Polity & Governance
- Legislative Council abolished in J&K
Government Schemes & Policies
- TB cases see decrease in India
- AFM cases not polio-like, says CDC
- Italy to introduce web tax on digital giants from 2020
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
- Odd-Even scheme to be implemented in Delhi from Nov 4 for 12 days
- Home Minster inaugurates seminar on Skandagupta at BHU
- Without Veer Savarkar, revolt of 1857 wouldn’t become historic: Home Minister
Science & Technology
- Karnataka tops the Innovation Index followed by Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Delhi
- DAE organizes a programme to mark the Centenary Celebrations of DR Vikram Sarabhai
Key Facts for Prelims
- World’s fastest ant clocks nearly a metre per second
- Differently-abled man from Aluva scales Mount Kilimanjaro
- Explained: What is the significance of Mt Paektu for Kim Jong Un
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Polity & Governance
Legislative Council abolished in J&K
The Jammu & Kashmir Legislative Council, the upper house of the Assembly, was abolished as per Section 57 of the J&K Reorganisation Bill, 2019, which reduced the State to the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.
- J&K Reorganisation Bill 2019 was passed by the parliament in recently. J&K and Ladakh will be a UT from November 1.
- The Council, which had a strength of 36 members, also used to be a part of the electoral college for the Rajya Sabha elections.
About Legislative Council
- India has a bicameral system i.e., two Houses of Parliament.
- At the state level, the equivalent of the Lok Sabha is the Vidhan Sabha or Legislative Assembly; that of the Rajya Sabha is the Vidhan Parishad or Legislative Council.
- The Legislative Council of a state is constituted as per Article 168 of Constitution (Constitution of Legislatures in States) while Article 71 of the Constitution provides for the option of a state to have a Legislative Council in addition to its Legislative Assembly.
- Under Article 169 (Abolition/Creation of Legislative Councils), a Legislative Council can be formed if the Legislative Assembly of the State passes a resolution to that effect by a majority of the total membership of the Assembly and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of the Assembly present and voting. Parliament can then pass a law to this effect.
- As in Rajya Sabha, members of a Legislative Council are not directly elected by voters.
Which states have Legislative Council?
- Currently, six states have Legislative Councils which are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. (Jammu and Kashmir had it until it was bifurcated recently).
Members of Legislative Council
- Under Article 171 of the Constitution, the Legislative Council of a state shall not have more than one-third of the number of MLAs of the state and not less than 40 members.
- One-third of the Members of Legislative Council (MLCs) are elected by the state’s MLAs, another one-third by a special electorate comprising sitting members of local governments such as municipalities and district boards, 1/12th by an electorate of teachers and another 1/12th by registered graduates.
- The remaining members are appointed by the Governor for distinguished services in various fields.
- As with Rajya Sabha MPs, the tenure of a Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) is six years with one-third of members retiring every two years.
Do Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishads have similar powers?
- Unlike Rajya Sabha which has substantial powers to shape non-financial legislation, Legislative Councils lack the constitutional mandate to do so.
- Legislative Assemblies have the power to override suggestions/amendments made to a legislation by the Council.
- Also, while Rajya Sabha MPs can vote in the election of the President and Vice-President, members of Legislative Councils can’t. MLCs also can’t vote in the elections of Rajya Sabha members.
Argument in favour of having Legislative Council
- It acts as a check on hasty actions by the popularly elected House
- It enable non-elected individuals (academicians and intellectuals) to contribute to the legislative process.
Argument against having Legislative Council
- They can be used to park leaders who have not been able to win an election.
- They can be used to delay progressive legislation.
- They would strain state finances.
- If there was any real benefit in having a Legislative Council, all States in the country would have it.
- With low educational standards, Graduates as a non-elected individual is no guarantee of any real intellectuality.
Government Schemes & Policies
TB cases see decrease in India
The tuberculosis incidence rate in India has decreased by almost 50,000 patients over the past one year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)-2019 edition of the Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report.
Highlights of Global Tuberculosis (TB) Report
- Highest burden of TB in 2018 was in eight countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, and South Africa.
- Globally, 7 million people were diagnosed and treated for TB, from 6.4 million in 2017.
- Less people died from TB in 2018 (1.5 million) compared to 2017 (1.6 million). However, the burden remains high among low-income and marginalised populations.
- Brazil, China, Russian and Zimbabwe, which all have high TB burdens, achieved treatment coverage levels of more than 80 per cent.
India Specific Highlights
- In 2017, India had 27.4 lakh TB patients which came down to 26.9 lakh in 2018.
- Incidence per 1,00,000 populations has decreased from 204 in 2017 to 199 in 2018.
- The number of patients being tested for rifampicin (antibiotic used to treat TB) resistance has increased from 32% in 2017 to 46% in 2018.
Global TB targets:
- Sustainable Development Goal 3.3 includes a target of ending the TB epidemic by 2030.
- The World Health Assembly-approved Global TB Strategy aims for a 90 per cent reduction in TB deaths and an 80 per cent reduction in the TB incidence rate by 2030 compared with 2015 levels. It established milestones for 2020 of a 35% reduction in TB deaths and a 20% reduction in the TB incidence rate from 2015 levels.
The UN Political Declaration on TB in 2018 includes 4 new global targets:
- Treat 40 million people for TB disease in the 5-year period 2018-22 (7 million in 2018).
- Reach at least 30 million people with TB preventive treatment for a latent TB infection in the 5-year period 2018-22.
- Mobilize at least US$13 billion annually for universal access to TB diagnosis, treatment and care by 2022.
- Mobilize at least US$2 billion annually for TB research.
About Tuberculosis (TB)
- Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) that most often affect the lungs. Tuberculosis is curable and preventable.
- TB is spread from person to person through the air. When people with lung TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air. A person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
- Tuberculosis mostly affects adults in their most productive years. However, all age groups are at risk. Over 95% of cases and deaths are in developing countries.
- Tobacco use greatly increases the risk of TB disease and death. 7.9% of TB cases worldwide are attributable to smoking.
- Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is among the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.
AFM cases not polio-like, says CDC
Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), being referred to as a ‘polio-like condition’, has been tested negative for the polio virus, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States.
About Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM)
- Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a rare disease that affects the spinal cord, the part of the nervous system that carries messages to and from the brain. It paralysis of the limbs.
- The most serious complication of AFM is respiratory failure if the muscles involved with breathing become weakened.
- There is no specific treatment for AFM.
- In India, the incidence rate of AFM is 120 per million populations in 2010.
Italy to introduce web tax on digital giants from 2020
Italy approved a new tax on digital companies, including U.S. tech giants, as part of its 2020 draft budget, a move that could draw threats of retaliation from US.
About the new tax on Digital companies
- The tax will oblige companies such as Facebook to pay a 3% levy on internet transactions. However, US has repeatedly said the levy unfairly targeted U.S. firms. It will be introduced from 2020.
- Italy and other European Union members have long complained about the way web giants collect huge profits in their countries but pay only a few million euros in taxes each year. However, the EU has so far failed to agree as a bloc on how to tax those companies.
Environment, Ecology & Disaster Management
Odd-Even scheme to be implemented in Delhi from Nov 4 for 12 days
The odd-even road rationing scheme will be implemented in Delhi from 4th November to 15th November. The move is aimed at combating high levels of air pollution in Delhi-NCR.
About the Odd-even scheme
- Under the scheme, odd and even numbered vehicles ply on alternate days. For example, if a vehicle’s registration number ends with an odd digit, it will be allowed on the road on January 1, while that ending with an even number can be driven on the second, and so on.
- Odd-even rule will be applicable only on private-owned four wheelers. The scheme will also include vehicles coming from other states. Restrictions will not be applicable on two-wheelers, vehicles being used for medical emergencies, for women and vehicles carrying school children.
Where did it come from?
- This system was implemented in Beijing in 2008 just before the summer Olympics. While the rule was initially said to be temporary, it turned out to be so effective the government made it permanent.
- Similar road-rationing rules are imposed in many places around the world like Paris, Mexico and Bogota to curb road jams and pollution.
Home Minster inaugurates seminar on Skandagupta at BHU
Union Home Minister inaugurated the 2-day international seminar on the role and relevance of famous ruler of Gupta Dynasty, Skandagupta Vikramaditya at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi.
- The Gupta period is known as the golden period of ancient Indian history and Skandagupta Vikramaditya is known as the Saviour of India as he successfully fought the battle against the invading Huns.
- Skandagupta was a Gupta Emperor of northern India.
- Skandagupta succeeded his father Kumaragupta I as the ruler of Gupta empire. He ruled from 455 A.D. to 467 A.D. He is generally considered the last of the great Gupta Emperors and was succeeded by Purugupta, his half-brother.
- His Bhitari pillar inscription, located in Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh, suggests that he restored the Gupta power by defeating his enemies, who may have been rebels or foreign invaders. His rule was marked by wars against the Pushyamitras and the Hunas.
- By defeating Pushyamitras during his initial years of ascendancy, Skandagupta proved his ability to rule and took upon himself the title of Vikramaditya.
- The Junagadh rock, which contains inscription of the earlier rulers Ashoka and Rudradaman, has an inscription engraved on the orders of Skandagupta’s governor Parnadatta. The inscription states that Skandagupta appointed governors of all provinces, including Parnadatta as the governor of Surashtra.
- Skandagupta issued five types of gold coins: Archer type, King and queen type, Chhatra type, Lion-slayer type and Horseman type.
- His silver coins are of four types: Garuda type, Bull type, Altar type and Madhyadesha type.
- As various wars fought by him strained the state treasury, compared to his predecessors, Skandagupta issued fewer gold coins and some of these coins feature relatively less quantity of gold.
Without Veer Savarkar, revolt of 1857 wouldn’t become historic: Home Minister
Two days after the ruling party pledged to confer the Bharat Ratna on Veer Savarkar in its election manifesto for Maharashtra, Union Home Minister said it was Veer Savarkar who helped make the rebellion of 1857 historic.
About Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
- Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, commonly known as Veer Savarkar, was an Indian independence activist and formulator of the Hindutva philosophy.
- In his teenage, He formed a youth organization Known as Mitra Mela (Group of Friends) to bring in national and revolutionary ideas.
- He was against foreign goods and propagated the idea of Swadeshi. In 1905, he burnt all the foreign goods in a bonfire on Dussehra.
- During his stay in London, he inspired his fellow Indian students residing with him at ‘India House’, and formed an organisation ‘Free India Society’ to fight against the British administration in India.
- He championed atheism and rationality and also disapproved orthodox Hindu belief. In fact, he even dismissed cow worship as superstitious.
- In his book, The History of the war of Indian Independence, Savarkar wrote about the guerilla warfare tricks used in 1857 Sepoy Mutiny.
- He was arrested in 1909 on charges of plotting an armed revolt against the Morle-Minto reform. He tried to escape but later was arrested. He was sentenced 50 years of imprisonment, during which he was taken to Central Jail of Andaman and Nicobar, famously known as Kala Pani. During his imprisonment in, he wrote his famous and controversial book, Hindutva: Who is a Hindu? In his book, he described Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Hinduism as one, who can support to create Akhand Bharat.
- He worked on abolishment of untouchability in Ratnagiri. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar compared his work to Lord Buddha.
- He founded the two-nation theory in his book ‘Hindutva’ calling Hindus and Muslims two separate nations. In 1937, Hindu Mahasabha passed it as a resolution.
- He started a voluntary hunger-strike which ended with his death in 1966.
- In 2002, Port Blair airport at Andaman and Nicobar’s Island was renamed after Veer Savarkar International Airport.
Science & Technology
Karnataka tops the Innovation Index followed by Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Delhi
NITI Aayog with Institute for Competitiveness as the knowledge partner released the India Innovation Index (III) 2019. Karnataka is the most innovative major state in India.
Highlights of India Innovation Index (III) 2019
- Karnataka is the most innovative major state in India.
- Top state among north- eastern & hill states: Sikkim
- Top UT: Delhi
- Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Telangana, Haryana, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh form the remaining top ten major states respectively.
- Among the category of major states, Maharashtra performs the best in the dimension of Enablers. This implies that it has the best enabling environment for innovation, even though the state comes in at the third position in the overall innovation index.
- The index shows that the innovation ecosystem of the country is strong in south and western parts of India. In fact, three of the top five major states are from southern India. Delhi and Haryana seem to be an exception to this rule and seem to be doing well on the Index. Thus, there seems to be a west-south and north-east divide across the country.
About the India Innovation Index (III) 2019
- It was released by the NITI Aayog with Institute for Competitiveness as the knowledge partner.
- The index creates a framework for the continual evaluation of the innovation environment of 29 states and seven union territories in India.
- It is calculated as the average of the scores of its two dimensions – Enablers and Performance.
Enablers (5 pillars)
- Human Capital
- Knowledge Workers
- Business Environment
- Safety and Legal Environment
Performance (2 pillars)
- Knowledge Output
- Knowledge Diffusion
Significance of the index:
- India has a unique opportunity among its myriad challenges to become the innovation leader in the world. Cluster-based innovation should be leveraged upon as the focal point of competitiveness.
- The index is a great beginning to improve the environment of innovation in the country as it focuses on both the input and output components of the idea.
- The index is a good effort to benchmark the performance of the state with each other and promote competitive federalism.
DAE organizes a programme to mark the Centenary Celebrations of DR Vikram Sarabhai
As a part of the year-long Birth Centenary celebrations of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, the Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space have organized a two-day programme to commemorate Dr. Vikram Sarabhai’s contribution towards DAE.
About Vikram Sarabhai:
- He was considered as the Father of the Indian space program.
- After India gained independence, he sought a charitable trust set up by his family for the research work in the field of Science. This resulted in creation of Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad.
- Based on his persuasion, the Indian government agreed to set up the Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) in 1962. He was the first chairman of the committee. The INCOSPAR was restructured and renamed as Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in 1969.
- He founded the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad in the year 1947. The laboratory started its operation from RETREAT, Sarabhai’s residence in Ahmedabad. Its first topic of research was cosmic rays.
- His consistent communication with NASA formed the base for Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) in 1975. This further steered the coming in of cable television in India.
- He is considered as the brainchild of India’s first satellite. The establishment of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) was one of his greatest achievements.
- He set up the Operations Research Group (ORG) which was the first market research organization in India.
- He was also Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.
- He was one of the founding members of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA).
- He completed his PhD in ‘Cosmic ray investigations in tropical latitudes’ under the Doctoral Advisory of Sir C. V. Raman.
- He was the vice president for the fourth UN peace conference organized in 1971. The topic of concern in this issue was ‘Peaceful uses of atomic energy.’
- He set up the first rocket launching station at Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram on the coast of the Arabian Sea.
- Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Medal
- Padma Bhushan award
- Padma Vibhushan award
Some of the most well-known institutions established by Dr. Sarabhai are:
- Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad
- Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad
- Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram
- Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad (This institution came into existence after merging six institutions/centres established by Sarabhai)
- Faster Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR), Kalpakkam
- Varaiable Energy Cyclotron Project, Calcutta
- Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL), Hyderabad
- Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), Jaduguda, Bihar
- Ahmedabad Textiles Industrial Research Association (ATIRA)
- Center for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT), Ahmedabad
- Blind Men Association (BMA)
Key Facts for Prelims
World’s fastest ant clocks nearly a metre per second
At top speed, the Saharan silver ant easily outpaces it’s nearest ant competitor Cataglyphis fortis — despite having significantly shorter legs.
About the Saharan silver ant (C. bombycina)
- It is the fastest of the world’s 12,000 known ant species running at nearly a metre per second speed.
- It covers 108 times its own body length per second, a record topped only by two other creatures, the Australian tiger beetle and the California coastal mite.
- It achieves the top speed at midday across desert sands that reach 600
- At top speed, it easily outpaces its nearest ant competitor Cataglyphis fortis (a species of ant), despite having significantly shorter legs.
Differently-abled man from Aluva scales Mount Kilimanjaro
The 32-year-old from Aluva proved it in emphatic fashion when he conquered the snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, on crutches.
About Mount Kilimanjaro
- Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa and is one of the seven summits.
- It is located in Tanzania.
- It is world’s tallest free standing mountain.
- Kilimanjaro once had three volcanic cones – Kibo, Shira and Mawenzi. Shira and Mawenzi are extinct volcanoes. However, Kibo is a dormant volcano.
Explained: What is the significance of Mt Paektu for Kim Jong Un
Recently, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) state news agency released a series of photographs showing Kim Jong Un riding a white horse to the sacred mountain called Paektu.
The Significance of Mount Paektu for Koreans
- Mount Paektu or Changbai (in Chinese) is a volcanic mountain situated at the border between Korea and China and for centuries has been considered sacred by the Koreans since they treat it to be the spiritual origin of the Korean kingdom, where the founder was born.
- It is also the highest peak in the Korean peninsula.