Polity & Governance
- Election Commission clears PM’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on Sunday
- India to appeal WTO verdict in solar case filed by the U.S.
- Union Government releases self-regulation Code of ethical business conduct for industry
- Karnataka develops mobile app to monitor rural employment scheme
- Mizoram Government, JICA ink MoU for promoting Sustainable Agriculture
- Andhra govt set to inaugurate country’s first lift irrigation project
Science & Technology
- Cassini reveals tallest peaks at Saturn’s moon Titan
- Mint can help fight cancer: CIMAP experts
Polity & Governance
Election Commission clears PM’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on Sunday
The Election Commission of India has given its approval for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming radio broadcast “Mann Ki Baat”, with a condition that his address to the public should not violate the Model Code of Conduct in place for the coming Assembly elections in four States and a Union Territory.
- The Model Code of Conduct came into force on March 4 when the ECI announced the schedule for elections.
About Model Code of Conduct (MCC):
- Model Code of Conduct are the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India for conduct of political parties and candidates during elections mainly with respect to speeches, polling day, polling booths, election manifestos, processions and general conduct.
- The aim of these Model Code of Conduct is to ensure free and fair elections.
- The Model Code of Conduct comes into force immediately on announcement of the election schedule by the commission. The Code remains in force till the end of the electoral process.
- The code does not have any specific statutory basis. It has only a persuasive effect.
- It contains what is known as “rules of electoral morality”. But this lack of statutory backing does not prevent the Commission from enforcing it.
- The Commission issued the code for the first time in 1971 (5th Election) and revised it from time to time.
India to appeal WTO verdict in solar case filed by the U.S.
India has decided to appeal against the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) verdict over its policy relating to solar power equipment.
- Meanwhile, the government is also examining options to file a case against the US in the World Trade Organisation based on programmes run by American state governments which give protection to domestic manufacturers.
What’s the case?
- The United States complained to the WTO in 2013 about the Indian solar programme, which sought to ease chronic energy shortages in Asia’s third-largest economy without creating pollution.
- The United States said its solar exports to India had fallen by 90% from 2011, when India imposed the rules under the domestic content requirement policy of its national solar programme.
- The United States had challenged the rules on the origin of solar cells and solar modules used in India’s national solar power programme. A requirement that certain cells and modules be made in India fell afoul of WTO rules on discriminating against imports.
WTO’s previous verdict:
- A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel, in February 2016, ruled against India in a dispute raised by the US over the country’s solar power programme, requiring the government to offer a level playing field to both foreign and domestic manufacturers of solar panels.
- The panel found that the domestic content requirement imposed under India’s national solar programme is inconsistent with its treaty obligations under the global trading regime.
India’s defending points:
- India principally relies on the ‘government procurement’ justification, which permits countries to deviate from their national treatment obligation provided that the measure was related to “the procurement by governmental agencies of products purchased for governmental purposes and not with a view to commercial resale or use in production of goods for commercial sale”.
- India also argued that the measure was justified under the general exceptions since it was necessary to secure compliance with its domestic and international law obligations relating to ecologically sustainable development and climate change.
- Besides, it is also being said that only a small portion of demand can be met by India, leaving still a substantial market for foreign component makers.
About India’s National Solar Mission:
- National Solar Mission, launched in 2010, aims to establish India as a global leader in solar energy by creating the policy conditions for its diffusion across the country as quickly as possible.
- The Mission has set the ambitious target of deploying 20,000 MW of grid connected solar power by 2022 and aims at reducing the cost of solar power generation in the country.
Union Government releases self-regulation Code of ethical business conduct for industry
The Union Consumer Affairs Ministry has released a self-regulation Code of ethical business conduct to be adopted by the Industry on providing best products and services.
- In this regard, Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) was inked between Department of Consumer Affairs and the industry bodies related to self-regulated code of fair business.
- The code contains provision of trustworthy products and services for the consumers, comply with the competition and anti-trust laws and respond to consumer complaints promptly.
It covers six broad principles to be adopted by the industry viz
- Safety of products and services,
- Building sustainable supply chains,
- Marketing products ethically,
- Non-indulgence in unfair trade practices,
- Complying with competition and anti-trust laws,
- Prompt response to consumer complaints.
Karnataka develops mobile app to monitor rural employment scheme
A mobile application developed by the Karnataka Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department has drawn the attention of the Union government.
- Officials of the Union Ministry of Rural Development have sought a report on the unique features of the App, titled ‘MGNREGA M-platform.’
The App, titled ‘MGNREGA M-platform,’ helps officials monitor the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, and allows the beneficiaries to monitor progress at every stage.
- It has been devised to increase transparency, reduce fund diversion and interference by middlemen.
- It can also be used to ensure automatic payment of wages to labourers by transferring data to the central server.
Mizoram Government, JICA ink MoU for promoting Sustainable Agriculture
Mizoram government and Japanese International Cooperative Agency (JICA) have signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on ‘Capacity Enhancement for Sustainable Agriculture and Irrigation Development’.
- The MoU will pave way for experts of the Japanese company to undertake technical cooperation project on the companys expense in four rural development blocks Mizoram.
- Under it training programmes would be conducted in Japan both for farmers and officials from Mizoram for three times and the expenses would be borne by the Japanese government.
Andhra govt set to inaugurate country’s first lift irrigation project
Andhra Pradesh government has inaugurated India’s first river linking project viz. Pattiseema lift irrigation project connecting Godavari River with Krishna River from the ongoing Polavaram Multi-purpose Irrigation Project.
- It will benefit the people especially farmers in the Krishna delta in terms of timely availability and adequate quantities of water.
- The first pump of this Godavari-Krishna linking project was installed and switched on in September 2015.
- Water is pumped up to a nearby point and discharged into Polavaram Right Main Canal that flows under gravity to a tributary of River Krishna about 170 km.
About Polavarm project:
- Polavaram Projectis a multi-purpose irrigation project which has been accorded national project status by the central government.
- This dam across the Godavari River is under construction located in West Godavari District and East Godavari District in Andhra Pradesh state and its reservoir spreads in parts of Chhattisgarh and Odisha States also.
Science & Technology
Cassini reveals tallest peaks at Saturn’s moon Titan
Scientists working on NASA’s Cassini mission have identified the highest point on Saturn’s largest moon Titan.
- Titan’s highest peak is 10, 948 feet high. It is found within a trio of mountainous ridges called the Mithrim Montes.
- Cassini has found that Titan also has rain and rivers that erode its landscape.
About Cassini Mission:
- Cassini–Huygens is an unmanned spacecraftsent 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 in 1997. This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer Solar System.
- The objectives of the Cassini mission among others are to determine the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behaviour of the rings of Saturn.
[Ref: Hindu; Wiki]
Mint can help fight cancer: CIMAP experts
Scientists at Lucknow based CSIR-Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) have found that mint plant has medicinal values that can cure cancer.
- Scientists have identified that a medicinal compound called ‘L-Menthol’ derived from Mentha plant popularly known as mint.
- L-Menthol compound can kill the colon cancer cell line without affecting the normal cell line.
- The compound inhibits the division of cancer cell and prevents its growth and spread to other organs of the body.
Comparison of Mint with European Yew:
The Mentha is available in abundance across the world compared to the European Yew tree which is found only in Europe and some parts of Africa and Asia.
Menthol can be derived easily without damaging the plant, whereas the European Yew tree has to be cut down for using bark for deriving anti-cancer compound.
Significance of the findings for India:
The discovery can be very useful for farmers in India where Mentha is grown in large quantity.