Polity & Governance
- Haryana assembly unanimously passes Jat quota bill
- Uttarakhand HC orders floor test, allows disqualified MLAs to take part
- Centre gives nod for 100% FDI in e-commerce retail
- Innovative Entrepreneurship & Skill Development Programme of MANAS launched
Environment & Ecology
- ADB, USAID to assist India in developing clean energy projects
- New plant species discovered
Defence & Security Issues
- BEL-Thales joint venture to develop PHAROS fire control radar
Science & Technology
- Anti-lock braking system a must for two-wheelers
Polity & Governance
Haryana assembly unanimously passes Jat quota bill
The Haryana assembly has unanimously passed the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Bill, 2016 to provide reservation to Jat and other communities.
- The bill was passed by voice vote in the ongoing assembly session.
- The state has also requests the Central Government to include this Act in the 9th Schedule read with Article 31B of the Constitution of India.
- The bill provides reservation to the politically-dominant Jat community and four other communities — Jat Sikhs, Tyagis, Bishnois and Rors.
- The bill will give statutory status to Backward classes Block ‘A’, Backward classes Block ‘B’ and Backward classes Block ‘C’ by enacting the Haryana Backward Classes (Reservation in Services and Admission in Educational Institutions) Act, 2016.
- The bill provides for increase in percentage of reservation in Schedule I, II and III for Class I and II posts for BC ‘A’, BC ‘B’ and BC ‘C’ from 10%, 5% and 5% to 11%, 6% and 6% respectively.
- It has been also decided to increase the existing reservation of five percent for Economically Backward Persons in General Caste Category in Class I and II posts from five percent to seven percent.
Uttarakhand HC orders floor test, allows disqualified MLAs to take part
The Uttarakhand High Court has ordered a floor test in the Vidhan Sabha and has also allowed disqualified MLAs to take part IN IT.
- This is only an interim order. The final decision of the high court would come only after the disposal of the petition by rebel MLAs challenging their disqualification by Speaker.
- Harish Rawat, who was unseated from his post as chief minister, has been asked by the Court to test his majority on the floor of the House in a copybook interpretation of the S R Bommai judgment that for the first time permitted judicial review of the imposition of President’s rule.
- The centre had recently imposed President’s rule in Uttarakhand citing a breakdown of constitutional authority.
Various interpretations of high court’s orders:
- According to some legal experts, since the high court did not pass any order on President’s rule, the central rule in Uttarakhand would continue. Besides, the order is only a partial relief to Rawat, who had challenged the imposition of President’s rule.
- However, according to few others, the order temporarily revives the Assembly for one day for the sole purpose of conducting the trust vote, and may even appear to be a partial stay on the Proclamation imposing President’s rule — to the extent that it orders the convening of a suspended House.
What does Article 365 say?
- According to clauses in Article 356 after the imposition of President’s Rule, the State legislature cannot function and all its functions can only be discharged by or under the authority of Parliament.
Centre gives nod for 100% FDI in e-commerce retail
The government has allowed 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) through the automatic route in the marketplace model of e-commerce retailing.
- As per the guidelines issued by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) on FDI in e-commerce, foreign direct investment has not been permitted in inventory-based model.
- According to the guidelines, the e-commerce marketplace may provide support servicesto sellers in warehousing, and logistics., order fulfilment, call centre, payment collection and other services. However, such entities will not exercise ownership over the inventory.
- According to the guidelines, any warranty/guarantee on goods and services sold will be responsibility of the seller, not the market place operator.
- Also, an e-commerce firm will not be permitted to sell more than 25% of total sales from one vendor or its group companies.
- The press note issued by the department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) said 100% FDI via the automatic route would be allowed only for e-commerce players under the marketplace model, and not under the inventory led model. This means that companies such as Amazon and Alibaba can set up an online marketplace legally now where sellers can hawk their products. But the policy does not allow Amazon or Flipkart to become a seller.
Significance of the move:
- These guidelines are expected to bring in more FDI into the sector that attracted maximum inflow of such investments in 2015.
What is Marketplace Model?
The marketplace model has been defined as providing an “information technology platform by an e-commerce entity on a digital and electronic network to act as a facilitator between buyer and seller.” Example – Amazon, Flipkart
What is Inventory-based model?
An inventory-led model is defined as one where the e-commerce entity owns the inventory of goods and services and sells directly to consumers. Earlier Flipkart used to be inventory based e-commerce venture.
Implications of the move:
- This move could potentially end the discount wars, much to the disappointment of consumers. This is because the rules now prohibit marketplaces from offering discounts and capping total sales originating from a group company or one vendor at 25%. With this, online marketplaces will now not be allowed to directly or indirectly influence pricing of products and services on the platform.
- This could, however, level the playing field with offline stores, which have witnessed a slump in footfalls corresponding to the increase in e-commerce.
Reasons behind the move:
- So far, India has allowed 100% foreign investment in business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce but none in retail e-commerce—i.e., business-to-consumer, or B2C.
- Even so, Indian e-commerce companies such as Flipkart and Snapdeal have been following the marketplace model—which was not defined—and attracting large foreign investments. Marketplaces essentially act as a platform connecting sellers and buyers.
- This had led to allegations from time to time by brick-and-mortar stores that Indian e-commerce companies were flouting existing policy norms to gain an unfair advantage, given that the government does not allow FDI in multi-brand retail companies.
Innovative Entrepreneurship & Skill Development Programme of MANAS launched
Union Ministry for Minority Affairs recently launched innovative entrepreneurship and skill development programme of Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills (MANAS)– through leading national/ international experts in different skill sets.
Objective of the programme:
- The Centre plans to skill the minority community members with speed, scale and standards across the country through this programme.
- Under this unique and first time initiative, MANAS has come up with an innovative scheme under which it proposes to use leading celebrities in various skill sets as the driving force behind the skill development projects, in their respective fields, for the benefit of marginalised sections of minority communities.
- There are a large number of leading experts in different trades/skill sets, who belong to Minority Communities. They are icons for youths all over the country particularly for minority communities, in their respective fields. MANAS plans to use them in making quality training available at one’s doorsteps.
- Also, by this path-breaking initiative, Ministry of Minority Affairs (MOMA) can utilize vast potential of existing network of Madrasa and Maktabs (both in terms of reach and numbers) by opening Skill Development Centres in Madrasa with the consent of Madrasa.
- Apart from bridging the trust deficit of the minority communities, MANAS will be able to provide door-step access to quality skill development training to marginalised sections of Minority communities particularly to women and girl child, for providing them gainful employment/self-employment.
- In order to fulfil the vision of “Skill India” and also achieve the over-riding goal of the Government of India “SabkaSaath – SabkaVikas”, Maulana Azad National academy for Skills (MANAS) was established under the aegis of Ministry of Minority Affairs (MOMA) by National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC)in November, 2014.
- MANAS provides an institutional arrangement to meet all Skill Development/Up-gradation needs of the Minority communities in the country.
Environment & Ecology
ADB, USAID to assist India in developing clean energy projects
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to provide $848 million of funding for the development of solar parks across India.
- The government has set a target of 175 Gigawatts of installed renewable energy capacity by 2022. Of this 100 GW is to come from solar power.
- The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has said that it plans to set up 25 solar parks with a total capacity of 20,000 MW by 2020.
- The MoU will facilitate 848 million US dollars in funding to develop solar parks across India.
- The collaboration of ADB and USAID will initially focus on the state of Rajasthan.
- The funding will assist India in developing the clean energy infrastructure by collaborating on design and development of PPP investment models for solar parks.
- It will help finance the development of solar parks in support of the Government of India’s renewable energy targets.
New plant species discovered
Researchers in Kerala have discovered the new plant species with botanical name Sonerila nairii, which comes under the family of Melasto mataceae.
- This rare plant species was discovered in the Pottumalaregion of the Nelliampathy forests in the Western Ghats.
- The plant species is enlisted in the critically endangeredcategory of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Features of the plant:
- The plant with pink coloured flowers is a highly endangered species.
- The plant was seen growing around 1,200 metres above sea level.
- Each plant carries just two flowers.
- The plant grows in soil found in the gaps of rocks.
Defence & Security Issues
BEL-Thales joint venture to develop PHAROS fire control radar
Thales and BEL-Thales Systems Limited (BTSL), the joint venture between Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and Thales, have signed a partnership agreement for the joint development of the PHAROS fire control radar.
- This co-development agreement between Thales and BTSL is in line with the ‘Make in India’ vision of the Government of India.
- This strategic co-operation partnership agreement will allow Thales and BTSL to jointly develop PHAROS, a fire control radar for both gun and missile systems.
- The responsibility of overall system design will be borne by Thales.
- BTSL will develop the mechanical design and radar processing modifications while Thales will be responsible for the design and production of the radar antenna.
- The jointly developed PHAROS system will cater to both domestic Indian and international market requirements.
- PHAROS is an all-weather multi-targettracking radar that can be fitted on guns and missiles.
- PHAROS provides defence against small, fast moving and highly manoeuvrable air and surface targets that may also be encountered in littoral missions.
- The multiple target tracker is capable of simultaneously controlling — in all weather conditions — the engagement of these targets with guided ammunition.
Science & Technology
Anti-lock braking system a must for two-wheelers
The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has made it compulsory for all two-wheelers, which account for the highest share of accidents in the country, to either have the anti-lock braking system (ABS) or the combined braking system (CBS) by April 2019.
- Two-wheeler manufacturers will have to fit the equipment for the existing scooter or bike models available for sale in the market by that time, and for all new models they plan to introduce from April 2018.
- For two-wheelers with an engine capacity above 125 cc, fitting the ABS will be compulsory and for those with capacities at or below 125 cc, auto manufacturers will have an option to provide either the ABS or CBS.
At present, ABS needs to be compulsorily fitted in tractors carrying hazardous goods or liquid petroleum gas, double decked transport vehicles and buses that ply on All India Tourist permit.
- The cost of two-wheelers is likely to go up between Rs.4,000 and Rs.6,000 as a result of the new norms.
- The ABS, which helps riders maintain stability without skidding while applying the brake, will be mandatory for mopeds as well, which are typically bikes without gears.
Why ABS needed in two-wheelers?
- Two-wheelers are the most vulnerable among road users.
- According to official estimates, in 2014, 29.3%, (or about 40,000 users), of 1.39 lakh people killed on roads were two-wheeler users — the highest share followed by cars, jeeps and taxis and trucks and tempos.
What is ABS?
- An anti-lock braking system or anti-skid braking system (ABS) is an automobile safety system that allows the wheels on a motor vehicle to maintain tractive contact with the road surface according to driver inputs while braking, preventing the wheels from locking up (ceasing rotation) and avoiding uncontrolled skidding.
- It is an automated system that uses the principles of threshold braking and cadence braking which were practiced by skillful drivers with previous generation braking systems.
What is CBS?
A combined braking system (CBS), also called linked braking system (LBS), is a system for linking front and rear brakes on a motorcycle or scooter.
- In this system, the rider’s action of depressing one of the brake levers applies both front and rear brakes.
- The amount of each brake applied may be determined by a proportional control valve.
- The CBS distributes the pressure, applied on the rear wheel, to the front wheel minimising the possibility of a road accident.
[Ref: Hindu; Wiki]