Polity & Governance
- Cattle trade rules go against 1960 law
Issues related to Health & Education
- Centre confirms 3 Zika cases in Gujarat
- New book celebrates the Reang of Tripura
Bilateral & International Relations
- eMigrate violates our sovereignty: UAE envoy
- G7 summit
Art & Culture
- Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Govinda Bhat
Science & Technology
- Indian researchers develop 3D bioprinted cartilage
Key Facts for Prelims
- A gene that staves off heart disease
- ‘See-through’ frog is at risk of extinction
- Construction Commences on World’s Largest Telescope in Chile
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Polity & Governance
Cattle trade rules go against 1960 law
According to experts, the recently notified Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules of 2017 contravene the provisions of the very law — Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 — under which it has been notified.
What’s the issue on new rules?
- Recently, the Environment Ministry devised the new rules ‘The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules of 2017’ placing restrictions on sale of cattle in a livestock market for purposes of slaughter and religious animal sacrifices.
- The new rules permit the sale of cattle in markets only to verified “agriculturists”, who have to give an undertaking to authorities that cattle will not be sold or slaughtered for meat.
- Nor shall the animal be used for sacrifices. The animal will be used only for farming.
- The rules take away the rights of the owner to even sell the carcass of an animal dying of “natural causes” in the market.
- The rules prescribe that the carcass will be incinerated and not be sold or flayed for leather.
Provisions in the original 1960 act:
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, enacted on December 26, 1960, however, does not impose any such restriction.
- It does not ban a cattle owner to sell the carcass of his animals for leather.
- The legislative intent of the 1960 Act is to “prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals”.
- In fact, the very proof that neither slaughter nor sale for that purpose is banned by the Act is found in Section 9 (e) of the statute.
- One of the functions of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) under the Act is to “advise the government or any local authority or other person in the design of slaughter-houses or the maintenance of slaughter houses or in connection with slaughter of animals so that unnecessary pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is eliminated in the pre-slaughter stages as far as possible, and animals are killed; wherever necessary, in as humane a manner as possible.”
- The Act further recognises slaughter for food. Section 11 of the Act does not categorise slaughter of animals for food as cruelty.
- It makes a specific exemption for “destruction of any animal as food for mankind unless such destruction or preparation was accompanied by the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.”
Supreme court’s observations:
- When a PIL petition came up for hearing before the SC to ban animal sacrifices for religious purposes, the court had specifically noted how Section 28 of the Act mandates that “nothing contained in this Act (1960 Act) shall render it an offence to kill any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community.”
- The restriction on trade of cattle or carcasses in livestock markets will have to be tested on the touchstone of the fundamental right to occupation, trade or business under Article 19 (1) (g) to see whether it is “reasonable.”
Challenges ahead for the centre:
- Though Section 38 of the 1960 Act confers the Centre the power to make rules, several judicial precedents hold that this rule-making power does not allow going “beyond the scope of enabling Act or which is inconsistent therewith or repugnant.”
- Rules cannot be used to bring within its purview a subject — in this case, restriction on sale of cattle for slaughter or animal sacrifices —that has been specifically excluded by the statute.
- Besides, many states have questioned the centre’s unilateral decision on cattle, which is a state subject.
Issues related to Health & Education
Centre confirms 3 Zika cases in Gujarat
The Union Health Ministry has confirmed that three cases of Zika were reported from Ahmedabad in January.
- The information was made public five months after the cases were reported, as the World Health Organization (WHO) has now published a ‘member state report’ on its website.
- The health ministry, however, has said the outbreak has been contained.
- An Inter-Ministerial Task Force set up under the Chairmanship of Health Secretary C.K. Mishra and a Joint Monitoring Group are already reviewing the global situation on Zika.
About Zika virus:
- Zika virus had erupted on a large scale in mid-2015 in which more than 1.5 million people were infected, mostly in Brazil and other countries in South America.
- The virus is transmitted mainly by mosquitos. It causes mild, flu-like symptoms in most people, pregnant women run the risk of giving birth to babies with severe brain damage.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) had declared a global health emergency in February 2016, and declared it over in November 2016.
New book celebrates the Reang of Tripura
The Tribal Research and Cultural Institute, Government of Tripura is publishing a book titled ‘Mapping with respect to Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups in Tripura’.
- The book is an attempt to document and preserve the cultural and social diversity of the Reang, a unique and detailed publication by Lincoln Reang.
- Reang (also known as Riang) is a tribal community residing in the Indian state of Tripura.
- The Reang are the second most populous tribe of Tripura after the Tripuris. As per the 2011 census, the Reang population in Tripura numbers about 1,88,220.
- The Reang can be found mainly in the North Tripura, Dhalai and the South Tripura districts of Tripura state in India. However, they may also be found in Mizoram, Assam, Manipur and Bangladesh.
- They speak the Reang dialect of Kokborok language which is of Tibeto-Burmeseorigin and is locally referred to as Kau Bru.
- They practise Jhum cultivation and reside in ‘tong ghar’ (bamboo huts) that are built on a raised platform.
- Reang (also known as Riang) are among the 19 tribes of Tripura, the only one to be classified as a ‘Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG)’ in the State. The classification is based on their pre-agricultural level of technology and the low levels of literacy in the community.
- Members of the Reang tribe are generally known to be shy and hardly ever depart from their traditional way of life. Till a few decades ago, they did not mix with people of other communities. However, over the past few years, changes have slowly started creeping into their way of life.
Concerns about Reang:
- One of the main concerns today is the limited access to education.
- Traditionally, jhum (shifting) cultivation has been one of the primary agricultural activities of the Reang tribe. However, with land rights being granted, many members of the community have taken to ploughing or settled cultivation.
Bilateral & International Relations
eMigrate violates our sovereignty: UAE envoy
The United Arab Emirates, one of the largest employers of Indians in the Gulf, has raised a red flag with the Ministry of External Affairs over the government’s flagship eMigrate programme over what it terms as “sovereignty issues.”
What is eMigrate programme?
- After hundreds of complaints from workers about mistreatment, the MEA’s Overseas Affairs department (then a separate ministry) had in 2015 set up a database initiative called the eMigrate programme, that gathers extensive information on emigrants as well as foreign employers, their companies and recruiting agents.
Objections raised by UAE:
- This collection of data is being termed as violation of sovereignty by the UAE.
- The concerns are not restricted to India’s database of foreign employers in that country, but includes the eMigrate programme’s mandate to inspect premises of UAE companies, which they want stopped immediately.
- Other Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia, had also raised issues with the eMigrate system as soon as it was launched in July 2015.
Why India should be worried?
- Concerns are only one part of a much larger worry for the government as India has seen a job crunch in the Gulf markets in the past few years.
- According to a World Bank study on emigrants and remittances worldwide, published in April 2017, while India retained the top position as a recipient of remittances, it saw the biggest year-on-year decline of 8.9% in 2016. In 2014 India received $69.6 billion in remittances, which dipped to $68.9 billion in 2015 and fell to $62.7 billion last year.
Recently, the 43rd G7 summit was held in Taormina (ME), Italy.
- The leaders issued a collective statement at the close of the talks.
- During talk, they have shown their commitments towards strengthening collective energy security and ensuring open, transparent, liquid, and secure global markets for energy resources and technologies.
- The bloc meets annually to discuss a wide range of issues, including global economy, security and energy – and this year will be no exception.
The Group of Seven (G7) is an informal bloc of industrialized democracies—Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- The European Union is also represented within the G7.
- The G7 originates with the ‘Group of Six’. It was founded ad hoc in 1975. Canada became the seventh member to begin attending the summits in 1976.
- The G7 countries represent more than 64% of the net global wealth. A very high net national wealth and a very high Human Development Index are the main requirements to be a member of this group.
- The G7 countries also represent 46% of the global GDP evaluated at market exchange rates and 32% of the global purchasing power parity GDP.
- The G7 takes no mandatory decisions, and the meeting is billed as an opportunity to allow leaders to exchange ideas in key issues. A leaders’ declaration at the end of summit is not binding in nature.
- The presidency, which rotates among member states, is responsible for setting the agenda and arranging logistics.
Art & Culture
Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Govinda Bhat
Govinda Bhat has been awarded Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar for the year 2016.
- He is among the nine artistes chosen for the award in theatre category.
Sangeet Natak Akademi:
The Sangeet Natak Akademi – India’s national academy for music, dance and drama – is the first National Academy of the arts set-up by the Republic of India.
- It was set up in 1953 through a resolution of Government of India for the promotion of performing arts.
- Setting up of Sangeet Natak Akademi is one of the main recommendations of the National conference on Dance, Drama, and Music, held in New Delhi in 1951.
- The Sangeet Natak Akademi is an Autonomous Body under the Ministry of Culture.
- It acts at the national level body for the promotion and growth of Indian music, dance and drama; maintenance of standards of training in the performing arts; recognition of outstanding artists; revival, preservation, documentation and dissemination of materials as well as instruments relating to various forms of music, dance and drama.
- The academy Renders advice and assistance to the government of India in the task of formulating and implementing policies and programmes in the field.
- It carries a part of the responsibilities of the state for fostering cultural contacts between regions in the country, as well as between India and the world.
- The Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar (Akademi Award) is an award given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi. The award is the highest Indian recognition given to practicing artists. The awards are being presented in the categories of music, dance, theatre, other traditional arts and puppetry.
- Ustad Bismillah Khan award is given to young artists for their talent in the fields of music, dance and drama.
- Each year the Academy awards Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships, Ratna Sadsya, to distinguished individuals for their contribution to the field of arts, music, dance and theatre.
Science & Technology
Indian researchers develop 3D bioprinted cartilage
A team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi has made a breakthrough in the development of 3D bioprinted cartilage.
- Scientists has successfully developed a bioink that can be used to print structures like the cartilage found in human knees.
About the research:
- The bioink has high concentration of bone-marrow derived cartilage stem cells, silk proteins and a few factors.
- The chemical composition of the bioink supports cell growth and long-term survival of the cells.
- The cartilage developed in the lab has remained physically stable for up to six weeks.
- Just like cells are surrounded by proteins inside our body, the cells in the engineered cartilage are also surrounded by bioink that has a similar composition.
Benefits of 3D printed cartilage:
- While the cartilage found in the knee is an articular cartilage that is typically sponge-like and has a huge load-bearing capacity, the ones produced in the lab so far are of a different kind — transient cartilage.
- Unlike articular cartilage, transient cartilage becomes bone cells and, therefore, brittle within a short time. As a result, the engineered cartilage loses its capacity to bear huge load that is typically encountered in the knee.
- But the 3D bioprinting approach adopted by the researchers allows the high concentration of bone-marrow derived cartilage stem cells present in the bioink to gradually convert to chondrocyte-like cells (specialised cells which produce and maintain the extracellular matrix of cartilage).
- Recently, the researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden have successfully generated cartilage tissue using a 3D bioprinter, an advance that could lead to new treatments for osteoarthritis.
Key Facts for Prelims
A gene that staves off heart disease
- Scientists have identified a unique gene variant, rs145556679*, in people living in isolated Greek villages that protects them from heart diseases despite enjoying a high-fat diet.
- The cardioprotective variant was found in Mylopotamos in northern Crete, where the population is isolated and live a long life despite having a diet rich in animal fat.
- The variant is associated with lower levels of both ‘bad’ natural fats
‘See-through’ frog is at risk of extinction
- A newly identified frog species — with transparent skin through which its beating heart is visible — is under threat of extinction.
- The frog (Hyalinobatrachium yaku), discovered in the Amazonian lowlands of Ecuador, has unique physical and behavioural traits.
- Not all glass frogs have hearts that are visible through the chest. In some, the heart itself is white, so you don’t see the red blood.
- Drying and polluting streams are the threats for this species. If the stream dries up, or becomes polluted, the frogs can’t survive, and other more resilient creatures may be next.
Construction Commences on World’s Largest Telescope in Chile
- Construction works for building Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) has commenced in Chile.
- After completion, the Extremely Large Telescope will become the world’s largest optical telescope which will be five times larger than the top observing instruments that are in use today.
- The telescope will be constructed at a 3,000 meter-high mountain in the middle of the Atacama desert.
- The telescope is scheduled to commence its operations in 2024.
- The ELT is funded by the European Southern Observatory. The organization comprises of European and southern hemisphere nations.