Polity & Governance
- Odisha Govt. brings Ordinance to implement Odia in officialtransaction
- States told to withdraw tobacco packs without 85% pictorial warning
- J&K writers oppose move to sideline Nastaliq script
Environment & Ecology
- GM seeds key to food security: Environment Minister
- Barack Obama lifts decades-old US arms ban to Vietnam
Defence & Security Issues
- INS Tarmugli Joins the Indian Navy
Science & Technology
- Breakthrough as new form of light discovered
Polity & Governance
Odisha Govt. brings Ordinance to implement Odia in official transaction
The Odisha government has issued an ordinance to make use of Odia language mandatory in all official communication in the state.
- It empowers the state government to formulate laws to implement Odisha Official Language Act, 1954.
- The Odisha Official Language (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016, empowers the state to make rules, review and monitor whether the direction contained in the 1954 Act has been implemented.
- The ordinance will amend the Language Act and use Odia in the official businesses of the Government including in writing files, letters and all other official documents. Constitutional provision of Official Language
About Odia language:
- Spoken by more than 3.5 crore people in the country, Odia has a 1500-year-long history and was given the sixth classical language status by the Centre in 2014.
- Article 345 of the Constitution deals with Official language or languages of a state which empowers state legislature to adopt ‘any one or more of the languages in use in the State or Hindi as the language or languages to be used for all or any of the official purposes’ of the concerned State.
States told to withdraw tobacco packs without 85% pictorial warning
The Centre has set May 31 deadline for the States and Union Territories to withdraw from the market tobacco products whose 85% packaging space is not covered with pictorial warning.
- A communiqué from the Tobacco Control Division of Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi has requested the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories to take steps for strict enforcement of the new rules on pictorial warnings.
Why new rules issued?
- Though the Union Health Ministry’s notification on the larger size of pictorial warning was issued in September last year to come into force from April 1, the cigarette manufacturers continued to mislead the public by restricting the warning to 40 per cent of the display space on one side.
- The rest of the space, 60 per cent on one side and 100 per cent on the other, continues to be an advertisement.
Present Act regarding pictorial warning:
- The Pictorial Warning Rules under Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act (COTPA) 2003 had come into force from April 1, 2016.
J&K writers oppose move to sideline Nastaliq script
The reported move by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to constitute a National Council for Promotion of Kashmiri Language with Devanagari and Sharda as its scripts prompted vehement opposition from Kashmiri writers and poets for ignoring Nastaliq, the traditional Perso-Arabic script.
Concerns of Kashmiri writers and poets:
- According to the Valley’s well-known cultural body Adbee Markaz Kamraz (AMK), comprising local writers, poets, artists, academicians, activists and businessmen, the move is politically motivated aimed at dividing the Kashmiri community in the name of the script.
- They argued that the move is aimed at demolishing their cultural identity as the existing script ‘Nastaliq’ has been in vogue for the past five centuries and entire Kashmiri literature is available in this script.
- They also argued that 99 % of Kashmiri literature was in Nastaliq and Nastaliq has a legal and constitutional recognition as well.
Environment & Ecology
GM seeds key to food security: Environment Minister
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has said the use of genetically modified (GM) technology for seeds is important for improving agricultural productivity and food security.
- He said that 18 field trials, testing various kinds of GM seeds, were under way but the government would take a considered view on releasing genetically modified mustard.
Case of GM mustard:
- The Environment Ministry had constituted a Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee comprising biotechnologists, ecologists and sociologists to take a call on GM mustard, the country’s first genetically modified (GM) food crop.
- GM mustard, likely to be the first food-related transgenic crop and developed as part of a research collaboration involving scientists at Delhi University, sits at an inflexion point with critics alleging that such technologies are unfit for human consumption and proponents arguing that such technology is critical for India’s future.
What is a Genetically modified crop?
Genetically modified crops (GMCs, GM crops, or biotech crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques.
- In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species.
- Examples in food crops include resistance to certain pests, diseases, or environmental conditions, reduction of spoilage, or resistance to chemical treatments (e.g. resistance to a herbicide), or improving the nutrient profile of the crop.
- Examples in non-food crops include production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels, and other industrially useful goods, as well as for bioremediation.
- Potential benefits of GM plants include higher crop yields, reduced farm costs, increased farm profit, improvement in health and the environment.
- Potential risks of GM plants include the potential for pests to evolve resistance to the toxins produced by GM crops, the danger of unintentionally introducing allergens and other anti-nutrition factors in foods, the likelihood of transgenes escaping from cultivated crops into wild relatives, the risk of these toxins affecting non-target organisms.
Which GM crops are allowed in India?
- At present, only GM cotton is allowed for commercial cultivation in India. Although the central regulator has given its nod for scientific field trials of many transgenic varieties of food crops including rice, wheat and maize among others, it has so far not cleared any GM food crop for commercial release.
Barack Obama lifts decades-old US arms ban to Vietnam
US President Barack Obama lifted a half-century-old ban on selling arms to Vietnam.
- It was announced by US President Barack Obama during his official state visit to Vietnam and after talks with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang.
- This change will ensure that Vietnam has access to the equipment it needs to defend itself and removes a lingering vestige of the Cold War.
- Obama’s arrival in Hanoi made him the third sitting president to visit the country since the end of the war.
- The trip comes four decades after the fall of Saigon, now called Ho Chi Minh City, and two decades after then president Bill Clinton restored relations with the nation.
- US Arms embargo on Vietnam has been in place since 1984 over the human rights issue.
- In recent times Vietnam had been arguing for an end to this embargo, which was partially lifted in 2014.
- Experts believe that US is trying to bolster its relationship with its Pacific allies, as China asserts territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea.
- Vietnam is one of several South east Asian countries in the region involved in maritime disputes with China.
Defence & Security Issues
INS Tarmugli Joins the Indian Navy
The highly manoeuvrable fast attack craft INS Tarmugli was commissioned into the Indian Navy at the Eastern Naval Command.
- INS Tarmugli would be based in Visakhapatnam under the Naval Officer-in-Charge (Andhra Pradesh).
About the INS Tarmugli:
- Named after an island in the Andaman group, INS Tarmugli is the first of the four Follow-on Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (WJFAC) built for the Indian Navy by the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers.
- The ship is an improved version of WJFAC built by GRSE.
- It has been conceived, designed and built indigenously.
Applications of INS Tarmugli:
- INS Tarmugli is capable of operating in shallow waters at high speeds and would be of great advantage in coastal and offshore surveillance and patrol operations.
- It would be deployed for coastal patrol and surveillance operations along the Eastern Coast.
- It would also be useful in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief deployments.
Science & Technology
Breakthrough as new form of light discovered
In a breakthrough, scientists have discovered a new form of light, which will impact our understanding of the fundamental nature of light.
- The discovery will have real impacts for the study of light waves in areas such as secure optical communications.
- The discovery shows, for the first time, that the speculations on how quantum mechanics works for particles that are free to move in only two of the three dimensions of space, can be realised with light.
What’s new in it?
One of the measurable characteristics of a beam of light is known as angular momentum.
- Until now, however, it was thought that in all forms of light the angular momentum would be a multiple of Planck’s constant — the physical constant that sets the scale of quantum effects. Now, researchers have demonstrated a new form of light where the angular momentum of each photon (a particle of visible light) takes only half of this value.