Polity & Governance
- Final Verdict of Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal Comes
- Uttarakhand high court appoints itself legal guardian of cows in state
Government Schemes & Policies
- NITI Aayog launches “Pitch to MOVE”
- Railway cleanliness survey: Jodhpur tops clean station list
- CEO of PM crop insurance scheme appointed
- Pune gets first spot in Ease of Living Index
- New head for marine exports body
Bilateral & International Relations
- Australia recommences its adoption programme with India
- NASA administrator supports Trump ‘space force’ proposal
Science & Technology
- Super-insulating gel could help build Mars habitats
- NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft spots hydrogen ‘wall’ around Solar system
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Polity & Governance
Final Verdict of Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal Comes
The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal which has been hearing the tussle over sharing of the Mahadayi or Mandovi river between Goa, Karnataka and Maharashtra, has delivered its final verdict.
What’s the final verdict?
- The tribunal has allowed Karnataka access to 13.4 tmc of water for its consumptive use (5.4 tmc) and power generation (8.02 tmc).
- The share of Goa was pegged at 24 tmc with the Tribunal allowing it for the state’s municipal water needs, irrigation water requirements and industrial water demands.
- Maharashtra got the lowest share of 1.33 tmc for meeting its in-basin needs with respect to five projects.
- The tribunal also directed the Centre to set up the Mahadayi Water Management Authority to implement its report and final decision.
What is the dispute?
- The Mahadayi (called Mandovi in Goa) originates in Karnataka and flows to Goa and Maharashtra. The three states are locked in a protracted dispute over sharing its water for the last 30 years. Attempts at negotiations among the states were initiated by the central government way back in 1985.
- In order to divert 7.56 tmcft of water to the Malaprabha river basin, Karnataka government proposed to build canals to link Kalasa and Banduri, the tributaries of Mahadayi.
- However, objecting the move, Goa government argued that if Karnataka implemented the Kalasa-Banduri project, it would prove disastrous for the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats as the proposed project was deep inside the forest.
- Karnataka had petitioned the tribunal seeking release of 7.56 tmcft of water for Kalasa-Banduri Nala project.
- The tribunal, which gave its interim order after hearing arguments from both Karnataka and Goa, had rejected the state’s plea citing various grounds including ecological damage that the project may cause.
- Kalasa-Banduri project planned in 1989; Goa raised objection to it.
- Goa filed a complaint seeking setting up of a tribunal in July 2002.
- The Ministry of Water Resources kept the clearance given to Karnataka in abeyance in September 2002.
- Goa moved the Supreme Court in 2006 seeking constitution of a tribunal, withdrawing approval for any work in the basin.
- The Mahadayi Water Disputes Tribunal was set up in 2010.
About Mahadayi river:
The Mahadayi River also known as Mandovi or Mhadei river, is described as the lifeline of the Indian state of Goa.
- The river has a length of 77 km, 29 km in Karnataka and 52 km in Goa.
- It originatesfrom a cluster of 30 springs at Bhimgad in the Western Ghats in the Belgaum district of Karnataka.
- The river has a 2,032 km2 catchment area in Karnataka and a 1,580 km2 catchment area in Goa.
- Mahadayi (Mandovi) is a water deficit basin and water diversion could impact the environment.
What is the Kalasa-Banduri Nala project?
The Kalasa-Banduri Nala is a canal project undertaken by the Government of Karnataka to divert water from the Mahadayi river to the Malaprabha.
- The project aimed to improve drinking water supply to the Districts of Belagavi, Dharwad and Gadag.
- It involves building across Kalasa and Banduri, two tributaries of the Mahadayi river to divert 7.56 TMC of water to the Malaprabha river, which supplies the drinking water needs of the said 3 districts, i.e., Dharwad, Belagavi and Gadag.
- The region is part of Karnataka’s arid area, which is second only to Rajasthan in water scarcity.
- The project has been delayed for over a decade during which the state has seen two of the worst droughts in 40 years.
Uttarakhand high court appoints itself legal guardian of cows in state
Invoking the parens patriae doctrine, the Uttarakhand high court has appointed itself as the legal guardian of cows in the state.
- The court did so for “the welfare of cows and other stray cattle in Uttarakhand.
- This is the first time in India that a court has had invoked the ‘parens patriae’ doctrine for cow protection.
What does this mean?
- The court can now act as the legal guardian of the cows in the state and keep a tab on all issues related to cows especially its directions with regard to their protection.
- If there are any violations in laws and rules regarding cows, the court can take suo moto cognisance and issue directions to the state.
What is parens patriae doctrine?
- Parens patriae in Latin means ‘parent of the country’ and is a doctrine that grants the court inherent power and authority to act as guardian for those who are unable to take care for themselves.
- The judgment came as a response to a public interest litigation claiming that stray cattle were being slaughtered and waste from a slaughter house was flowing into water bodies, posing a health threat to the villagers.
- The court cited animal welfare law, national and international documents and Hindu religious texts to say that animal welfare was part of “moral development of humanity”.
Key directions issued by the Court:
- All civic bodies in the state shall construct “gaushalas/gausadans” or shelters/homes for housing cows and other stray cattle within one year.
- No commercial charges shall be levied for supplying the electricity and water connections to gaushalas/shelters.
- The state government shall register cases against people who abandon cows and owners of cattle found on the streets, roads and public places under the Indian Penal Code, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and Uttarakhand Protection of Cow Progeny Act, 2007.
- The state government shall also set up a special squad to be headed by an officer not below the rank of deputy superintendent of police in both the Kumaon and Garhwal regions with one veterinary doctor to protect cows.
- The court banned slaughter of cows, bulls, bullocks, heifers or calves in the state and ruled that no person shall sell beef or beef products in any form in Uttarakhand.
- On July 4, the Uttarakhand high court declared entire the animal kingdom a legal entity with the rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.
- In 2017, the same court recognized the Ganga as a living entity and entitled to the same rights as other living entities. The Supreme Court subsequently overturned that order.
Government Schemes & Policies
NITI Aayog launches “Pitch to MOVE”
NITI Aayog has launched mobility pitch competition Pitch to MOVE to provide budding entrepreneurs of India unique opportunity to pitch their business ideas to distinguished jury.
About Pitch to MOVE competition:
- The competition is organised by NITI Aayog in collaboration with Invest India and Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).
- It is part of series of Global Mobility Summit, engaging featured events in run up to the main event.
Aims & Objectives:
The competition aims to
- Identify and incentivize (also reward) startups offering innovative solutions to Government realize its vision of shared, connected, intermodal and environment friendly mobility for India.
- Harness latest disruption for generating employment and growth in our country.
Who can participate?
- The competition is open to primarily startups from various parts of India who are interested in showcasing their business ideas to jury members.
- In this competition, startups can be from domain of public mobility, electric vehicles (EVs), shared transport, last mile connectivity, passenger transportation, battery technology, automotive IoT, freight and logistics, powertrain and drivetrain, experiential, travel, mobility infrastructure and automotive electronics etc.
- The winners of this competition will receive support from VCs and will be felicitated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Global Mobility Summit scheduled to be held on 7-8 Sep 2018 in New Delhi.
Railway cleanliness survey: Jodhpur tops clean station list
Union Railway Ministry released Third Party Survey Report on Station Cleanliness.
- It ranks 407 railway stations including 75 A1 category stations, 332 A category stations on basis of cleanliness performance.
- The survey was conducted by the Quality Council of India (QCI) to increase level of cleanliness under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan by identifying unclean spots, improve cleanliness standards and propel healthy competition among railway stations.
Highlights of the report:
Top 10 A1 category Stations (out of 75):
- Jodhpur (1st), Jaipur (2nd), Tirupati (3rd), Vijayawada (4th), Anand Vihar Terminal (5th), Secunderabad Junction (6th), Bandra (7th), Hyderabad (8th), Bhubaneshwar (9th) and Vishakhapatnam (10th).
Top 10 A category stations (out of 332):
- Marwar (1st), Phulera (2nd), Warangal (3rd), Udaipur (4th), Jaialmer (5th), Nizamabad (6th), Barmer (7th), Machiryal (8th), Mysore (9th) and Bhilwara (10th).
Top 10 Zonal Railways Rankings:
- North Western Railway (1st), South Central Railway (2nd), East Coast Railway (3rd), South East Central Railway (4th), Western Railway (5th), Southern Western Railway (6th), Southern Railway (7th), Central Railway (8th), West Central Railway (9th) and Northeast Frontiers Railway (10th).
About Quality Council of India (QCI):
Quality Council of India (QCI) was set up in 1997 as an autonomous body.
- It was set up jointly by the Government of India and the Indian Industry represented by the three premier industry associations i.e.
- Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM),
- Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and
- Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
- It aims to establish and operate national accreditation structure and promote quality through National Quality Campaign.
- The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, is the nodal ministry for QCI.
- QCI is registered as a non-profit society with its own Memorandum of Association.
- QCI is governed by a Council of 38 members with equal representations of government, industry and consumers.
- Chairman of QCI is appointed by the Prime Minister on recommendation of the industry to the government.
CEO of PM crop insurance scheme appointed
Senior bureaucrat Ashish Kumar Bhutani has been appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
- He has been appointed to the post till May 9, 2020.
About Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY):
The PMFBY, launched in April 2016, compensates farmers for any losses in crop yield. In the event of a crop loss, the farmer will be paid based on the difference between the threshold yield and actual yield.
- The scheme is compulsory for farmers who have availed of institutional loans.
- The threshold yield is calculated based on average yield for the last seven years and the extent of compensation is set according to the degree of risk for the notified crop.
- The scheme insures farmers against a wide range of external risks — droughts, dry spells, floods, inundation, pests and diseases, landslides, natural fire and lightning, hailstorms, cyclones, typhoons, tempests, hurricanes and tornadoes. The scheme also covers post-harvest losses up to a period of 14 days.
- The Scheme covers all Food & Oilseeds crops and Annual Commercial/Horticultural Crops for which past yield data is available and for which requisite number of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) are conducted being under General Crop Estimation Survey (GCES).
- The scheme is implemented by empanelled general insurance companies. Selection of Implementing Agency (IA) is done by the concerned State Government through bidding.
- The scheme is compulsory for loanee farmers availing Crop Loan /KCC account for notified crops and voluntary for other others.
- The scheme is being administered by Ministry of Agriculture.
Pune gets first spot in Ease of Living Index
Pune ranked first on the Ease of Living Index launched by Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA).
About the index:
- The index has been developed to allow city managers to get a grip on the city’s baseline and compare its performance across key indicators.
- The index aims to help cities attain liveable city status, get them more investments and improve tourism.
- It also seeks to serve as knowledge base for taking policy decisions and for planning.
- It also marks shift to data driven approach to urbanisation and promote competitive spirit among cities.
- It covers 111 cities that are smart city contenders, capital cities and cities with population of 1 million plus.
It captures quality of life based on data collected from urban local bodies on four parameters, which were further broken down into 15 categories. The four parameters include:
- Institutional (governance)
- Social (identity, education, health, security)
- Economic (economy, employment)
- Physical factors (waste water and solid waste management, pollution, housing/ inclusiveness, mixed land use, power and water supply, transport, public open spaces)
- Institutional and social parameters carry 25 points each, physical factors have weightage of 45 points and economic factors 5 points totalling to 100 mark scale on which cities were evaluated.
Highlights of the index:
Top five cities:
- Navi Mumbai
- Greater Mumbai
- Among other major cities, Chennai holds 14th rank, Ahmedabad 23rd, Hyderabad 27th, and Bengaluru 58th.
- Rampur in Uttar Pradesh has ranked the worst on the scale with Kohima and Patna on the bottom two and three ranks while Varanasi stands at 33.
- Kolkata is excluded from the index as West Bengal Government had refused to participate in rankings.
New head for marine exports body
KS Srinivas, an IAS officer of the Kerala cadre, formally took over as Chairman of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (Mpeda) under the Ministry of Commerce & Industry.
About Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA):
MPEDA is the nodal coordinating state owned agency for the holistic development of seafood industry in India to realise its full export potential as a nodal agency.
- It was established in 1972 under Marine Products Export Development Authority Act (MPEDA), 1972.
- It functions under Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
- It is headquartered in Kochi, Kerala.
- Its mandate is to increase exports of sea food including fisheries of all kinds, specifying standards, marketing, processing, extension and training in various aspects.
- It acts as coordinating agency with different Central and State Government establishments engaged in fishery production and allied activities.
Bilateral & International Relations
Australia recommences its adoption programme with India
The Government of Australia has decided to recommence the Adoption Programme with India, as per Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption.
- The recommencement of the adoption programmes will now enable large number of prospective adoptive parents including those of Indian origin settled in Australia in fulfilling their desire of adopting a child from India.
- The adoptions from India had earlier been put on hold by the Government of Australia eight years ago, on the reported charges of trafficking of children for Inter-country adoption by some of the recognized Indian placement agencies (the Adoption agencies mandated to place children in Inter-country adoption at that point of time).
Steps taken by Indian government:
- The regulation of Inter-country adoptions has been made strict by the Government of India with the enactment of Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and notification of Adoption Regulations, 2017.
- The Ministry of Women & Child Development along with Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) have been constantly monitoring the implementation of these laws.
What is the Hague Convention?
The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Convention) is an international agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions.
- It protects children and their families against the risks of illegal, irregular, premature or ill-prepared adoptions abroad.
- To do this, the Hague Convention puts (a) safeguards in place to make sure that all intercountry adoptions are in the best interests of the child and respects their human rights, (b) a system in place of cooperation among countries to guarantee that these safeguards are respected, and to prevent the abduction of, sale of, or traffic in children.
- For Hague adoptions, the authorities in both countries must agree to go ahead with the adoption. For non-Hague adoptions, requirements may vary from one country to another.
- The Hague Convention does not allow private adoptions in the child’s home country.
- Adoption is a handled by the provinces and territories, and they all have and follow laws implementing the Hague Convention.
About Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA):
CARA is statutory body of Ministry of Women & Child Development established under Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
- It is a nodal body for adoption of Indian children.
- It is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.
- CARA primarily deals with adoption of orphan, abandoned and surrendered children through its associated /recognised adoption agencies.
- It deals with inter-country adoptions according to Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, 1993 ratified by India in 2003.
- CARA is designated as the Central Authority to deal with inter-country adoptions in accordance with the provisions of the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, 1993, ratified by Government of India in 2003.
NASA administrator supports Trump ‘space force’ proposal
NASA Administrator recently expressed full support for President Donald Trump’s proposed military “Space Force” but added that it will have a role separate from NASA.
- In June, U.S. President Donald Trump announced about the creation of a “space force” or a sixth branch of the American armed forces. The space force plan requires congressional approval. Military leaders and experts have questioned the wisdom of launching an expensive, bureaucratic new service branch.
What is Space Force?
- The United States Space Force, as proposed by the Trump administration, would be a new branch of the military by 2020, on par with the army, navy, air force, marines and coast guard.
- An independent branch can’t be created until Congress approves it, but the administration can take several steps on its own to prepare for the launch of a new force, the first since the air force was formed shortly after the second world war.
- Officials plan to create a Space Operations Force – an “elite group of war fighters specializing in the domain of space” drawn from various branches of the military, in the style of existing special operations forces.
- They’ll also create a United States Space Command and a Space Development Agency and appoint an assistant secretary of defense for space.
- The main intention behind the creation of a “space force” is to see that the U.S. establishes and maintains dominance in space.
- The purpose is to deny the Russians and the Chinese advantages in space.
Does it already exist?
- There is no independent military branch focused on space, but there is a sizable space command within the air force.
- Created in 1982, it is headquartered at Peterson air force base in Colorado and oversees 30,000 people. It includes the Space and Missile Systems Center, oversees Department of Defense satellites, and uses radar to monitor ballistic missile launches to guard against a surprise attack on the United States.
Would military action in space be legal?
- In a word, yes. But if a U.S. Space Force ever came online, legal experts say that international law would limit what it could do.
- All major space powers, including the U.S., Russia, and China, have signed the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. The pact says that nothing in space can be claimed as a single country’s territory, and it bars countries from stationing nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction anywhere in outer space, including in orbit around Earth.
- The treaty gets stricter when it comes to “celestial bodies” such as the moon and Mars. Parties can’t build military bases, conduct military maneuvers, or test weapons of any kind—even conventional weapons—on another world.
- But the Outer Space Treaty does give countries some wiggle room. The treaty doesn’t explicitly forbid intercontinental ballistic missiles, which enter and exit space on their way toward their targets.
- The treaty also doesn’t specify whether conventional weapons can be used in open space or on space stations.
How this idea is not feasible?
- The fundamental difficulty of a space corps is that the physical environment of space is not conducive to the conduct of military operations without incurring serious losses in the form of spacecraft and debris.
- Another military arm would only compound the organisational challenges facing the U.S. armed services.
- It could undercut ongoing missions.
- It could very well increase budgetary allocations in the future.
- A space corps could undermine American efforts in the domain of joint warfare.
- And despite efforts to make spacecraft more fuel efficient, the energy requirements are enormous.
- The technical demands of defending assets in space make the possibility of dominance and space as a domain for war-fighting a sort of chimera.
Science & Technology
Super-insulating gel could help build Mars habitats
Scientists have developed Aerogel, a transparent heat-resistant super-insulating gel using beer waste.
- Aerogels, which are among the lightest solid materials known to man, are one of the finest insulation materials available.
- The “aerogel” looks like a flattened plastic contact lens. The transparent gel is highly resistant to heat.
- The gel is cheaper to produce because it comes from beer waste. Aerogels are at least 90% gas by weight, but their defining feature is air. Their thin films are made up of crisscrossing patterns of solid material that trap air inside billions of tiny pores, similar to the bubbles in bubble wrap. It is that trapping capacity that makes them such good insulators.
It should be noted that traditional aerogels are mainly made of silica, which is not environmentally-friendly.
- Recently developed transparent heat-resistant super-insulating aerogel using beer waste looks like flattened plastic contact lens film (roughly 100 times lighter than glass).
- It is transparent compared to similar products in market allowing to see-through it.
- It is also resistant to heat. It is also cheaper to produce because it comes from beer waste.
- It may one day be used to build greenhouse-like habitats for human colonised on Mars.
- It could also be used on buildings on Earth to help make huge savings on energy costs.
- It can be also used in windows and also in extraterrestrial habitats.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft spots hydrogen ‘wall’ around Solar system
NASA scientists believe they have found new evidence of the mysterious ‘wall’ that surrounds all the planets and objects in our solar system.
- This mysterious bubble marks the boundary between the solar system and interstellar space and provides a marker for the edge of the sun’s influence.
- According to the latest findings, the barrier is actually a vast amount of trapped hydrogen atoms caught up in the solar wind of our star.
- These produce waves of ultraviolet light in a very distinctive way, which have been detected by the sensors aboard the New Horizons interplanetary space probe.
- Incidentally, it is difficult to define the boundary of the solar system as after solar wind’s influence ends, the matter of the Oort cloud – an icy sphere of comets revolving around the sun, still remains.
About New Horizons Mission:
New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe that was launched as a part of NASA’s New Frontiers program.
- Launched in 2006, it has been travelling through space for the past nine years.
- The primary mission is to perform a flyby study of the Pluto system. The secondary mission to fly by and study one or more other Kuiper belt objects (KBOs).
- It is the first spacecraft which successfully fly by the dwarf planet Pluto, for its exploration in the Kuiper Belt along with its moon Charon and other dwarf planets in the belt.
- Images sent by this mission would not only provide geological phenomena of the Pluto (mineral, oil and natural gas exploration) but also help in understanding the various new phenomenon that occurs over the Pluto and the Belt.
New Horizons’ top discoveries about Pluto:
- Sputnik Planitia, the western lobe of Pluto’s heart, might hold a giant, frozen ocean of nitrogen. This type of structure doesn’t exist anywhere else in the solar system.
- Pluto has a vibrant, blue atmospheric haze that hovers at least 300 miles above the surface. Methane in that haze might react with sunlight, making way for complex organic molecules.
- Pluto’s moon Charon has a large tectonic belt around its equator, which scientists think is the result of an underground ocean ripped open.
- Scientists believe methane escaping from Pluto has sprayed Charon’s red polar cap. No one has ever seen the sharing of molecules this way in the solar system, but it does resemble binary star systems exchanging materials.
About Kuiper belt:
Kuiper belt is a region of the solar system beyond the planets, extending from the orbit of Neptune.
- It consists mainly small bodies or remnants from the solar system’s formation.
- It is similar to the asteroid belt, although it is far larger — 20 times as wide and 200 times as massive.
- The Kuiper belt objects (KBO) are composed largely of frozen volatiles (termed ‘ices’), such as methane, ammonia and water.
- Kuiper belt is home to at least three dwarf planets — Pluto, Haumea and Makemake. Pluto, discovered in 1930, is considered its largest member.
- In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet.