Polity & Governance
- Govt forms panel to upgrade norms for state, district level economic data collection
- Supreme Court extends deadline to publish Assam NRC final draft
- 2021 census data to be stored electronically
- ECI launches a dedicated portal – ‘SVEEP’
- Intellectual Property rules stand amended
Government Schemes & Policies
- Delhi launches ‘Happiness Curriculum’ for schools
- Kerala govt declares Kozhikode, Malappuram districts as Nipah virus free
- SC rejects plea to shut down Kudankulam plant till AFR facility is built
Bilateral & International Relations
- India to provide tariff concessions on 3142 items to APTA members
Key Facts for Prelims
- What is Legatrix?
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Polity & Governance
Govt forms panel to upgrade norms for state, district level economic data collection
The Union Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI) on June 30, 2018 formed a 13 member committee to upgrade the norms for computation of economic data at states and districts level in the backdrop of plans to revise the base year for National Accounts or GDP calculation.
- The Committee for Sub-National Accounts will be headed by Ravindra H Dholakia, a retired professor of IIM Ahmedabad.
- The Ministry has decided to change the base year to 2017-18 for the calculation of GDP and IIP numbers from the current 2011-12 with an aim to capture changes in the economy.
Terms of Reference of the Committee:
- The panel will review the concepts, definitions, classifications, data conventions, data sources and data requirements for preparation of State Domestic Product (SDP) and District Domestic Product (DDP) to lay down revised guidelines.
- It will suggest measures for improving SDP and DDP in the country, taking into consideration availability of data and requirements of the Centre and States or Union Territories.
- It will suggest state-level annual or benchmark surveys keeping in view the needs of the System of National Accounts especially in view of the next base year revision.
- It will submit its report within one year and may also submit interim reports, as necessary.
About Central Statistics Office (CSO):
- The Central Statistics Office (CSO), under Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, revises the base year of the macroeconomic indicators as a regular exercise to capture structural changes in the economy and improve the quality and representativeness of the indices.
- The CSO had last updated base year for GDP calculation to 2011-12 in January 2015, replacing the old series base year of 2004-05.
Supreme Court extends deadline to publish Assam NRC final draft
The Supreme Court has extended by a month its June 30 deadline for the publication of the final draft of Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC).
- The first draft of the NRC, which was released in January, listed only 1.9 crore people as citizens out of the 3.9 crore people who had filed the NRC application.
- The updated NRC will count only those as Assam citizens who can prove their residency on or before March 21, 1971. This means that all those not included in the list run the risk of being rendered illegal immigrants.
What is National Register of Citizens (NRC)?
- The NRC was introduced to identify illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and recognise the Indian citizens in Assam.
- It was first prepared in 1951 and Assam is the only state having this arrangement.
- Under NRC, immigrants who have documents proving that they entered Assam before 1971 will be considered Indian citizens and others have to show that they their ascendants have lived in Assam even before 1971.
What is NRC Updation?
- National Register of Citizens (NRC) updation basically means the process of enlisting the names of all citizens residing in Assam at the time of NRC updation.
- The NRC Updation is currently going on (2014-2016) across the state and shall include the names of those persons (or their descendants) who appear in the NRC 1951, or in any of the Electoral Rolls up to the midnight of 24 March 1971 or in any one of the other admissible documents issued up to the midnight of 24 March 1971, which would prove their presence in Assam on or before 24 March 1971.
- The NRC (1951) and the Electoral Rolls up to the midnight of 24 March 1971 together are collectively called Legacy Data.
2021 census data to be stored electronically
According to an amended rule notified by the Registrar General of India (RGI), the data collected during the 2021 Census will be stored electronically, the first time since the decennial exercise was conducted in 1951 in Independent India.
- The schedules and other connected papers shall be disposed of totally or in part by the Director of Census Operations, after creating an electronic record of such documents.
- Till now the “schedules” (a tabular form containing details of individuals), carried by enumerators to households, were being stored in a physical form at the government’s storehouse in Delhi. It is based on these schedules that the relevant statistical information on population, language, and occupation are sorted and published. The records running into crores of pages were occupying space in government office.
Therefore, it has now been decided that they will be stored in an electronic format.
Brief history of census:
- The earliest literature ‘Rig-Veda’ reveals that some kind of population count was maintained in during 800-600 BC in India.
- The celebrated ‘Arthashastr’ by ‘Kautilya’ written in the 3rd Century BC prescribed the collection of population statistics as a measure of state policy for taxation. It contained a detailed description of methods of conducting population, economic and agricultural censuses.
- During the regime of the Mughal king Akbar, the administrative report ‘Ain-e-Akbari’ included comprehensive data pertaining to population, industry, wealth and many other characteristics.
Key facts about the Census of India:
- The decennial Census of India has been conducted 15 times, As of 2011. While it has been conducted every 10 years, beginning in 1872, the first complete census was taken in the year 1881.
- Post 1949, it has been conducted by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.
- All the census since 1951 are conducted under 1948 Census of India Act.
Utilities of census:
- Census provides valuable information for planning and formulation of polices for central and state governments and is widely used by national and international agencies, scholars, business people, industrialists, and many more.
- The delimitation/reservation of constituencies — parliamentary/assembly/panchayats and other local bodies is also done on the basis of the demographic data thrown up by the census.
- The census is the basis for reviewing the country’s progress in the past decade, monitoring the on-going schemes of the government and most importantly, plan for the future.
ECI launches a dedicated portal – ‘SVEEP’
The Election Commission of India (ECI) has launched a dedicated portal for the ECI’s ‘Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation’ (SVEEP).
About Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP):
SVEEP is a programme launched by the Election Commission of India.
- The main aim of the programme is to inform and educate people about the importance of voting and to motivate voters.
- The Election Commission of India is hoping to make Indian Democracy more participative through SVEEP.
- It is designed based on the socio-economic and demographic profile of that state.
- SVEEP started out as a small IEC activity before it was even given the name SVEEP. The programme was properly established and given its name in 2010.
- From 2009 to 2013, the phase covered over 17 General Elections to State Assemblies and even three revisions of the Electoral Roll.
- Now it includes enhanced interaction with the citizens through social media, online contests and voters’ festivals; awareness about new initiatives of linking EPIC with AADHAAR and National Voters’ Service Portal and a regularised yearly plan of activities.
- In addition to target groups of women, youth, urban voters and the marginalized sections, the inclusion of groups like service voters, NRIs, persons with disabilities, prospective voters/ students are of primary focus.
Objectives of SVEEP:
- Educating individuals about the importance of voting
- Increase participation in elections through voter registration and turnout
- Increase participation in terms of ethical and informed voting process
- Consistent education about the democracy and voting process in India
Management structure of SVEEP
SVEEP has grown over the last six years since it was first established and has played a huge role in increasing the voter registration over the years. The programme follows a systematic management structure in order to contribute to the democracy of the country.
- The SVEEP part of Electoral Commission of India prepares the policy, the framework, prepares interventions and ensures that the policies are implemented. It also focuses on educating the citizens of the country about the democracy and the importance of voting.
- An officer in every State CEO’s office is instructed to take charge of the SVEEP programme. Representatives from universities, youth organisations, educational institutions and members of Civil Society groups form a core group and ensure volunteers for electoral participation.
- At the district level, the administrative head of the district is responsible for the election management. More often than not, the district collector is the District Election Officer who implement the SVEEP programme at a district level. A SVEEP committee is formed at the district level which is headed by the Chief Executive officer of the Zilla Parishad and also the Chief Development Officer.
- The ECI introduced the institution of Booth Level officers in 2006. These officers generally cover one or two polling stations and are responsible for maintaining the electoral roll.
Intellectual Property rules stand amended
The Union Ministry of Finance has amended Intellectual Property rules to revoke the power vested with Customs authorities to seize imported products based on complaints of patent infringement.
- On June 22, the Ministry made two amendments to the Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules, 2007.
- Firstly, the Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Amendment Rules, 2018, omits all reference to the Patents Act, 1970.
- Another amendment incorporates further conditions that oblige the right-holder to notify the Commissioner of Customs of any amendment, cancellation, suspension or reaction that concern Intellectual Property rights, and require the Customs authorities to accordingly amend, suspend or cancel the corresponding protection provided by them.
- It permitted the Customs authorities to cancel his patent from its records based on the order passed by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB).
About Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB):
- IPAB was constituted on September 15, 2003 by the Indian Government to hear and resolve the appeals against the decisions of the registrar under the Indian Trademarks Act, 1999 and the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.
- Since April 2, 2007, IPAB has been authorized to hear and adjudicate upon the appeals from most of the decisions, orders or directions made by the Patent Controller under the Patents Act. Therefore, all pending appeals of Indian High Courts under the Patents Act were transferred to IPAB.
- The IPAB is the sole authority to exercise the powers and adjudicate proceedings arising from an appeal against an order or decision of the Controller.
- In case of a counter-claim in a suit for infringement, the competent authority to adjudicate on the matter is the Indian High Court.
Organization of an IPAB Bench:
- Each Bench of the IPAB includes a Judicial Member and a Technical Member. The qualifications for appointment as a technical member of the IPAB are mentioned in The Trade Marks Act and the Patents Act.
- Appeals from the decision of the Controller to the IPAB must be made within three months from the date of the decision/ order or direction, according to the, or within such further time as the IPAB permits, with the appropriate fees.
- An extension is available for filing the appeal by way of a Condonation of Delay (COD) petition.
- The Appellate Board can receive, hear and dispose all appeals from any order or decision of the Controller and all cases related to the revocation of a patent, rectification of register; other than through a counter-claim in a suit for infringement.
- IPAB has the authority to proceed with the matter either de novo or from the stage at which it was transferred on appeal. The jurisdiction to hear patent infringement cases continues with the High Courts.
Government Schemes & Policies
Delhi launches ‘Happiness Curriculum’ for schools
The Delhi government launched ‘Happiness Curriculum’ for students of nursery to Class 8 in government schools.
- The curriculum was launched in the presence of the Dalai Lama.
- It was designed and prepared by a team of 40 Delhi government teachers, educators and volunteers over period of six months.
What is ‘Happiness Curriculum’?
- The Happiness Curriculum focuses on holistic education by including meditation, value education, and mental exercises in conventional education curriculum.
- It involves ‘Happiness’ period of 45 minutes for all students studying in nursery up to class VIII at all Delhi government schools. Each class will begin with 5 minute meditation practice.
Kerala govt declares Kozhikode, Malappuram districts as Nipah virus free
Kozhikode and Malappuram districts have been declared free of Nipah virus by the Kerala government.
- These districts were declared as temporarily Nipah free as no positive case of the infecton was reported till completion of double incubation period of the virus.
All about Nipah Virus (NiV) Infection:
NiV infection is zoonotic disease (disease transmitted to humans from animals) that causes severe disease in both animals and humans.
- The organism which causes Nipah Virus encephalitis is RNA or Ribonucleic acid virus of family Paramyxoviridae, genus Henipavirus, and is closely related to Hendra virus.
- The natural host of the virus are fruit bats belonging to the family Pteropodidae.
- The virus is present in bat urine and potentially, bat faeces, saliva, and birthing fluids. Presumably, first incidence of NiV infection occurred when pigs in Malaysian farms came in contact with fruit bats who had lost their habitats due to deforestation.
- In 2004, humans were affected after eating the date palm contaminated by infected fruit bats. Pigs can also act as intermediate hosts.
- It was first identified in 1999 during outbreak among pig farmers in Malaysia and Singapore.
- It gets its name from Sungai Nipah, a Malaysian village, where pig farmers became ill with encephalitis.
- The virus spreads fast and is mostly fatal. Infected bats shed virus in their excretion and secretion. It cannot be transmitted through air.
- It is transmitted through direct contact with infected bats, pigs. Human to Human transmission from other NiV-infected people is also reported.
Signs & Symptoms:
- NiV infection in humans has range of clinical presentations i.e., from asymptomatic infection to acute respitatory syndrome and fatal encephalitis (inflammation of brain).
- After exposure and incubation period of 5 to 14 days, illness presents with 3-4 days of fever and headache, followed by drowsiness, disorientation and mental confusion. These signs and symptoms can progress to coma within 24 to 48 hours.
- The mortality rate of patients infected with NiV infection is reportedly 70%. It is capable of causing diseases in domestic animals too.
- There is no vaccine for NiV disease either for humans or animals. The main treatment for those infected is intensive supportive care and supportive medicines.
- NiV Infection can be prevented by avoiding exposure of infected people without protective gear. In disease prone areas, fruits strewn on the ground should not be eaten, for safety.
SC rejects plea to shut down Kudankulam plant till AFR facility is built
The Supreme Court has directed the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to set up a safe storage facility for radioactive spent fuel at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Tamil Nadu by April 2022.
- The court rejected a plea to shut down the Kudankulam nuclear power plant until an Away From Reactor facility is built. The court also granted the NPCIL an extension till April 30, 2022 to build the same.
- In 2013, the Supreme Court granted the Nuclear Power Corporation of India five years’ time to build an Away From Reactor (AFR) facility to store spent nuclear fuel.
About Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP):
- The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is the single largest nuclear power station in India.
- It situated in Koodankulam in the Tirunelveli district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
- It is being developed by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL).
- The project is an Indo-Russian joint venture to establish a nuclear power plant with six units in Tamil Nadu.
- It is India’s first nuclear plant to use imported PWR technology. The existing nuclear power plants in India use pressurised heavy water reactor or boiling water reactor technology.
- Two 1,000MW pressurised water reactor (PWR) units based on Russian technology were erected in phase one of the project. An additional four units are scheduled to be added according to the agreement signed between India and Russia in December 2008.
- KKNPP is scheduled to have six VVER-1000 reactors with an installed capacity of 6,000 MW of electricity.
- Excavation works for the construction of units three and four started in 2016 with the aim of making them operational by March 2021.
- Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of the Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation Rosatom, is the supplier of equipment and fuels for the nuclear power project.
Commonly used nuclear reactors:
- Power generation in all nuclear reactors are based on nuclear fission but the design of reactors may be different.
- The commonly used reactor types in the world are the Pressurised Water Reactor, Boiling Water Reactor and Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor.
What are Pressurised Water Reactors (PWRs)?
- PWR is the most common type of nuclear reactor, representing about 60% of all nuclear power reactors in the world. PWRs are adopted in countries such as the United States, France, Japan, Russia and China.
- PWRs use light water (ordinary water) for neutron moderation and reactor heat removal. The water inside the primary cooling circuit of PWR is under high pressure, and it will not turn into steam even under high temperature.
- The primary circuit and the secondary circuit are completely separated, and heat energy will be transferred from the primary circuit to the secondary circuit. With a lower pressure in the secondary circuit, steam is raised to drive a turbine-generator to produce electricity.
- These reactors use U235 of a typically 3%-4.5% enrichment.
- PWR’s two cooling systems separate the reactor cooling water and steam for power generation. In the event of necessary venting, steam released will be free from radioactive products.
About the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL):
The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is a government-owned corporation of India (wholly owned by the Central Government) and is responsible for the generation of nuclear power for electricity.
- NPCIL is administered by the Department of Atomic Energy, Govt. of India (DAE).
- NPCIL was created in September 1987 under the Companies Act 1956.
- It was set up with the objective of undertaking the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the atomic power stations for generation of electricity in pursuance of the schemes and programmes of the Government of India under the provision of the Atomic Energy Act 1962.
- All nuclear power plants operated by the company are certified for ISO-14001 (Environment Management System).
- NPCIL was the sole body responsible for constructing and operating India’s commercial nuclear power plants till setting up of BHAVINI (Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam) in October 2003.
Bilateral & International Relations
India to provide tariff concessions on 3142 items to APTA members
India has agreed to provide tariff concessions on 3,142 products to the six member nations of the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) effective from July 1.
- These duty concessions will be more for least developed countries (LDCs) and less for developing nations.
About Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA):
The Asia Pacific Trade Agreement or APTA (formerly the Bangkok Agreement) is an initiative under the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) for trade expansion through exchange of tariff concessions among developing country members of the Asia Pacific Region.
- The current membership of APTA consists of six countries or Participating States (PSs), namely, Bangladesh, China, India, Lao PDR, Republic of Korea, and Sri Lanka.
- Since this is a preferential trade agreement, the basket of items as well as extent of tariff concessions are enlarged during the trade negotiating rounds which are launched from time to time.
Functions of APTA:
- Being the oldest preferential trade agreement among developing countries in Asia-Pacific, APTA aims to promote economic development through the adoption of mutually beneficial trade liberalization measures that will contribute to intra-regional trade expansion and provides for economic integration through coverage of merchandise goods, services, investment and trade facilitation.
Significance of APTA:
- Open to all developing member countries, APTA is a truly region-wide trade agreement spanning East and South Asia, with potential to expand to other sub-regions, including Central Asia and the Pacific.
- APTA is the first plurilateral agreement among the developing countries in the region to adopt common operational procedures for certification and verification of the origin of goods and it has the longest effective implementation period amongst the trade agreements in the entire Asia-Pacific.
- Notably, APTA is the only operational trade agreement linking China and India, two of the fastest growing markets in the world, and other major markets such as the Republic of Korea.
Key Facts for Prelims
What is Legatrix?
- ‘Legatrix’ is a one-stop solution for effectively managing the organisation’s legal and regulatory compliances through monitoring control at different levels.
- It encompasses the requirements of laws such as labour, taxation, IT, commercial, export-import, corporate laws and other industry-specific laws.
Why in news?
- Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) in Assam has become the first oil public sector undertaking (PSU) to adopt an online legal compliance system by introducing ‘Legatrix’.