Polity & Governance
- Parliament passes Central Agricultural University (Amendment) Bill, 2016
- CAG uncovers roads to nowhere
Science & Technology
- BARC signs MoU to develop Deep Brain Stimulator
Key Facts for Prelims
- INSA Young Scientist Award
- 100 million for 100 million
- First State to pass GST Bill
- Tulu language and ‘Bharatavani Portal’
- S-400 ‘Triumph’
- Brick and Mortar Bank Branches
- M.S. Subbulakshmi
Polity & Governance
Parliament passes Central Agricultural University (Amendment) Bill, 2016
Parliament has passed the Central Agricultural University (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to help the north-eastern state achieve higher growth in animal husbandry sector.
Key features of the bill:
- The Bill proposes to amend the Central Agricultural University Act, 1992.
- The Act provides for the establishment of a University in the north eastern region for the development of agriculture, and advancement of research in agriculture and allied sciences.
- The Bill states that the University is responsible for teaching and research in the field of agriculture for the north eastern states.
- The Act defines the north eastern region as comprising the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura. The Bill amends this definition to include the state of Nagaland.
- The Bill will help the State of Nagaland reap the benefit of the CAU, Imphal which is established for the entire North Eastern Region.
CAG uncovers roads to nowhere
According to the performance audit report of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) by CAG, tabled in Parliament recently, a total of 372 works under the rural road connectivity scheme were abandoned/proposed to be abandoned mid-way in 11 States, due to non-availability of land or land disputes.
- Of these, Rajasthan accounts for the highest – 213 abandoned works – followed by Odisha with 107 works.
Highlights of the report:
- In 26 States, 4,496 works were delayed from one month to 129 months. Among these, Bihar accounted for the highest number of delays at 1,243, due to paucity of funds and non-availability of material, followed by 572 in Odisha, 378 in Rajasthan due to land dispute, heavy rain, as well as paucity of funds, and 367 works in Uttar Pradesh.
- According to the report, 19 States, including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan, showed unconnected habitations as connected, while excluding eligible habitations from road projects.
- In seven States – Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, and West Bengal – 73 road works were executed and shown as completed.
Suggestions to reduce discrepancies:
- To reduce systemic deficiencies and closer monitoring of the scheme, the CAG report urged the nodal Rural Development Ministry to create a Geographical Information System data base of rural roads information system for each State, and fix responsibility and accountability of agencies and individuals.
About the PMGSY:
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) was launched in 2000 as a fully funded Centrally Sponsored Scheme to provide all weather road connectivity in rural areas of the country.
- The programme envisages connecting all habitations with a population of 500 persons and above in the plain areas and 250 persons and above in hill States, the tribal and the desert areas.
Aim of the PMGSY:
The aim was to provide roads to all villages
- With a population of 1000 persons and above by 2003
- With a population of 500 persons and above by 2007
- In hill states, tribal and desert area villages with a population of 500 persons and above by 2003
- In hill states, tribal and desert area villages with a population of 250 persons and above by 2007.
Science & Technology
BARC signs MoU to develop Deep Brain Stimulator
The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology (SCTIMST), Thiruvananthapuram – an institute of national importance under the department of science & technology – have signed MoU to develop ‘Deep Brain Stimulator’ (DBS).
- As per the MoU, the BARC will develop the device as per specifications provided by SCTMIST and the latter will be responsible for clinical trials, testing and qualification.
- The first prototype is planned to be available in three years.
What is Deep Brain Stimulator?
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a neurosurgical procedure involving the implantation of a medical device called a neurostimulator (sometimes referred to as a ‘brain pacemaker’), under the skin in upper chest regulates the abnormal impulses of the brain.
- It is used in typical neurological conditions of essential tremor, Parkinson’s disease and Dystonia.
It consists of:
- The DBS consists of implanted pulse generator, electrodes and extension cables which interface with external Programmer module and wireless battery charger.
- The DBS is currently being imported, limiting its wider usage due to the high cost. The planned joint development is targeted to provide an affordable alternative.
Key Facts for Prelims
INSA Young Scientist Award
Five faculty members at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore, have been awarded the prestigious Indian National Science Academy (INSA) Medal for Young Scientists for the year 2016.
The INSA annually honours young scientists with the ‘INSA Young Scientist Award’ to encourage young scientists with creative abilities who have made notable research contributions in science and technology. The award was instituted in 1974 and about 760 young scientists have been recognised so far.
100 million for 100 million
Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi announced that he was planning to launch a campaign — 100 million for 100 million — targeting 100 million youth, whose idealism, energy and enthusiasm would help liberate the 100 million children shackled in slavery and poverty across the world.
First State to pass GST Bill
The Assam Assembly unanimously passed the Constitution Amendment Bill on GST, becoming the first State to ratify the crucial tax reform legislation.
It is important to note that at least 16 states are required to ratify the Constitution amendment bill on GST. It will be then sent to the GST Council which will decide on the new tax rate as well as centre and state taxes that will be subsumed in the new tax regime. The Council will be constituted after the Constitution amendment bill is notified.
Tulu language and ‘Bharatavani Portal’
As many as 165 important Tulu works will be digitised and made available on-line on a Union government portal soon.
They will be uploaded under the Bharatavani project, an initiative of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development. The project is about making available “knowledge in and knowledge about” all languages in the country in multimedia formats (text, audio, video and images) through an online portal. The Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysuru, is the implementing agency of the project.
Tulu is a Southern Dravidian language spoken mainly in the southwest of Karnataka State and in part of northern Kerala State in India. There are also some Tulu speakers in Maharashtra State and in the Gulf countries.
Russia’s Defense Ministry delivered anti-aircraft missile system S-400 ‘Triumph’ (SA-21 ‘Growler’ NATO reporting name) to Russian troops in Crimea. The S-400 Triumf is the newest long-range antiaircraft missile system, designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, it can also be used against ground objectives.
Brick and Mortar Bank Branches
To promote financial inclusion and to extend the banking network in unbanked areas, general permission has been granted by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to domestic Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs) including Public Sector Banks (excluding Regional Rural Banks) to open branches at any place in the country, without seeking prior approval of RBI in each case, subject to at least 25% of the total number of branches opened during a financial year being opened in unbanked rural (Tier 5 and Tier 6) centres (population upto 9999).
To honour the legacy of India’s Carnatic music legend M.S. Subbulakshmi, the United Nations Postal Administration will issue a stamp to mark her birth centenary next week, coinciding with the celebrations of India’s 70th Independence Day.
The highlight of the UN concert was Subbulakshmi singing a hymn in English — a rare occurrence. It was written by C Rajagopalachari, the freedom fighter and the first Governor General of independent India.
Subbulakshmi, hailed by Jawaharlal Nehru as ‘The Queen of Music’, was the first Indian to perform here when she was invited by then Secretary General U Thant to give the UN Day concert in 1966.
Subbulakshmi, whose birth anniversary falls on September 16, performed at the UN fifty years ago, making her the first Indian to have the honour. Subbulakshmi was a Carnatic vocalist.
She was the first musician ever to be awarded the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour. She is the first Indian musician to receive the Ramon Magsaysay award, often considered Asia’s Nobel Prize.
Mr. Rahman will be the second Indian artist after Subbulakshmi to perform at the iconic U.N. hall, which is the usual platform for global leaders to address the world.