Polity & Governance
- SC/ST Act: Government to file review petition
- DG of National Testing Agency appointed
- E-way bill: Karnataka only state to notify inter, intra-state movement
Bilateral & International Relations
- Harassment of diplomats: India, Pakistan agree to resolve issue through talks
Science & Technology
- Interstitium: New organ discovered by scientists could be the largest in human body
- China sends twin BeiDou-3 navigation satellites into space
Key Facts for Prelims
- Naitwar Mori Hydro Electric Project
- Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi
- ICBM Sarmat Missile
- Cruise Missile BABUR
- Kaziranga National Park
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Polity & Governance
SC/ST Act: Government to file review petition
Union law ministry is preparing to file a review petition against the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 that puts a stop to immediate arrests in complaints filed under its provisions.
Previously, in an attempt to curb the misuse of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989) and protect honest public servants Supreme Court gave following verdict:
- An arrest is not mandatory under the SC/ST Act, and the automatic arrest has been scrapped.
- The court further directed that public servants can only be arrested with the written permission of their appointing authority. This was to protect public servants and private employees from arbitrary arrests under the Atrocities Act.
- Supreme Court also ruled that before arresting a public servant under the Act, a preliminary investigation by an officer not below the rank of deputy superintendent is a must
About SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act:
- Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was enacted in the year 1989.
- Ministry of Social Justice is the nodal ministry to enforce the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
- It is a comprehensive law which not only defines atrocities against SCs and STs but also make several rules, regulations etc. for proper protection of these vulnerable classes.
- One of the provisions of the law states that public servant (non SC/ST) neglecting his duties related to SCs/STs will be punished with imprisonment for a term of 6 months to 1 year.
DG of National Testing Agency appointed
Government has appointed former chairman of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Vineet Joshi, as the first Director-General (DG) of the National Testing Agency (NTA).
Key Features of NTA:
- The NTA will initially conduct entrance examinations currently being conducted by CBSE. Other examinations will be taken up gradually after NTA is fully geared up.
- The entrance examinations will be conducted in online mode at least twice a year to give adequate opportunity to candidates to bring out their best.
- In order to serve requirements of the rural students, it will locate centres at sub-district and district level and as far as possible it will undertake hands-on training to the students.
- It will take over majority of the examinations conducted by CBSE from 2019 in phased manner. It will start its operations with Joint Engineering Entrance (JEE) and National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET UG) for admissions to medical and dental programmes from 2019.
- NTA will be chaired by an eminent educationist appointed by Ministry of Human Resource Development.
- The CEO will be Director General (DG) appointed by Government.
- Besides, there will be Board of Governors comprising members from user institutions.
- The DG will be assisted by 9 verticals headed by academicians and experts.
- NTA will be given one-time grant of Rs.25 crore from Union Government to start its operation in first year. Thereafter, it will be financially self-sustainable.
- It will be subjected to Comptroller and Auditor General (GAG) audit.
- NTA will benefit about 4 million students appearing in various entrance examinations.
- It will relieve AICTE, CBSE, and other agencies from responsibility of conducting these entrance examinations.
- It will bring in high reliability, standardized difficulty level for assessing intelligence, aptitude and problem solving abilities of students.
- Finance Minister in his Budget speech of 2017-18 had announced setting up of NTA as autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct all entrance examinations for higher educational institutions in view to have specialized body in India like most advanced countries.
E-way bill: Karnataka only state to notify inter, intra-state movement
As the country prepares for the nationwide mandatory rollout of the e-way bill system for inter-state movement of goods from April 1 under the goods and services tax (GST) regime, Karnataka will be an exception having notified the e-way bill for both inter-state as well as intra-state movement of goods.
- Karnataka was the first state to operationalise the e-way bill system in September 2017, using the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure available with the state.
What is an e-Way Bill?
- E-way is an electronic billing system for traders who are moving their goods for sale beyond 10 km radius.
- Under the system, transporters carrying goods worth Rs 50,000 will be required to get goods pre-registered before transporting them from one location to another.
- According to notified e-way bill rules, every registered supplier will require prior online registration on the e-way bill portal for the movement of these goods.
- Any supplier/recipient/transporter can generate an e-way bill.
When Should e-Way Bill be issued?
e-Way bill will be generated when there is a movement of goods in a vehicle/ conveyance of value more than Rs. 50,000 (either each Invoice or in aggregate of all Invoices in a vehicle/ Conveyance) –
- In relation to a ‘supply’
- For reasons other than a ‘supply’ (say a return)
- Due to inward ‘supply’ from an unregistered person
For this purpose, a supply may be either of the following:
- A supply made for a consideration (payment) in the course of business
- A supply made for a consideration (payment) which may not be in the course of business
- A supply without consideration (without payment) In simpler terms, the term ‘supply’ usually means a:
- Sale – sale of goods and payment made
- Transfer – branch transfers for instance
- Barter/Exchange – where the payment is by goods instead of in money
Therefore, e-Way Bills must be generated on the common portal for all these types of movements.
For certain specified Goods, the e-way bill needs to be generated mandatorily even if the Value of the consignment of Goods is less than Rs. 50,000:
- Inter-State movement of Goods by the Principal to the Job-worker
- Inter-State Transport of Handicraft goods by a dealer exempted from GST registration
How E-way bill works?
- E-way is valid for all-India movement and transporters can generate the bill electronically and in self-service mode. Under the system, there is no need to visit any tax office and check post.
- Transporters can generate e-way bill on the official website through the Mobile App, SMS and offline as well.
- Transporters can visit the portal ‘ewaybill.nic.in’ and generate the e-way bill by registering themselves by giving the GSTIN.
- Those who are not registered can get themselves registered on the website using Aadhaar or PAN card.
- E-way bill can be generated by entering vehicle number.
- In case of breakdown or transhipment, the traders can update the vehicle number using the same E-way bill.
- Once generated E-way bill, however, cannot be cancelled for 24 hours.
- The moment it is generated, there is no requirement to fill the information pertaining to goods in the GST return as it will be automated.
- A unique e-way bill number (EBN), as well as a QR code, will be generated for tracking.
What is the current status at the state-level over the e-way bill?
- Ten states have started trial runs of the e-way bill system.
- Karnataka implemented the system in September 2017, followed by Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Kerala.
- Six more states — Haryana, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Sikkim and Jharkhand — also started trial runs for e-way bills.
Do any exemptions apply to e-way bills?
- The GST Council exempted 154 items of common use, such as meat, fish, curd, vegetables and some cereals, human blood, LPG for households and kerosene for the Public Distribution System (PDS).
- The system will not be applicable on goods being transported by non-motorised conveyance, and where goods are transported from the port, airport, air cargo complex and land Customs stations to an inland container depot or a container freight station for Customs clearance.
Are there concerns from industry?
- Trade and industry have raised concerns about the system being a possible route for the re-emergence of supply chain bottlenecks, and discretionary power to tax officials.
- The industry views the e-way bill as a system that will check tax evasion to some extent but may not be able to stop it completely.
- Also, it adds another layer of compliances for GST payers and, in case of technical glitches, may result in supply chain bottlenecks.
Bilateral & International Relations
Harassment of diplomats: India, Pakistan agree to resolve issue through talks
India and Pakistan have agreed to solve the diplomatic tussle over the allegations of harassment of the diplomats in each other’s countries.
- The two countries have mutually decided to resolve matters as per the 1992 code of conduct (COC) ensuring the diplomats and their families are not harassed.
What’s the issue?
- The diplomatic ties of India and Pakistan took a hit over the harassment of the diplomats in each other’s countries. Both the countries have accused each other of harassing and intimidating their diplomats.
What is 1992 Code of Conduct?
- As per the 1992 code of conduct, the two countries would ensure “smooth and unhindered functioning of their diplomatic and consular officials in conformity with recognised norms of international law and practice.”
- The two governments will also ensure that there is “no violation of the privileges and immunities of their diplomatic and consular officials” and there should be “no offences against their dignity and person”.
- It also states that intrusive and aggressive surveillance and actions such as verbal and physical harassment, disconnecting of telephone lines, threatening telephone calls, pursuit in cars and unauthorised entry into residences shall not be resorted to.
Science & Technology
Interstitium: New organ discovered by scientists could be the largest in human body
Scientists have discovered new organ in human body and have named it as ‘interstitium’.
- It will be the 80th organ in the human body.
- It might be might be also the biggest organ in human body.
How it was discovered?
- It was discovered while doctors were investigating patient’s bile duct, searching for signs of cancer. They had noticed cavities of this organ that did not match any previously known human anatomy.
- The new organ is network of interconnected, fluid-filled spaces all over the body. It is found everywhere in human bodies, acting as shock absorber in all places where tissues are moved or subjected to force.
- It is made up of both flexible (elastin) and strong (collagen) connective tissue proteins, with interstitial fluid moving throughout.
- It lies beneath top layer of skin, but is also in tissue layers lining gut, lungs, blood vessels, and muscles.
- The organ acts like shock absorber in all places where tissues are moved or subjected to force to protect them from damage.
- The new organ’s interstitial spaces are organized by collagen mesh which allows it to shrink, expand making it as shock absorbers.
- It also acts as fluid ‘highway’ i.e. thoroughfares to transport critical fluids within organs and around body.
- It also plays important role in carrying lymph, a fluid that supports immunity and also travels through lymphatic vessels.
Significance of the discovery:
- The discovery of the fluid ‘highway’ could help to explain how cancer spreads in the body, and pave the way for new ways to detect and treat the disease.
China sends twin BeiDou-3 navigation satellites into space
China has successfully launched two satellites with a single rocket to strengthen its BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS).
- The two satellites are coded as the 30th and 31st members in the BDS.
BeiDou Navigation Satellite System:
Named after the Chinese term for the plough or the Big Dipper constellation, the BeiDou project was formally initiated in 1994.
- It began to serve China in 2000 and the Asia-Pacific region at the end of 2012.
- Beidou currently consists of 10 satellites and covers a swath of the Asia-Pacific region from Australia in the south to Russia in the north.
- The system is accurate to within 82 feet (25 meters) and now serves China and surrounding areas on a pilot basis.
- The emergence of Beidou should make China far less dependent on the GPS constellation, which is operated by the United States military and is currently the world’s dominant satellite navigation network.
- It is important to note that India has its own navigation satellite Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), US has Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia has Glonass, Europe has Galileo and Japan has QZSS.
Key Facts for Prelims
Naitwar Mori Hydro Electric Project
- Construction works on 60 MW Naitwar Mori Hydro Electric Project have begun.
- The Naitwar Mori Project with a generation potential of 60 MW is located on River Tons, a major tributary of River Yamuna on the Ganga basin, in Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand state in North India.
- This run-of-the river project was allocated to SJVN Ltd by the Government of Uttarakhand. SJVN Ltd is a Mini Ratna PSU under administrative control of the Ministry of Power, Govt. of India.
Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi
- Recently, Google Doodle celebrated her 153rd Birthday on March 31st.
- She was India’s first female doctor and first woman to obtain a degree in western medicine.
- Anandi Joshi was born on 31st March 1865 in Maharashtra.
ICBM Sarmat Missile
- Russia has successfully test fired its latest nuclear Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) RS-28 Sarmat. This missile can carry an array of warheads capable of dodging missile defenses.
- The Sarmat is a heavy ICBM intended to replace Russia’s aging, Soviet-era missiles that form the basis of its nuclear deterrent.
- The chief innovation of the Sarmat is its ability to carry a large number of guided warheads.
- The missile is believed to be able to fly 16,000 miles and is capable of flying over the South Pole to strike the U.S.
- NATO has named this missile as ‘Satan 2’.
- The name Sarmat is based upon the nomadic Sarmatian tribes which used to live between 6th and 4th century BC in current territories of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Cruise Missile BABUR
- Pakistan Navy successfully test fired indigenously developed Submarine Launched version of Cruise Missile (SLCM) BABUR.
- BABUR has a range of 450 KMs and is capable of delivering various types of payloads and incorporates state of the art technologies including underwater controlled propulsion, advanced guidance and navigation features.
Kaziranga National Park
- Kaziranga national park is located in the Golaghat and Nagaon districts of Assam.
- The park is a home to two-thirds of the world’s great one-horned rhinoceroses, which are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red list of Threatened Species.
- It was designated with National Park status in 1968 and was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 for its unique natural environment.
- Kaziranga is also recognized as an Important Bird Area by Birdlife International for conservation of avifaunal species.
Why in news?
- The recent census carried out in Kaziranga National Park, Assam has revealed that there was a marginal increase in the population of the one-horned rhinoceros here.