Polity & Governance
- BSF and NSDC sign MoU on Skill Development
- Supreme Court allows two broke firms to settle dispute
- Gaming: a question of skill
Government Schemes & Policies
- Jiyo Parsi Publicity Phase-2
Science & Technology
- Breakthrough Initiatives – The World’s Smallest Satellite Is Launched
- Flexible bio-glue for wound healing developed
- Scientists develop ‘Gelator’ to easily recover marine oil spills
Key Facts for Prelims
- Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2017
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Polity & Governance
BSF and NSDC sign MoU on Skill Development
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Border Security Force (BSF) and the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to provide special skill training to serving and retiring BSF India personnel and to the family members of those serving or retired or martyred.
- The objective of the MoU is to contribute to the Skill Development Agenda of the country by ensuring the successful roll out of NSQF (National Skill Qualification Framework) based skill training to the retiring or retired BSF personnel and local population at the area of deployment through NSQF compliant training programmes at multi-skill development centres run by BSF.
- This collaboration aims to train and provide gainful employment to retired BSF personnel and their families, school students, youth, differently abled for five years starting from April 2017 to April 2022.
About Border Security Force (BSF):
The Border Security Force (BSF) is the biggest border guarding force in the world.
- Came into existence on 1st December, 1965, BSF is the sentinels of Indian borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
- It was created by merging various State Armed Police Battalions for achieving a better coordinated synergy between the border guarding functions in peace time and fighting the war during the eventuality on both Western and Eastern fronts.
- BSF is deployed on Indo-Pakistan International Border, Indo-Bangladesh International Border, Line of Control (LoC) along with Indian Army and in Anti-Naxal Operations.
- Since its inception, BSF has proven its credentials during various counter insurgency and anti-militancy operations, internal security duties, natural calamities etc.
Supreme Court allows two broke firms to settle dispute
The Supreme Court used its extraordinary constitutional powers (under Article 142) to allow two companies to withdraw from insolvency proceedings and settle their loan dispute despite the case having been admitted by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).
What is noteworthy fact?
- It is important to note that once the NCLT admits a case for initiating corporate insolvency resolution process under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code of 2016, the case cannot be withdrawn even if the parties have decided to settle.
What Article 142 says?
- Article 142 provides that “the Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it”.
Article 142 vs NCLT or NCLAT:
- Article 142 is restricted to facts of a particular case and may not act as a precedent for the NCLT or National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) to allow an out-of-court settlement in every insolvency case. In the order, Supreme Court also observed that NCLT and NCLAT do not have inherent powers and will be ruled by provisions of IBC.
- Just seven months after the operationalization of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), it has been tested by the Supreme Court with its latest judgment.
- The policy underlying IBC shifts the incentive of the parties from individual recovery actions to collective action. In that context, after a petition has been filed in NCLT, allowing out-of-court bilateral settlement between the borrower and one creditor may contradict that basic objective of collective action.
About the National Company Law Tribunal:
National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) is a quasi-judicial body that will govern the companies in India.
- It was established under the Companies Act, 2013 and is a successor body of the Company Law Board.
- The setting up of NCLT as a specialized institution for corporate justice is based on the recommendations of the Justice Eradi Committee on Law Relating to Insolvency and Winding up of Companies.
- NCLT will have the same powers as assigned to the erstwhile Company Law Board (which are mostly related to dealing with oppression and mismanagement), Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) (revival of sick companies) and powers related to winding up of companies (which was available only with the High Courts).
Gaming: a question of skill
What is gaming?
Although ‘gaming’ in popular parlance has taken on the meaning of playing computer or video games, the term is in fact a reference to competitive activities — like rummy, chess, bridge, and the like — that are not categorised as sports, as well as the betting that is done on them.
Gaming in India:
- Gaming in India is rapidly gaining acceptance, by both customers and legislators.
- FICCI, in a report in 2013, had said that the government stands to earn about ₹7,200 crore a year from taxes from only half the ₹3 lakh crore gaming industry in India.
Should cricket be placed under gaming?
- There are some industry players who believe that betting on sports such as cricket should also come under gaming and be termed as games of skill. They argue that regulating sports betting will bring it into the light and will prevent match-fixing.
- The Lodha Committee report, too, recommends this course of action.
How is gaming treated across states in India?
- The regulation of gaming in India is fragmented, with each state currently deciding the rules applicable in its jurisdiction, with variations emerging on the definition of gaming, the kinds of games that qualify, and the punishments meted out for indulging in gaming not allowed by law.
- For example, Sikkim has the Sikkim Online Gambling (Regulation) Act, 2008 that only looks at online gaming, and not at activities conducted in brick and mortar gaming houses. The Nagaland Prohibition of Gambling and Promotion and Regulation of Online Games of Skill, Act, 2015 only permits skill-based games, defined as all games where there is a preponderance of skill over chance.
- The Delhi Public Gambling Act, 1955 penalises the operation of a gaming-house and imposes a penalty for being found in a gaming-house. However, Section 13 of the Delhi Act exempts games of “mere skill” from its ambit.
- Laws in other states such as Goa, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Rajasthan are variations of this format. The All India Gaming Federation has asked the Law Commission — tasked with looking into the regulation of gaming — to consider proposing a nation-wide central gaming law.
What can India learn from other countries?
- The U.K. enacted an updated gambling law in 2005 that provided for the creation of a Gambling Commission, which was tasked with crime prevention, the promotion of an open and transparent gaming and gambling industry, and the protection of vulnerable people from the ills and dangers of gambling. The country further updated this legislation in 2014.
- Spain has set a 25% tax rate on gambling revenue, among the highest in Europe, and requires customers to provide their unique national identification numbers, names, and addresses before they can be registered to gamble.
- Other countries like Singapore, Malta, and the Isle of Man, have robust gaming legislations that can provide good examples of how India can regulate gaming and gambling while increasing government tax revenue, and curtailing misuse.
Government Schemes & Policies
Jiyo Parsi Publicity Phase-2
The Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has launched Jiyo Parsi Publicity Phase-2 in Mumbai, Maharashtra under the Jiyo Parsi scheme.
- The scheme aims to fulfil the objective of inclusive growth of the government.
About Jiyo Parsi scheme:
- Declining population of parsi community in India is a matter of concern. Therefore, “Jiyo Parsi Publicity Phase-1” was initiated in 2013 for containing the declining trend of population of the Parsi community and reverse it to bring their population above the threshold level.
- The main objective of the “Jiyo Parsi” scheme is to reverse the declining trend of Parsi population by adopting a scientific protocol and structured interventions, stabilize their population and increase the population of Parsis in India.
- The scheme has two components: Medical Assistance and Advocacy/Counselling.
Science & Technology
Breakthrough Initiatives – The World’s Smallest Satellite Is Launched
Breakthrough Starshot, a Russian billionaire’s $100-million effort to explore the closest star system to our own, has launched the smallest-ever spacecraft into orbit around Earth.
- The six cracker-size robots, called “sprites,” are printed circuit boards designed to survive in space.
- They are smallest spacecraft that have managed to establish contact with ground stations.
- Each “sprite” spacecraft is about the size of a cracker and is equipped with a radio, computer, and other instruments.
- The feat is a step towards developing even smaller and more capable “starchip” robots.
- Starchips may be propelled by lasers to the nearby Alpha Centauri star system within two to three decades.
- The latest development is an important precursor to an ambitious attempt to send space probes to planets beyond our solar system, dubbed Breakthrough Starshot.
- Breakthrough Starshot’s goal is to develop chips with a weight of roughly one gram and fit them to a lightweight sail before propelling them through space with a 100-billion watt laser.
- Sprites have previously been carried on board the International Space Station, but this is the first demonstration that it is possible to launch such a lightweight satellite.
Flexible bio-glue for wound healing developed
A team of researchers developed a super strong, flexible bio-glue for wound healing without causing toxicity.
- The bio-glue is inspired by an adhesive material secreted by slugs that sticks to biological tissues.
- Slugs naturally secrete a special kind of mucus in its place when threatened, making it difficult for a predator to pry it off its surface.
About the bio-glue:
- The bio-glue is double-layered hydrogel consisting of an alginate-polyacrylamide matrix supporting an adhesive layer that has positively-charged polymers protruding from its surface.
- It bonds to biological tissues via three mechanisms – electrostatic attraction to covalent bonds between neighbouring atoms, negatively charged cell surfaces and physical interpenetration. This bond makes the adhesive super strong.
- It is the combination of a very strong adhesive force and has ability to transfer and dissipate stress.
- It can bind to tissues with strength comparable to the body’s own resilient cartilage.
- The bio-glue has numerous potential applications in the medical field, either as a patch that can be cut to desired sizes and applied to tissue surfaces or can be also used as an injectable solution for deeper injuries.
Scientists develop ‘Gelator’ to easily recover marine oil spills
Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research (IISER), Thiruvananthapuram have developed gelator that can suck up oil and congeal it.
What is gelator?
- The gelator is hydrophobic material that has property of oleilophilic (oil-loving) and takes up oil when it comes in contact with it.
- It can be used to recover marine oil spills with a simple, efficient and cost-effective method.
How it is developed?
- The gelator is developed using a cheap raw material mannitol and cellulose pulp through a one-step process.
- In this process, the mannitol gets adsorbed on the cellulose fibre through hydrogen bonding. The adsorption process changes the cellulose matrix from being very hydrophilic (water-loving) to hydrophobic (water repelling).
How gelator sucks oil?
- The property of gelator to self-assemble to form micro fibres makes congealing of oil possible and the oil loses its fluidity and gets trapped within the entangled fibrous network to form a rigid gel.
- Gelation essentially turns the liquid oil into semi-solid and this allows congealed oil to be simply scooped out using a scoop or a sieve.
- During the studies, it was found that the gelator was able to absorb and congeal 16 times its own weight of oil. Even, the absorbed oil can be recovered by applying pressure or fractionated by a simple distillation process.
- Gelator can also serve as a more efficient, quick and cost-effective way for absorption of crude oil from the sea following marine spill.
- Unlike other alternatives, the gelator can be easily applied over oil-water mixture and no solvent is needed for spraying it thus making it environment friendly.
Key Facts for Prelims
Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2017
- The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an international event of military music performance undertaken by the Armed Forces.
- In fact, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is the largest tattoo performed in the world in the majestic, sprawling stretch of Edinburgh Castle Esplanade, Scotland.
- It is in news as Indian Navy Band is going to participate in this year event.