Polity & Governance
- LS passes 123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill to give OBC commission Constitution status
Government Schemes & Policies
- Andhra Cabinet approves Mukhyamantri Yuva Nestam scheme
- Benami Act: Centre yet to form special courts
Issues related to Health & Education
- 1-7 August: World Breastfeeding Week
Defence & Security Issues
- Ballistic Missile Interceptor AAD successfully flight tested
- 141st birth anniversary of Pingali Venkayya
Science & Technology
- Move Hack, a global mobility hackathon
Key Facts for Prelims
- What is Outstanding Parliamentarian Award?
- Indian-Australian mathematician wins Fields Medal
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Polity & Governance
LS passes 123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill to give OBC commission Constitution status
The Lok Sabha has passed the 123rd Constitutional Amendment Bill providing for a National Commission for Backward Classes as a constitutional body.
Highlights of the Bill:
Constitutional status to NCBC:
- The bill provides for the grant of constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC) on par with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
Powers of the President:
- It states that the President may specify the socially and educationally backward classes in the various states and union territories. He may do this in consultation with the Governor of the concerned state.
- The duties of the NCBC include investigating and monitoring how safeguards provided to the backward classes under the Constitution and other laws are being implemented and probe specific complaints regarding violation of rights.
- The NCBC will be required to present annual reports to the President on working of the safeguards for backward classes. These reports will be tabled in Parliament, and in the state legislative assemblies of the concerned states.
Powers of a civil court:
- Under the Constitution Amendment Bill, the NCBC will have the powers of a civil court while investigating or inquiring into any complaints. These powers include: (i) summoning people and examining them on oath, (ii) requiring production of any document or public record, and (iii) receiving evidence.
- The Supreme Court, in its final verdict in the Indira Sawhney (Mandal Commission) case, had directed the establishment of the NCBC as a statutory body. Based on this, a law was passed in 1993 to set up the commission.
About National Commission on Backward Classes (NCBC):
- Set up in 1993, the NCBC was entrusted with examining requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a backward class in the lists and hear complaints of over-inclusion or under-inclusion of any backward class in such lists and advice central government on the matter.
Government Schemes & Policies
Andhra Cabinet approves Mukhyamantri Yuva Nestam scheme
Andhra Pradesh Government has approved Mukhyamantri Yuva Nestam.
- The registration for the scheme will start mid-August.
What is Mukhyamantri Yuva Nestam scheme?
- It is an unemployment allowance scheme to provide Rs 1000 per month unemployed youth in state.
- The scheme will be extended to all those eligible even if there are more than one beneficiary in a family.
- The money will be credited directly into the bank accounts through biometric authentication.
- The government will not only provide financial help to the unemployed youth but also provide training and help them develop their skills.
- The data of unemployed youth in the state will be made available for industries and companies searching for young talent.
- About 12 lakh youths in the age group of 22-35 years will get the benefit of the scheme.
Benami Act: Centre yet to form special courts
The prosecution of accused persons in almost 100 confirmed cases instituted under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act has been scuttled as the special courts meant for the purpose have not yet been set up across the country.
What’s the issue?
- The Act provides that the Central government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the respective High Courts, will establish special courts through notification. Such courts are to be constituted to ensure that the trials are conducted “as expeditiously as possible”.
- However, the required special courts have not been set up yet. Therefore, despite the fact that investigations in almost 100 cases have been completed by the I-T Department in different States, including confirmation of attachment of properties by the Adjudicating Authority, the prosecution of accused persons has not started.
About Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016
The Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Amendment Act, 2016, designed to curb black money and passed by parliament in August 2016, came into effect.
Highlights of the Act:
- The new law amended the Benami Transactions Act, 1988 and renamed as the Prohibition of Benami Property Transactions (PBPT) Act, 1988.
- Persons indulging in benami transactions may face up to 7 years’ imprisonment and fine.
- Furnishing false information is punishable by imprisonment up to 5 years and fine.
- Properties held benami are liable for confiscation by government without compensation.
- Initiating Officer may pass an order to continue holding property and may then refer case to Adjudicating Authority which will then examine evidence and pass an order.
- Appellate Tribunal will hear appeals against orders of Adjudicating Authority. High Court can hear appeals against orders of Appellate Tribunal.
- The amendment act strengthens the parent Act in terms of legal and administrative procedure.
What is benami transaction?
- The benami (without a name) transaction refers to property purchased by a person in the name of some other person.
- The person on whose name the property has been purchased is called the benamdar and the property so purchased is called the benami property. The person who finances the deal is the real owner.
- Therefore, in a benami transaction, the name of the person who paid the money is not mentioned. Directly or indirectly, the benami transaction is done to benefit the one who pays.
[Read IASToppers’ Exclusive Mains Article on Benami Act at: http://www.iastoppers.com/benami-transactions-prohibition-amendment-act-2016-mains-roundup-2017/] [Ref: The Hindu, Economic Times]
Issues related to Health & Education
1-7 August: World Breastfeeding Week
World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is an annual celebration which is being held every year from 1 to 7 August.
- It is organized by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), WHO and UNICEF.
- It came up with the goal to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields tremendous health benefits, providing critical nutrients, protection from deadly diseases such as pneumonia and fostering growth and development.
About World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA):
WABA, formed in 1991, is a global network of organizations and individuals who believe breastfeeding is the right of all children and mothers and who dedicate themselves to protect, promote and support this right.
- WABA acts on the Innocenti Declaration and works in close liaison with UNICEF.
- WABA does not accept funds or gifts from manufacturers or distributors of breastmilk substitutes.
- WABA is in consultative status with UNICEF and an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).
- WABA is a global network that encompasses all working at the international, regional, national, and community level to protect, promote and support breastfeeding.
- Everyone who is committed to a breastfeeding culture can be part of WABA: non-governmental organizations, community activists, health care workers, professional associations, university teaching staff, researchers, health officials and others.
Report of UNICEF and WHO:
A new report released by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has ranked Sri Lanka at the top of the list of countries with early initiation of breastfeeding.
- India ranks 56th among the 76 countries that were analysed.
- Countries like Kazakhsthan, Rwanda, Bhutan and Uruguay have fared much better than India.
- Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Montenegro are at the bottom.
- Only two in five newborns are breastfed within the first hour of life across the world.
Importance of breast feeding:
- 13%: children die below 5 yrs of age, owing to poor breastfeeding practices
- 823 000: child deaths can be averted every year.
- 1,56,000: child deaths could be reduced in India with breastfeeding
- 4 million: respiratory infection episodes can be reduced
- 9 million: Diarrhoea episodes can be reduced
- 15 times: children are more likely to die of pneumonia who are not breastfed
- 11 times: children are more likely to die of diarrhoea
- 20,000: mothers’ deaths due to breast cancer can be averted globally f mothers breastfeed for more than a year
- 3 to 4 points: Increase in IQ, depending on the duration of breastfeeding
- 7%: deliveries take place in hospitals
- 6%: children receive breastfeeding within one hour of birth
- 9%: exclusively breastfed for the first six months
- 5%: children between 6-8 months given complementary foods
Optimal Breast feeding Practices include:
- Breastfeeding within an hour of birth
- Breast-milk alone is the best food and drink for an infant for the first six months of life
- But allow infant to receive ORS, drops, syrups of vitamins, minerals and medicines when required
- After 6 months, introduce semi-solid, soft food along with breast feeding up to two years
- From 6 up to 12 months, breast milk provides half of the child’s nutritional needs
- From the age of 6–8 months a child needs to eat two to three times per day and three to four times per day starting at 9 months – in addition to breastfeeding
- The baby should be fed small amounts of food that steadily increase in variety and quantity as he or she grows
- During an illness, children need additional fluids and encouragement to eat regular meals, and breastfeeding infants need to breastfeed more often.
About MAA programme:
Government launched National Breastfeeding Promotion Programme— MAA (mothers’ absolute affection) to ensure adequate awareness is generated among masses, especially mothers, on the benefits of breastfeeding.
- The goal of the Programme that will continue for a year, is to enhance optimal breastfeeding practices, which includes initiation of breastfeeding within an hour of birth, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and continued breastfeeding for at least two years.
- The programme will be monitored by UNICEF and other partners.
- The government will train nurses in government hospitals, Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA), Auxiliary Nurse Mid-wives (ANM) to provide relevant information and counselling support to mothers for breastfeeding.
- Monitoring and impact assessment is also an integral part of MAA programme. Progress will be measured against key indicators, such as availability of skilled persons at ground for counselling, improvement in breastfeeding practices and number of accredited health facilities.
- Dedicated funds— Rs 4.3 lakhs per district, have been allocated to states for the programme, which is in addition to the funds approved under National Health Mission’s annual project implementation plans.
- To ensure effective roll-out of the programme ministry of health has established MAA secretariat and a steering committee will be created in all states and at the district level.
Defence & Security Issues
Ballistic Missile Interceptor AAD successfully flight tested
DRDO conducted the successful test of the Ballistic Missile Interceptor Advanced Area Defence (AAD) from Abdul Kalam Island (earlier known as Wheeler Island) Odisha.
About BMD AAD:
- The AAD interceptor missile has been indigenously developed by DRDO.
- The missile is being developed as part the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system
- It is 7.5-metre long and is capable of intercepting incoming targets at altitude of 15 to 25 km.
- The AAD interceptor is a single-stage missile powered by solid propellants.
- It has been developed as part of indegenous efforts to have multi-layer ballistic missile defence system, capable of destroying incoming hostile ballistic missiles.
- The interceptor missile has its own mobile launcher, secure data link for interception, independent tracking and homing capabilities and sophisticated radars.
- The Research Centre Imarat (RCI) of the DRDO has played pivotal role in the development of all strategic missiles, spearheaded under the India’s double-layered ballistic missile defence (BMD) programme.
- The BMD consists of two interceptor missiles, Advanced Area Defence (AAD) missile for endo-atmosphere or lower altitudes and Prithvi Defence Vehicle for exo-atmospheric ranges.
- The DRDO expects deployment of BMD shield by 2022.
- India will be fourth country in the world after the US, Russia and Israel to successfully built effective anti-ballistic missile system.
141st birth anniversary of Pingali Venkayya
141st birth anniversary of freedom fighter and designer (architect) of Indian National Flag Pingali Venkayya was observed on August 2, 2018.
Who was Pingali Venkayya?
Pingali Venkayya, a Gandhian contemporary, a great patriot, the designer of the Indian National Flag was also a linguist, a geologist and a writer.
- Venkayya joined the British Army at a young age of 19 and took part in the Anglo-Boer war in Africa. During this time, he met Mahatma Gandhi and formed an association with the leader which lasted for more than 50 years.
- His admirers used to call him with titles such as Japan Venkayya,Patti (cotton) Venkayya, Janada Venkayya etc for his valuable contribution to different fields.
- The National Flag designed by Venkayya was unanimously agreed upon and considered in the presence of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi in the Congress Committee meeting held in Vijayawada on March 31st and April 1st 1921.
- Decades after his death in 1963, Venkayya was also honoured with a postage stamp in 2009 for his contribution towards Indian freedom struggle.
History of Indian National Flag:
- Venkayya had published book in 1916 offering thirty designs of what could make Indian flag. Throughout all Congress sessions between 1918 and 1921, he relentlessly put forward idea of having flag of our own in every session of the Congress. Back then, he was working as lecturer in Andhra National College in Machilipatnam.
- He met Gandhiji once again in Vijayawada and showed him his publication with various designs of flag. Acknowledging need for national flag, Gandhiji then asked Venkayya to design fresh one at national congress meeting in 1921.
- Initially, he came up with saffron and green colours, but it later evolved with spinning wheel at centre (representation wheel of dharma and law) and third colour-white. Lala Hans Raj Sondhi suggested adding a spinning wheel — showing the independent Indians who can spin their own clothing from local fibres.
- This modified flag design was approved Gandhiji and later officially adopted by Indian National Congress in 1931.
National Flag of India:
- The national flag is popularly known as Tiranga, which means “three colours” or “tricoloured”.
- It is a horizontal tricolour in equal proportion of deep saffron at the top, white in the middle and green at the bottom. The ratio of the width to the length of the flag is 2:3.
- At the centre of the white band is a wheel with 24 spokes in navy blue colour that indicates the Dharma Chakra (Wheel of Law).
- The flag came into being in its present form at the meeting of Constitutional Assembly on 22 July 1947.
- As per the Indian laws, the national flag is to be made up of khadi. The flag code of India governs the usage of the flag.
- Initially, use of the Indian flag by private citizens was prohibited, except on national days like Republic Day and Independence Day. But gradually, some changes were made by the Union Cabinet about the flag’s use by private citizens.
- The code was amended about its usage for hoisting and its adaptation on other types of clothes.
Science & Technology
Move Hack, a global mobility hackathon
NITI Aayog has launched Move Hack, a global mobility hackathon to crowdsource solutions aimed at the future of mobility in India.
- MoveHack aims to bring about innovative, dynamic and scalable solutions to problems pertaining to mobility.
- It is organized in partnership with Government of Singapore and is powered by Hacker Earth.
- PwC is knowledge partner and NASSCOM is strategic partner.
The hackathon has a two-pronged campaign approach:
- “Just Code It”: aimed at solutions through innovations in technology/product/software and data analysis.
- “Just Solve It”: innovative business ideas or sustainable solutions to transform mobility infrastructure through technology.
Key Facts for Prelims
What is Outstanding Parliamentarian Award?
- The Outstanding Parliamentarian Award is an award given by the Indian Parliamentary Group to an outstanding sitting Member of the Indian Parliament for overall contribution in the Indian Parliament.
- It was instituted in 1992 by Shivraj Patil, who was the Speaker of Lok Sabha from 1991 to 1996.
Why in news?
President Ram Nath Kovind has conferred Outstanding Parliamentarian Awards on five Members of Parliament:
- Dr Najma Heptulla (BJP leader) [award for 2013]
- Hukumdev Narayan Yadav (BJP leader) [award for 2014]
- Ghulam Nabi Azad (Congress leader) [award for 2015]
- Dinesh Trivedi (Trinamool Congress leader) [award for 2016]
- Bhartruhari Mahatab (Biju Janata Dal leader) [award for 2017]
Indian-Australian mathematician wins Fields Medal
- Indian-Australian mathematician Akshay Venkatesh, along with three others, has won mathematics’ prestigious Fields medal.
- Venkatesh, who teaches at Stanford University, received the honour for his profound contributions to an exceptionally broad range of subjects in mathematics.
- The Fields medal is known as the Nobel prize for mathematics.
- The prize was inaugurated in 1932 at the request of Canadian mathematician John Charles Fields, who ran the 1924 Mathematics Congress in Toronto.
- The Fields medals are awarded every four years to the most promising mathematicians under the age of 40.
- Each winner receives 15,000 Canadian dollars. At least two, and preferably four people, are always honoured in the award ceremony.