Polity & Governance
- MoU Signed Between NSFDC & Development Commissioner (Handlooms)
- Regulatory body issues new ad norms for celebrities
- Allahabad HC becomes ‘pilot project’ for case backlog study
- Boost to Digital Payments Promotion on Ambedkar Jayanti
- UP Signs ‘Power For All’ Agreement With Centre
- Paika rebellion
Science & Technology
- NASA Finds Evidence of Hydrothermal Vents on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus
Key Facts for Prelims
- CM Connect app
- ‘Sagarmatha Friendship-2017’
Polity & Governance
MoU Signed Between NSFDC & Development Commissioner (Handlooms)
National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Development Commissioner (Handlooms) under Ministry of Textiles have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
- The objective of signing this MoU is to help Scheduled Caste weavers and their families by promoting production and marketing of high value quality Handlooms products at Block level Cluster in various States like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Odisha etc.
Key points of the MoU:
- As per the MoU, signing parties shall popularize the schemes of DC (Handlooms) amongst the SC weavers through Awareness Programmes and advertisements in electronic/print media in SC weavers concentrated areas.
- They shall collaborate for capacity building including skill upgradation and economic development of SC weavers and their families for achieving the desired outcome.
- Exhibitions/Fairs shall be organized by both the parties for providing marketing assistance to SC weavers for enhancing their earnings.
- Both the parties shall also organize relevant skill development programmes for up-gradation of skills of the scheduled caste weavers in clusters and also for sharing knowledge and experience.
- This endeavour shall enable scheduled caste weavers to sharpen their skills for production and marketing of high value quality handloom products and better marketing linkages and therefore to have more income.
- Handlooms Sector is a part of Textile Industry, the second largest economic activity after agriculture.
- There are around 44 lakh Handloom weavers in the country out of which 3.90 lakh are Scheduled Caste Weavers.
- Under the cluster approach, new strategy for promoting production and marketing of high value quality handloom products shall be adopted to ensure more earnings of the Scheduled Caste Handloom Weavers.
- National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) was set up in 1989 as a Central PSU under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
- NSFDC is the apex institution for financing, facilitating and mobilizing funds from other sources and promoting the economic development activities of the persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes living below double the poverty line.
- NSFDC finances income generation schemes for the target group through the State Channelising Agencies (SCAs) nominated by respective State/UT Governments.
Regulatory body issues new ad norms for celebrities
Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the ad industry’s self-regulatory body, has released a set of guidelines for celebrity endorsements that bring personalities, including doctors, authors, activists and educationists, into the celebrity category.
- The guidelines aim to clamp down on random or exaggerated claims made by celebrity advertising.
Objective of the move:
The objective of this move is to protect consumer interest while encouraging celebrities and advertisers to refrain from endorsing misleading advertisements, especially of products or services which can cause serious financial loss or physical harm.
Celebrities have a strong influence on consumers and are guided by the choices they make or endorse. It’s important that both celebrities and advertisers are aware of the impact and power of advertising and therefore make responsible claims to promote products or services
- From now on, celebrities will be held responsible for the claims made in ads in which they appear.
- Celebrities must do due diligence and ensure that the claims made in their endorsements are not misleading.
- The council puts the onus on the advertiser and the advertising agency to ensure that celebrity brand endorsers are aware of ASCI codes.
- Celebrities are also banned from endorsing “any advertisement of a product or treatment or remedy that is prohibited for advertising” under the Drugs & Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act and the Drugs & Cosmetic Act”.
- Celebrities are also banned from appearing in any ad in which “a product which by law requires a health warning is injurious to health” on its packaging or advertisement.
- If a celebrity seeks advice directly or through the agency from ASCI on whether the advertisement potentially violates any provisions of the ASCI code or not, then the he would be “considered as having completed due diligence”. However, ASCI’s Advertising Advice will not be construed as pre-clearance of the Advertisement.
Significance of this move:
- Celebrities have been deployed by marketers to add credibility to their brand offering. These celebrities, however, have a huge responsibility to ensure that the products they endorse or feature in, are true to the claims made in those advertising messages.
- The guidelines will help in ensuring that claims made in advertising are not misleading, false or go unsubstantiated.
- The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), established in 1985, is committed to the cause of Self-Regulation in Advertising, ensuring the protection of the interests of consumers.
- ASCI was formed with the support of all four sectors connected with Advertising — Advertisers, Advertising Agencies, Media (including Broadcasters and the Press) and others like PR Agencies and Market Research Companies.
- ASCI is not a Government body, nor does it formulate rules for the public or for the relevant industries.
Objectives of ASCI:
- ASCI’s goals include monitoring, administering and promoting standards of advertising practices in India with a view to:
- Ensuring truthfulness and honesty of representations and claims made through advertising and safeguarding against misleading advertising.
- Ensuring that advertising is not offensive to generally accepted norms and standards of public decency.
- Safeguarding against indiscriminate use of advertising for promotion of products or services which are generally regarded as hazardous to society or to individuals or which are unacceptable to society as a whole.
- Ensuring that advertisements observe fairness in competition and the canons of generally accepted competitive behavior.
Allahabad HC becomes ‘pilot project’ for case backlog study
The Supreme Court has decided to put the Allahabad HC under the microscope as a “pilot project” to investigate how High Courts deal with pendency.
- This is a “target-specific” exercise to study how criminal appeals face years of delay as appellants face “inhuman compulsions” inside jails.
- The court has called for real-time statistics from the Allahabad HC and has also roped in some senior advocates to assist the Supreme Court.
- The court has directed the HC Registrar to hand over particulars of the criminal appeals, category-wise and year-wise, for the study in four weeks.
- It also sought the High Court to produce details of the institution and disposal statistics of last 10 years, average disposal time of the appeals, identified causes for the delay, steps already taken and in contemplation for tackling and accelerating disposals, mechanism in place to oversee the process and progress recorded.
Pendency of cases in India:
- In Allahabad high court, 9.24 lakh cases are pending – highest among all the HCs – of which 3.09 lakh cases are over 10 years old.
- As on June 30, 2016, 40.54 lakh cases were pending in the 24 HCs, which are grappling with 44% shortage of judges.
- Rajasthan high court has the oldest pending case in the country. It is pending for 61 years now.
Boost to Digital Payments Promotion on Ambedkar Jayanti
Commemorating the 126th birth anniversary of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar on April 14th this year, Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi launched several crucial initiatives to further the digital payments revolution in India.
BHIM Aadhaar platform for merchants:
- BHIM-Aadhaar digital payment platform is the merchant interface of the BHIM App.
- It will pave the way for making digital payments by using the Aadhaar platform.
- Any Indian citizen can pay digitally using their biometric data like their thumb imprint on a merchants’ biometric enabled device which could be smart phone having a biometric reader.
- Any citizen without access to smart phones, internet, debit or credit cards will be able to transact digitally through the BHIM Aadhaar platform.
- Already, 27 major banks are now on board with 7.15 lakh merchants so that they can start accepting payments using BHIM Aadhaar.
Two new Schemes- Cash back and Referral bonus schemes
- These schemes have an outlay of Rs. 495 crore for a period of six months. This is to ensure that the culture of digital payments permeates down to the grassroots.
- Under the Referral bonus scheme both the existing user who refers BHIM and the new user who adopts BHIM would get a cash bonus credited directly to their account.
- Under the Cashback scheme the merchants will get a cash back on every transaction using BHIM. Both schemes are to be administered by MEITY and implemented by NPCI.
UP Signs ‘Power For All’ Agreement With Centre
The Uttar Pradesh government has signed “Power for All” pact with the Centre to provide 24×7 power supply to all the households in the State.
- With this signing of the agreement, Uttar Pradesh which was the only state in the country which did not join the central government scheme has finally joined in it.
Power for All scheme:
- ‘Power for All scheme’ is a joint initiative of the central and state governments, with the objective of providing 24X7 electricity to all households, industry, commercial businesses and other electricity-consuming entities within the time span of four years.
- The government strives to provide 24×7 power across the country by 2019.
Why in news?
Descendants of 16 families associated with a little-known but bloody rebellion against British colonialism, called the Paika rebellion of 1817 will be felicitated by the Prime Minister.
About Paika rebellion:
- Two-hundred years ago in 1817, a valiant uprising of soldiers led by Buxi Jagabandhu (Bidyadhar Mohapatra) took place in Khurda of Odisha. This is known as Paika rebellion.
- The Paikas were the traditional land-owning militia of Odisha and served as warriors. When armies of the East India Company overran most of Odisha in 1803, the Raja of Khurda lost his primacy and the power and prestige of the Paikas went on a decline.
- The British were not comfortable with these aggressive, warlike new subjects and set up a commission under Walter Ewer to look into the issue.
- The commission recommended that the hereditary rent-free lands granted to the Paikas be taken over by the British administration and this recommendation was zealously adhered to. They revolted against the British.
- However, the rebellion had several other underlying causes – like the rise in the price of salt, abolition of the cowrie currency for payment of taxes and an overtly extortionist land revenue policy.
- Although initially the Company struggled to respond they managed to put down the rebellion by May 1817. Many of the Paik leaders were hung or deported. Jagabandhu surrendered in 1825.
Science & Technology
NASA Finds Evidence of Hydrothermal Vents on Saturn’s Moon Enceladus
NASA has announced that Saturn’s sixth-largest moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s fourth-largest moon Europa may be habitable as they have the necessary ingredients required to sustain life.
- Findings were made by NASA with the help of Cassini-Huygens unmanned spacecraft and the Hubble Telescope.
- The Cassini team found evidence of hydrothermal vents on Enceladus’s ocean floor.
- Cassini-Huygens unmanned spacecraft was sent in 1997 to study Saturn, its rings, and its moon.
What are hydrothermal vents?
Hydrothermal vents are fissures in the rocky core of Enceladus. They release water that has been heated by geothermal activity, and the jets of hot water carry minerals and nutrients that could support life.
Significance of this discovery:
Hydrothermal vents were detected by the Cassini spacecraft when it flew through the water geysers that erupt from Enceladus’s surface. Microbes, algae, tube worms, crabs, and even fish swim around hydrothermal vents in Earth’s oceans. Maybe a similar alien ecosystem exists on the seafloor of Enceladus.
- Saturn’s moon Enceladus has a higher possibility of hosting life than Jupiter’s Europa as it has a form of chemical energy on which life forms can feed.
- Enceladus is a small, icy moon which has an abundance of hydrogen molecules in water plumes.
- 98% of the gas in the plumes was found to be water and 1% is hydrogen and the remaining is a mixture of molecules of carbon dioxide, methane, and ammonia.
- Underwater vents present on Enceladus resemble the vents present on Earth’s ocean floors, where microbes and other sea life congregate.
- Scientists expect to find the potential for life in those vents as microbes flourish on Earth in hot cracks on the ocean floors, where sunlight cannot penetrate.
- Microbes are capable of using the process of methanogenesis, in which hydrogen is combined with carbon dioxide dissolved in the water, to obtain energy. This process creates methane as a byproduct, which is a critical ingredient for life.
About the Cassini Mission:
Cassini–Huygens is an unmanned spacecraft sent to the planet Saturn. Cassini is the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit.
- Its design includes a Saturn orbiter and a lander for the moon Titan.
- The lander, called Huygens, landed on Titan in 2005.
- The spacecraft was launched on October 15, 1997.
- This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System.
Objectives of Cassini Mission:
Cassini has several objectives, including:
- Determine the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of the rings of Saturn.
- Determine the composition of the satellite surfaces and the geological history of each object.
- Determine the nature and origin of the dark material on Iapetus’s leading hemisphere.
- Measure the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behavior of the magnetosphere.
- Study the dynamic behavior of Saturn’s atmosphere at cloud level.
- Study the time variability of Titan’s clouds and hazes.
- Characterize Titan’s surface on a regional scale.
Key Facts for Prelims
CM Connect app
- Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu has launched a new mobile app CM Connect.
- The app runs on Microsoft’s Kaizala platform.
- The app will be useful in receiving feedback from the public directly on any given issue.
- With this App, people can share the confidential information with the Chief Minister directly.
- The app would help in effective planning, improving and implementation of the schemes and programmes.
- Nepal and China is all set to hold their first ever joint military exercise named ‘Sagarmatha Friendship-2017’ from April 17 to April 26.
- It will focus on combating terror and disaster management.
- Sagarmatha is the Nepali name of Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, that is bordering between Nepal and China.
- Although, Nepal conducts joint exercises with other countries like India and United States, this is the first time it is holding a joint exercise with China.