Polity & Governance
- Karnataka crisis: What is a whip? What does it do?
Government Schemes & Policies
- PMUY to reach 80 mn connections in just 100 days
- One-Stop-Centres in Bihar
Issues related to Health & Education
- WHO declares Ebola outbreak in Congo a global health emergency
- HRD Ministry launches the UGC Scheme of ‘Paramarsh’
Science & Technology
- Scientists Build Ramanujam Machine In Honour of the Indian Genius
- DRDO Research Ship INS Sagardhwani Embarks on Sagar Maitri Mission-2
- ‘Ploonets’ could be the culprits behind astronomical mysteries
Key Facts for Prelims
- Establishing Urban Haats
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Polity & Governance
Karnataka crisis: What is a whip? What does it do?
Amid a looming trust vote in the Karnataka Assembly, former chief minister appealed to postpone the motion of confidence as the Supreme Court’s decision did not shed light on his rights to issue a whip.
What is Karnataka Political Crisis?
- On July 1, two MLAs of ruling party resigned citing differences with the current government of Karnataka. Five days later, several other MLAs submitted their resignations.
- However, Speaker ruled that several of the resignations were not in order and should come in proper order.
- The rebel MLAs then moved to the Supreme Court to challenge the Speaker’s decision of declaring their resignations invalid.
- The Supreme Court in its hearing said that it is the rebel MLAs’ discretion to attend the floor test. It has also given the Speaker the liberty to decide on the resignation of these rebel MLAs within any time frame.
- However, on the day of floor test, 21 MLAs were absent from the assembly including the 15 Rebels and the Karnataka Assembly was adjourned without a trust vote.
What is a floor test?
- A floor test is a motion through which the government of the day seeks to know whether it still enjoys the confidence of legislature.
- In this procedure, a CM appointed by the Governor can be asked to prove majority on the floor of the Legislative Assembly of the state.
- The chief minister has to move a vote of confidence and win a majority among those present and voting. If the confidence motion fails to pass, the chief minister has to resign. The idea behind a floor test is to ensure transparency in the constitutional process.
What is a whip?
- A whip in parliamentary parlance is a written order that party members be present for an important vote or that they vote only in a particular way.
- The term is derived from the old British practice of ‘whipping in’ lawmakers to follow the party line. In India all parties can issue a whip to their members.
- Parties appoint a senior member from among their House contingents to issue whips which is called a Chief Whip, and he/she is assisted by additional Whips.
- The importance of a whip can be inferred from the number of times an order is underlined.
Types of Whips:
- A one-line whip, underlined once, is usually issued to inform party members of a vote, and allows them to abstain in case they decide not to follow the party line.
- A two-line whip directs them to be present during the vote.
- A three-line whip is the strongest which is employed on important occasions such as the second reading of a Bill or a no-confidence motion and places an obligation on members to toe the party line.
Defiance of Whip:
- The penalty for defying a whip varies from country to country.
- In the UK, MPs can lose membership of the party, but can keep their House seats as Independents.
- In India, rebelling against a three-line whip can put a lawmaker’s membership of the House at risk.
- The anti-defection law allows the Speaker/Chairperson to disqualify such a member; the only exception is when more than a third of legislators vote against a directive effectively splitting the party.
Importance of whips in our political system:
- In the parliamentary form of Government, Whips of various political parties are the vital links of the internal organization of parties, inside the legislatures.
- The efficient and smooth functioning of Parliament and State Legislatures depends, to a considerable extent, upon the office of the Whip.
- The Whips can be rightly said to be the managers of the parties within the legislatures.
Government Schemes & Policies
PMUY to reach 80 mn connections in just 100 days
The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) is set to meet the next big milestone of achieving 80 million household connections.
Progress of PMUY:
- About 93 to 94 per cent households (72 million connections) now have access to cooking gas.
- LPG connections will reach a 100 per cent of the country’s households by the end of 2019.
- Initially, the scheme was allocated Rs 8,000 crore but due to its major success, additional Rs 4,800 crore in the 2018-19 Budget is allotted to PMUY.
- Moreover, the Union Cabinet also decided in increasing their target from 1 to 2 crore connections.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) aims to provide clean fuel to women who are below poverty line (BPL).
Highlights of scheme:
- Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched by Prime Minister of India in May 2016.
- Under this scheme, 5 crore LPG connections will be provided to Below poverty line (BPL) families over a period of three years.
- Eligible households will receive a support of Rs. 1,600 and will be in the name of the female head of the entire household.
- Money that has been saved due to the ‘Give-it-up’ subsidy campaign will be used for this scheme.
Objectives of PMUY:
- Empowering women and protecting their health.
- Abate health issues that result from using fossil fuels
- Minimize fatalities which occur due to unclean fuels used for cooking
- Controlling respiratory issues that occur due to indoor pollution as a result of using fossil fuel
- Preventing the degradation of purity of environment compromised by usage of unclean cooking fuel.
Who are eligible?
- Only adult women with Below Poverty Line are eligible.
- Identification of the Below Poverty Line (BPL) families will be done through Socio Economic Caste Census Data.
Why consider LPG over other fuels?
- LPG is an energy-rich fuel source with a higher calorific value other commonly used fuels which means that an LPG flame burns hotter, an advantage that can translate into higher efficiency.
- It is a fuel that is available in even the remotest of areas providing a further impetus to regional development.
- It is a clean burning fuel that is low carbon, emits virtually no black carbon and does not spills.
- LPG can be accessible to everyone everywhere without major infrastructure investment.
- PMUY is likely to result in an additional employment of around 1 Lakh and provide business opportunity of at least Rs. 10,000 Cr. over the next 3 Years to the Indian Industry.
- Launch of this scheme will also provide a great boost to the ‘Make in India’campaign as all the manufacturers of cylinders, gas stoves, regulators, and gas hose are domestic.
One-Stop-Centres in Bihar
In Bihar, 38 OSCs have been sanctioned for in a phased manner during the financial years 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2018-19.
About One Stop Centre (OSC) scheme
- The Government of India is implementing One Stop Centre (OSC) scheme for setting up One Stop Centre since 1st April 2015 to support women affected by violence.
- Popularly known as Sakhi, it is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Ministry of Women and Child Development.
- It is a sub scheme of Umbrella Scheme for National Mission for Empowerment of women including Indira Gandhi Mattritav Sahyaog Yojana.
- Till date, around 234 OSCs have been established to provide support both in private and public spaces in a phased manner.Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of OSCs.
The objectives of the Scheme are:
- To provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence, both in private and public spaces under one roof.
- To facilitate immediate, emergency and non – emergency access to a range of services including medical, legal, psychological and counselling support under one roof to fight against any forms of violence against women.
- The OSC will support all women including girls below 18 years of age affected by violence.
Services offered in OSCs
- Emergency Response and Rescue Services – OSC will provide rescue and referral services to the women affected by violence.
- Medical assistance – Women affected by violence would be referred to the nearest Hospital for medical aid/examination.
- Assistance to women in lodging FIR /NCR/DIR
- Psycho – social support/ counselling – A skilled counsellor providing psycho – social counselling services would be available on call.
- Legal aid and counselling – Legal aid and counselling would be provided at OSC through empanelled Lawyers or National/ State/District Legal Service Authority.
- Shelter – Provide temporary shelter facility to aggrieved women. Women affected by violence along with their children (girls of all ages and boys up till 8 years of age) can avail temporary shelter at the OSC for a maximum period of 5 days. For long term shelter requirements, arrangements are made with Swadhar Greh/Short Stay Homes.
- Video Conferencing Facility : Aggrieved woman can record her statement for police/ courts from OSC itself using audio – video electronic means
- The Scheme will be funded through Nirbhaya Fund. The Central Government will provide 100% financial assistance to the State Government /UT Administrations under the Scheme.
- The Article 1 of UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence 1993 provides a definition of gender – based abuse, calling it “any act of gender – based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life”.
Issues related to Health & Education
WHO declares Ebola outbreak in Congo a global health emergency
World Health Organization announced that the deadly Ebola outbreak in Congo is now an international health emergency after the recent spread of virus affecting two million people
About the Ebola outbreak in Congo:
- The current Ebola outbreak is spreading in a Congo border region where dozens of rebel groups are active and where Ebola had not been experienced before.
- As a result, WHO has declared Ebola has a global health emergency. This is the fifth such declaration in history. Previous emergencies were declared for the devastating 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in West Africa ,the emergence of Zika in the Americas, the swine flu pandemic and polio eradication.
- However, WHO had been heavily criticized for declining to declare a global emergency until the virus was spreading explosively in 3 countries due to the fear that it would anger the countries involved and slow down their economies.
What does it mean to declare global health emergency?
- Some serious public health events that endanger international public health may be determined under the Regulations to be public health emergencies of international concern (PHEIC).
- The term PHEIC in the International Health Regulations (IHR) as an extraordinary event which constitutes a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.
- The responsibility of determining whether an event is within this category lies with the WHO Director-General and requires the convening of a committee of experts – the IHR Emergency Committee.
- A declaration of a global health emergency often brings greater international attention and aid, along with concerns that nervous governments might overreact with border closures.
Arguments against WHO’s Global health emergency:
- Some believe that restrictions due to declaring global health emergency would actually restrict the flow of goods and health care workers into affected countries.
- Future emergency declarations might be perceived as punishment and might result in other countries not reporting outbreaks in the future.
- Ebola outbreak was first reported in Congo in 2018 which was largely contained in two northeastern provinces of Congo.
- However, the virus has now threatened to spread into one of Congo’s heavily populated cities, Goma and also into neighbouring nations.
- This is the fifth time in history that WHO has declared a public health emergency. The previous declarations were for the devastating Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2016 that took lives of more than 11000 people, spread of Zika virus in Latin America, 2009 Swine flu epidemic and for polio in 2014.
- WHO only declares a disease or outbreak a global emergency when it threatens to affect other countries and requires a coordinated international response.
- Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
- A person infected with Ebola cannot spread the disease until they develop symptoms.
- Within the genus Ebolavirus, six species have been identified: Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Taï Forest, Reston and Bombali. The virus causing the largest outbreak during the 2014–2016 West African outbreak belongs to the Zaire ebolavirus species.
- Ebola first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in what is now Nzara, South Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Congo.
- The average Ebola case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.
- The symptoms of the virus start showing anytime between 2-21 days after contracting the virus.
- It is introduced into the human population through close contact with the organs or other bodily fluids of infected animals such as fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas etc.
- It also spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact with body fluids of a person who is sick from Ebola.
- There is as yet no proven treatment available for Ebola.
- In the ongoing 2018-2019 Ebola outbreak in Congo, the first-ever ‘multi-drug randomized control trial’ is being conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of drugs used in the treatment of Ebola patients.
- An experimental Ebola vaccine called rVSV-ZEBOV proved highly protective against Ebola in a major trial in Guinea in 2015. Currently, the same vaccine is being used in the ongoing 2018-2019 Ebola outbreak in congo.
Prevention and control
- Reducing the risk of wildlife-to-human transmission from contact with infected fruit bats, monkeys, apes, forest antelope or porcupines and the consumption of their raw meat. Animals should be handled with gloves and other appropriate protective clothing.
- Reducing the risk of human-to-human transmission from direct or close contact with people with Ebola symptoms, particularly with their bodily fluids.
- Outbreak containment measures, including safe burial of the dead, identifying people who may have been in contact with someone infected with Ebola and monitoring their health for 21 days, the importance of separating the healthy from the sick to prevent further spread.
- Reducing the risk of possible sexual transmission, WHO recommends that male survivors of Ebola practice hygiene for 12 months from onset of symptoms or until their semen tests negative twice for Ebola virus. Contact with body fluids should be avoided and washing with soap and water is recommended.
- Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, infection prevention and control practices, surveillance and contact tracing and a good laboratory service.
HRD Ministry launches the UGC Scheme of ‘Paramarsh’
The Union Minister for Human Resource Development launched ‘Paramarsh’ – a University Grants Commission (UGC) scheme for Mentoring National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) Accreditation Aspirant Institutions to promote Quality Assurance in Higher Education.
About Paramarsh scheme:
- It is a scheme of University Grants Commission (UGC).
- It aims for Mentoring National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) Accreditation Aspirant Institutions to promote Quality Assurance in Higher Education.
- Under the Paramarsh scheme, the leading institutions will provide regular mentoring to help colleges achieve high quality standards.
- It will target 1000 Higher Education Institutions for mentoring with a specific focus on quality as enumerated in the UGC Quality Mandate.
- The Scheme will be operationalized through a ‘Hub & Spoke’ model wherein the Mentor Institution, called the ‘Hub’ is centralized and will have the responsibility of guiding the Mentee institution through the secondary branches the ‘Spoke’.
- The mentor and the mentee institutions can be government, aided, private or self-financing institution.
- The mentor institution should be NAAC accredited with an A grade, having an overall score of 3.26 and above.
- The scheme will lead to enhancement of the mentee institutions’ quality and its profile as a result of improved quality of research, teaching and learning methodologies.
- The scheme proposes to provide financial assistance to the mentoring institutions and the option of appointing an expert who can be paid a fellowship amount.
- Mentor-Mentee relationship will not only benefit both the institutions but also provide quality education to the 3.6 crore students who are enrolling to Indian Higher Education system at present.
- It will also improves the global ranking of the Indian higher education institutions.
About National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC):
- The NAAC is an autonomous body that assesses and accredits higher education institutions (HEIs) in India. It assesses the higher learning institutes on the basis of seven parameters.
- The parameters include teaching-learning and evaluation, infrastructure and learning resources, research, innovation and extension, curricular aspects, governance, leadership and management, student support and progression and institutional values and best practices.
Science & Technology
Scientists Build Ramanujam Machine In Honour of the Indian Genius
Scientists from Technion — Israel Institute of Technology have developed a concept they have named the Ramanujan Machine, after the Indian mathematician which is not really a machine but an algorithm, and performs a very unconventional function.
How does Ramanujam Machine works?
- With most computer programs, humans input a problem and expect the algorithm to work out a solution. [Such as entering of an equation and computer will find the answer to that equation]
- With the Ramanujan Machine, it works the other way round. It gives an equation as an answer. If one enters a constant, such as pi, the algorithm will come up with an equation involving an infinite series whose value is exactly pi.
- The Ramanujan Machine proposed several conjecture formulas by matching numerical values, however, without providing proofs.
- The purpose of the machine is to come up with conjectures in the form of mathematical formulas that one can analyse.
What is the objective behind the creation of such machine?
- Conjectures are a major step in the process of making new discoveries in any branch of science, particularly mathematics.
- New conjectures in mathematics, however, have been scarce and sporadic which is currently on a pre-print server. The idea of making such machine is to enhance and accelerate the process of discovery.
What is the connection between this machine and Ramanujan?
- The algorithm reflects the way Srinivasa Ramanujan worked during his brief life.
- He engaged with the most celebrated mathematicians of the time particularly during his stay in England where he eventually became a Fellow of the Royal Society and earned a research degree.
- Throughout his life, Ramanujan came up with novel equations and identities and it was usually left to trained mathematicians to prove that.
About Srinivasa Ramanujan:
- Srinivasa Ramanujan was one of India’s greatest mathematician.
- He made substantial contributions to the mathematical analysis, number theory, and continued fractions. His work led to the development of a new method for finding asymptotic formulae, called the circle method.
- What made his achievements really extraordinary was the fact that he received almost no formal training in mathematics and started working on his own mathematical research in isolation.
- His mathematical studies impressed V. Ramaswamy Aiyer who was the founder of the Indian Mathematical Society.
- In 1918, he was elected as one of the youngest Fellows in the history of Royal Society for his investigation in Elliptic functions and the Theory of Numbers.
- In the same year, he was the first Indian who was honoured by being elected as a Fellow of Trinity College.
- In memory of Ramanujan, the Government of India declared 22 December as National Mathematics Day since 2011.
- Considered to be a mathematical genius, Srinivasa Ramanujan, was regarded at par with the likes of Leonhard Euler and Carl Jacobi.
- The number 1729 is called Hardy-Ramanujan number in his honor following an incident regarding a taxi with this number.
[Ref: Indian Express]
DRDO Research Ship INS Sagardhwani Embarks on Sagar Maitri Mission-2
Oceanographic research vessel of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), INS Sagardhwani, embarked on a two-month long SAGAR MAITRI (SM) Mission-2 from Kochi.
About SAGAR MAITRI Mission-2
- SAGAR MAITRI Mission-2 commemorates the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of India’s lone research ship INS Kistna’s missions as part of the historic International Indian Ocean Expeditions (IIOE) which took place during 1962-65.
- As part of the mission, INS Sagardhwani will revisit the selected tracks of INS Kistna and provide Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL) scientists opportunities to collaborate a close working relationship with the oceanographic counterparts of the IOR countries.
About the Sagar Maitri Mission:
- SAGAR MAITRI is a unique initiative of DRDO, in line with ‘Safety And Growth for All in the Region’ (SAGAR), to promote closer co-operation in scientific interaction especially in ocean research among Indian Ocean Rim (IOR) countries.
- MAITRI stands for ‘Marine & Allied Interdisciplinary Training and Research Initiative’.
- The prime objectives of the SAGAR MAITRI Mission are data collection from the entire North Indian Ocean, focussing on the Andaman Sea and adjoining seas and establishing long-term collaboration with eight IOR countries. The IOR countries, include Oman, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Myanmar.
- The programme also aims at establishing long term scientific collaboration with these countries in the field of ‘Ocean Research & Development’ with a focus in the Andaman Sea.
About INS Sagardhwani
- INS Sagardhwani has been designed and developed by Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), Kochi, a premier systems laboratory of DRDO.
- It conducts ocean research experiments in the Indian waters and spearheads NPOL’s at-sea data collection activities.
‘Ploonets’ could be the culprits behind astronomical mysteries
An international team of astronomers suggests that moons ejected from orbits around gas giant exoplanets could explain several astronomical mysteries.
What are Ploonets?
- Ploonets are the moons of exoplanets (exomoons) which are orbiting in an elliptical orbit similar to Planet Pluto.
- Planets outside our solar system are called exoplanets. Scientists still do not know that whether these exoplanets have their own moon or not due to exomoon’s smaller size.
- In a new study, the researchers found another reason why exomoons are hard to find. They projected that the exoplanets might have kicked moons out of orbit or the moon might have escaped the gravity of the planet.
- Roughly 50 percent of these ejected moons survive both the immediate expulsion and avoid any subsequent collision with the planet or the star, ending up as quasi-planets travelling around the host star, but in eccentric Pluto-like orbits.
- Pluto has an angled elliptical orbit on a different plane than the rest of the planets in our solar system.
- Hence, the researchers have named the exomoon as ‘ploonets.’
- Ploonets might solve the mystery behind the dimming of Tabby’s star.
- Ploonets might explain apparent evidence of cannibalism between some stars, or the existence of “exocomets” around others.
What is Tabby’s star?
- It is also known as KIC (Kepler Input Catalog) 8462852 or Boyajian’s Star.
- This star shows unusual light fluctuations, including up to a 22% dimming in brightness.
- Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the star’s large irregular changes in brightness as measured by its light curve, but none to date fully explain all aspects of the curve.
Key Facts for Prelims
Establishing Urban Haats
About the ‘Infrastructure and Technology Support’ scheme:
- It is a scheme of Ministry of Textiles.
- The objective of the scheme ‘Infrastructure and Technology Support’ is to setup a permanent marketing infrastructure in big towns/ metropolitan cities to provide direct marketing facilities to the handicrafts artisans/handloom weavers.
- The scheme is implemented through State Handicrafts/Handlooms Development Corporations/Tourism Development Corporations/ Urban Local Bodies.
- The financial ceiling for Urban Haat is Rs. 300 lakh for each unit.
- 80% of the admissible amount is borne by the Office of the Development Commissioner (Handicrafts) and 20% contributed by the implementing agency.