-Marketplace (GeM).
- The States and the UT that signed an MoU with the Centre include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Telangana, Puducherry and Arunachal Pradesh.
About Government e-Marketplace (GeM) initiative:
- GeM is an Online Market platform to facilitate procurement of goods and services by various Ministries and agencies of the Government.
- It aims to enhance transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement of goods and services and eliminate corruption.
- It functions under Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D), Union Ministry of Commerce and Industries.
- GeM is a completely paperless, cashless and system driven e-market place that enables procurement of common use goods and services with minimal human interface.
- Presently more than 40000 products in about 150 categories and hiring of transport service are available on GeM POC portal.
Benefits of GeM:
- GeM to a great extent eliminates human interface in order placement, vendor registration and payment processing.
- It is open platform and does not offer no entry barriers to bonafide suppliers who wish to do business with the Government. For procurements of higher value, GeM has bidding facility.
- GeM allows direct purchase on it in a matter of minutes. The entire process in online, end to end integrated. It has online tools for assessing price reasonability.
- GeM platform is a completely secure. The antecedents of the suppliers are verified online and automatically through Aadhar, PAN databases. Besides, all the documents on GeM are e-signed at various stages by the buyers and sellers.
- GeM has filters which are Preferential Market Access (PMA) compliant for selecting goods which are manufactured by Small Scale Industries (SSI). Thus, it will enable Government buyers to easily procure Make in India and SSI goods.
- Transparency, efficiency under GeM initiative will result in a substantial reduction in prices of procuring goods, in comparison to the direct purchase rates and purchases by tender and rate contract.
SC stays cattle sale rules across nation
The Supreme Court has stayed centre’s May 26th notification banning the sale of cattle in livestock markets for slaughter and religious sacrifices.
- The order came after the centre accepted that public outcry and objections from the states about the law’s impact on livelihoods made it realise that the rules need tweaking.
- The court was taking up a bunch of petitions challenging the amendments to the rules framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
What’s the issue?
The centre, on May 26th, notified the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Market) Rules, 2017.
- The notification banned the sale of cattle in livestock market for slaughter and religious sacrifices.
- This had dismayed cattle traders, butchers and beef eaters.
- Farmers were also hit as they were also barred from selling non-milch and ageing cattle thus being deprived of their traditional incomes.
- Various states too opposed the notification saying that it would impact the livelihoods of many.
- The validity of the rules was challenged in various high courts and the SC. The Madurai bench of Madras HC had stayed the rules.
- The centre has acknowledged that the law needs some tweaking keeping in mind the concerns raised by various stakeholders. It has also clarified that tweaking does not mean repeal. It would shortly come out with necessary amendments.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
NGT imposes complete ban on nylon and synthetic manja
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed nationwide blanket ban on the use of kite strings (manja), made of nylon or any synthetic material on the grounds that it poses a threat to animals and humans.
- The judgement of Tribunal came on a plea filed by animal rights body People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and others.
What petitioners say?
- The petition filed by PETA and others had contended that ‘manja’ poses a grave threat to humans and animals as a number of deaths are caused by it every year.
- It has also alleged that sometimes these strings coated with sharp metals, traps and kill migratory birds.
- It also claimed that minor children were engaged by the cottage industry for the manufacture of ‘manja’, which caused respiratory problems as they inhaled harmful substances which were detrimental to their health.
What is the NGT Judgement?
- The Tribunal has directed all state governments to prohibit the manufacture, sale, storage, purchase and use of synthetic manja or nylon threads and all other synthetic strings used for flying kites with immediate effect.
- It also ordered the authorities across the country to ban import of any synthetic manja or nylon thread or other similar threads coated with synthetic substances.
Sensor network to map and predict pollution, effluents in Godavari
A group of U.S. researchers is working on a system to map undulating pollution trends in India’s second longest river- River Godavari.
- The exercise is part of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation project to support the programme of the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) to provide city-wide sanitation improvements in urban Andhra Pradesh.
- Sensors to monitor river pollution are an emerging technological approach in India.
- Using a mix of methods, including satellite-monitoring, traversing stretches of the river to collect water samples and using special sensors to measure bacterial and chemical pollution, the researchers are trying to develop a cost-effective forecast system.
- Through cloud-based data collection and real-time mapping systems, the research and implementation teams intend to demonstrate the importance and value of detecting and anticipating pollutants that enter the river in the form of human waste, organic materials, and chemical contaminants.
Objectives of the project:
- The long-term objective is to be able to inform State officials and citizens of a probable spike in, say, levels of dangerous microbes or effluents, similar to weather and air pollution forecasts.
- Also, it is to be able to access “raw data” that could be used to inform the efficacy of a proposed faecal sludge treatment plant and whether behavioural interventions — including incentives or punishments — to restrict activities that pollute the river could actually work.
About Godavari River:
The Godavari is the second longest river in India after the river Ganges having its source at Triambakeshwar, Maharashtra.
- It starts in Maharashtra and flows east for 1,465 kilometres (910 mi) emptying into Bay of Bengal draining the Indian states Maharashtra (48.6%), Telangana (18.8%), Andhra Pradesh (4.5%), Chhattisgarh (10.9%), Madhya Pradesh (10.0%), Odisha (5.7%), Karnataka (1.4%) and Puducherry (Yanam) through its extensive network of tributaries.
- Measuring up to 312,812 km, it forms one of the largest river basins in the Indian subcontinent, with only the Ganges and Indus rivers having a drainage basin larger than it in India.
- In terms of length, catchment area and discharge, the Godavari river is the largest in peninsular India and had been dubbed as the ‘Dakshina Ganga’ – the South Ganges river.
- The major tributaries of the river can be classified as the left bank tributaries which include the Purna, Pranhita, Indravati and Sabari River covering nearly 59.7% of the total catchment area of the basin and the right bank tributaries Pravara, Manjira, Manair together contributing 16.1% of the basin.
- Pranhita is the largest tributary covering about 34% of its drainage basin.
- The Coringa mangrove forests in the Godavari delta are the second largest mangrove formation in the country. Part of this has been declared as the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary, renowned for reptiles.
Earth facing sixth mass extinction: study
According to research, a “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades means a sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is under way and is more severe than previously feared.
What are the factors behind the loss?
- The main drivers of wildlife decline are habitat loss, overconsumption, pollution, invasive species, disease, as well as poaching in the case of tigers, elephants, rhinos and other large animals prized for their body parts.
- Climate change is poised to become a major threat in the coming decades.
Highlights of the study:
- Globally, the mass die-off — deemed to be the sixth in the last half-billion years — is the worst since three-quarters of life on the Earth, including the non-avian dinosaurs, were wiped out 66 million years ago by a giant meteor impact. On an average, two vertebrate species disappear every year.
- More than 30% of animals with a backbone — fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals — are declining in both range and population.
- The mammal species that were monitored have lost at least a third of their original habitat. 40% of them — including rhinos, orangutans, gorillas and many big cats — are surviving on 20% or less of the land they once roamed. The loss of biodiversity has recently accelerated.
- Several species of mammals that were relatively safe one or two decades ago are now endangered, including cheetahs, lions and giraffes. There are as few as 20,000 lions left in the wild, less than 7,000 cheetahs, 500 to 1,000 giant pandas, and about 250 Sumatran rhinoceros.
- Tropical regions have seen the highest number of declining species. In South and Southeast Asia, large-bodied species of mammals have lost more than four-fifths of their historical ranges.
- While fewer species are disappearing in temperate zones, the percentage is just as high or higher.
- As many as half of the number of animals that once shared our planet are no longer here, a loss described as “a massive erosion of the greatest biological diversity in the history of Earth”.
Bilateral & International Relations
U.S. may tighten rules for foreign students
Foreign students in the United States may be required to reapply every year for permission to stay in the country, if a proposal under consideration by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is implemented.
- The proposal is part of an ongoing review of the immigration policy to ensure that it “promotes the national interest, enhances national security and public safety and ensures the integrity of our immigration system.”
What are the current regulations?
- Under current regulations, international students can stay in the U.S. as long as they are enrolled for a programme.
- Students who enter the U.S on F-1 visas are issued an entry document with an end date that states “duration of stay”, which is theoretically open-ended.
- They can stay as long as they have a valid I-20 document, which is issued by the university, with all details regarding the student’s programme of study, financing, etc.
- They can also move from one programme to another and from one institution to another, by a notification to the DHS, based on a new I-20 document that the institution issues.
- Foreign students in the United States may be required to reapply every year for permission to stay in the country. It will make their visa status time-bound.
- The proposed measures could increase costs and paper work for students and universities.
- Since the proposal requires fees to be paid each time a student reapplies, it could make the U.S. a less attractive destination for students from India.
Indian students in U.S.
- Indians are the fastest growing group among the international student population in the U.S.
- There are 1,66,000 students from India pursuing higher education in the U.S. now, up from about 1,00,000 two years earlier.
- A large majority of them pursue science, technology, engineering and math courses.
- Around 1.4 million international students are currently present in the U.S.
Art & Culture
India to celebrate Falun Gong
Falun Gong, the ancient Chinese holistic system that is banned in China, will be celebrated in India on July 15 with a parade and Human Word Formation in the capital.
- The event would highlight the persecution against the practitioners in China.
About the Falun Gong:
- Falun Gong is a Chinese spiritual practice that combines meditation and qigong exercises with a moral philosophy centered on the tenets of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance.
- The practice emphasizes morality and the cultivation of virtue, and identifies as a qigong practice of the Buddhist school, though its teachings also incorporate elements drawn from Taoist traditions.
- Through moral rectitude and the practice of meditation, practitioners of Falun Gong aspire to eliminate attachments, and ultimately to achieve spiritual enlightenment.
What’s the difference between Falun Gong and Falun Dafa?
- These are two names for the same practice. They can be used interchangeably. “Falun Gong” translates as “Practice of the Law Wheel” or “Law Wheel Qigong,” while “Falun Dafa” translates as “Great Way of the Law Wheel.”
Why is Falun Dafa persecuted in China?
The complex rationale behind the persecution can be broken into four elements:
- A paranoid dictator’s fear of Falun Gong’s meteoric growth and soaring popularity;
- That same dictator’s intense jealousy of Falun Dafa’s popularity;
- The inherent conflict between the communist regime’s savage political ideology and its polar opposite—Falun Dafa’s principles of “Truthfulness, Benevolence, Forbearance”; and
- The very nature of communism, which to sustain itself requires periodically labeling a small segment of the population as the “class enemy” to “struggle” against.
In October 1999, Chinese government declared Falun Gong a “heretical organization” that threatened social stability.
Falun Gong is unique in eight ways:
- A Falun is cultivated, rather than an energy elixir.
- The Falun refines the person even when he or she is not doing the practice’s exercises.
- One’s primary consciousness is cultivated, such that it is the person him or herself who obtains Gong energy.
- Both mind and body are cultivated.
- The practice consists of five exercises, which are simple and easy to learn.
- The mind is not used to direct anything, there are no associated risks, and Gong energy increases quickly.
- Location, time, and direction are not of concern when exercising, nor is how one concludes one’s exercise session.
- Protection is provided by the master’s Fashen, so one needn’t fear harm from malevolent entities.
Science & Technology
Electrified Droplets Create Mini Saturn Planets
Scientists have created miniature versions of Saturn, complete with rings, by electrifying tiny droplets of fluids.
How does it work?
- When a drop of electrically conductive liquid is exposed to an electric field, the droplet responds by forming two electrically charged poles.
- These poles can get pulled towards the sources of the electric field, taking on cone shapes. If the pull is strong enough, the tips of the cones can spray jets of droplets.
- Experiments regarding this effect, known as electrospraying,often involved drops of liquid surrounded by less electrically conductive fluids.
- If an electric field is strong enough, researchers found that the equators of these squashed drops emit concentric rings of droplets, making the drops look like miniature versions of Saturn.
What is electrospraying?
- Electrospraying is a method of liquid atomisation by electrical forces.
- The advance may pave the way for generating microscopic and uniform particles and capsules which are often used in products such as drugs, inks, cosmetics and paints.
- It will also explore new materials that can be used to produce “ring of particles” effect.
Key Facts for Prelims
Pope Francis adds fourth path to sainthood
- Pope Francis has issued an apostolic letter creating a new category (a fourth one) called an oblatio vitae or a “free offering of one’s life” under which someone could possibly become a saint.
- The category added, as described by the Vatican, involves people who freely accept an imminent death for the good of others.
- The pathway focuses on people who sacrifice their lives for others.
- Previously, gaining consideration for sainthood in the Catholic Church took only three routes:
- Martyrdom (dying for your faith);
- Living a life of heroic, Christian values; or
- Having a saintly and devout reputation.
- One of the most well-known figures to take one of those paths in recent times was humanitarian Mother Teresa, who was canonized as Saint Teresa of Calcutta in 2016.
In a first, Rajasthan fixes minimum education qualification for cooperative body polls
- Rajasthan has become the country’s first State to lay down the minimum educational qualifications for contesting elections to village cooperative societies and various other cooperative bodies.
- The State Cooperative Societies Rules, 2003, were amended for the purpose and notified.
- The educational qualifications will range from Class V to Class VIII for election as members of governing boards of dairy societies, farming societies, consumer societies, weavers’ societies, housing construction societies, urban banks, primary land development banks, credit societies, salary earners’ societies and cooperative unions.
- This move will ensure more employment in the field of cooperatives. It will also ensure competent and talented personnel are selected in a transparent way.